The last 6 months have been filled with races, some pretty spontaneous: a Spartan Race, a Half Marathon, and a Marathon Relay. I have been wanting to do an obstacle course race for quite a while, but I never really felt fit enough nor could I find a race close by. I finally found a Spartan Race for September 11th. I went from doing Crossfit and Freeletics to endurance in the summer and back to Crossfit for the final preparation. My goal was to finish the middle distance of the Spartan Race in Oberndorf, Austria.
Since I couldn’t convince anyone else to join me, I took off by myself with the quest to conquer the 18km obstacle course over 1000m elevation change while completing 25+ obstacles.
I was quite nervous at the starting line. After making some friends at the starting line, I realized I was not alone in this feeling, and before I knew it the gun signaled us to begin.
The first obstacle was a water dam after just 20 meters into the race. Then the uphill section began and we had to conquer multiple obstacles such as climbing walls, swimming through a dirty lake, carrying a bucket of gravel, dragging a concrete block, and lifting weights on a rope at a stone quarry. Further uphill we had to throw the javelin where 80% of all racers fail.
The rules of the obstacles are:
- You have to try each obstacle
- You only get one chance
- If you fail, you do 30 burpees
- Others may help you complete the obstacle (at most obstacles)
I failed at the javelin, but quickly made friends after my first 30 burpees. I joined a group of four guys who were running at my pace as we entered the woods following the stream for a mud tire walk, balance walk, and a climb before we got down to the valley for a quick break to regain some energy for the looong drag uphill on the other side of the valley. After crossing a river, we followed a water channel uphill to the stream with various climbing sections before reaching the woods. From here it was really strenuous and contestants got slower and slower as it was super steep.
We were all longing for some water but there was nothing nearby. Once we reached the first ‘peak’, we were challenged at a boulder wall followed by a crawl under a barb wire uphill. This was definitely one of the most exhausting obstacles. We continued uphill on the skiing slopes all the way to the first alpine chalet.
The hardest part was over (or so we thought…), and were super happy with our progress after finding a water station. Another 5km downhill back to the Spartan Festival area were in front of us. Up next was the uphill chain carry which was not pleasant. From there, the steep downhill section continued on to another balance obstacle which proved to be a challenge because of our exhausted legs. Continuing on, we came back to the water channels and a few more obstacles before making our way across the river and back to the festival area.
The Grand Finale
So close yet so far! This was also the stretch where the spectator’s got the best views. The final 400m featured another 9-10 obstacles such as rope climbing, a 5m tall wall, monkey bars, nets, barb wire crawling in the mud, rolling mud hills, slippery wall, and fire. I didn’t have any strength for the rope climb nor monkey bars anymore and was punished with another 60 burpees before entering the mud section. At this point everyone just looked identical: covered in mud from head to toe! For the finish-line photos, there was one last jump over some ash and fire before the contestants received their hard earned medals. I became a Spartan! AROOO!
What a relief it was! And it felt great! I highly recommend the Spartan Race in Oberndorf for their great organization, volunteers, and the wide-ranging course. The volunteers were great, the weather fantastic, and I made some new sporting friends. Obstacle Racing is always an adventure; it’s like exploring nature and always discovering your next hurdle. I am super motivated to come back and do the “Beast” distance next year.