This was my third Spartan Beast of the year, and the first that I felt truly prepared for. Overall I am finally feeling improvement in my abilities. I have found that all Beasts will plan something evil for you within the first half mile, something that will start sapping your fighting spirit. On the past two it was a brutal uphill, but they were more creative on this one. Less than 500 yards in and we are sent through trenches of cold water, instantly locking up my calves and making it hard to do anything past a walk. From there it was the familiar Spartan obstacles, 6-7 walls, trails that were technical but not anywhere near the soul-crushing hills I had come to expect. We hit the Atlas Lift, and the course volunteer’s eyebrows raised a bit when he saw me cranking out full clapping burpees. I’ve gotten sloppy on my burpees with a few recent races, and am really trying to break the habit.
More trails and we came to the Hercules Hoist, which is where the fact that I am getting better seemed to crystallize. I usually drop body weight, climb the rope with my hands as I stand back up, and repeat. This time it just came together, I dropped my body and was able to keep the smooth upward motion going with hands only. It must have looked good, because I heard the stunned voice of the course volunteer behind me go, “Damn. BEAST MODE! Hell yeah!” Back on the trails, Tarzan-swinging and butt-scooting down steep hills, and came to the tractor pull. For once I felt strong enough to move at a trot with the weight, and I actually saw the photographer in time to set up the shot. Most races have the standard tire flip. This one upped the ante by giving us a 4′ section of log to flip end-over end. Note to self: put more deadlifts in your workouts. No burpees but still tough. Next was the tire drag, which I knocked out solidly enough to again get cheers from bystanders. New and rather odd, but I think I like it.
About this time Princess Badass (one of my teammates) and I noticed that she was passing me nearly every section of trail running, and I was overtaking her at nearly every obstacle. She commented, “You are like the Energizer bunny. You just never seem to stop.” Beast Mode Bunny?
Somewhere around the traverse wall and spear throw my commitment to burpee form fell through, and I think I walked away from the spear throw at 20 rather than 30. I told myself that I am freaking better than this and did 40 at the rope climb, then donated an additional 10 to a teammate before heading on. Next was one of the most horrendous mud pits I have ever been through, coating my hands with enough slick mud that the monkey bars were not a possibility. The terrain from that point got noticeably tougher, which was good as a few of us were starting to refer to the course as “the Bitch Beast.” I elected to do burpees rather than wait for the line at the rope traverse, then moved on to the sandbag carry.I was a little shocked to actually see sandbags abandoned along the course, where people had gotten a certain distance and then given up. Putting the sandbags right after a water obstacle meant that most of the bags were wet and thus heavier than normal, but still got through it and handed the bag off to the next runner. I was a little surprised to see the Hobie Hop as an obstacle here, as the stadium Sprint was the only place I had seen this before. I waddled more than I hopped.
I had been forced to skip the bucket carry in Vermont to meet the time hack, so I was happy to get a chance at it here. The course volunteer directed us to take buckets from those coming back down the hill rather than dumping and refilling, and I got one that was a little under the required level. I ended up taking a rest break next to a female racer whose bucket was a little overfilled, so I used some of her gravel to bring mine up to snuff.
We then hit the barbed wire crawl that was reported to be one of the toughest. While it did suck that it was through a gravel pit (torn up knees that are still healing), it did not have the rockiness of Vermont or the slick steep inclines of Nebraska, so I found it tough but not nearly what I expected from rumors of it. From there it was the standard end-of-race obstacles, the cargo net, dunk pool, and slip wall. For whatever reason, there were a LOT of people suffering from cramping on this race. The man in front of me went into a rather spectacular leg cramp 3 steps up the ladder to the cargo net. I helped him down and then went on my way.
The dunk pool had a small gap between the water and the wall I had to go under, so I had a much easier time than at any of the previous races with this obstacle.
Then over the slick wall, over the fire, and through some impeccably dressed gladiators.
I finished in 5:16, more than 2 hours ahead of my finish time at Ottawa. While some of that may be improvements in my abilities, I have no doubt that a large part was the terrain. While it was a tough race, it was nowhere near the brutality of the Mountain Series races. Anyone wanting to go for a Trifecta but not quite sure you can handle a Beast, this is the one I would recommend to you.