Fatigued, messy hair and sweat running in to your eyes… and that’s before you even reach the event. Recently Muscat was the host of the world famous Spartan obstacle race. It has been the talk of the town for weeks as people gear themselves up for the event in Oman for the first time. The fit, the determined and the insane were there and ready to channel their inner Spartan warrior and push their bodies to breaking point.
This has been an event in my calendar that I have been looking forward to! It has been the focus and training goal to be “race ready” on time. With 1,500 competitors trained, primed and conditioned for most people this isn’t exactly a weekend fun run – this was serious business.
How does a Spartan Sprint race work? Basically, you begin at the starting point and if you are tough enough you will finish at the end. In between those two points is the unknown, anything could happen throughout the course as you tackle the terrain and the obstacles.
As race morning arrived I awoke feeling slightly nervous but healthy and ready for the challenge ahead. Through breakfast and on the way to the event the nervous butterflies in my stomach were building and by the time we reached the holding pen to start the race I was downright terrified.
Quietly eyeing up the competition around us everyone appeared to be pumped up athletes ready to tackle the course ahead. I began to psyche myself out and doubt my ability but as the starting noise was sounded the nerves were forgotten and auto pilot switched on, one foot on front of the other and start running.
With 6.5km of Sprint course ahead the initial 1.5km portion was running on soft sand and across the dunes and really testing cardio endurance and leg strength. From there the first four obstacles came in quick succession and soon we were up and off again.
As we ran from the dunes down onto the beach and into the water, just to get your shoes wet to slow you down, the course looped onto the craggy beach rocks as you loaded up with sandbags to weigh you down even further. Funnily enough I was totally ok with this bit, A sandbag is a lot easier to handle than a 16kg toddler mid tantrum.
Snaking away from the beach the uphill sprint took us on to dusty and rocky terrain where the cooling beach side breeze disappeared and the cardio impact was intensified by the heat and humidity. (The temperature was around 33 degrees C with humidity of 47%) The sweat poured from my head as I shake it off in an oh-so glamorous wet dog kind of way. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for them some runners are less glamorous and stop to vomit at the side of the trail as others disappear behind rocks to release the “runners trots”.
Making my way through obstacles like tyre flips, muddy water pits, barbed wire crawls and up over 6 foot walls. This is no easy task as my heart pounds in my chest but the legs on auto pilot just keep going.
As your brain starts giving up before your body it tells you “I can’t do anymore, I just need to rest”, everytime I started to slow I could hear people shouting words of encouragement and it gave me that boost to keep going…and not look like a total, well, girl.
Despite practicing monkey bars before race day these were my main weakness on the day. As I jumped to start the first rung I slipped off the wet bar. Composing myself and attempting it again I just couldn’t get the momentum to swing to the next bar as they are placed far apart. And so it was to the burpee station for me.. Already fatigued the energy draining 30 burped penalty was a tough punishment.
The last push to the finishing point was via huge A-frame structures, not ideal for those with a fear of heights, through an ICE COLD water bath leaving me with crippling cramp in my quads and then up a slippery mud wall to the very last obstacle and the finale….
The fire jump looks like a great photo opportunity but believe me, fresh out of that ice bath I was struggling to get my legs to cooperate never mind jump a fire pit. As I sprinted towards it I could feel the heat radiating. I’m pretty sure there were a sea of expletives leaving my mouth as I used the last bit of energy my legs had to stop me from tripping into the fire itself.
And that was that. My first ever Spartan Sprint completed. Phew!
My finishing time was 1 hour and 12 minutes, not too far from my initial aim of around 1 hour. From the Sprint race stats I placed 100th overall, bringing me to 12th place in my age group. On the day I was delighted with those results and felt happy, now that I am rested and semi recovered I know that I can do better than this.
From the amazing beach front location to the party atmosphere and community spirit I loved everything about this event. This is a pretty huge deal for Oman to host such an event and I hope that every year it will grow bigger and stronger as it brings so many new people together with the aim to be healthier and stronger.
I know that you, my dear readers, like to live vicariously through me, and that’s totally ok.. I’ll do all the hard, sweaty stuff and expensive part and you can be entertained and amused from the comfort of your house or office. Sounds good, right? So then comes the question “What is next?”… And ohhhh boy it’s a big one. You will probably be glad to not have to actually take part in this. It is a little crazy and could be classed as physical suicide… Watch this space.
See you soon,