I have to admit that this was my first Spartan of 2018. I have been participating in predominantly local OCR events, but was given the opportunity to run the Ft. Knox Sprint this weekend, and threw my hat into the ring. If nothing else, it was a chance to see some teammates, and maybe hit that elusive spear throw.
After the tried and somewhat tiresome vocal intro, we were off, having arrived later than planned, I found myself fighting my first obstacle, pushing through an unsteady explosion of runners trying to find footing on the rutted and uneven path. This was ankle twisting track, smattered with deep grass and toe-grabbing vegetation, knees up and eyes down kind of work. Single-track stretches with a constant chorus of "on your left" in the air. Obstacles were status quo for a Sprint, but with a few vicious twists..the sandbag carry was flat out dangerous. Unfortunately, a female participant was carried out with an ankle fracture (per last verification) which was sustained while carrying the load and attempting to scurry up the guesstimated 45 degree plus angle of loose soil and rock, I was thankful myself for the unearthed roots I was able to grab for the rough ascent. This portion of the route was strewn with runners trying to recover and plot a safe way up and out, sucking air and giving props to the racers who were making their way up. Brutal design.
Upwards and onwards, more single-track hopscotch and snaking through trenches and rocky course. When you did happen upon grassy portions of trail, you had to be hyper focused on the hole-riddled hard-packed earth beneath the greenery, I can't imagine how many runners put an ankle to the test out there, joints we're rolling!
The bucket carry was a draining and precarious task, and the first time I hadn't had to fill mine before heading out. These were pre-made and covered, still the typical black for males, red for females set up, and with the sweat induced slick skin you rolled up to the buckets with, this was much like a greased pig wrestling match, but with a heavy load. This obstacle never really have me cause to worry on previous Spartan courses of any length, but today it left it's mark on many of us. It was a constant shift and hustle to move along as quickly as possible, while successfully balancing the dead weight of the bucket, bottom rim cutting into fingers, bellies, and hips. Directly after placing that joyful bundle back with the others, the wickedly placed and usually simple rings rig awaited our throbbing and knotted up forearms. Let the mind games begin. This was nicely accompanied by an eager young volunteer who kept a verbal count of people who lost the battle and hit the dirt below. Sweet fella, I'm sure his Mom loves him...
And drop they did, I was able to stretch out and then move through quickly, but that fear stuck with me, I was glad to drop on the other end and keep moving. The burpee pit was engulfed in a dust cloud, the bucket carry still claiming victims.
The four and then some miles were definitely work, and one heck of a challenge! So glad to have completed it in tact and with decent time. There were the usual burpee skippers and rule benders in this competitive heat, but regardless of the times they got, for the rest of us, the honest performance feels amazing and the accomplishment is worth the struggle in the field.
I took sixth in a field of thirty one AG females, and cherish that feat gratefully. There were some hard working people out there, clearly doing what they are passionate about, and doing it well.
Congratulations to the elite crew of men and women, I actually got chills in the summer heat watching 3rd place female Rachel Hamrick plow through Twister like a strong yet graceful spider monkey. Powerful athletes, and a solid, although pretty precariously laid out course made for an impressive event overall. I hope the crew makes note of the dangerously plotted sandbag carry for the next go round, otherwise, well done, Spartan..happy to have had the chance to get dirty with you!