One of the best venues for a Sprint race in the northeast is up in Tuxedo New York, where I raced this past weekend. Last year I had completed 2 laps the Saturday I raced. This time around I wasn’t planning any multi lap days, however I was going to race Saturday and Sunday. I luckily had some friends who lived in the area that let me stay with them, so I wouldn’t have to drive back and forth both days. (Thanks again Juan, Silvia, and Dexter!)
Last year I had no issues with the course, only failing the spear throw on both laps. After doing 2 penalty free races in Rutland just a few weeks ago, my confidence was feeling pretty high. I had some good rest and my legs were feeling better, so I was looking forward to the weekend and felt good about where I might finish. I know my age group is full of absolute burners, so getting a podium wasn’t even in my mindset, but I was hoping to place in the top 20 or so of racers.
Saturday starts. Up early. About a 2 hour drive to the venue. Get checked in and ready. Pretty smooth sailing. Weather is pretty much perfect. Barely any clouds and the sun is coming up. Some mud in the festival area but nothing big. Bag check is right next to changing area and the bathrooms. Not something most people think about but it is annoying as hell when they set them up on opposite ends of the festival area. It’s the small things that make me happy!
Run into a few people, having some good convos. Get my bag checked in and I’m ready to race. Pretty good sized corral for my age group, 115 people. Starting Spartan ceremonies and then we are off!
Terrain was very technical for this race, especially Saturday. A lot of times it felt like there was no trail and we were making it up as we went along. The announcer had made it a point to advise us to pay attention, that it was easy to get lost out there, and he wasn’t kidding! Several times I had to look around for markings to make sure I was still on the race path. Wasn’t trusting any of the racers to be on the right path, as that decision had backfired earlier at the NJ Ultra.
Walls, Hurdles, then Hay Wall. No big deal. Got to the Rolling mud and Dunk wall and was surprised to find there was very little water in it. It was only up to my knees, so going under the dunk wall meant you barely got wet at all. Not complaining, but some people were disappointed. I heard later through the grapevine that there was a water pump issue and they were unable to fill it. Makes sense because I had never seen a dunk wall so empty before.
Bucket Brigade actually wasn’t too bad. Still heavy and it still sucked, but I was able to do it both days without putting it down once which is pretty huge for me. Loving the pre-filled buckets. Some people have said they are lighter now. If they are, well I’m not complaining! Coming back down the hill was a little slick, saw one person wipe out pretty hard.
So Spartan has been definitely stepping up the difficulty this year and grouping certain obstacles together. This race they had the Herc Hoist, followed immediately by Olympus, then a climb up the mountain to Twister! A pretty tough Trifecta of obstacles. Herc Hoist was surprisingly kinda light this race, not sure what happened there….. ⚡️
Got to Olympus, made sure I cleaned off my shoes, then went across. Took my time, kept my footing secure, and made it to the bell with no issues. Saw lots of people in the penalty zone, so it felt pretty good walking past them.
Up the hill to Twister. Was a pretty good climb so I had to stop for a minute to catch my breath. Started working my way through Twister. Got to the 2nd transition and the guy next to me bumped me. Not a big deal, I had my hands both secured at that moment so I didn’t skip. But it did surprise me and cause me to pause. Started moving and I could feel my grip giving out on me. Reached my hand to the next handlebar, and I slipped right off. 2 handles away from the bell. I was almost in shock when it happened because I haven’t failed that obstacle in awhile. Realized I hadn’t taken a breath almost the whole time, which probably didn’t help me with the obstacle. Walked over dejectedly to the penalty zone and did my burpees.
After that my arms were fried. Getting through Twister usually takes a lot out of me, but to spend all that energy to get near the end and then to still have to do 30 burpees, was pretty demoralizing. Really had a hard time getting going after that, physically and mentally.
Sandbag carry was after that. Always a rough obstacle for me. Was up some pretty steep terrain. Plus the weight on the “wreck bag” style bags never seems to be evenly distributed. Felt like a 20lb to 60lb split between the sides. I had to drop to my knees once just so I could catch my breath.
Finished that, then down the hill to a 7 foot wall and the Spear throw. The spear throw I was 5/6 on the year, so I was feeling pretty good. However I rushed my throw without balancing it and the spear point stayed up and wide. 30 more burpees.
At this point my arms are wiped out and I’m staring dead at the Rope climb. I haven’t failed this obstacle in a long time but the way my arms were feeling I did not have a lot of confidence. I took a minute to get some deep breaths then started up the rope. Tried to the rope with my feet but it kept slipping. Realized there must be some mud stuck in the treads of my shoes. Felt myself slipping so I grabbed ahold of the rope and started moving up it as fast as I could. Didn’t know how long my arm strength would last but I did not want to do any more burpees. Was able to get up the rope quickly and smacked that bell.
Up the hill to a Barbed wire crawl. It was fairly long and uphill. Lots of rocks and the wire was actually pretty low. It got caught on my jersey a few times. Slip wall was after that. It was very dry but the ropes were higher than normal so it made it hard to get up. Plus you were running uphill and the footing wasn’t very solid. Several people were having issues. Luckily I was able to grab my rope on the first try and get myself over the wall.
Over the cargo frame then heading down to the last obstacle, Multi Rig. Since this was a Sprint race, the rig was all rings. This is usually one of my favorite obstacles but I was so tired I didn’t really enjoy it. The bell on the end was very high so I knew I would have to get some good momentum. However the rig was facing downhill, so momentum wasn’t an issue. Actually I felt like I had too much momentum and I was afraid I was going to fly right off the rings. I had to kip back and forth a little in the middle to slow myself down, as I really didn’t want to fail right before the finish line. Kept a good pace and I swung so hard I actually hit the bell from the 2nd to last ring without even trying! The official smiled at me and laughed because she knew I hadn’t meant to do that, it just kinda happened. But it was one of the few things that went in my favor.
Ran down the hill, crossed the finish line, and got my medal. Didn’t feel good at all about my race. Probably the worst I’ve felt at the end of any race. I knew my time was bad but it was confirmed later when I checked the results. 1 hour and 41 minutes it took me, for a race that I thought I would do really well in. Probably my slowest time ever for an OCR of this distance. Ended up 87th out of 115. Was feeling pretty demoralized and I knew I had no one to blame but myself. Didn’t bring my A game.
One of the things I’ve always talked about with these races is the sense of community and camaraderie you get from the other racers. When I finished, most of them knew I hadn’t had a good race, and tried to cheer me up with some “this is a hard course” talk and how they had similar experiences at other races. I appreciated it and knew they meant well.
So I had signed up to do some Spartan Media as a Brand Ambassador after the race and I was looking forward to that. I had signed up to film racers doing Herc Hoist. Well that happened to be right in the festival area and right next to the Orange County Chopper that was being auctioned off to raise money for the Oscar Mike group that helps adaptive athletes get through races. Plus I got to see Joe DeSena, the founder of Spartan Race, for the first time in the flesh. I wanted to be able to shake his hand and say a few words, but he was always surrounded by media and people that I didn’t get a chance to. I didn’t wanna be that crazy fan who pushes through people.
So doing the Media thing and videotaping racers ended up being a lot of fun and just the positive energy boost I needed after my race performance. Ended up hanging out most of the day at the venue. Talked to some new Spartan racers and offered some tips, as well as listened to some Veterans tell me how they approach races.
Next day I showed up early again and ready for day 2. I had no high hopes after the prior days performance, my goal was to get through it and turn my previous failures into successes. Corral was much smaller for sunday, only 52 total in my Age Group. Started out slow near the back, but moved along at a pretty steady pace. Legs were sore but not bad surprisingly. Was worried about that after having issues at the last few races. Thinking the 2 week break definitely helped. Got to Twister, made sure to take my time and breathe, and I got through it with no issue. Kinda frustrating because I know I should be able to do that at every race, but that’s how it goes. Same for spear, took a second to balance it properly, then nailed it almost dead center. 6 for 8 now on the year.
Ended up with a finishing time of 1 hour 12 minutes, 29 minutes faster than my pace on Saturday! Unreal. Was pretty stoked about that. Felt really good, especially since looking at previous races, it’s one of my top 3 Sprint times that isn’t a stadium race. Funny thing though, my age group is so competitive, that Sundays time was good for 36th out of 52. Ouch! Very humbling and shows I have a LOT of work to do if I want to become a better racer.
Thanks again for reading! I appreciate any questions or comments. Have a little bit of a break, my next race isn’t till the Savage Race in PA on the 23rd. I had some interesting experiences this weekend, and I have an idea for a seperate Post I’m going to do that’s not really race related. As always feel free to message me on my Instagram or facebook page!