Full disclosure: I hate running in the cold. Hate the cold air that gets stuck in your lungs, slowing you down. Hate having to wear multiple layers just to stay warm. It’s just not my idea of a good time.
But when I saw that Spartan was doing the first US Winter race in NY, I was kinda interested. When I found out they would be giving a unique finisher medal and shirt that you could only get at that race, I knew I had to sign up.
Friday before the race, the drive up to Cortland was a little crazy at spots. The sky would be clear, and then all of a sudden a crazy snow storm and I wouldn’t be able to see more then 10 feet in front of my car. But luckily we made it up there with no issues, just a very dirty car.
After getting up there, we realized it was going to be much colder on race day then I had planned. So we made a quick stop at a local Dicks for a base layer cold gear shirt, and some thicker winter gloves.
Saturday morning at about 6 am the temp was about 8 with a wind chill of near 0. Was pretty happy I had purchased that additional gear. Got to the parking lot and took the shuttle over to the mountain. Got into the building to register and it was a madhouse. Turns out registration was supposed to be outside but all the computers froze cause of the temperatures. So Spartan had scrambled and moved everything indoors. This delayed registration and most race times got pushed back 30 minutes. Which was fine by me, cause I was happy to stay inside till it got closer to my race time.
My biggest worry was keeping my hands warm. Cause if my hands got too cold than there’s no way I would be able to handle any of the obstacles. So my plan was to wear my UA lifting gloves, which are tight to the skin and I have used in previous races, but then wear my winter gloves over them to keep my hands warm. I was thinking I could than just take the winter gloves off before the obstacle, complete the obstacle, then put the gloves back on. This plan actually worked out really well, I had very few issues with cold hands during the race.
So about 9:50 I walk out to the startup entrance, and cross the first wall into the corral. Everyone’s jumping around and dancing to the music trying to keep warm and stay pumped. The Spartan announcer starts going through his speech and we’re all fired up, not really noticing the cold. Couple seconds later and we’re off!
Race starts with a decent hill. Nothing as crazy as Killington but because everything’s covered in snow, you don’t know if you’re stepping on ice or one ground. So it made for some slippery footholds. After the hill, we did a couple hurdles, followed by a 6 foot wall. Then a barbed wire crawl over ice that was pretty easy since you could just slide your way through it. Nothing crazy yet.
Next came a 7 foot wall, followed by the Deep freeze. It was basically running under a bridge through a creek and some rocks. Not a big deal but getting my feet wet in that cold wasn’t a good time. Next was the Multirig which is always one of my favorite obstacles and one I usually fly through. This rig was all rings though. Kinda boring and way to easy in my opinion. Took me about 10 seconds to get through it.
Next up was the Atlas carry. 65 lb rock you have to pick up, carry to the other side, do 5 burpees, then pickup and carry back. Normally this obstacle isn’t an issue for me despite the weight of the rock. But today I had a hard time lifting that rock. My upper body strength was an issue, and that prevailed through the majority of the race. May have been because of the weather, but I don’t like to use it as an excuse. Simply need to use it as something to improve on.
The following obstacle was the plate drag. Usually this obstacle can be difficult because of rocks and uneven ground. However, just like the barb wire crawl this was super easy because the ground was a sheet of ice. Pulled the plate to one side, then dragged the plate back. Probably took all of 30-40 seconds total.
Next more walls, then the dreaded bucket brigade. Fill a bucket with rocks all the way up to the line, carry it all the way through a section of the course then drop it back off. This was done on a much flatter portion of the race then other races I had completed. However the slippery footing didn’t make it easy. A couple people dropped and spilled their buckets. So I took my time because I did not want to start over.
The rope climb was afterwards. My arms were pretty tired after the buckets but I’ve always been able to climb the rope. However today wasn’t my day. I usually go all arms with the climb because I haven’t done well with any of the S hook type techniques. I got about 2 more arm lengths away from the bell, and I felt my arms give out on me and I dropped back down. Very disappointed. So I did my 30 burpees and moved on.
Next up was the Hercules Hoist. Lift a sandbag up a rope to the top then bring it back down. Again, this was an obstacle I have always completed. But on Saturday that trend didn’t continue. I couldn’t get the bag more than a foot off the ground. Several Spartans next to me that where bigger also seemed to be struggling. So I made the decision to just do my burpees instead of blowing my arms out and still not complete the obstacle. So now I’ve done 60 burpees.
Spear throw followed this. Threw it high and it didn’t stick. 30 more burpees. 90 total.
Pretty bummed with myself at this point. Was trying to stay positive but was not happy with failing obstacles that I previously had no issues with.
Next where Walls, a cargo net, and a snow quarter pipe. Nothing too hard, got through them pretty easily. Sandbag carry was next. Had to carry the bag up a descent hill. Hard part was pieces of the hill seemed to fall apart as we stepped on it. So you really had to take your time. One Spartan fell very awkwardly and a few of us stopped to make sure he was alright. Once I got to the top I could see some Spartans sliding down the hill while sitting on the sandbag. This was by far the most fun part of the race. Felt like a little kid sliding down that hill.
Once I put the sandbag back, the volunteers where shouting all you gotta do is get down this hill and you’re finished. Felt great hearing that. We ran down that hill, up a very slippery inverted wall and went over that fire jump! Crossed the finish line, got my medal and a hug from the volunteer.
Now that it’s over, I can say I had a lot of fun at this race. It was very different from the normal summer races, and I enjoyed the challenge. Running in Competitive was much better than the Opens I did last year, as everyone around me seemed to take the race much more serious, which I liked. It was also quit humbling and showed me I still have a lot to work on. My finish time I was not very happy with but I’m going to use that as my motivation to get better.
Hope you enjoyed my review of the 1st Spartan Winter US race at Greek Peak. Any questions or comments are welcome! AROO!!