ropeIn an effort to reduce boredom from yet another race review, this one’s going to be short.  Midwest Spartan in July is warmer than the Midwest Spartan in October (good).  There was an overabundance of extremely thick and sticky mud in the ravines (bad and good).  The up and over hills were relentless (good and bad).  The Hobie Hop was up a steep hill instead of through tires (good).  The Herculean Hoist for men was virtually impossible from several of the pulleys (bad).  5 gallon buckets filled with concrete with smaller pulleys turned this relatively easy obstacle into a burpee fest .  Kudos to anyone who successfully completed it.  Barbed wire crawls were mostly crawls, not rolls, up and over mounds into little mud ponds (good).  Picture an alligator sliding into a lagoon and that’s what much of the crawl felt like.  A new obstacle was introduced.  My best description is climbing up the backside of a 60 degree wall, pulling yourself over the top, and down the other side (good).  Lots of technical running through creeks and ravine (good).  The vast majority of running was under tree cover with an obstacle every time you emerged from the woods.  Conversations of the race afterward revolved around the mud, the ravines, and the incessant hills.  Obstacles took a back seat to the terrain, and when that happens, rest assured the race is challenging.  It was certainly worthy of the Championship Super status it was given.

To me, this race was one of improvement.  Finishing 61st in the elites and 6th in age is nothing to brag about, but it is a far cry from placing in the hundreds my last few races.  The Midwest Venue is the site of the apex of my Spartan Racing career thus far.  In 2011, I recorded my best finish of 24th and 1st in age.  That was right before the injuries set in and I have steadily fallen backwards.  I don’t have my speed back yet, but I noticed a difference this time around when after mile 5 or so I was passing people on both the ascents and descents.  I also discovered that my agility is coming back as I ran several of the ravines bounding from side to side to avoid the muddy slope on the flat surface.  I did not, however, avoid one super thick mud pit.  I mistakenly judged a landing surface to be semi-firm and it was anything but.  I planted both of my legs knee deep in something the consistency of partially-solid fudge.  And I do mean KNEE DEEP!  I was stuck!  At least 2 minutes, if not more, was spent wriggling, tugging, grasping at old tree roots, clawing at dirt or anything else to help me pull my my way out.  There was a point in which I thought I literally was not getting out on my own.  I politely refused several offers of help by racers who caught up with and passed me (no assistance from others in the elite heat).  Finally, I worked myself free.  My new rope-climbing technique worked like a charm up the slippery ropes.  It’s amazing what repeated practice will do for you.  I corrected form on my recent nemesis (horizontal traverse wall) and completed it with little difficulty.  Those two tweaks alone have given me hope for brighter finishes ahead when my training can hopefully resume to normal.

The best part of the weekend…my Spartan family!  Hands down.

Excuse the choppy writing style.  I’m tired and just wanted to cross this off the list.  I now consider it finished.  If you want more details, contact me.