Colorado was nothing like I expected. But I’m okay with that. I had pictured mountains and hills everywhere. Trees and shrubs littered in between vast arrays of rocks and boulders. Not sweeping plains as far as the eye could see. The backdrop to the east was the great plains all along the horizon. The west… exactly the opposite. That alone made it worth it. Arriving at the base was a breeze and the instructions were clear and concise on their website. It was interesting to note that security was rather light getting onto the base which is the last thing I expected for a military base. The other thing I expected at the race was little to no hills and a ton of mud. Was I ever wrong.
The course itself was amazing. Dry, desert-like terrain that allowed me to breeze by people. It wasn’t too difficult to find places to bushwhack when the main paths were bottle-necked. Cacti were plastered everywhere but they did a pretty good job of clearing most of it out and I can thankfully say I made it through the entire 10+ miles without getting pricked. That being said, I can imagine my thick-soled Inov-8’s helped me escape cactus needles penetrating my feet. I can’t imagine how those poor souls wearing Air Jordans or Chuck Taylors felt. For my first race in the Inov-8’s, I may have a new favorite pair of OCR shoes. I’ll save a review of them for another post, however. Now back to the course… It was a sight to see with all of the military vehicles parked all over, whether it was a tank, the crane at the starting line, or the helicopter flying overhead during most of the race. The picture opportunities proved memorable with some of these as the backdrop.
As far as innovation goes for the obstacles I loved the rucksack carry but was bummed I didn’t get to try the “laser-shot” obstacle. The ruck-sack photo is sadly unavailable for me as I crossed paths with the photographer during a well-deserved potty break. I very seriously considered going around a second time if only because I enjoyed it that much and would have loved the photo op. The “laser-shot”, or whatever they call it, was only for the competitive and elite heats. I can’t say for sure I would have succeeded at it but it would’ve be fun to try. The first half of the course was a bit sparse with obstacles, relying more on hills and surprisingly steep cliff edges that, if running too fast, you really could fall quite a few feet into some very friendly cacti. This really was a race that suited runners. There were the typical upper body strength parts like the rope climb, monkey bars, and Multi-Rig, but surprisingly the Herc Hoist was absent from this course, not that I’m complaining. The Herc Hoist may be one of my least favorite next to the Multi-Rig. Miraculously I only failed two obstacles for my best effort yet. I overpowered my spear throw and it literally edged the top of the haybale. The Multi-Rig may forever be my Achilles Heel as long as I work through my torn labrum. On a much more solid note, I finally conquered the Z-Wall! I apologize to any racers I may have scared or intimidated afterwards since I slightly got worked up after finally overcoming my demons on it. Other than those, you had your standard walls spread throughout the course, the Stairway to Sparta on a plateau which was great for scoping out the landscape, and only maybe fifty feet worth of mud and the dunk wall. There was actually probably more barbed-wire than anything on the course and to make things even more interesting it was kinked halfway through and over a hump, so just when you thought it was over, you get over the hump and see you’re still only halfway done.
The best part of the whole race? I lost my timing chip. For someone like me who is very stat-oriented and takes everything like that to heart, not knowing if my time will count meant that my efforts may go unrecognized. In the heat of the moment though I actually used it as motivation and rocked the remainder of the course. Knowing that I conquered the course as best as I could meant more to me than I thought it would. It was just a cherry on top that the results tent was able to mark down my time based on my friends photograph of me crossing the finish line. To make things even better, when she asked what my start time was, hearing the doubt in her voice that I finished in the time I did, that was all the satisfaction I needed for my efforts. So out of 3,148 total Super Spartans, I finished 135 overall and only 9 spots out of qualifying for the OCR World Championships. Finally having a passion and goal in life is the greatest thing to come from these races.