Road Tripping to Become a Super Spartan!

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At the Finish Line

Howdy folks. Well, after a nice 2 week break, I was back on the trail of another fun race to tackle for me and for Get Out There Magazine. I can honestly say that this program has been both a blessing and a curse for me. It’s great to not have to always pay for my own races and some of the gear that I’m using now, but the extra work I have to put in, coupled with the fact that I’m signing up for more big events than ever, tends to put a bit of a stress on me at times. However, all that vanishes whenever I toe the line and get the adrenalin and endorphins pumping for the day! The Mont Tremblant Super Spartan was no exception to that truism, and once again, I was very fortunate to have amazing weather smiling down on myself and all my fellow ‘warriors’. These obstacle races are all the rage and draw out huge crowds of varying abilities. This makes for a very charged atmosphere, but also tends to ramp up the tension and competitiveness felt by all! I didn’t take many pictures to speak of, but of course, I have a race review video that I pulled together. Once you’ve had a look at the video, come on back and read the rest of my post for details on my personal performance!

Pictures from Race

For starters, I was pretty excited to be heading to Mont Tremblant for a short race. It is the perfect distance from home for a nice little motorcycle roadtrip with Deanna. In fact, this would be our very first trip together on the motorbikes, and something we desperately needed to do to prepare for our upcoming trip out east to Dartmouth. We haven’t put a lot of seat time in yet, and weren’t sure what we might need in order to make a long trip as far as gear goes. To those ends, we left on Friday evening, and had the unique pleasure of biking in the dark, cold, foggy, and wet back roads (including gravel roads and covered bridge) to get to our destination. So what did we learn? Well, chaps might not be a bad idea for breaking the wind and keeping legs warm. Some sort of neck scarf or bandana to keep the neck warm too. For my part, I’d like to upgrade to full coverage gloves that actually go over my jacket sleeves to keep my arms toasty too. See a trend here? Yup, I was a little bit chilly on this ride. We also learned that somewhere around 1hr 45mins, true iron butt sets in and we need to stretch. On the plus side, the bluetooth wireless headset communication we got at Christmas? Awesome. It is very handy to be able to chat as we ride along on our separate bikes. Can’t say enough about these little devices. However, I’ll have to stop my raving and get to the race report!

Deanna and I were lucky enough to have a friends’ place to stay at for the weekend. We had originally been planning to camp overnight and head home Saturday after the race, but after being chilled to the core, we ended up sleeping in their basement, and also extended the trip to a second night in order to enjoy the region a little more. So after a good night’s sleep, we packed up the bikes and headed to the race site at Domaine St Bernard bright and early. I had managed to snag myself a slot in the ‘elite’ wave at 10am, but still had to be there about an hour early in order to get some good footage and make sure that I got my chip and number. That was the first challenge to this race. With over 2000 racers, it would have been nice to have an advance race kit pick up. However, no such luck. Everyone had to line up and get their chips. Luckily, it was laid out fairly well (provided you knew your race number), and I got my stuff in about 10 minutes. Chip firmly on my shoes, and number blazoned on my forehead and forearm, I made my way through the start corral to get as close to the front as I could. I had fairly high hopes for this race, and was planning on podium if at all possible. My rationale was that if I could manage 5th place last year in the Ottawa race without really trying, I should have a good shot here as well. But maybe not. Read on friends…

So here are some quick little stats on this specific race. A Super Spartan is the 2nd level of difficulty in their series. A regular Spartan is generally 5-7km in length, with 10-15 obstacles. The Super Spartan, and this one in particular, was about 12km in length, and contained 26 or so unique obstacles. After that, you have the Spartan Beast race, and it caps out at the Spartan Death Race, which lasts a whopping 48 hours, and truly is for only the bravest and strongest “warriors”. After looking at some clips, I can honestly say I don’t think I’d even want to try it! So, back to this race. Given the mountainous terrain around here, they definitely found some nice hilly routes for the course to be laid out on. In fact, I would say that this even was definitely tailor-made for trail runners. The opening 8km or so was really awesome, pure trail running. Single track flagged trails that were barely visible. There were only a few obstacles in this section, which meant that the closing 3-4km was jam packed with muscle-burning obstacles made more challenging by the exhaustion that had begun to set in from a hard run in the heat!

For my part, my plan to stay with the front fellows worked out pretty well. I was not leading, but I kept my eye on the little group that split off from the front, and worked hard at staying with them. It didn’t take long to realize that these guys (and I’m not being sexist here, it was all guys in the front pack) were the real deal. The last Spartan I’d done I was in a later wave, and the people lined up at the front thought they were tough, but flamed out fast within the first 500m of tough hills and trails. On the other hand, this group was a well-oiled machine. We ran along in relative silence, each pushing the pace when we could, while still enjoying the scenery. It was hard to tell my exact placement, but it felt like around top 20 or so. Once the trails got really twisty and wooded, we started spreading a bit further apart. I passed a few people, and was passed by a couple as well, but generally speaking, everyone held their own here. I made some small talk with one of the fellows near me, as he was actually last years’ overall winner, and was responsible for actually designing and flagging the run course. I could tell he was quite focused on getting the run right, and I thanked him for the great job planning and marking it. I was glad it was a runner’s course.

As far as the obstacles are concerned, they were pretty much the same style as last year’s experience. The first was a wrist strength challenge where you had to wind up a weight on a rope hanging on a stick twice before running on. Then, it was a sandbag carry through a marked mini-course. Third up was a heavy deck block carry around a steep hilly marked mini-course. They were what I expected. The next one up though was pretty killer. It was a 400m (or so it seemed) barbed wire crawl. I truly seemed to last forever. I made good time and actually passed two racers here. Huzzah. But boy was it tiring. After that was a balance beam thing, that if you fell off, you had to do 20 burpees. I was a bit cocky, and fell off pretty quick. Oops. 20 burpess. Turns out these are a lot harder after you’ve been running super hard for a long time. I was also passed here by others who were more careful about the balance beam. The sun had also been getting progressively hotter, and I was feeling it now!

Lucky for me, the next obstacle involved running over barrels floating in the water and then jumping into chest-deep cool water to wade to the other side of this little pond. It was quite refreshing, and gave me a nice little energy boost, and mental boost. I hauled myself out the other side by the provided rope, and trotted off down the trail. By now the pacing was slowing a little, but I still felt pretty good. I mentally prepared myself for what I assumed would now be a long slew of obstacles to tackle before the finish line. I was not disappointed. Rope pulls, cargo nets, rope climb, rock scaling, walls tall and short, crawling tunnels, huge cargo nets, ramps small and long, rowing to nowhere, and finally the might Spartans to square off before crossing the finish line. At the rowing station, I got a good, but too short mental boost by the fact that Deanna was running this station. As I was to the front, I was the only one there, and a crowd of kids did an awesome job counting off my strokes. It made me smile as they cheered me on. Admittedly though, I was pretty focused, and didn’t pause for my traditional kiss with Deanna before running off. I was still trying to close gaps (which was fruitless unfortunately).

Oh yeah, I almost forgot my biggest whoopsie of the race. It was the damn javelin throw. The idea is to throw a spear at a dummy. If it STICKS, you get to run on. If you don’t stick it, 30 burpees!! In the last race, it was only 10, and you didn’t have to stick it, you merely had to hit it. Well, I hit, but didn’t stick. The other front runners were more successful. 30 burpees takes both a lot of time AND a lot of effort. I was a little annoyed at this, hence my focus when I finally got to Deanna’s station. In spite of the hard challenge and physical toll, I still managed to cross the line (well, flip over it in fact) with a giant smile on my face and energy to cheer on the other folks around me. It took several more days before I saw the results, but by scanning the final results, I landed 16th overall in the race, which I’ll take, cause I can honestly say those guys that finished ahead of me were definitely deserving of it. I may have gained a slot or 2 had I not done 50 burpees in total, but I definitely would NOT have won this race! That being said, I’d highly recommend this venue to those looking for a great challenge in a great location with awesome trail running. Although I didn’t race in Ottawa the week before, the notion of racing at a race track just doesn’t appeal to me.

Originally, Deanna was supposed to also race in a later heat, but due to standing in the hot sun unprotected for over 4 hours while yelling at participants how to do the rowing obstacle, she wisely opted to pass. This was a bit of a sore point for us, as no one came over to ever relieve her from the station, and she was all alone. I personally helped her for about an hour before finally finding someone in charge and telling them to get their act together so that we could leave.

Happily, after the race, we were able to join some other friends that were racing for a nice meal at the actual resort village of Mont Tremblant. Deanna had never been, so we also did a little bit of touring and wandering around. We poked around the shops, marvelled at the mountain, and eventually wound up at the Creperie for a delicious desert. Yum! We stayed there till sometime around 6:30 or so, before throwing our legs over the motorbikes again and heading back to our basecamp, where we enjoyed more good company, as well as a nice stroll around their country property, which is very rural and SO quiet! It was a nice way to cap off the day. The Super Spartan was the first race to kick off a 4 week run for me, and there are a couple doozies there, including the 100km Whiteface mountain bike race, and capped off with Epic Dartmouth, an iron-distance tri event! With that in mind, I’ll sign off so I can get more training / sleeping / eating / reviewing done! See ya later kids!

Video Review

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