Basically, the Spartan Beast in Ottawa is a really challenging obstacle run. There are about 26 obstacles during the 20 kilometers. These obstacle races are well known here in Canada and they became popular during the last few years. Spartan Races are unique races with challenging obstacles that test your body to the extreme, which was for me four hours and 52 minutes of exhausting endeavor.
All right, so now you have a little knowledge of which kind of race I was doing at this day.
Getting to the race location was the first difficulty for me. The Spartan Beast Ottawa is not directly in Ottawa. Namely it is in Mont Ste-Marie, a little town where you can go skiing during the winter, which is a 55min car drive north of Ottawa. Because Mont Ste-Marie is located in a remote forested area, there was no way for me to get there by public transportation. Fortunately, I found somebody who wanted to do car-sharing with me. His name is Devon Duchesne and I am really thankful that I was able to climb into his rented Toyota.
Report of the race day:
4:20am: After taking only naps for the last 30 minutes I finally woke up and organized myself, which included getting all the things I had to take with me: 2 pairs of running shoes, my running outfit, extra underwear, a big towel, my GoPro 3+ with the chesty mount, money, my ID, all the papers I needed and finally all the food and drinks I would probably need. After packing all that in my big backpack I was ready to take off!
4:45am: I prepared myself a healthy breakfast with fruits, orange juice and a bagel with some strawberry marmalade. After taking this wonderful breakfast I got all my stuff to the front door where I was waiting for Devon to pick me up!
5:20am: Devon finally arrived from downtown Montreal to my host family’s house in Beaconsfield and we began our 3-hour drive.
8:40am: We arrived in Mont Ste-Marie after a bit more than 3-hour of driving with just one short rest at McDonalds to go to the restrooms. It took us about 10 minutes of waiting because the organization of getting a parking spot for 2000 Spartans was, in itself, a challenge.
8:55am: Devon and I went to the registration where we picked up our timing chip and our start package. We also changed our starting heats, which was not a problem. I was supposed to start at 9am, we began our Spartan Race a half hour later than originally scheduled.
9:30am: Devon and I went to the starting area with about let’s say more than 300-400 other participants. The annotator was talking to motivate us for this amazing race. I turned on my GoPro and began to record. In the next moment the annotator was counting down from 10: 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, bummmmmm!!!!!!
The race started for this heat and I was looking forward to running the next 20k. I was pretty excited and absolutely wanted to do well! This was the reason why I foolishly started off with a high pace. The next 400 meters were brilliant. I passed about 150 participants and got uphill pretty fast. But after 400 meters the steep climb began. At this point of the race I already had to finish my jogging and my excellent pace and got to hiking up the mountain, which was really new for me and different to all my other races I’ve already done in my life. I didn’t know how high this mountain is and I also didn’t know how many times I have to do that again, because I was just at 0,8k so far. My head was beginning to think about lots of things. How should I manage to do this? Is this the Spartan Race? Do I have to climb up these steep rises all the time? But at this point in the race I kept being motivated enough to get up this mountain pretty fast, though. Once I got up this first mountain I just got 2.5k but already more than 210 altitude meters uphill. Now I had to get down a steep slope to the point I began the race. But it was a ski mountain, where I had to go down the ski piste, which shows how steep it was. Adding to the steepness there was also lots of mud and dirt making the run down really slippery and dangerous, too. Once I got down I had to do the first hard obstacle: climbing up a rope. I tried it, but the rope was too slippery and lots of participants failed it, too. By the way, if you fail an obstacle you have to do 30 burpees, which means making a push-up and jump up after it. These were my first burpees, but they weren’t going to be my last ones. After passing this obstacle we had to go uphill again for the next 55meters of steep climbs. After getting up this little hill, we had to do the next obstacle, where you had to get over a wall somehow. There was a big line for this obstacle and you only had to do 10 burpees to pass it. I thought about it and decided to do the next 10 burpees and passed the obstacle right after it. Running down the 55 meters of a really steep slope and heading for the next three obstacles. The first one was, even for me, possible to do and I got that one! The next one were the monkey roll, which I wasn’t able to do at all, because I just don’t have a strength and muscular upper body to lift my own body up so many times in a row. Failing this obstacle means again doing 30 burpees! After we had to climb across a wall, which was challenging but possible and I got that one, too! But nevertheless at this point in the race my mood was really down and I wanted to give up the race at this point. I kept thinking about the same questions: How should I manage to do this? Is this the Spartan Race? Do I have to climb up these steep rises all the time? Will my body and especially legs be able to do that kind of race? They feel so bad already! While I was thinking about giving up I had to go uphill again for the next 100 altitude meters. Right in the middle of the mountain we had to do the next obstacle, which is called monkey bars. I got this one but it was a close call: my energy almost packed it in. After this obstacle we had to go up the mountain again from another side so again 100 meters of uphill. I already got about 500-550 altitude meters uphill at this point of the race and had just 6k done. These are the moments were you try to keep being focused on the race but it is not possible. You are always thinking about the next 14k! Which altitude difference do I have to climb up there? And always the same questions, which got forced in my head! How should I manage to do this? Do I have to climb up these steep rises all the time? …
The next 30 minutes turned out to be really comfortable, because there weren’t any obstacles at all. This means that I was trying to control my feelings and thoughts at this time of the race and prepared myself for just trying to keep walking, hiking, jogging or running, whatever I felt comfortable with! I kept going, although I was thinking of giving up this race. The things that kept me running were just easy thoughts: When I give up the race at this place I have to get back anyways! The nature and environment was really nice, too. So why should I give up? Just because of my legs? My legs can’t be the brake for the rest of the race! I have to keep going! After I thought about these questions and interjections I decided to keep going! The next few kilometers were challenging, because I had to get up a smaller mountain and a big one directly after. The big mountain challenged me most, because we had to go up for about 30-45 minutes and the incline was unbelievably high! After I climbed up this last big mountain my physical constitution was down. The last 2:30h of racing sucked all the energy I had out of my body but I kept going. At this point of the race I already covered 11.5k and over 1000 altitude meters uphill. I stopped right at the top of the mountain and had a little rest of 3 minutes to get enough water at this water station and to eat a small chocolate bar. At this place I felt physically a bit better, because I knew I had already completed more than the half of this race! So I began to run down this high mountain (540 meters high). After 500 meters the next obstacle came. Just as a reminder I have already jogged about 12 kilometers once I arrived at this obstacle. It was not a really hard obstacle, though. It is just a wall of about 2 meters high, where you were supposed to get over. Therefore I took my time, got a little startup, and ran towards this wall. I jumped up and in the same moment I suffered two really painful cramps in both calves. Fortunately, there was a really polite and gentle Canadian behind me, who helped me out with some salt, which I got behind my chops, so that the salt can get in my blood faster. After I passed this obstacle, which I finally got, I kept going down the mountain until I came to a big lake. We actually had to circuit this lake with just a few (130-150) altitude meters shared over a distance of 7 kilometers. This part of the race was the most familiar and comfortable one. On the one hand it challenged me, because I was trying to jog in my pace all the time after 14k of hard racing. On the other hand I was familiar with this kind of race, because it was just easy running in my regular pace. While we circuited the lake there were, of course, obstacles, which should cost us energy. The hardest obstacle was crawling underneath a barbed wire fence, while we were in a small river. Furthermore, the water was really cold and all the participants got painful cramps, while they were crawling through that water. It was a really worse obstacle, which costs us much energy. After this circuit we went down to another location near a lake. We had to wade through knee-high water in a small canal and we sometimes had to crawl through water filled tubes. We had to swim in this gorgeous lake to the beginning of to get to the path and to the next obstacle. We had to carry heavy sand bags through a small lap. After I passed this obstacle I already saw the next one. We had to pull really heavy weights through the sand and water to get this lap done. After it I was really pleased to get to the next water station, where I took my regular 3 cups of water. They told us with a smile on their faces that there is just 1k left. Thy initial feeling was correct: They were lying! I run around the next corner and saw the next three obstacles. Oh no… I just wanted to get to the finish line and now I have to do these hard obstacles. At the first obstacle I had to carry a gas tank filled with water uphill and downhill for about 200 meters. It killed my muscles and I couldn’t do anything afterwards. My muscles were just aching I got really bad calves and my thighs were totally gone! I don’t even want to talk about my arms and my upper body. I was almost out of breath and dead! But I lifted up myself one last time and passed the two other obstacles. I run away and just wanted to finish this race right now! It took me about 10 more minutes of wading through again a small water stream. Then I saw two more difficult obstacles in front of me and behind it two easy obstacles right in front of the finish line. There was a big crowd watching the participants trying to do the obstacles and cheering them on. I looked at the first obstacle and I knew that I couldn’t make it. I did my 30 burpees and passed it. After this obstacle we had to throw a spear at a target. I threw it and screwed it up, because I threw just an inch underneath it and it didn’t stick on the target. Shit, because missing the target are 30 more burpees! I went to the last two obstacles and passed the finish line. Upon this point I have never realized that all my muscles in my body could have something in common: PAIN!
Oh my god, I just did the longest run I have ever had and didn’t give up! I finished it and yes I AM A SPARTAN! I earned my green Spartan Beast medal and Spartan Beast t-shirt.
Let´s take a look at the statistics:
Distance: 23 kilometers
Altitude Difference : 1300 Hm
Position in total: 518/2042
Position in M15-19: 27/86