Another Spartan weekend would round off our US trip. Having started the trip with a Sprint in SoCal 2 weeks before and 11 days of haaaard altitude training in Flagstaff, I was happy to be back racing, but also quite exhausted. These races aren’t the very important, as the season is far from begun and I’m in a solid winter training phase – so it’s just fun! That said, then one of the reasons we come to the big ‘ole America, was to crunch some races and show that we got something! So strapping on my Inov8 ParkClaws before the warmup on both days, I was ready race quite hard.
The Sprint would include 19 obstacles and some pretty top-notch technical running by McDowell Rodeo grounds – and some nice and icy obstacles for the 7:30 Elite wave!
Hearing the US National anthem blasting out from the start area, I realize it’s time to stop the strides and get into the start pit to race. I’m warm enough, but another 15 minutes would have been nice. The start goes with some aroo’ing and we’re off into the dirt! I got my eyes on VeeJay Jones, whom we raced in SoCal (he took a double win) and who’s sprinting out of the start block pretty hard. Once again it seems he’s well aware of the tactic Nikolaj and I has made: to stay in control of the pace until after halfway through the race, were we would make a hard push after the tire flip and the obstacle gauntlet. Going out as hard as he did, pulled tons of people to a hungry lead pack and I found myself around 13th place after the first 250m of racing. I’m next to the one and only Sweet Sweet Beni, who’s doing his first Spartan in 3,5 years – and chatting with his neighboring runner!
As VeeJay relaxes the speed a bit I see Nikolaj right on his tail as all of us fly through the first part of the race – I’m taking over a few guys and once we clear the vertical cargo net I’m in 5th or 6th, feeling pretty good. Some icy monkey bars later make for an advantage for Team Denmark and we’re off with VeeJay in front, Nikolaj on his heels and I’m on 5th, staying in control behind the 3rd and 4th place runners. I’m hoping Beni is close on our tails, but I don’t look back – I visualize making the podium and stick to the plan of pushing hard after the tire as I overtake and place in 4th.
Sounds good, right? The Hercules Hoist is just before the “obstacle zone” and I do really well here, maintaining 4th and in control, Nikolaj in 2nd just 30m in front of us. Crossing the Z-wall just before the spear, I see something that puts me out of the game – Nikolaj missed the spear! We are still racing as teammates so it’s hard to watch him like that, but I have to stay focused and simply aim for 2nd place now, which felt manageable. Well, until I throw my spear next to the damn target! This nearly never happened in training and I feel stupid for throwing away the podium… 30 burpees is a lot of time and in that time, I decided it’s not game over yet. I rush to the multi-rig (that’s a misleading name, it was just some rings..) and then to the tire flip. It’s a 400 lb tire and having struggled in SoCal, I came prepared and flipped it well the first time. Lowering it to the ground I manage to crush my hand pretty hard and it cause a total mess. I try again, and again and again. In the end the damn tire flips and I run out of the obstacle zone, leaving my frustration behind. What I didn’t leave behind, was a much bigger than normal right hand, which I had a look at on my way to the rope climb – it wasn’t pretty.
Long story short, my race was over. I slowed down, DNF’ed after the bucket and decided to do what I could to fix the hand for the SUPER the next day. Shit happens and that’s just life, disregarding how frustrating it felt then I had a great first half of the race!
It’s SUPER time!
I spent quite a bit of the Saturday worrying about my hand. It was swollen and pretty useless. After having sat still for nearly 2 hours with Beni, Nikolaj, VeeJay and Sara for the Obstacle Dominator podcast, the hand wasn’t asking for another race, although my legs felt super.
I decided to give it a go IF I could flip the practice tire before the race during my warm-up. After 15 minutes of easy running I did just that and continued the warm-up before huddling up for even more aroo’ing. 3-2-1 and we’re OFF!
The slippy monkey bars from yesterday were worse today and that made for quite the trial for the men’s elite! I instantly made an elbow-hook to stay safe (and slow…) when I saw VeeJay and 6 others fall off the bar. Coming down I’m in 3rd just after Nikolaj who’s chasing an, to us, unknown shirtless American.
I see Nikolaj overtaking easily and I’m closing the gap whilst staying in control. The first SUPER loop has plenty of running which I enjoy cruising towards the obstacle gauntlet placed around 5km into the race. At this point (Hercules Hoist) VeeJay has closed the gap and he’s overtaking me as I enter the Z-wall. I was very surprised to find Nikolaj in the dirt doing some burpees here. The obstacle was icy and he must have made a small mistake!
Well he’s not all alone about those, as I once again throw my spear next to the target like the moron I am….. It’s easy to see people overtaking me and that fuels my fire. I have plenty of energy, so moments later I’m swinging through the ropes and the tire isn’t much of a problem. I’m no longer sure about position, but around I’m around 6th or so. By the bucket that’s down to 4th!
Following the bucket (which I managed to do at an amazingly slow pace) there’s a downhill barbed wire crawl. This becomes a huge problem, as my hand is swollen again and I can’t support my weight on it… Using one hand I roll through and directly into the mud pits and the dunk wall.
It’s a chase from here. The 3km loop is my chance to close the gap the 3rd place and I wont miss it – for the sake of Denmark, damn it! I run hard and well, closing in on the next athlete. But not quite enough to overtake him.. I know that around the last carry (sandbags) were I clearly can estimate the time difference.
Running into the atlas carry I’m happy to see Nikolaj, who’s made up some ground and who’s gaining on me. I know he’s fast, but I was going hard and I was amazed by his speed! About 500m later I can see the finish of the race and get an idea. I stop right on the course and wait for Nikolaj, asking him if we should just wrap it up as a team and get a good photo over the fire. He agrees and we run the last part chatting about the race – primarily about what went wrong.
A fire jump later we walk the line and hear that 3rd place is DQ’ed, which meant team DK would be on the podium. Wup wup!
Huge props to VeeJay who once again made a double win. I’m so sorry we kept messing up so he didn’t have much of a challenge cruising in front by himself.. But there’s always another race and I’m excited to see him and many of the other Americans at OCR World’s!