Palmerton Spartan Super – 7/14/18

This past weekend was the Super and Sprint Spartan Race at Blue Mountain Ski Resort. Unfortunately there was heavy rain and lightning on Sunday, so only the Super Race happened. So this post will be about that race instead of the whole weekend.

The week prior to the race had been extremely hot and humid. I upped my water intake all week, getting myself hydrated and ready for the weekend. Didn’t really eat more calories than normal as this isn’t a long endurance race. Spartan also had an Open House on Friday, which allowed people to try out some signature obstacles. Twister, Olympus, Rope Climb, and even the very rare Ape Hanger, where all available to practice on. My team the Lehigh Valley Spartans met up there early and where able to give each other tips and training for the different obstacles. Only obstacle none of us tried was Ape Hanger, because even if you complete the obstacle, you are getting soaked and we weren’t really dressed for that. If I had known Ape Hanger was available at the Open House, I probably would have brought a change of clothes.

Anyway, Saturday morning I’m up and ready to race. Have all of my gear packed. I don’t take food or a hydration pack with me during these shorter races, as I don’t feel like carrying it through the whole race. Plus Spartan usually has plenty of water stations, so all I have to carry with me is Gu and Energy Blocks, which I can keep in my pockets.

I get to the race venue and it’s already warm. Lots of people as this is a popular venue. The elevation here is over 1500 feet, so when you race here you expect to have to deal with that. Last year the Elite and Age group racers had to contend with a double sandbag carry on the steepest decline and incline on the mountain. This year they advised us in the starting corral that we would be carrying a sandbag AND a wreckbag, up and down that same hill! Yikes indeed!

Starting anthem and then we’re off! Up the hill. A LONG hill. A mile of just straight uphill elevation with only some overwalls during the climb. That climb was awful. Several times it looked like we reached the top, only to see another summit! Had to walk backwards several times just so I could work different muscles and give some of them a break!

Finally made it to the sandbag carry. The destroyer of dreams. A wreckbag and a sandbag carried down a double black diamond, a short loop, then back up what seemed like a 70 degree grade of elevation. I’ve done many carries in spartan races but this one almost broke me. On the way down I carried the wreckbag on my neck, and the sandbag in both arms in front of me. But when I reached the bottom I felt lightheaded from the wreckbag on my neck. On the way back up I had to drape the wreckbag across my back and carry the sandbag with my hand. I had to stop so many times. I was bending over and sometimes laying on elbows and knees just to give my arms a break. There were a lot of racers sprawled all over that side of the mountain.

Side note: they again ran out of sandbags or wreckbags. 3rd year in a row. So some people had 2 sandbags or just one wreckbag. Which is unacceptable for a competitive race. Period.

7 foot wall then a long descent down. All the way to the bottom of the mountain we had just climbed. I’ve been having IT band issues so this downhill run hurt me a lot. Had to run sideways at spots. Did whatever I could to make it easier, but it was a steep descent.

At the bottom was Twister. My method for this is slow but works well for me. I face forward and hang. This way I grab the handles at the same spot every time. If you have questions, shoot me a message and I can send you a video of my method. It’s not the fastest but it works if you have the grip strength.

Back up the hill to Plate drag. No issues. Z Wall was a little easier than it had been at Vernon. Not as big of a reach at the point. Bender after that was very slippery. Probably from the sweat of all the racers before me. Had to take it slow.

Then Spearthrow. Took my time, made sure the tip was straight. Throw was smooth and the spear stuck. 7 for 9 on the year!

Multi rig was tough but fun. Couple rings, then a bar, then ropes and more rings! Plus the bell was high! You really had to get some good momentum. Had no issues, and I enjoyed the challenge as the all rings multi rig are really boring!

Hurdles, then water crossing, then an uphill rolling mud. Very different. Olympus was after that. Found a wall that was directly in the sun so it would be drier. Olympus is one of my strong obstacles, and this race was no different. Moved along it quickly but securely. Always maintaining 3 points of contact. Although because I squat high on the wall, that drop off the wall can be an ankle twister. Always careful with that.

Cargo net, then the best obstacle in Spartan Race in my opinion: Ape hanger. This is a long obstacle that takes a lot of grip strength to conquer. Climb a knotted rope to the top, then go across a horizontal rope ladder and hit the bell at the end. The middle section is always tough, as you need to pull yourself up to that bar, then drop back down. My arms were screaming at me by the end but I was able to reach out and hit that bell. I have a video on my Instagram of me completing it.

Was pretty pumped after completing that, since this obstacle is only at 2 venues. So you don’t get many shots at it!

However I wasn’t pumped for very long. Up the hill and to the Tire Flip. These things don’t look like much, but they weigh 430lbs! 3 times my bodyweight. I was here for probably at least 10 minutes. Took me forever to find one that I could grip and get underneath to lift up. Then my legs started cramping as I lifted it. Saw lots of people doing burpees but I was determined to not be one of them! It may have taken a while but I was able to get my two flips in and high five the staff member who was there.

Down the hill to the Rope climb. One of the things I noticed in the Open House was that the Rope climb had brand new ropes. they were thinner and felt slick, kinda plasticy, not the thick rope I was used to. Started moving up the rope, but I kept slipping down. When I tried to pinch my feet to gain purchase, they would slip as well. Was determined not to fail this, so I stopped using my feet and just powered up it with my arms. Missed the bell on the first swipe, but was able to recover and get it on the next try. Practically fell down the rope going down, but luckily there’s good padding.

Long barbed wire crawl uphill. It wasn’t too low but my legs were cramping. Then the Bucket Brigade. For some reason it didn’t look that steep when I started, and going downhill I didn’t put it down once. But uphill I had to take a knee several times. Never dropped it, but I did place it on my knees several times to give me a rest. My arms were pretty exhausted, so of course a strength obstacle followed; Herc Hoist. I saw there was a lot of competitive racers doing burpees for this obstacle. I’m sure it was because my arms were tired, but that sandbag felt really heavy! Fortunately I was able to dig in and get that bag to the top. No burpees for me!

Cargo net followed. Then Inverted Wall and Dunk Wall. The Wall was very low and close to the ground. You really had to squeeze through. I actually bashed my head trying to get through. Slip wall was after that. Very slick! Rope was low though so getting over was no problem. Climbed down the other side and ran to the Fire jump!

So because of my IT band issues, I ended up walking most of the course. So my finishing time was slow. 3:43. However I finished with 100% obstacle completion, which meant 0 penalty burpees! Pretty pumped about that!

The energy at this race was pretty crazy. Everyone comes to Blue Mountain knowing it’s going to be a challenge. I stayed for several hours listening to people’s race stories. That never gets old!

Thanks again for reading. Any comments or questions please shoot me a message. Also I’ve created stickers for my logo! If you would like one, shoot me a message on IG or my FB page!! I’ll have other merch in the future as well, so stay posted. πŸ€‘πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½

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