I had reservations about the race in the days before but was happy as ever for the experience and opportunity to race abroad. Landing a few days early I settled in to try and acclimatise to the heat and get used to lathering myself with sunscreen as opposed to several layers of clothes.
The race was set to be short, sharp and intense, not my specialty but I was prepared to give it my all. Instead of mud, water and trails there were steps, concrete and ramps with a few Crossfit style exercises thrown in too.
I was now in true danger of not only failing to podium but make the top 5 – stuck somewhere like 8th place and unable to overtake as we ran around the stadium seating. Truth is I’m not sure I could’ve overtaken even if there was room as I was having real problems getting up to speed on the few and far between sections of running.
The spear throw was my saving grace: instead of a bail of hay we had to thread the spear through the hole of a tyre. I nailed mine and (thankfully) the racers around me failed theirs. This allowed me to push through for the finish hanging onto fourth behind Ryan Atkins 3rd, Matt Murphy 2nd and Lachlan Dansie in 1st.
I think the main difference was the exercise based ‘obstacles’ compacted into such a short course. Spartan race already have things like the Hercules hoist, burpees and specialist heavy carries like an atlas stone which are primarily an exercise as opposed to an obstacle but the stadium race took this one step further with many many carries and Crossfit style exercises thrown in like wallballs, boxjumps and burpee broad jumps as well.
Whether this is just a step in the evolution of obstacle racing as a sport or just Spartan using a different type of race format to bridge the gap between obstacle racing and Crossfit we will see. I have had many conversations with different people who are either happy with the direction it is taking or not. Some argue it is a good thing to make obstacle Racing less of a runners sport whilst some which are disheartened as it is moving away from how the original obstacle races were designed.
The following week in Australia was an absolute blast, hanging out with Ryan and Matt we trained, had a look around and even did a bit of surfing.
My next race is another sprint distance Spartan race but this time on an island in the Bahamas. I’m looking forward to it though and will at least already have a bit of a tan so I won’t stand out like a soar thumb!