Temecula Super Spartan Obstacle Race
Burpees, hills, tires, sand bags, water, dirt, and mud – all the things that make up a Spartan Race plus more. I frequently get asked what a Spartan Race is but in truth, there’s not really a way to describe it. The easiest way would be to tell people it’s some sort of mud run but that doesn’t really do the race justice. So what exactly does a Super Spartan consist of?
What Is A Super Spartan Race
The Spartan race series was created by a handful of athletes to test the mind, strength, endurance, and overall resolve of an athlete. They involve mud and mental and physical challenges. The Super Spartan in particular is just over eight miles long and has approximately twenty different obstacles. The race is notorious for not giving participants a race guide/map in order to keep the participant guessing.
Super Spartan Obstacles
8:05am: And we’re off! The nice thing about running a race through the hills in Southern California is that chances are, there’s not going to be any weather to slow you down. The beginning of the race started down a hill and ran to a creek to a small “swamp” like section.
Monkey Bars: Nothing too difficult here. It was more like being on a playground for a few seconds. I could see how it could be an issue if you were wet and covered in mud but that wasn’t the case.
Atlas Lift: Carrying a huge round cement ball for about ten yards then doing five burpees. No big deal. The hard part about this was doing that after going up a huge hill at about a 60 degree incline for a good quarter of a mile. After the atlas lift it was off to the sandbag carry for about a hundred yards. Another piece of cake.
Scared Of Heights: There are a number of obstacles involving heights – everythimg from rope climbs to cargo net climbs, to huge wooden box climbs. These are all relatively easy. There is some pleasure here passing up people who have a noticable fear of heights. Although, a fall here could actually lead to a pretty significant injury. Best not to think about it…
Traverse Wall: This this was the first obstacle that earned me a dose of thirty burpees. The obstacle (and a staple of the Sparan Race) is a wooden climbing wall that you have to climb across. The wall is about twelve feet in length and at the end you have to ring a bell with your hands. Falling off onto the ground is a failure. I found that the trick here is keeping your center of gravity as close to the wall as possible. I made it nearly to the end but fell off at the last minute.
Barp Wire Crawl: For a moment, it felt like I was at a military boot camp. I’ve done similar obstacles to this at other events, specifically the Camp Pendleton Mud Run but none were this hard – or this long. I’m pretty sure the barbed wire was low enough to cause some people to need a Tetanus shot after the race. It didn’t help that someone was spraying a giant firehose in your face as you crawled on your elbows and knees under barbed wire inches from your face. Quite fun if you ask me.
The Log Jump: One of the more mental challenges of the race – circular logs with a diameters of about four inches are cut at various heights sticking out of the ground. Each log is only big enough for one foot. Your goal is to manage to get across without falling onto the ground. Failure results in thirty burpees. I managed to get across with no problem but I witness others who weren’t so lucky.
The Tires: What’s a Super Spartan Obstacle Race without tires? The construction tire flip was probably my favorite. The tough thing about the tire flip was transitioning from hill running to having to flip a construction tire six times. Another obstacle featured a tire (probably about half the weight of a construction tire) that you had to drag for about ten yards. The tire was connected to a chain that once you dragged the tire ten yards, you then had to pull it back to it’s starting position with a chain.
The Herc Hoist and Tractor Pull: Two fairly simple obstacles at the Super Spartan both including cement blocks with a pretty hefty weight. The first one is the Herc Hoist where you have to pull a cement block about thirty feet in the air with a rope and lower it down slowly. Lose control and the penalty is a fun thirty burpees. Further down the line is the Tractor Pull – a cement block attached to a chain. Your goal is to pull it about fifty yards or so up and then down a hill.
What sucks about the tractor pull is that the hill was made up of soft dirt so once you lost your momentum pulling the weight it was a task to get going again. The problem was further complicated because both men and women pulled the same weight so people were constantly stopping which would slow me down.
Super Spartan Training
After all was said and done, I would have trained a little differently. Not that I wasn’t okay with the way I trained for the race it’s just, in a way there’s no way to officially prepare for the race. The obstacles weren’t terribly difficult, it was the hills.
Nutrition Was Key For The Super Spartan
I honestly could have done a way better job at nutrition preparation for the race. For an event that burns probably 1500-2000 calories for the entire race, I thought I planned pretty well by having a decently sized breakfast consisting of protein and a hefty amount of carbohydrates. The picture to the left was immediately after the finish line. My legs were cramping up and killing me. Potassium was my best friend at this moment.
Where I failed To Plan
The Hills: The hills killed me. There honestly wasn’t much flat ground to run on and where there was there were obstacles. I felt as if I were either running up or running down a hill. In some places the incline or decline wasn’t that bad and it was still possible to do a light jog but then came the ninty or sixty degree incline and declines that were impossible that significantly slowed me down. For anyone looking to do a Spartan Race I highly recommend some trail hike/jogs with constant elevation changes. Honestly, the more rugged the terrain, the better.
For intense training longer than 75-90 minutes I am a huge fan of carbohydrate beverages with electrolyte replacements. Specifically, Glu Gel Packs. Sometimes it comes down to a basic principle that your body just needs sugar, potassium, and sodium. I took two packs with me for the race. It clearly wasn’t enough. By the seven and milk mark I felt it. My right quad was tensing up and cramping. Pausing to stretch for sixty seconds was a quick fix for a little while but the last two obstacles finished me off.
The Spear Throw
Seriously, who preps to throw a javelin? I stood there for a few seconds analyzing other people’s failures and told myself, “okay, you got this.” I picked up the spear and watched it sail through the air to hit the target sideways. Thirty burpees coming right up. There came the cramps again. On to the rope climb….
The Rope Climb
There’s nothing like jumping into a pool of fifty degree water then climbing up a slippery rope fifteen feet. Half way up I felt my quad tensing up. I plunged into the pool of water thinking about the thirty burpees I was going to have to do. Half way through the burpee set that’s when my quad decided it was done.
After a quick bout of stretching, it was enough to get me through a wet mud pit and wall. With my good leg I leaped over a two and a half foot wall of fire and ran through the gladiator pit to the last ten yards to the finish line. Two hours and twenty-two minutes. Not exactly a pleasing time…
Would I Do The Super Spartan Again?
If you had asked me immediately afterwards or even a couple of days after the race I would probably have said no. I definitely plan on doing the race again in Temecula next year. I definitely would train differently for the race however. It wasn’t the obstacles that got to me (although the bucket full of gravel sucked) but it was the hills. In some places the hills were so steep that it resembled more of a steep hike than a race. In the future there will be more hill training. Until next year…
Discussion: Have you ever done the Super Spartan Race? What are your thoughts? How did you train? Was there anything you would have done differently?
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