Welcome to the Mountain: Quebec Spartan Sprint 2014

I will be the first to admit, I underestimated this race. And I paid for it. With the 15 hours of driving to get there, volunteer time the day before, missing lunch at the venue and ending up at McDonald’s for dinner, I was nowhere near properly fueled or hydrated.

Ah, it’s only a sprint. No biggie. I left my camelback in the car. Only five miles, won’t need it.

Never use the phrase “no biggie” when taking on a mountain whose name translates as “the Massive.”

2014-06-22 07.35.40

In any case, lined up at the starting line. I jumped into the Elite wave to make certain I could finish before I needed to volunteer. The MC gave us a rousing send-off in Franglais, and we were off, straight up a ski slope. My hopes of doing the entire race at a jog were quickly dashed as the never-ending uphill slowed almost everyone to a walk.

Up the hill, over and under walls, back down, back up.

Things started to fall apart during that second climb. My energy levels were far below where they should have been, I couldn’t calm my breathing and heart rate down, and I still couldn’t find the end of this climb. For the first time ever during a race, I found myself flat on my back, staring up at the clouds until I had recovered enough to move on.

I came to the barbed wire crawl about 3/4 way up the mountain, and the course marshal informed me that we were only 5 minutes from the first aide station. That helped my mental game a lot.


5 minutes away perhaps, but on the other side of 2 obstacles. I made it about 5 feet up the rope climb, did my burpees, through the net crawl and to the water station. Getting hydration back where I needed it helped a lot. I was still not at full strength, but good enough to carry on. Down the hill, sand bags, atlas stones. Perhaps a touch slower than normal, but much better than that second uphill. After the atlas carry, back up the hill to the fire jump:


I had volunteered the day before at the cargo net, which means I got to see how everyone else gets over it and then try all the different ways you see. Sadly no photo of it, but I was able to somersault over the top and walk down the far side.

The hoist obstacle was a little unusual. While I usually see concrete blocks or sandbags, this one had…propane tanks?

2014-06-22 14.03.24

Through the normal Canadian obstacles, the dip walk, the spear throw, the premium rig (which I did better at but still failed), but the biggest obstacle by far was the mountain itself.


Toward the end of the race, obstacles were back to back to back. Fail the spear throw. 30 burpees. Fail the rig. 30 burpees. Halfway across the traverse wall. I ran out of air, fluids and ability to care at 15 burpees and moved on. (Full measure of burpees done later that night.)

100 yards down the road, up and over the slip wall:


And the rope descent that we only get at North-of-the-border races:


Across the finish line in a little over two hours.

Things to learn from this:

Carry the camelback if there is even a remote chance you will need it.

NEVER skip pre-race nutrition protocol again.

The Canadians have much more awesome medals than we do. Get up here more often.


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