They say you have to challenge yourself every once in a while. For those who want to follow this life motto, the Reebok Winter Spartan Race is designed for you. It is by far the most challenging competition I have taken part of.
A week ago, I flew to Lyon and then drove two hours to the Alps to Valmorel ski station.
I was quite optimistic with my physical condition before the race. I had been preparing myself for weeks with a strict conditioning training plan that a profesional trainer designed for me. But this is the magic of this kind of races, no matter how well prepared you think you are, you never know which obstacles are going to wait for you. You may have a hint, as there are staple ones in each race like rope climbing, walls or monkey bars, but you never know how the path is going to be designed, which ones come first or if there are any unexpected ones…like what happened to me in Valmorel. I never expected that a race in a ski station hold water obstacles.
Valmorel’s Spartan Winter Race was classified as a Sprint, so you can imagine how confused runners were to find out that a race that should have been 5-7Km long turned out to be 13Km.
The first 300metres of the race were packed with water obstacles, which meant that I ran with soaked shoes for kilometres. Over 5km were up hill, and the majority of the most hard obstacles where placed directly at the end. This means that, no matter how good you’ve trained monkey bars, when you have been running over three hours, fighting cold and are starting to be honestly exhausted, chances are you are not going to make it through the obstacle. And that was exactly what happened to me. I was so tired that I didn’t have any strength in my upper body when I arrived to the bars. I suffered through each of the 30 penalty burps after failing the monkey bar obstacle. My friend even offered to share burpees with me. But I felt way too proud to allow her to help me. I was simply angry. Angry and disappointed to see that all the effort of practicing a concrete obstacle had turned out to be useless because the race all together had been so hard it left me without any chances of making a good tempo whatsoever. I was more worried about not slipping while running on ice than I was in admiring the breathtaking views that such a race offers.
Anyway, when I crossed the finish line with hypothermia and the volunteers covered me up with a thermic blanket, I felt like I had achieved the biggest fitness challenge of my life. They say ‘you will know at the finish line’, and so it was. This kind of races offer the unique experience not only of testing your physical condition but also your human limits. You experience feelings that a daily life will never offer you the chance of going through. You meet fear, proudness, happiness, impotence, power, you feel small against nature, you meet your true self face to face…It definitely makes you grow into a better human.
And after so much suffering and challenge I can only think to myself: “Wow, that was savage and nasty, when shall we run the next one? :)”.