Felt like home!
After having suffered from missing a spear in Jacksonville, I was eager to prove myself on US soil – and this time I’d have a chance to do it with several interesting boxes checked:
* Tough competition
* Great obstacles
* 10k + a 5k route
And to my excitement, a flat runnable route. And although I couldn’t control how fast or well my competition would race (that’d be neat though, eh?) I was in 100% control of how I would run MY race.
Back at sea level! The pain of training at altitude is real. I feel slow and whenever my HR gets up there, it’s struggling coming back down.. So first run at sea level with travel buddy Rebecca Hammond was a breeze and it felt great. We did our strides, talked techniques for obstacles and slept at 8 PM. That’s some pro prep right there, folks.
The long course! I’m all about getting to the race site in descent time. I take a while warming up, shaking off the nerves and settling in – so that’s what we did. I knew there would be 3 primary competitors for the top positions today: Kempson, Alvaro and James Zeuch. Alvaro is insanely fast with about a 9-minute 3000m steeplechase record representing Nicaragua, Kempson is fast too and descent at obstacles – Zeuch has a ton of experience with Savage Races many top podiums to show. I didn’t know about Martin Daniels who’s a 15:28 5km muscly runner or any of the other descent guys there. Ignorance is bliss and you may think that I’m already overthinking the race by now. But no – I didn’t plan to race any of the guys, I was racing myself. At least for the first ~8km of the race.
3-2-1 GO and we’re off to a powerful start. Alvaro leads out with Kempson and Zeuch on his tail. With only 1 obstacle in the first 1,4km, I hit the 1km mark in 3:30, exactly as planned. I’m around 8th place and I’m feeling good, especially as the guys around me are breathing harder than me. We enter the festival area and clear 5 agility obstacles (over/unders, walls, crawls) and I come out strong, 27 seconds behind Kempson.
Through mud’n’guts and Wheel World I’m maintaining position and I run very, very well. I can see the leaders and I’m comfortably placed around 5th by now. Cruising through the carry I stumble and faceplant which was somewhat annoying, but back on my feet I fall into my planned HR zone and the guys stick with me through the next strength obstacle. At the 6k mark it gets interesting as we meet a very wet Savage Rig. I don’t consider this rig very difficult, but to my luck my competitors do! I overtake Alvaro and leave the guys hanging with (this might be my imagination) dropped jaws, crushed souls and elevated heartrates. I’m now trailing Zeuch and Kempson is in the lead just a bit ahead. I close the gap to Zeuch on the “low rig” called Inversion Therapy and settle back into my pace. This is the 2nd part of the race which stretches another few kilometers with walls, agility stuff and running until we enter the 3rd and last part: The mile of obstacles!
Zeuch pushes on and wants to stay ahead of me, but I stay close to him and feel the effects of having run at a manageable pace; I’m capable of maintaining his pace without redlining and at the 8km mark we hit a massive obstacle – Colossus. It’s a warped wall, a little climb on a ladder, a slide, a swim and worst of all – the project of getting out of the slippery swim area and back running. I crawl up on all fours to see Kempson finish the next obstacle: Sawtooth. It’s a big ‘ole monkey bar that goes up, a little down, up and the down. I liked it and closed in a bit on Zeuch, Kempson about a minute ahead. This also begins the last mile full of obstacles!
The prescribed plan was simple: Hit that last mile HARD. I run up to Battering Bird (rig), clear it, hurry back towards the event area trailing my 2 opponents, squeeze through a crawl and wheel it in at Pedal to the Metal. I’m still in 3rd and it’s a burner now! Anchors away is the 4th to last obstacle (rings and anchors), and with 3 swings I hit that bell and now I’m in 2nd place! I want to go super big on the final rig, but with Kempson already done with it I cruise in controlled and I closed the gap down to 20-ish seconds. I felt AMAZING crossing that finish line. This race was a ton of fun, I ran hard and followed a good plan deducted with Coach HighFiveMC – my love for OCR overwhelmed me. I’m not sad Ryan beat me, he ran faster and better. I did well and that’s all I wanted! Also, my travel buddy Rebecca killed it at the women’s race!
1) Ryan Kempson
2) Leon Kofoed
3) Martin Daniels
1) Rebecca Hammond
2) Kris Rugloski
3) Jamie Horianopoulus
The BLITZ! A 5k course was laid out in front of us, taking us through the first 2-3k of yesterdays race before diverting into the last mile of obstacles. Today I was no longer gunning for a controlled effort – I was here to race for the WIN, nothing less.
Zeuch took the day off, but Alvaro, Daniel, Kempson and some fresh blood was at the start line. My plan was simple: Cut off ~15 seconds pr kilometer and STICK with Kempson. If I was no more than 35-ish seconds behind him at Sawtooth (monkey bar) I felt comfortable I could outrun him on the last mile. So when the MC told us to run, that’s what we did! Alvaro ran so surprisingly hard, he left the rest of us in shame – but at least in shame together, as I fell into 3rd place right on Kempsons ass.
Over, under, crawling, hurdling and we’re done with half the course already heading out on a running stretch. To our luck Alvaro missed the otherwise well marked course split and went the wrong way, which cost him deeply. He ran me back down and then also Kempson, which was an impressive feat of fitness. We’re all together at the 3,5k mark and we glide down Colossus and hit the monkey bar. They got less than 15 seconds on me! I had ran well and I was ready for the final push! Lactic acid ran through my legs and I ignored it, pushed through. I cleared obstacles and ran well not losing ground. Pedal to the Metal had us all next to each other, but still with the 2 guys leading it out.. I saw Kempson found inspiration in my technique on Anchors Away and he flew through it. Alvaro was slower so I caught up with him, but my ring got stuck! It took me a while to get it down and I lost the ground I gained. We hit the last obstacle feeling smashed and tired – but Kempson run that bell as I got on it and the race for first place was over.. I swore in Danish and focused on Alvaro, who made a small mistake and slipped off the rig! I decided from then to play it safe, take a quick break on the rig (there was a comfortable ladder) and then clear it. I ran strong to the finish and once again Kempson got me with 20-ish seconds. I honestly believe I could’ve taken him if I didn’t mess around on Anchors Away. Not in pure speed, but honestly – I wouldn’t wanna have a head-to-head rig with myself so close to a finish line! I didn’t think that right away, I just laid on the ground feeling the pain of racing hard.
The women’s race was intense as well, since Kris was running like a maniac to keep up with Rebecca. I headed back on the route to cheer and support Becca, who came into the final rig with a lead. She got through the first half, took a breather and then shit hit the fan! She had a hard time getting a good swing and turns out, she can’t do a footlock! So she’s on the final rope climbing to the bell and Kris closed the gap! The ring it at the same time and SPRINT towards the cargo not. Kris was impressively good on that one and she gets the win. Phew.
1) Ryan Kempson
2) Leon Kofoed
3) Alvaro Vasquez
1) Kris Rugloski
2) Rebecca Hammond
3) Jamie Horianopoulus
Photos by the Depart Collective & Savage Race
Feel free to read my other race reviews and experiences.
Read about my #comeback to Danish OCR and a first-time-in-4-years podium finish at Nordic Race!
This is my last all-in race leading into the OCR World Championships.
From broken bone to returning to sports – it’s a long journey, but one you can join by reading this blog about the Spartan Race Jacksonville weekend. I got to test the body and it paid off 👏
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