This weekend I was heading up to Massachusetts with my friend Steve for a double header race! Was planning on racing the Spartan Sprint on Saturday and Sunday. Didn’t think it would be a bad drive up but it took around 6 hours to get to the hotel outside of Rutland Mass. Not a great start to the weekend.
It was 75 degrees and sunny when we left PA. When we woke up Saturday morning it was a brisk 40 degrees, very cloudy, and threatening rain. We got to the parking area early because we knew we would have to take a shuttle to get to the venue. Waited maybe 5 minutes for the bus then a 10 minute ride to the venue. Pretty smooth. The walk to the venue was pretty long, probably a quarter mile or so. Not too bad but definitely could slow some people down from getting to their start times. Checked in with registration, dropped off our bags. Did some light jogging around the venue to get warmed up because it was still quite cold. We actually got lucky, the rain held off till about 10 am so we didn’t have to deal with it in our 8 am start. Got in our corrals, listened to the announcer and then off we went!
So usually the race start is wide open, on a flatter piece of ground. This race started immediately on very technical terrain with lots of rocks and trees. You REALLY had to watch where you were stepping as it was pretty easy to twist a foot or an ankle. There were several sections where I was never on the ground just on rocks. Since we were all at the start going full bore, this made it really difficult. Luckily no one I saw fell or anything, because as close as we all were, that would’ve taken several people out.
Not going to talk about every obstacle but just go over the highlights and lowlights of the race. Also I’ll talk about the differences from Saturday’s race compared to Sunday’s.
Rope climb was the first major obstacle. Was nice having it so early, my arms were fresh. Picked a good rope and had no issues getting up it either day. Plus I’ve been digging in my feet a lot more when I do it so that helps create more stability.
Bucket carry and sandbag carry were almost back to back with only a wall obstacle between the two. The bucket carry was through a technical piece of terrain that forced you to walk through water that was above your ankles. Not an easy thing when you’re carrying a heavy bucket. Gotta say though I love that they have lids now. I’ve been carrying it upside down and that helps a lot. I didn’t have to put the bucket or the sandbag down once either day, which is saying something as I usually have to drop them several times. Sandbag carry was with the newer wreck style bags and it was up a hill. I definitely like when the carry starts uphill, as it makes it much easier on the return trip.
So 7 obstacles in and all the carries are completed. Sweet!! Monkey bars was next with a great view of the lake. No major ups and downs on the bars. Used my 2 handed method and had no problems.
Long barbed wire crawl. The wire was high and fairly long but not too many rocks. Still managed to cut my knee though. Never fails.
Next up was a trifecta of grip obstacles all in a row: Twister, Olympus, a short run and then a Multi Rig that was all rings. Twister had been in my head since failing it at NJ twice. Don’t know why. But I attacked it this time with a game plan: slow and steady. Trust your grip strength. I don’t go backwards or side to side. I face it front with straight arms, no 90 degree angles. This way I’m hanging low but my hands are meeting the handlebars at the same point every time. Also breathe. Too many people hold their breath and get anxious. I took deliberate breaths and even hummed to myself. Didn’t get through it fast but I rang that bell twice and that’s all that matters to me!
Olympus was another obstacle I wanted redemption on. Last time I failed it I felt was because of a lack of concentration and taking it for granted as an easier obstacle. This time I made sure to clean up my shoes, then get high and low on the wall. Moved from grip to hole to grip all the way across. Another success both days.
The rings on the multi rig had a nice texture to them so they were easier to grip. That also helped when it came time to ring the bell as it was raised high so you had to pull yourself up to it. Rings are an obstacle that usually isn’t an issue and this weekend was no different. Able to hit the bell both times.
Rolling mud was REALLY cold. Felt like an ice water bath. The dunk wall that followed was not deep at all. I actually hit my head on the wall coming back up because I was so close to the bottom. Not sure why they did it that way as usually you have to get your whole body down in there.
Slip wall followed. On Saturday it was easy. However on Sunday, after it had rained most of the day Saturday and thousands of racers had stomped through, it was super muddy! It was extremely hard to get traction to get up the wall and the ropes weren’t low. You had to leap at them but it was hard to get any momentum in the mud. People were actually having to do penalty burpees at the slip wall because they couldn’t get over it. First time I had seen that but I could understand it. I ended up starting diagonal to the wall on some “fresh” ground to build up some running momentum, then leaping from the side of the wall to grab the rope. Was able to snag the end of the rope and hold it securely enough that I could then pull myself up the wall. Felt really good being able to do this as I saw even some accomplished racers struggling with it.
Spear throw was at the top of the hill. I have a really good technique with this and it has served me very well this year. So far I was 4/5 this year and after this weekend I was 6/7! Pretty pumped about that.
Last obstacle was the Herc Hoist. Didn’t have any problems with it Saturday but Sunday it was definitely heavier after all the rain. I made sure to pick a rope that was near a good section of fence that I could leverage myself against. Took me a little while but I got that sandbag up to the top and then safely back down.
Most Spartan races, the last obstacle is fairly close to the end. But this one had about a third of a mile run through some real technical terrain and mud before you got to the end. Plus a lot of it was on a downhill slope so you could really book it but you had to watch your feet. I’m curious how many finishing positions were won or lost during this section.
Crossed that finish line feeling pretty good about my races. Both races had no penalties, I completed every obstacle. Saturday I had a respectable finish at 43rd out of 101 in my 30-39 age group. Sunday my knee was bothering me so I didn’t push it, just went out and had some fun. Had a great time regardless and felt good about my race. With conquering all the grip strength obstacles both days, I am happy with that part of my OCR game. Just have to work on getting faster.
Saturday after the race I volunteered to do some Spartan media and videotape people conquering obstacles. I was videotaping at twister for 2 hours and it was a lot of fun, cheering on people and watching them get through it. The high 5s and clapping when people hit that bell NEVER got old. The energy was infectious and I made it a point to give as much encouragement as I could. The rain was coming down really good at this point which makes twister a thousand times harder but when someone was able to hit that bell, the cheers from even other racers was loud and booming! Felt amazing to be a part of. Even when people couldn’t get through it, we still made it a point to let them know they were doing a great job just being out there and doing their best. I wanted them all to ring that bell so bad!
So to recap, I thought this was a great race venue. The course was very technical and well designed. Clear trail markings, and plenty of volunteers as well as water stations. The festival area was very close together, everything was centralized, so it made it really easy to get food and beer and still hear the music and the cheering from the crowds. Also the Finisher shirts and photo tent was right after you crossed the finish line so it made it easy to get them. Sometimes other venues they are separate and kinda hidden so this was nice. Only thing I thought was a little weird was that the shower/changing area was almost right next to the finish line and merch booths and not near bag check. Not sure the reason for that, I feel like those two things should always be closer to each other. But at least it wasn’t a quarter mile walk like it was at another race.
Also there was a lot of planes flying overhead during the race which after I finished my race, I was able to look up and realize it was a competing race organization flying a banner and advertising their race. IMO that’s not cool at all and a very weird tactic.
Anyway that sums up my review of the Boston Spartan Sprint. If you have any questions or comments please message me below or on any of my social media platforms. As always thank you for the support and I look forward to the next post! 🤡👍🏽👍🏽