BEFORE THE RACE
The morning of the race I was of course very anxious to start since this was my first OCR race ever and I was in for a great day as I expected but it proved very difficult. I woke up at 4:45 AM and headed to my local gym for a quick stretch workout then headed to Tuxedo, NY. I geared up for the race and was at the starting line staring at that massive hill. I knew that it was going to be tough race right there because hills were NEVER my friend. These hills are not your average hill in your neighborhood as they are easily twice as steep filled with uneven ground and rocky terrain. When the race began, I was battling the hills from the beginning and it really put my lower back to the test. After this race, I now know that this was the weakest part of my body and I am continuously working on that for the next Spartan.
HILLS, OBSTACLES AND MORE HILLS
After about a half mile of going through the trail we arrived at the log hurdles, hay bale, dunk wall and mud crawl which I got through without issue. I was then hit with three massive inclines that really gassed me out and my back was in excruciating pain. I NEVER thought about quitting but I certainly knew that I would take it slow so that I could get through it. The other racers were nothing but encouraging. I wasn’t the only one getting my butt kicked either. These races are not designed to be a breeze. There was an incline so steep I actually had to climb the rocks as if it was a rock climb and then after going over a few fallen trees, we go to the 7-foot wall. I got over the wall with the help of my fellow Spartan Racers which still felt great to do. I am a very good climber when it comes to nets and rocks due to my leg strength.
Vertical Cargo Net was one of the next obstacles and I blew through that without issue. After a little while we hit the Olympus Wall and that was an automatic burpee penalty for me because I unfortunately did not have the grip strength to hang on to the sideways wall. I am working on pullups to try and get my grip strength up.I was definitely one of the heavier guys on the course weighing 250. I came a very long way losing 8 inches off of my waist and packing on 22 lbs. of muscle but unfortunately it was still a battle.
I am trying to cut weight before my next Spartan Race but it is increasingly difficult because my body fights me every step of the way even though I am eating right. I attempted every obstacle with everything I had but I didn’t do well on the rings or the rope climb either. This was all ok because I see my progress and I know why I am doing this and that is to be a better version of myself and to inspire others to join me. The 8-foot wall was difficult but like many Spartans, we use teamwork to traverse these difficult obstacles.
STRENGTH OBSTACLES = MY OBSTACLES
The A Frame Cargo Net was a really fun and exhilarating obstacle which I look forward to seeing again. The herculean hoist was definitely in my wheelhouse to and proved to be very easy. This next part made me nervously laugh as I approached it because I worked so hard for this obstacle but realized it would be nothing like in the gym. The bucket carry was a loop around an incline that had to be 90-100 feet up and around a loop to the finish line. The weight of the bucket was NOT the problem, it was 100% the incline that killed me. I gripped the bucket with my right arm interlocking my wrist and I got half way up and took a break halfway up. The pain in my back was so bad that I knew I just needed to take a breath. After 2 minutes, I took the bucket to the top took a 30 second break and carried it to the bottom of the hill.
The sandbag carry was even worse weighing in at 70 pounds with a massive incline loop course. Some people blew through it but I could tell that they were the vets or in just better shape than I was. I did the exact same technique to finish this obstacle and that was to take a rest half way up and at the top to then finish the obstacle. A really hard thing about this race is that you always have racers on all sides of you trying to get by and you feel like you are going to die but you can’t give up because you can hurt someone on that steep incline.
As I moved through the course I came to the inverted wall and the slip wall. The slip wall was a wall where there is a rope about half way up and you must run grab the wall and pull yourself over the top of the wall and back down the other side. Another Spartan gave me a push after I sprinted toward the wall and I nailed it but the climb up the wall really taxes your grip. This then led into the barbed wire crawl which was very uncomfortable but fun!
GRIP OBSTACLES=ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Another obstacle that destroys your grip is the Twister. This obstacle was the hardest obstacle out of the entire race. This obstacle requires racers to traverse a three section horizontal pole monkey bar style in which the handles spin around the bar. Every time you grip a new rung another handle will fall into place. I did not complete this obstacle due to its difficulty and I would say there was a 90% failure rate on this obstacle leading to burpees. The last obstacle was the rig which was made of rings where I saw a greater success rate but not by much. I would say 60% passed this obstacle.
At the end, I finished the race with the fire jump and received my medal which was a very powerful moment for me and the addiction began. I was ready to relax but I knew I wanted to do another race. I was back in the gym within 2 days and now I have recently signed up for a Warrior Dash and the Palmerton, PA Sprint in July. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I knew that this would be difficult but I had two great supporters by my side one being SGX Coach Mark and my friend Jim. My friend Pete even came to help cheer us on and video the event. I was grateful for everyone that helped support me and I am happy to be part of this grueling sport.