Spartan Sprint 2015 - Race Review

Thanks to the guys from Gnome Your Limits For their Race Review of the Spartan Sprint 2015.

We're back from the Spartan Sprint, and this time there were a lot of ups and downs, both physically and mentally!

So while my kit hangs on the line getting ready for the Spartan Super tomorrow I thought I would write a wee short Gnome review.

As usual the day started early, but the traffic was quiet and the post code for an OCR event was spot on for once. We arrived early enough to witness the aftermath of the night's windy weather- nearly every tent had been blown over or had disappeared completely. It wasn't long until all the volunteers had turned up, orders were given out, and by the time the first batch of participants turned up, no one could have guessed the devastation that was there just half an hour before. Top marks there.

As if as a reminder that we were in Scotland, the skies clouded over and the rain began. It quickly turned out to be a lovely thunderstorm, and the race directors wouldn't let us run until it had passed- which was fair enough, as in the far distance, on top of a hill, we could see the metal structure of the rope climb, which probably wouldn't have been fun if it was electrified!

After forty five minutes, the storm had passed and we were lining up to get started. We went through the usual starting chants and the warm up began. By this point the elite wave was raring to go, and the warm up guy's decision to count down while doing knee highs proved to be a mistake- to his confusion, we were off!

Everything was going fine until we hit the first barbed wire crawl- five minutes into the run, and we were already in a queue. This wasn't too bad though- it can't all be perfect. I got through, stood up to start running again- and, what do you know- another barbed wire crawl, this one even narrower than the first- and then another... in all, it took about ten minutes to complete, due to the queues.

Finaly through, the hills began, and boy, there were worse ones to come. At the top of the first hill was the rope climb, but as we approached we were told that due to the high winds, it had to be closed. Now this was starting to feel more like Deerstalker than a Spartan Race.

For a while, not much happened other than running up and down a few hills, including an assisted hill climb and another run-in with our good friend the barbed wire crawl, this time with a river twist. It was much more painful this time, as the river bed was just rocks. This was followed by... another barbed wire crawl. Once again there was a twist, this time accidental- the obstacle had been annihilated by faster runners, and the challenge became throwing aside the wire to go under.

With this out of the way (quite literally), we were back to running up hills, towards the weight lift. There were no problems at this obstacle, with the volunteers being cheerful and on-point. Unsurpisingly, the next challenge was another hill. This one was the killer. At the top of the hill, we were greeted by a tyre carry, closed either by high winds or in preparation for tomorrow's Super. At last- downhill time! But wait- was that people going back up the hill in the distance? With sandbags?!

Luckily, the sand bag carry wasn't too bad. They had created a loop round a small wooded area that wasn’t too long, but never the less it was another hill. Further on down the course we hit the Z walls that required you to use your bouldering skills to navigate around like a gecko. The course was beginning to feel less like a Spartan, and more like a generic OCR race, perhaps because they only really had hills to use.

Just as we were getting concerned about this, with the music getting louder and base camp getting closer, we came to a wee forest run, followed by a spear throw. Ah yes! Back to something Spartan- Nailed it! The buzz started coming back- only for it to be killed by guys in the elite wave using the ladder on the 8 foot walls to get over. No burpees. Nothing... Over the line!!

Overall, we found that Spartan overused the nature of the land in the course, at points not at all well. It started to feel more like one of their rival races, rather than a true Spartan Race. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt, due to the weather conditions, but have definitely run better races with them in the past.

Our biggest complaint was with penalties. For those in the Elite Wave, supposedly taking the run seriously, these penalties really need to be enforced. There was no point giving red bands to the wave if some people are allowed to completely skip obstacles with absolutely no penalities, and it's demoralising to realise you will never be able to compete for speed with people who have been allowed to skip anything they feel like. A complete overhaul of the penalty system might be needed, going back to the drawing board.

Here's hoping for a better, truer Spartan Super tomorrow!

Stats for the day: 
Distance: 8.1km
Elev Gain: 434m
Min Elev: 295m
Max Elev: 520m