At the end of last year’s race season I had a vision, I wanted to run the Calgary Spartan Sprint with a group of people who wanted to run a Spartan but were nervous and worried that they couldn’t finish. People always tell me that they wish they could run a Spartan but they don’t have anyone to run it with or they don’t know how to train for it so I decided to offer a solution to those excuses. I decided to run a Spartan Race training Bootcamp class with online training for those that couldn’t make it in person and put together a team that would start and finish the race together. We ended up with a great mix of first timers and experienced racers and it was an amazing experience!
Some of us trained together, some trained alone and others did my online training program but we all encouraged and helped each other finish the race. And every single one of them had so much fun that they want to do another one :).
When I signed us up for the Sprint I chose an afternoon heat because it had rained and been cool in previous years…this year however was the opposite, it was hot for every single race I ran this year (with the exception of Montana).
When we arrived at the race at 11 am for our 12:15 pm heat it was already over 25 degrees (celsius). We had time to check out the merchandise tent, take a few pre race pictures, check our bags and then it was off to the start line.
I have to say that I don’t love the Calgary race venue, it’s at a BMX track and there are very few trees and a lot of dust and rutted tracks. I prefer the trees and trails of the Red Deer venue. On a super hot day it was especially hot and dry and most of us felt like we had dust in our throats for a few days post race.
As we stood at the start line I could see the nerves on the faces of my fellow racers but as promised once we started running the adrenaline kicked in and the nerves died down. Those nervous racers soon would learn that they were stronger than they thought. We headed down the track to some low walls and the over the vertical cargo net to the barbed wire crawl which was long and muddy and full of nasty rocks. As we made our way through it one of the newbies called me out on my “there’s not much mud in this race” promise, oops…they definitely added lots of mud to this race but at least it cooled us off!
We all managed to catch up to each other after the barbed wire crawl, except for one team member who ran ahead thinking we were ahead of her but she did amazing and finished the race well ahead of the rest of us. After the barbed wire was the Hercules Hoist, it was a bit tricky with a slippery rope but we all managed to get it up and back down without slamming it into the ground (all but one of us so we shared the burpees for that). Next up was the sled drag, not too bad once you got a grip on the muddy rope.
We continued running as a group, when we came to the 6 foot wall we made sure everyone got up and over. We were lucky enough to have one very tall guy in our group who helped boost all us shorties up onto the walls. I saw so many smiles and I saw the spark in many of them ignite as they realized they really could get over a tall wall that was standing in their way.
I was pleasantly surprised that the new race director was able to change up the course and add a bit of trail running through the trees when he could. The shade in the trees was a nice break from the sweltering hot sun.
The hardest part of the race for me was definitely the heat and the hills, I could tell that my training wasn’t as good as it should have been going into the race. At the top of one of the hills was the sandbag carry which was heavier than previous years and the incline was super steep, most of us ended up sliding down the first section on our butts.
I think the Bucket carry was one of the hardest obstacles for most of us, it was super heavy, rocks instead of sand and it was a really steep down and uphill climb in the hot sun. But we all did it and fortunately there was a water station right there for before and after.
A lot of our team made it either across or mostly across the monkey bars which was awesome! I think most of them surprised themselves with how far they made it. I discovered that that was where I was ripping my hand open since I ripped it again although not quite as bad as Red Deer at the Super. Fortunately it felt a bit better by the time we hit the rope climb.
The Rig was a Burpee maker for all of us, that is one obstacle that I want to work on and conquer next year. A couple of us made it up the rope climb and I was able to help one of our racers with her feet and she climbed up and hit the bell which was awesome! Then we shared Burpees with the other team mates.
As we came around the corner and headed back towards the finish line we noticed that there were not many people left on the course, it was a bit of a surreal feeling to have so much of the course to ourselves. Spartan ran the last afternoon heat at 12:30 pm this year so there was no one on any of the previous obstacles we passed on our way to the tractor pull. After the Tractor pull came the slip wall and then the Olympus. When we got to the Olympus the announcer was there giving us tips on how to help each other across, his tips were great and we all made it across to the bell with no Burpees. Then it was the dreaded Spear throw which the majority of us missed. And up and over the cargo net where we saw the Ninja turtle guy with his pizza, he was awesome.
Finally we all jumped the fire together 2.5 hours after we started. It was definitely not my best fire jump pic but I’m glad we all jumped together, it was such a great race and I was so happy we all finished with smiles on our faces.
And every single person that raced that day with us said they would race again and maybe even try a Trifecta or the Spartan Super. Wow! That’s amazing and I’m so happy that not only they all finished but they had fun doing it!
This race was about so much more to me than just getting people across the finish line, it was about igniting that spark that is in all of us and the belief that we can do so much more than we thought we could. Some of them started off as strangers but by working together as a team and encouraging and pushing each other along the way they crossed the finish line as friends. This sport is amazing and brings people of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels together, it’s a community of accepting people who will love you for who you are and always offer you a hand or leg or word of encouragement whenever you need it.