Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Spartan Stadium Sprint: Toyota Park as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review and write race reviews!
When I was given the opportunity to sign up for the Spartan Stadium Sprint in Chicago, I didn’t think too much about it.
Now, running a Spartan had been something I had never considered before. I knew others who had done them, and done some of the longer races. It was definitely something that would be completely different for me, but it fell at a good time in the year. Chicago was over, and I had nothing else on the docket (NYC got added later). So why not?
In the weeks/months leading into the race, I consulted my Twitter followers on if I would die in the attempt. The results were not encouraging.
Still, I was excited to attempt something brand new. After hearing so many amazing stories about runners diving into the unknown for the Chicago Marathon, I was excited to do the same with a race I knew nothing about running. I knew my weak upper body would come into play, and assumed it would feel much like a November Project workout with the Milwaukee tribe.
Fast forward to race morning.
I parked, and then walked over to Toyota Park (home of the Chicago Fire) to grab my packet and timing chip. The packet also did nothing to quell fears that death was in my future.
All runners are gathered on the concourse in the stadium, as the race starts in waves beginning with the elites and moving onto us mere mortals. Standing on the concourse I was men with arms as big as my legs, and guys doing pushups to warm up. What had I walked in to? This runner in a singlet and short shorts was definitely out of place.
Still, I figured I could compete with these guys, since any running, stairs, and leg obstacles would be to my advantage.
When the time for my wave neared, I headed over to the start corral and was greeted with a five foot wall. Yes, we had to clear a first obstacle just to get into the starting area. It’s a good way to get the blood pumping.
We got off the start line in 15 person waves as to not get to congested in the hallways of the stadium.
The start of the race is a bit of a blur, as we tackled stairs, pushups, weight throws, and more stairs. One of the first barriers was an early wall to get over. I felt like I was being very efficient until a dude ran past me, put his hands on the wall, and vaulted over in one fluid movement. Right there I knew I didn’t have a prayer of placing well.
As the race went on, the walls got higher and the other obstacles got harder. I started to run into trouble on the rope climb. In the words of my Dad: “I haven’t done one of those since high school.” And we were only half way.
Immediately after the rope climb was pulling a rope to raise a sandbag to the top of the pulley. Small and weak hands were no help. In hindsight, I realized I should have used my biggest advantage here: my lower body. Either walking back with the rope, or effectively doing squats to move the bag.
As I was crumbling, we got to a weight ball walk. It looked so easy. Pick up the heavy ball, walk about 10-15 feet, set it down, do some burpees, and repeat. It wasn’t that easy. This was also the point in the race where I got passed by a jacked dude with a huge grizzly bear tattooed on his chest. Nothing is more intimidating.
It only got harder with the next obstacle which was a tent like structure we had to climb straps up about 20 feet and then back down. Here I wasn’t sure if my arms were shaking from fatigue, the wind, or fear of falling on the pavement below. But slow and steady got it done.
That was followed up by a jug carry. Two 5 gallon jugs up the stadium ramp and back down the stairs. Very fortunately, this was the last arm obstacle of the day. We reentered the stadium, and hopped on a wind bike; finally something I could do!
From the bike, it was through “The Gauntlet” and to the finish. I didn’t have to worry much about bashing the dummies away since the guy in front of me cleared a good path through here. And then we were done. Finished.
I felt wrecked, but I knew the soreness was coming, and I was correct. I’m writing this on Wednesday, and I still have some residual soreness lingering in my shoulders.
My Mom asked me if I would do another Spartan, and my initial response was no. But not too soon after (like a minute) I followed that up with “Well, it would be cool to get the Trifecta.”
So, yes. I’ll probably put myself through this again someday.