Sunday, December 2, 2012

Spartan: marked by simplicity, frugality, or avoidance of luxury and comfort

10/20 race around 5 hours <cough> @ Spartan Beast in Winnsboro, SC in NB MT10 trail minimus (ouch!)

temp high 50's to low 70's and sunny

So last year we "ran" the Carolina's Super Spartan in Winnsboro, SC.  I believe the course was around 8 miles and chock-full of some of the best obstacles we had encountered to date.  This year they had converted the race to a "Spartan Beast" and listed the distance as 10-12 miles (last year I believe the pre-race information stated 8-10).  We were looking for redemption, as one our team had rolled his ankle badly in the first mile last time, slowing our team down for the rest of the race.

Cool pic of me trying to dry out my taint
My general conditioning was pretty good coming into this race, but my running conditioning was way off from our previous attempt, so I was afraid I might be holding us up a bit.  We covered the first 7 miles in around 90 minutes and were on track for a pretty good finish.  No food was provided on the course and only water was available to drink.  They did have salt packets at least.  I brought along a packet of Clif Shot Bloks (my preferred race fuel) and split them with one of my teammates.  Thankfully, I got stronger as the race progressed (or my team got slower).  I didn't know it, but at some point early in the race, I took what looked like a baseball bat hit to my outer right quad, as I was already having problems with it tightening up around the 4 mile mark, but never to the point I couldn't jog.  As a team, the wheels started to come off around mile 10.  One of my teammates, who has torn his calf muscle before, started to have it lock up again and we were forced to walk most of the remaining course.  Having food on the course might have helped, as he didn't bring anything to eat.  It was around this point, other teams were starting to fall apart too.  People were dropping out, or locking up with cramps.  We had a guy throw up right after one of the water stops directly in front of us, thankfully I missed the spray...

quality stitchwork on the collar
I did have fun at certain points on the course, but overall, I was very disappointed with the Spartan this year.  They set a high bar last year, but it seems they have done everything possible to maximize profits and minimize their expenses this year.  Many of the obstacles repeated.  I don't know how many times I climbed a rope, went over a net, dragged/carried an object or crawled under barbed wire.  At the finish, we learned the course was 14.5 miles long.  I'm sorry, but it's just inexcusable to put on a 14.5 mile obstacle course without a single aid station providing sports drinks or gels/food at least.  You're just increasing the injury potential for all participants involved.  Also the post-race meal, which was free last year, now cost $10 just for the bbq plate.  Parking was also $10, which I believe was free last year.  Then there is the shirt.  Check out the quality stitching and try to decipher the material and washing instructions.  Then there is the distance issue.  I see on the main page they now list "Beast" courses as 13+, but the page for our race still states 10-12.  When you have a 3 hour drive and are supposed to start work that night at 7pm, it really messes with your schedule to have a race throw in an extra 2.5 miles (with obstacles).  Thankfully our start time was early enough I was only about 10 minutes late to work.  So I guess I'll do a pros and cons list below, as we don't plan to do another Spartan.  I just hope Tough Mudder hasn't followed in their footsteps.

Pros:
challenging obstacles
difficult terrain (lots of hills and rocky terrain)
longer distance than most obstacle races
free post race pictures
free Dial body wash at post race hose down

Cons:
extremely repetitive obstacles
no food or carbohydrate drinks at aid stations
conflicting website information regarding potential race distance
$10 charge for parking (free last year)
$10 charge for post-race bbq plate (free last year)
low quality race shirt of questionable material


So the first bit roughly translates to, "wash before wearing," this would have been crucial information to know right after hosing 4lbs of mud off and the only clean shirt you have is the one they just handed you at the finish.

I think we all know what "made in prc" means (Peoples Republic of China).

So, initially, I figured the last bit was just a bit of engrish, but further research indicates it might be some kind of real thing, even though it makes zero grammatical sense. Check out this link: Made in Green.  I guess "Made in Green" still doesn't make a shirt clean enough to wear off the shelf though, bummer...





So, after all this whining, I could still see myself doing another one these just to have the opportunity to truly perform up to my potential, and to see if their 2012 race course was just a fluke, as I've read a few blogs that make some of the other 2012 events sound as creative and unique as the original 2011 race.

2 comments:

  1. Spartan is right! Only water for a 14 mile race? Sheesh!

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  2. They totally whiffed on the frugality part.
    Next time try the Godiva Misery run. $5. Free food, parking, hose, obstacles and all the cow poo you can stomach.

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