Spec Ops Spartan: Tampa Spartan Sprint 2014

I heard that Spartan was putting on a new sort of race, partially designed by US Special Operations, and that they had torn up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ field to give us a barbed wire crawl.

I’m in.

20 hours driving, 15 hours to recover, and enter the starting corral. Rather than the traditional “Arroo! Arroo! Arroo!”, for this race we were sent off with, “Hooyah! Hooah! Oorah!” and we were off, up way too many levels of ramps to reach the first obstacle. Under a camo net that the timing chip band got caught in, closely followed by the usual SR over-under walls, lots of stairs, and the over-under-through walls.

Next was the Hobie hop, which is probably the least popular event for stadium races. Several of us realized on the way up that wo looked like cartoon joggers, waddling up the stairs and pumping arms to keep balance. Coming down I used the handrails more and was able to swing down a few steps at a time, making it a bit quicker.

Back outside for the traverse wall. Ran into some teammates, spotted each other across, and made it through with no burpees.

I actually enjoyed the sandbag carries at this race. Longer than most, lots of stairs. I found I could adjust my stride to match the stadium stairs, and shuffled a lot more of it than I walked.

We next came to the football toss, which I missed and can now say that I have done burpees on an NFL field. One of my teammates was struggling through his burpees next to me, me at 20 and him at 10. We counted off 10 together, then did a set of 5 together to wrap up his 30. On to the barbed wire crawl.

Sandy soil, barrels to crawl around, wire really low in spots. They had also added objects like mortar and artillery rounds for decoration.

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The Hercules Hoist was heavier here than on past races, a challenge but completed it without too much trouble. The Atlas carry had changed from the usual cylindrical concrete weights to round Atlas stones. I hope this change is adopted, not having that edge to grip on does make it considerably more difficult.

Next were muddy trenches while being sprayed with a fire hose. I didn’t get a picture of me being hit by the hose, but this is what it looked like:

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Next was a quick farmer-carry with water-filled ammo boxes, a taller-than-normal reverse-incline wall, and the spear throw. My spear throw is improving, but not enough to prevent burpees.

30 feet from the burpee area was the rope climb. I and the man I was doing burpees with after the spear throw both agreed that a rope climb just after 30 burpees was not going to happen today, so we went straight to the next burpee area and counted them off together.

I would usually walk for a few minutes after burpees before picking it up to a run again. But with the finish line in sight and cheers of encouragement  coming from the sidelines, there is no choice but to run the last of it. Through the ditch, over the slick wall, over the fire, and through the Gladiators’ pugil-stick high fives.

We received both the standard Sprint medal, and the special camo medal just for this event.

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This was a really fun race, but I cannot shake the feeling that it fell a little flat. Nearly all of the obstacles that I consider an honest challenge, the monkey bars, the tire or log flip, were absent from this race, and were not really replaced with the hard-hitting anaerobic challenges of the stadium sprints, the rowing machines and medicine-ball slams. It was neither the long, muddy, nasty field sprint nor the intense, lung-burning stadium sprint. The overall feel was more like… Warrior Dash.

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