Fitness Training and Obstacle Racing

Spartan Laurentians 2019

Pre-Race

Going into the Spartan Spring I didn’t have high expectations. I’m not a very fast runner and a Sprint distance Spartan Race (roughly 5km’s) would likely put me at a disadvantage as far as my skills are concerned. I love distance and out-suffering people and I don’t often run long enough to feel that kind of pain in a Sprint Distance.

My team and I (Shawn, Shauna and myself) drove up the morning of the event rather than stay near Laurentians the night before. It made for an early morning but nothing too far outside my norm. I felt good about my nutrition in the days and morning leading up because I’d eaten the same types of food in training when running 3 – 4 hour and hadn’t had too many problems. This is the best part of driving down the morning of a race: everything nutritional is easily within your control. My body felt rested since I hadn’t done much intensity training during the week (mostly due to feeling burnt out and not to taper – but it worked out that way).

The venue setup was okay, but I still question why guests must pay $15 to watch the event (although in fairness I’m not sure it was enforced). There was nowhere to really warm up because of the snow and ice still on the ground, so I did a lot of movement and mobility but started the race cold, which wasn’t ideal.

The setup was Spartan typical with a few vendors giving away samples, the kids race at the far end of the venue and the ski lodge taking up the rest of the space. Since it was cold out everyone was doing their best to stay warm and not interacting too much with the vendors. It felt like a small setup but that was good if you were coming to spectate because a lot of the obstacles were set up at the base of the mountain and within easy view.

 

Race

From the moment the gun went off and we took off uphill, I knew my lack of warm-up added unnecessary pain. I was cold, my lungs burned from the get-go and my legs didn’t have any energy. These types of feelings are often solved with a good warm-up – though not always if you aren’t properly tapered. There must have been thirty or forty men that stormed past me in the first 400 meters, but I told myself to relax, they were going too fast, just race your own race.

In the first kilometer I picked off most of the field and was sitting comfortably (or maybe uncomfortably) in 5th place in the age category of 13 – 39. On the uphill I took first place, then lost it on the downhill. This went on a couple of times until I missed the spear throw. As I completed 30 burpees I watched nine men run by. Unfortunately, in a race as short as a Sprint, making up the time with the front runners was going to be very hard – and ultimately, I never caught up to the front of the pack.

Obstacles were easy (for me) and typical of Spartan Races in Canada (more in this in my post-race thoughts).

I crossed the finish line 2nd in my age group, which put me on the podium.

 

Post Race

The podium in my age group was my A goal so I was happy with it. Still, deep down I remember that spear throw and what it probably cost me (first place). Missing it still doesn’t sit well and I’ll have to find a way to practice prior to the next big event.

It might just be me, but from the perspective of Spartan Race Canada vs. Spartan Race U.S., we get cheaper, easier obstacles and the US series gets the best obstacles. I can’t help but feel that Spartan was cheap with this event. The obstacles were the same as almost every other Spartan race in the Ontario / Quebec area. There was nothing new or exciting to take on. For the price we pay to race, I think they could release at least one new, innovative obstacle that challenges people.

If it’s too hard for the average person, they could make a penalty loop rather than burpees to keep racers interested in upcoming events.

I say it every year, but I think I’m done with Spartan Races in the short events. I think I’ll stick with longer, more endurance events like the Spartan Ultra Beast. Of course, at some point the Trifecta pass comes out and the deal is too good to pass up, but if this season holds the same obstacles as I’ve seen so far at Laurentians, I’m ready for something new. Savage Race in the US isn’t necessarily too far, and they put on one hell of a race from what I’ve heard. Tough Mudder puts on some good races also, but I like races that recognize those age groups that still want to compete and that’s not Tough Mudder’s target.

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