It’s hard to know where to start with writing this post. It would be nice to be able to include video montages and tales of intense training, virtuous eating habits and lots of phrases about the race that involve verbs of how I managed to “attack”, “own” and “dominate” it – but the truth is far from that. I entered – I finished. That’s the bottom line.
But of course, there’s much more to this story than that. There always is.
So, let me begin with the basics. Back at the start of the year, I entered the Bright Trifecta. This means that over the course of the weekend I was committing to enter not one but three Spartan races. Even though I was working almost full-time on top of writing and publishing projects, I promised myself I would make time for training to be race ready to fulfill this goal.
I’m going to say right at the start that that was a problematic mindset. Coming off the health repercussions that happened during and after my marathon training, I promised myself I would never do anything as intensive as that again – and IF I was, I would do so with greater professional advisement – not crawling my way to an osteo or masseuse after an injury.
This naivety cost me for the Trifecta as well. I thought that by breaking down the race/task into three separate events would somehow matter; that my body could somehow magically recover not just overnight but within hours. I would never say I didn’t respect it – I just didn’t know what I was in for. The superstitious part of me when ‘uh-oh’ when I picked up my runners pack with my Spartan bandana and I put it on and it immediately split. The practical part of me went ‘uh-oh’ when I almost failed the first obstacle – which was just climbing over the fence to get into the starters holding area!
Ultimately, I only ran the one race – the Super. The medium-level-degree of hardness course. The website says “14+ kms” in length. When I saw that I thought that meant, oh, say 14.2 or 14.4 kms. ‘Just’ over. Not the eventual 16+ kms it ended up being. That extra 2km might not sound like much written down, but on the trail it matters a lot!
I don’t have any photos or video from the run. Most people were strapped with GoPros, but while I was running Riley would be running his race and wanted to use it (his video is below!).
I don’t mind because being without any documentative devices forces you to commit to memory the things that you really want to remember. That’s why I’ll never forget the sensation of wading into that freezing cold snow melt on the creek crossings and how it felt sensational to my aching muscles; of bursting into tears when I finally reached the top of the mountain because I was hot and tired (and in tire need of sugar/salt); of the kind volunteer who shared her lolly stash with me while calming me down – bananas never tasted so good; the skill required to get back down a mountain on trails (I was reminded of the book Natual Born Heroes again), whether you walk or run, and the (general) friendliness of fellow competitors shouting words of encouragement as they passed by.
This isn’t your typical metro fun race, with drink stations and toilet facilities along the route. This is harder and is supposed to be and I, for one, all the above said, really loved the challenge. I can see why people get addicted to obstacle course racing, and I can see why there were so many CrossFit people there. There’s so much crossover as the functional and dynamic and endurance requirements appeal to both. I don’t have many personal highlights, but I did pass the balance challenge and completed the atlas carry. And I finished. That finish line cider was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted.
Four days later, my legs are still bruised, but I’m feeling okay otherwise (except for an unrelated head cold!). Will I do another Trifecta? Not sure. Adam and the kids also ran and are keen to go back next year. The Beast race might be the one for me…
Edit to add: Here’s a video I’ve made about the day, including much of the above and more!