The 2019 season is one I’ve been looking forward to for much longer than I’d like to admit. Starting it off with a total of 3 Spartan Races and 2 weeks of altitude training camp in Flagstaff with main OCR buddy Nikolaj Dam, sounds just perfect. Wrapping the winter up with Reborn The Pit in Denmark the 23rd of February is just sprinkles on the ice cream!

The start of the SoCal Sprint

I raced a Spartan Race in 2017 in Barcelona. To be honest, it wasn’t an experience I was craving to have twice. It was OK fun and all, but I was running all by myself most of the time and the obstacles weren’t that challenging. I much prefer our Scandinavian type of OCR with a more even mix of technical obstacles, balancing, jumping over things, lifting and carrying stuff.

That said, then I was very excited to try my luck in LA! The field was lined up with some of the very best Americans (VeeJay Jones, Ryan Kent etc.) and I was quite confident before the race I wouldn’t be running by myself at all!

The reason we are racing here is simple; we want to show the Americans what we got! And not just at the OCR World’s, but on their home turf. But by doing this we’re bringing in ourselves as serious underdogs – which felt pretty good!

Spartan Race Barcelona, 2017

Thursday we did a run around the venue, Friday we picked up our stuff and throughout everything, we just got more and more psyched about racing! Doing interviews and Instagram takeovers only ‘made is worse’ as we could hardly wait to put on the X-talons and get at it! The ‘Spartan Super’ would start on Saturday at 7:30 AM (Nikolaj would race this), the ‘Spartan Sprint’ on Sunday at 7:30 AM were we both got some action.

Spartan Super, 12k of pushing hard

Nikolaj would toe a competitive start line whilst I would be waiting for everyone at the 1k mark. I know the start is rushed and it gives minimal indication of the race, so I was patiently waiting with Nikolajs Instagram profile. He arrived 3rd after VeeJay and Kirk, looking super strong.

The plan for Nikolaj was made from home. He would assess the competition and stay covered from the wind until the 5k mark. Then he’d make a push to see if the guys could keep up, hopefully getting a lead – which is exactly what happened! 10 second lead, 20 second lead and up to a 35 second lead. I was feeling confident Nikolaj had broken the guys, but after the Hercules Hoist they were both gaining on him!

“Oh oh, this isn’t good..” I said to myself, and raced after the guys to keep Nikolaj motivated and updated on leading time. By the mud pits and the Dunk Wall (9k in) Nikolaj was building a lead again – but quickly the tables turned and VeeJay took it up a notch. He overtook Nikolaj at the tire flip, which he effortlessly flipped like a pancake whilst Nikolaj was taking his sweet time hugging the stupid tire… From then it was almost headless sprinting the last 1k and 5 obstacles, only the spearthrow could change the game. Top 3 guys all made the spear and with no burpees to change the game, Nikolaj cruised into 2nd behind VeeJay Jones and in front of Kirk DeWindt (3rd).

Such a close and intense race, it was amazing to follow and I was psyched about racing the SPRINT course the next day!

VeeJay Jones, Nikolaj Dam & Kirk DeWindt
Nell Rojas, Nicole Mericle & Natalie Miano

Spartan Sprint, let’s go DENMARK!

Waking up at 4:45 is a tough nut, but both Nikolaj and I were stoked to get at it today! We fired up a solid playlist on the drive, had a Red Bull and arrived at race site about 6:30, an hour before the race started.

Kirk DeWindt wasn’t at the start line, but Ryan Kent and VeeJay Jones were looking ready to battle! Even Steve Hammond put his fine legs in a pair of splitshorts – maybe he was the only other European on the course today. Nikolaj and I was feeling very ready and my legs felt light and fast. We had a simple game plan: Nikolaj would go out quite hard and hope to attract the top field. I’d then work my way up to the leaders after the first 500m, like a game of PacMan.

The plan was going well and after half a kilometer I was in 4th, chasing Ryan Kent in 3rd, VeeJay in 2nd and Nikolaj in the front of the pack. The first km was reportedly (by Garmin) a 3:27 pace and I was only a few seconds behind Kent, still feeling good and strong.

About 1,3km into the race racing through the mud

We raced through a few basic obstacles, some mud and arrived at the Hercules Hoist basically at the same time. Nikolaj and VeeJay had their sandbag halfway up when we got there and I saw the young American pull off a good technique – which I decided to copy. Sounds great, right? It’s just, I have short legs.. So instead of balancing my weight with the hoist on the scaffolding, my foot couldn’t reach and I was going through the damn fence! Losing precious time I panicked and muscled my way through the hoist, raced through the monkey bars and found myself further behind than I hoped for…

Arriving at the Hercules Hoist

Just ~400m later the huge mud pits would arrive. Kent was (luckily) slipping hard on this one and although it was tough, my X-talon 210’s did the trick and I got closer again. Dunk Wall, run up a hill, do a slip-wall-pull-a-rope thing and we’re racing downhill towards the atlas carry. The obstacle is simple: Carry an atlas stone a short distance, drop it and do 5 burpess, carry it back. I did OK, but Kent muscled out harder than me and made a gap.

Putting the booty to work!

I frantically, and somewhat succesfully, tried to close it on the run towards a bucket carry, but as soon as we hit that bucket, I lost speed again. Damnit! I could see VeeJay in the lead with around 10-15 seconds to Nikolaj who was chasing hard. I was not too far behind the leaders or Kent, which motivated me to push a little harder toward the sandbag carry.

Long story short, the above setup continued at the tire flip and all the way to the spear throw. I was a bit nervous here but I ‘let it happen‘ like we planned and killed the Spartan on the mat with a strong headshot! Revigorated I increased my pace and caught some seconds on Helix (a new Spartan obstacle), the rope and the rig by to no avail – I wrapped up 4th place.

Grinding up the last obstacles just before the finish line

I had an amazing race today. I ran fast, did better carries than expected, made the spear and had one hell of a good time. Nikolaj missed the top of the podium with 20-something seconds and secured his 2nd silver spot this weekend. We’ve received tons of backup from home, lots of love, good vibes from the American community and we are psyched to get training in Flagstaff and racing in Arizona.

Stay tuned for our appearance on the following podcasts: Overcome and Run, OCR Audio and Obstacle Dominator. We’re excited to share more about our US adventure and the training to come. Stay tuned!

Results from United Obstacle Racers (