The 2015 PacWest Spartan Sprint course was again located at the Washougal Motocross Park, with an incredibly hilly 4+ mile course. The obstacles aren’t revealed until you arrive at the race. Many of the obstacles were the same (spear throw, wall climbs, bucket brigade, traverse wall, rope climb, Hercules hoist, log carry, sandbag carry, wall dunk, etc.) although some had changed location (the barbed wire crawl was shorter and no longer 1/4 mile uphill), others had been removed (no water slide, no fire jump), and some had been added (tryolean traverse, uneven monkey bars, log jump).
For me, one of the biggest challenges this year was mental: I wasn’t running with any of my close friends. My friend ended up not signing up, and an acquaintance of mine in the running community (Lisa) had her Spartan teammate drop out due to work. As the race got closer, while I was relieved that I wouldn’t be running solo, I was nervous that I would let Lisa down or she would feel like I was holding her back, and although she had seemed like a very nice person, I was afraid that in that kind of challenging environment, we’d struggle.
Lisa, rocking the barbed wire crawl! Photo from Spartan Race.
Lisa and I were actually signed up for different wave times, and it was difficult to find any information about changing wave times on the website, so we kind of took a gamble and we both arrived in time for the earlier of the two waves. Once we arrived, we found out that it’s not a problem to switch waves to be with a friend if you switch to the later of the two waves. Ooops. Fortunately, everything was really well-organized at the start, and they allowed us to start with the earlier wave.
Once the race started, I was so glad that to find out that Lisa and I were really similar and fairly evenly matched. Doing a Spartan Race with someone you don’t know very well is a really good way to find out a lot about them in a short amount of time–you really see what a person is like when things are getting tough. Since it was Lisa’s second time doing Spartan Race, and my third, we learned to watch the other participants while we waited for our turn to see what techniques worked best for successfully completing the obstacles–working smarter, not harder, will save your strength. As a runner, I have pretty strong legs, but I don’t have a lot of arm strength, so I can’t really afford to wear them out!
We completed the race in a fairly respectable amount of time (1:53); received our medals, t-shirt, banana and CLIF bar,got an official post race picture; and then went to check out all of the vendors and grab our free beer! Lisa and I had a great time and immediately started talking about doing another race together (Spartan Race offers several distance options: Sprint, Super, Beast, Ultra Beast, Hurricane Heat, as well as kids’ races). I couldn’t wait for the official race photos to be posted (they’re completely free to download!)
I think Spartan Race does an all-around really good job of being organized, having a stream-lined process, having great volunteers, and an awesome event with a really positive atmosphere. While the price of the event is on the high side–especially when the additional registration fees are added on, and $10 per car for parking, and $5 per bag for bag check–my experience is that Spartan Race consistently puts on quality events, and I’m already looking forward to the next event! Maybe even a Trifecta someday.