Spartan Race USNS ’21 

February 28, 2021, Florida
“I stay close, run hard and keep my mind on the break-it-or-make-it obstacle: The Tire”

Finally a race!

Travelling and racing was basically impossible throughout COVID-19. My athletic career was an a pause and with money getting low and a burning desire to race in my body – I was EXCITED to cross the pond and represent Denmark at the US National Series.

Although Spartan Race is a new territory for me and it’s very different to the racing I’m used to in Europe, I wanted to consider myself a contender for the podium. This was MY race and I wanted to take control of it!

The perfect preparation! The Danish and US government naturally has a bunch of rules and regulations set up to limit travel during the pandemic. As a professional athlete competing at a major sporting event, I’m excempt for some of those limitations. So after a lengthy process I was cleared to travel and 2 days later I’m in Colorado. Here I’m doing a 7-week training camp with my colleague and NORAM 3k Champ, Veejay Jones. After just 2,5 weeks of OCR specific- and altitude training we’re in Florida for the US National Series! We got a ticket for the Saturday race too, so we could check out the course and make the best possible plan for the both of us – the prep is nothing short of amazing!

Off we go! The motivational speaker is doing his best to get us all fired up – but we’re all already ready to race hard. Anxious to finally be back in the battle and with a short course ahead of us, the pace was going to be fast. Starting with social distance in lanes, it’s a bit different to pre-covid racing – but after that last AROO we’re bumping sides to get a good position during the first kilometer.

3,2km (2 miles) of mud running was on the menu and I immediately knew the racing was different from the Northern European style of racing I’m used too. We had only 3-4 walls, mud and a bucket carry in the first 60% of the race! I was top 10 after the first kilometer, which I ran in 3:14 on a muddy surface with a 4 foot wall on it. We hauled ass and I stuck to a simple plan: Don’t let go of people and accept this will feel harder than normal on the run. 

My little legs didn’t do me much good in the treacherous and deep mud leading into the bucket carry, but I managed and held a top 10 position. Not my dream spot, so I threw down some speed on the 400m carry section and stuck to Ryker, Gowiski and Magida. The leaders (Veejay, Woods, Kempson and Middaugh) had a healthy lead and coming into the last 1/3 of the race, which had all the obstacles, I was feeling OK!

Through the water, over the wall, around the flag with a stone and over the A-frame, which lead directly into the Herc Hoist. I’ve picked up a few seconds on the field and my mind is only on the tire flip. I knew it’d be a game changer with a slippery and dewy surface and I had a strategy to turn off the speed heading into it to make sure I’d nail it! I was thinking so much about the tire I forgot to focus on my spear, and that cost me deeply. I missed and headed out on the 76 second (yeah, I counted seconds on Strava…) penalty loop in the sloppiest of terrains. I was bumped and I knew that my mission of breaking a top 5 at the USNS was out the fucking window. It hurt. It really hurt.  

After having dragged my sorry little ass through the mud I was on the plate carry with a bunch of guys I had outran earlier in the race. I put my head back in the game and re-focused on the tire, hoping it’d ruin at least someone up there. Turns out, everyone got fucked! Veejay managed and that secured him a dominant win, but basically everyone were in the burpee pit. I flipped it once, waited a bit – and flipped it again! 

I had nothing to lose from thereon and not much to win either. I put the pedal down and rand hard on the last part to overtake Ryker and close the gap to Batres. Turns out I snuck into the top 10 anyway and my spear miss “made up for” most peoples tire flip issues. It’s not healthy to speculate what if at OCR events, but you do the math and take off 76 seconds off my finishing time..

I was fast enough, strong enough and 95% of the time, smart enough. It’ll take a lot more aerobic work for me to hang with these guys on the running, but that’s what 2021 is for. I will break the 15:50 on the 5k, run a 33-something 10k and I will keep working on my shitty-terrain-running skills. The magic trick is to maintain godlike (I said it) obstacle proficiency and strength for the European scene and the OCRWC.

Seeing the OCR community get back together and unite was something special. And doing the Super just for shits and giggles reminded me why I’ve promoted this sport for +8 years now. It’s FUN, it’s LOVING, it’s AMAZING. Go out and get some – and see you at the next one!

Men’s Podium:

1) Veejay Jones
2) Ryan Woods
3) Logan Broadbent

Women’s Podium:
1) Nicole Mericle
2) Myriam Guillot-boisset
3) Rose Wetzel

Photos by Spartan Race & OCR Photography / The OCR Report

Feel free to read my other race reviews and experiences.

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