Spartan Beast Mount Killington 2018

After the Spartan Super and UA Killington I was actually starting to get kind of nervous for the Beast at Killington. During the super, some fellow sufferers were talking up the beast to me and my friend. Saying how it was impossible to run up the mountain, you couldn’t possibly do it without a hydration pack, how you needed to bring actual food since you’d be out there ALL DAY LONG, there’s a rule you need to bring a headlamp because you might end up still out there past dark, and that something along the lines of only 40% of the people who start the race actually finish it. At the time that really didn’t get to me much. I love the Spartan community, but most of them don’t do the races for the running bits so I figured a tougher running terrain like a mountain would affect them more than myself and that’s what most of the big deal was. Then the UA Killington 25k happened and most of my confidence was lost. Not only was it a BRUTAL race (that I wasn’t sure I could complete again with obstacles thrown in too) but someone also overheard me talking about the beast mid-race and said the UA course was a cake walk in comparison. Hearing that from someone participating in a full running race definitely made their comment hit a little harder.. Was I actually going to be able to complete this race?

Race day came and it was a strange feeling to be unsure if I was going to be physically capable of finishing a race. After reading about the large amount of water aid stations provided I had opted to just bring my FitKicks FitZip Waist Pack (with my 11oz FlipBelt Water Bottle, just in case) and Skratch Labs Energy Chews and Betty Lou’s Bars for fuel. This time (versus UA Killington) I was happy I was able to eat my whole pre-race breakfast of an English muffin and a Honey Stinger Gluten Free Waffle.

As we waited at the start I became slightly nervous at my hydration choice since everyone and their mother seemed to be wearing full out hydration packs, but I figured it was too late now and I’d just have to make the best of it. (In the end my bottle ended up working perfectly! There were plenty of water stations, but some were cup-less so it was handy to have something to store the water in.) I was also really happy with my fuel choices: to have light race fuel I could eat on the go, as well as something more substantial for “lunch”.

The start was pretty intimidating and straight up one of the largest/steepest inclines on the course. It was so immediate that you had to brace yourself at an angle in the starting corral (which I wasn’t a fan of. If I’m on a hill I want to be moving). Having run Killington for UA I wasn’t exactly surprised by the incline and was able to charge up it (not running, but speed hiking for sure). I’m not sure if it was just having seen the mountain before, taking it significantly slower, or that dude totally lied, but I felt like other than the start and the Death March, the Spartan course was actually significantly flatter. I felt really good the entire time and was my usual too-cheery-on-the-running-sections self. Compared to the other Spartan races there was absolutely no mud. The course was all field or wooded trails. The trails were really awesome (and actually may have been where all the elevation was that I was just having too much fun to notice)! They were definitely the choke points though so if you want to actually run the trails I’d recommend signing up for an age group heat, which is what I’ll probably be doing next year.

It was another good day for me and I was able to crush all the walls and obstacles I previously completed again. This time I made it fully through the Twister like it was nothing! I also feel I can count the multi-rig as completed since I was able to do the full thing except the final rope, which I was only unable because it was defective and half the length of all other ropes on the obstacle.

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Killington is unique and has a swim as well as an obstacle under the bridge across the water! You have to wear life jackets so the swim isn’t really a big deal except for getting all your gear soaked. The under-bridge obstacle was a rope ladder and then 4 hand ropes. I was really proud to be able to successfully complete that one as well!

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How pretty are those mountains though?!

Another highlight of my race was the Bender. It’s another favorite of mine, like the Twister. But this time I think the extra adrenaline of being able to actually run (the Super was too muddy to run) kicked in because not only was I able to complete it with no help, but I also climbed it using only my arms! Two guys actually came up to me after and were like, “THAT WAS INSANE!” ๐Ÿ˜

Honestly I’m really glad Killington is my local Beast because the Death March there is ungodly but boy do you feel AMAZING for having accomplished it! It is straight from the bottom of the mountain up to Killington peak going the most direct route, right beside the gondolas. I know a lot of what killed me during the Under Armour race was thinking too hopefully that the incline was over, just to be proven wrong again and again; So I decided to pretend like it was NEVER going to end and then I’d be pleasantly surprised when it did. IT WORKED! I basically FLEW up the mountain. I only stopped about 5 times for a max of about 4 seconds. I passed an insane amount of people and didn’t get passed once. I felt like a true beast after the Death March!

Other than the Death March I think I felt much better during this race than both of the others. I think being able to actually run was extremely helpful. It was still an insanely intense challenge, I just think this type of climbing-a-mountain challenge is more what I’m used to versus wading through mud. I was REALLY excited at the end to see we got special medals that specified we did our beast up a mountain!

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Mountain Series!!

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TRIFECTA COMPLETE!!!!!

Running & Volunteering for the Spartan Super Boston 2018

I’ve had a Spartan trifecta on my goals list for awhile now, but had thought of it as more of a far off/B goal, until one of my old college roommates invited me to join a sprint back in May. Even just the sprint was WAY tougher than I expected and it immediately moved a trifecta up on my goal list. Lucky for me, one other friend from the sprint group was also struck with the need to complete a trifecta so we began plotting.

While I do really believe you get your money’s worth from a Spartan race, they are still rather expensive, so when my friend suggested volunteering in order to wave the ENTIRE race cost I wasn’t about to say no. Also it’s not often I have a chance to give back to a race by volunteering while still being able to run it. She actually ended up volunteering for two different “jobs” on two different days to get two free race entries from the single race! I opted to just volunteer on race day since it was a bit of a drive and I didn’t want to make it twice. Her first job was course building (not on race day), which she said was very fun and didn’t require as much prior building knowledge as their instructions might lead you to believe. (They literally ask you to bring your own hardhat if you own one ๐Ÿ˜‚)

We arrived at the race venue bright and early Saturday and were checked in quickly. We were given the choice of a short or long sleeve technical tee (I honestly want to volunteer again just for the shirt!) and told to grab what we wanted from a selection of snacks and water. We were separated into groups by our jobs: my friend had signed up for the festival and I for the course. I later found out she had been delegated a job at the merchandise tent (unsure the other possible festival jobs) and course jobs seemed to consist of water stations and obstacles. My group’s boss gave us a choice of which obstacle/water station we wanted (within his section of the course) and I wanted an obstacle (but one that most people can’t mess up or get too hurt on) so I chose the A-Frame. This also put me within viewing distance of the rope climb, which is a favorite of mine, but too much responsibility with a way higher chance of people falling.

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Do it for the shirt!!

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My majestic A-Frame โค

I was given a walkie-talkie, a rundown of the basics, and a laminated printout of them as well. I was asked to call out when the first, second, and third male and female elites made it to my obstacle and after that my job was essentially just to cheer people on, call in any medical issues, and direct people off the course in the case of inclement weather. I didn’t have to do anything besides cheer ๐Ÿ™Œ and gained a partner part way through the day so I got to chat and learn a bunch more about Spartan stuff!

[Just a note for others thinking of volunteering and not a complaint at all: They didn’t give us a full out lunch, but as many of the snacks as you wanted. You also were allowed to bring your bag with you so you could just bring your own lunch if snacks aren’t enough.]

One o’clock rolled around soon enough and we went back to registration to sign out of work and get our race packets since we opted to race the same day as volunteering. (You can race same day or save your free race for another time.) The rain had mostly held off all day.. right up until we were getting ready to run ๐Ÿ˜ญ It wasn’t cold like last time though so even with on and off showers throughout it was fine.

The first mile was almost completely running (with only like the last 25 meters being the vertical cargo) through insanely deep, shoe-sucking mud in a corn field. At certain points people were going through the corn a bit because of how hard it was to get your foot back out of the ground along the beaten path. I think I jogged that whole bit thinking the running could only get better, but it sure proved me wrong. I pride myself in being a runner and always trying to run the running part of races, but there really wasn’t a whole lot of this course that you actually could run with the insane mud. There were some technical trails again, but even in those it was mostly just ankle deep mud, just now in the woods instead of in corn fields. It was still very fun, just VERY hard.

For me the first 4-5ish miles were mostly hard just because the mud made running impossible. The obstacles during that part felt really easy. Lots of different walls, which I finally figured out a technique that worked for me to be able to scale all of them without help!!! INCLUDING the inverted! Of course no pictures were taken during that part of the race ๐Ÿ˜† I was feeling really good, I think partially due to the adrenaline of completing obstacles then helping me through the next.

There was a definite lull after that for me. Some basic obstacles, like trenches, crawling under the barbed wire, dunk wall. Also there were a few move-heavy-object type obstacles during that portion, which I don’t really like so they added to the lull.

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The dunk wall makes me sad lol

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Still smiling.. for now.

Then the real race began.. Between mile 6 & 7 was where they put all the toughest, most technical obstacles. The twister, bucket carry, multi-rig, Olympus, monkey bars, javelin, Hercules hoist. It was honestly just insane. I hadn’t done a single burpee up until this point and suddenly I became the burpee master. I had heard (while volunteering) about people dropping out suddenly at the bucket carry and was confused, but when I got there myself I completely understood. Last time I was able to carry my bucket without putting it down once. This time I “put” (more like dropped) the bucket down about every 10 feet. It was horrible.

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Excuse me while I sob into my bucket

It also began to really rain at this point, which was a bummer since it was where all the obstacles I had wanted to try dry for better grip were (twister, multi-rig, olympus, monkey bars). In the end I was able to do all of those obstacles (minus the monkey bars I opted out of) at least half way!!

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Wasn’t even going to try this.. then suddenly I was just doing it

It was a REALLY tough race. Just when I though the sprint was the hardest thing I have done, this one might have topped it in its own horribly, awesome ways. The second half I kept thinking I had given my all and then the next obstacle came up and I mustered a little more from who knows where. It also felt AMAZING to see that amount of progress. Going from needing some help on some walls to instructing others in how to get over them, and being unable to do any of those last hard obstacles to being able to complete at least half way on all of them.

I always find it crazy to look back on races, when you KNOW in the moment you thought about quitting and NEVER racing again multiple times, but soon as you’re done you’re thinking about signing up for your next one. Now I CANNOT WAIT for the Beast at Killington and all the new challenges it will bring to test me even further.

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FIN.

Have you ever volunteered at a Spartan or another race?
What’s the hardest race you’ve ever run? Would you run it again?
What’s your proudest progress moment?


Current Antics

Spartan Beast
September 15

Ragnar Adirondacks
September 21 & 22

Ragnar Trail Wawayanda Lake
October 5 & 6

Tackle the Trail
October 20

Rhode Races Narragansett Marathon
October 28

Silver Falls Trail 50k
November 3

Antelope Canyon Ultras Trail Half
March 9, 2019

Vermont City Marathon
May 26, 2019

Tough Mudder Boston 2018

Not going to lie, going into the Tough Mudder after the Spartan I wasnโ€™t exactly beyond pumped. The forecast was showing not only rain again ๐Ÿ˜ซ but THUNDERSTORMS. Their website didnโ€™t really have full details about weather, just stating it was a rain or shine event unless it was more inclimate weather (not what theyโ€™d actually do in that case). After looking at the obstacles the Tough Mudder looked far more like a team race, where the obstacles werenโ€™t just hard, but impossible as just a single person. Iโ€™m all for teamwork, but that honestly didnโ€™t spark my interest as much as the Spartan obstacles where although I couldnโ€™t personally do them all on my own, they were doable by a single person. But I had already signed up, paid, and I was at least going to give the race a try!

My boyfriends legs were still recovering from the poison ivy he got from the Spartan (๐Ÿ˜… yikes is he allergic) so he was out. Luckily, I have too many crazy friends so I was able to recruit another of my old roommates (one is how I got into this whole Spartan/Tough Mudder mess to begin with ๐Ÿ˜œ) to take his spot the night before!

The three of us who had originally planned to race lived close together and carpooled there. You had to pay for general parking, but it’s literally across the road from the fancy parking, which is literally right in front of the course. We didn’t realize how close it was until the return shuttle ride. We honestly could have easily just walked ๐Ÿ˜… I thought it was really neat that they put your parking pass in the same QR code as your race registration so you wouldn’t forget it! The parking lot was your standard “field turned into parking lot for the day” and they made parking a quick and easy process.

Technically we didn’t try to switch the registration until the day of the race, at which point the website no longer supported registration switching. We decided to just go to the race and see if they could help us. They asked to see the email saying my boyfriend sent a transfer request to my roommate, and then just signed her up quick. It was really nice they were so chill about it.

One of the only places I felt this race was lacking was in identification. They only gave you a normal bib to stick on the front of your shirt, which generally isn’t going to be very visible in a mud race. They did have markers out (that looked like sharpies), but no instructions. They ended up being easy enough to clean off so I would recommend writing your number on your forehead (like how Spartans use a headband) to be able to find your pictures easily as possible.

The Race

The atmosphere of this race is AMAZING! When the starting line hype guy was giving a speech about being one giant team I kind of thought, “yea right sure ๐Ÿ™„”, but he wasn’t lying at all. At any point during any obstacle if you even looked like you were having trouble you would be asked, not by the staff, but by multiple other participants if you needed any help. It wasn’t uncommon to see the more skilled groups quickly complete an obstacle and then just hangout there for a bit helping or giving tips to random people from other groups. You ended up making friends with random people as they helped you with an obstacle and then you helped them with another later.

The running part of the course was far closer to what I expected of a mudder. It was still a bit more woodsy and scenic (fine by me!) but far less advanced trails than the Spartan, so you could enjoy more of the view without the constant worry of falling on your face. I wasn’t worried for my non-trail runner friends like I was during the Spartan so that was nice.

Random Highlights

Inverted Wall – I was able to get over it all by myself. And I did it so quick everyone kind of missed it ๐Ÿ˜‚ and was just like, “how/when did you do that??”

Warped Wall – This was one of my favorites because it was INSANE how amped everyone got. People were going nuts cheering and we honestly just sat happy to watch and cheer for like 10 minutes before we even got in line to go ourselves. I also got it on my first try (with help from people at the top).

The Blockness Monster – This one was super unique and I’ve never seen or heard of anything like it. It was also insanely fun/cool! You had to all work together to use your weight to turn the blocks. I also didn’t realize how deep the water in the middle was but enjoyed the surprise of having to swim!

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Laughing at being too short to stand

We only did the half but were able to see some of the other obstacles that were included in the full. One was a combo of doorknobs and ledges, which was really cool to see some of the more advanced things we practice in ninja warrior class on the course.

They don’t give out medals, but sweatbands instead which I thought were really cute. The shirts are also really nice technical t-shirts!

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Looking like an extra from the movie Dodgeball lol

I think it’s safe to say everyone in my group wants to run another Tough Mudder and wants to complete a full (10 mile) now.

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They also had colorful water!!

Spartan Sprint Boston

Last weekend’s Spartan sprint didn’t go at all as planned. I have done another obstacle course race multiple years before and thought I knew about what to expect, but I was extremely wrong. Since Spartans seem to be THE obstacle race, I assumed it would be bigger, but also more organized than the previous one I had done. So when they said to arrive 2 hours before your start time in the pre-race email I figured that had to be an exaggeration.. It honestly wasn’t. The “parking lot” was your standard huge open field converted into parking for the day. We sat in line (that got converted into two lines and then merged back into one for seemingly absolutely no reason) for over 20 minutes, then had to walk a quarter mile to the shuttle stop to wait in another disorganized line. The shuttle ride was also about 15 minutes and dropped you off at the entrance to the campground which was about a mile away from the start line. Since I had assumed we’d be good with a 45 minute buffer we ended up on a time crunch and running as much as we could so we had a nice warm up I guess ๐Ÿ˜… Luckily, registration check in and bag check were quick so we were fine once we moved to the next 15 minute start slot.

When I read 3+ miles I automatically assumed a 5k (with the plus just to account for obstacles) since that seems to be the universal “fun run” distance. I didn’t seem to be completely in the wrong though since as we jogged to the start, the starting line hype guy announced, “You know how you thought this was a 5k? Well it’s actually 5 miles!!” My non-runner boyfriend and I looked at each other slightly alarmed for him, but both thought while it would definitely be a challenge, the obstacles would break it up enough to make it doable.

The race began and we were immediately thrown into an EXTREMELY technical, single track trail. Far more technical than any trail I’ve ever seen in the area. It was super pretty and CRAZY fun.. for someone who enjoys challenging trails. The “path” was pretty much entirely rocks, roots, puddles, and mud. Sometimes there wasn’t even a clear path and sometimes the mud was so deep and thick it threatened to suck your shoes off. We ran though multiple streams and even through/in what I think was a small river at one point.

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I originally assumed the path would open up and get easier once we got to the obstacles, but all the running portions were this crazy trail, with field openings just big enough to house each obstacle.

Random Highlights/Memorable Moments

Rope Climb – I was able to do it AND it was easy!!! I was bummed they didn’t have a photographer there โ˜น๏ธ but also get that’s probably not the most flattering angle for a photo ๐Ÿ˜†

Bucket Carry – Trudging along in super murky, ankle deep water and taking my next step into an unseen hole deeper than my leg.. only slightly terrifying. But I made it the whole way without stopping or putting the bucket down!

Sandbag Lift – I jumped up and held on to the rope hoping my weight would bring the bag down.. it didn’t. I had to lay down on the ground and prop my leg against the fence for even more force in order to make the bag budge.

It wasn’t a bad time for me until it started raining at the end of the first hour. It was a cooler day to begin with and the rain drenched you and chilled you to the bone. I was having a hard time moving my hands and shivering so badly that I wasn’t really able to give it my best for some obstacles. It also made most of the medal, hanging type obstacles so slippery they were near impossible. (I don’t think I saw a single person complete just the plain rings. Even the most jacked guys were doing burpees there.) Toward the end I was so cold that burpees were no longer a punishment and I was happily doing them for warmth.

By the time we saw the finish and the fire jump I think we were both pretty much at our limit. I honestly might have teared up a bit ๐Ÿ˜‚

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The worst thing was realizing we had a mile walk back to the shuttle stop in the rain while freezing with my boyfriend now only able to move at hobbling pace. Plus the walk from the shuttle drop off to car.

Looking back it was fun (I’m not sure if I would have told you that at the time lol) but the rain made it not only way more brutal, but also kind of ruined some of the bigger obstacles I was looking forward to. I’m glad we did it and this definitely made me want to do more Spartans to attempt to complete more obstacles and distances, but I think I’d pass on another rainy one.