This is a long one, since I broke down all of the obstacles, but there are lots of pictures! This past Saturday I had the opportunity to participate in my first obstacle/mud race: the DC Spartan Sprint Race (which was actually in Maryland). My younger sister and her boyfriend came, too, and we completed the course together. It was a lot more fun that way than it would have been to go through by yourself!
On the morning of the race, we made the trip over to southern Maryland. The drive went smoothly and we arrived at the parking area, where we were directed into a spot. The Spartan folks did a great job organizing the parking. It was 2.5 miles from the race, so we were shuttled to and from the race, all of which went really well. There were lots of fun signs to entertain us along the way, too.
Once we arrived at the “festival” area where the race start/finish were, we breezed through registration.
With the above sign in mind, we pinned on our bibs, attached our timing chips to our wrists, and put on our headbands (which also had our bib number on it to help identify us on the course). It was time to Spartan Up!
We had a bit of time to hang out, since we had arrived about 90 minutes before our designated start time (per the race organizer’s instructions). So we watched the elite men finishing, and worried about how tired we would be based on how they looked. We also checked out a few other obstacles that you could see from the festival area.
Finally, it was time to head over for our start! I was getting excited. To get into the starting corral, you had to climb over a wall that was probably about 5 feet tall (basically the same height as me).
We stood in the starting area while an announcer got everyone pumped up and ready to go. There was a lot of chest banging and fist pumping going on as everyone prepared for a 4.3 mile run with 18 obstacles.
Finally we were off! I wasn’t wearing a watch, but I think we started right on time. We started out by heading into the woods for a short trail run before we reached our first obstacle. Passed another funny sign along the way.
The course was set up so that most of the obstacles were located around the festival area, with trail running through the woods in between. For some reason, I hadn’t been expecting to be running trails or just hadn’t considered it, so that was a fun surprise!
I’m going to break up the rest of the report by obstacles. As you’ll see, a lot of my photos are kind of blurry or just aren’t good quality. My waterproof camera did just fine (it became completely submerged at least three times), but there were plenty of times where I was too muddy or wet to clean off the lens.
After a brief stint in the woods, we arrived at our first obstacle. You had to climb over the first wall (probably 5 feet tall), crawl under the second one, and go through a window cutout on the third one.
Our next obstacle came shortly after the first. We had to climb under a plank of wood with a net attached to it, go over a wall, and repeat. Then it was off into the woods again.
Rope hill climb
I think this one counted as obstacle #3. As we were running through the woods, we came to an area where it was backed up (this only happened about two or three times on the course). There was a steep hill and a rope attached to a tree at the top. You had to climb the hill using the rope to help pull yourself up.
Next we arrived at an inverted wall. This one was challenging for me, thanks for my height disadvantage! The wall was slanted towards us, and we had to climb up and over it.
My little sister gave me a boost, and then her boyfriend gave her a boost. He was able to do most of the obstacles unassisted, except for the ones that required teamwork. Since I went over it first, I was able to snap a picture of the two of them coming down the other side of the wall.
This one had tires attached to a post by a rope. First you had to drag your tire out until the rope was fully extended, then you had to run back to the post and pull the tire back by the rope. They had men’s and women’s tires.
Barb Wire Crawl
Right after the tire drag we arrived at a barbed wire obstacle. They had pits with really thick mud and you had to crawl through it under barbed wire. This is where my camera became submerged for the first time! We were totally caked in mud after this one.
Immediately after the barb wire crawl we looped around and climbed over a big cargo net. This one was a bit scary for me. The apparatus shook a bit, the cargo net moved a lot while people were climbing it, and everything was wet and muddy and slippery. It doesn’t look that freaky, but it felt a lot different when you were actually on it!
Shortly after this obstacle we arrived at mile 1.
Just after passing mile 1, we arrived at our next obstacle. This one required you to pull a large sand bag up to the top of a structure using a rope and pulley. Once again they had men’s and women’s bags. My sister and I teamed up on this one. The hardest part was lowering the bag back down. You weren’t allowed to let it drop and the rope was really muddy and slippery.
Sand Bag Carry
After the hero hoist we ran/walked through the woods for awhile, up and down hills (some were pretty steep!). Then we arrived at our next obstacle, where we had to carry a sand bag down a steep hill and then back up it. Coming back up the hill was very challenging because it was muddy and slippery. I actually fell and slid down the hill a bit before finally stopping myself with my left forearm (cutting my elbow on a rock in the process). This one was one of my favorites, though!
Just before mile 2 we arrived at the rope climb obstacle. You started out in a pool of muddy water (that nearly came up to my shoulders!) and climbed a knotted rope. You had to ring the bell at the top. I like climbing ropes, and the knots allowed me to use my legs to help. But I didn’t like how people kept falling off of the ropes into the water. I was afraid someone might fall on me!
If you couldn’t make it to the top, you had to do 30 burpees. Which is what the people over on the right of the above photo are doing. Thirty burpees was the penalty for any failed or skipped obstacle.
Concrete Block Drag
Mile 3 was mostly made up of trail running through the woods. Shortly before the end of the mile we arrived at another obstacle. This one required us to drag a concrete block by a chain down a steep hill and back up. Everyone had the same weight for this one. There was a Spartan guy yelling like a drill sergeant at this one! This obstacle was another one of my favorites. I guess I like challenges like this.
7 ft. & 8 ft. Walls
Shortly after the mile 3 marker, we arrived at the 7 ft. and 8 ft. walls. We had to get up and over each wall. The 7 foot wall had a red step (a 2×6 piece of wood screwed into the wall) about a foot off of the ground for women only, and the 8 foot wall had steps. I still needed a boost for the 8 foot wall because I couldn’t reach the ledge at the top. The women had formed a line where the two steps were. You would help boost the person in front of you and then the person behind you would boost you.
This was one of the toughest obstacles for me! There were four muddy hills with mud water pits in between. You had to go up and over each of the hills and through the muddy water. It was so slippery that you needed a boost just to get out of the pit and then someone at the top of the hill had to pull you up. At one point I slid down a hill on my knees. Since the mud was rocky, my knees and shins got all scraped up on this one.
Don’t worry, we’re getting close to the end now. Immediately after the mud hills, there was a slanted wall with knotted ropes. The wall was super slippery because it was all muddy and wet. I watched several people make it to the top and then slip and slide all the way down, often taking others out with them. After seeing that, I decided to skip this one. My sister’s boyfriend was the only one who did it. I would have liked to, but I didn’t want to risk getting hurt!
Next were vertical walls with blocks screwed in at angles. You had to go across the wall using your hands and feet on the blocks. Unfortunately I was too short for this one, too, and couldn’t reach from one to the next.
This was a fun one! Try and throw a spear into a hay bale. 30 burpees if you miss. My first spear went sideways and just hit the target. You only got one try, but they let me try again after a Spartan official showed me the proper technique. This time my spear went straight at the target and hit it, but it fell off. Oh well!
After the spear throw it was back into the woods for more running. We hit mile 4, and knew we were getting close. The last two obstacles came up right at the finish line. First was the gauntlet, which involved running through a bunch of suspended punching bags that were hanging over a mud pit. The pit dropped off halfway through!
Right at the end, we jumped over a fire and ran across the finish line. Done!
I’m not sure that the people crossing the finish line in the above picture actually did the race, because they are super clean and we looked like this:
After that we headed over to the area they had set up for everyone to hose off. There were also men’s and women’s changing tents. We got most of the mud off and put on some dry clothes. Then we collected our race shirts, signed the ‘Wall of Valor’, and caught the shuttle back to the parking area.
Overall I had a blast. The obstacles were fun and also challenging. My sister’s boyfriend and I both said we would definitely do another one. My sister, however, says she wouldn’t. We’ll see if her opinion changes over time 🙂 She’d had enough by the end. The next morning my upper body was super sore. My legs were sore from the scrapes and bruises, but my muscles felt fine. This is what my legs looked like the day after:
It’s much more impressive in person, I promise 🙂 AROO!
Disclosure: I was provided with a free entry to this event in exchange for blogging about my experience. All opinions are my own.
Which obstacle would be your favorite? Which would be your least favorite?