Thursday, October 11, 2012
It's taken me a couple of weeks to circle back to this. I never followed up my previous post about the Killington VT Spartan Beast for a couple of reasons - disappointment and embarrassment. I've been training almost 7 days a week for the past 2 years for various races culminating in the biggest one of all - The Spartan Beast in Killington VT - a 13+ mile race from hell. I was ready physically and mentally (for the most part) for the challenge. What happened on the mountain was unexpected and disheartening.
The start of the 8am race was crowded with Elite racers and Ultra-Beast racers. It was sunny and chilly - perfect racing weather. After the opening ceremony and the reciting of the Spartan creed, we were off. Gretchen and I ran together briefly through the mud pits and water spraying until she started to pull away in the second mile. Heading up the steep mountain through the woods, the crowd started to spread out a bit. By the time we got to the top of the peak, Gretchen was a minute or two ahead of me and it was time for the first downhill portion of the race.
I'm still not entirely sure where it went wrong, but what I think happened was this - Someone missed a turn off to the left of that downhill portion, and a huge crowd (including me) of 60-80 people kept going straight. If we had taken the turn off, we would have gone back towards the start of the race where there were a good number of obstacles for a 3 mile loop connecting back to the same downhill we were running on. This is why none of us realized we had done something wrong. The flags continued on that slope and we ended up at the sandbag carry at the bottom of Bear Mountain. I completed the sandbag carry, the ski sled pull, and the tyrollean traverse across a lake. Thinking back now, it was odd that the volunteers didn't seem ready for us, but we kept going. Then it was time for the steepest climb of the race - through the woods up Bear Mountain to the highest peak. It was beautiful and challenging, and once at the top it was time for a quick rope climb. After the rope climb (this was about 8-9 miles into the course) we were stopped by the course directors - they seemed unsure of what to do. They informed this large group of racers that we had missed a portion of the course and had 3 options: go back and do it again, come back tomorrow and do it again, get an entry into another race. I opted to finish out the remaining 2-3 miles of the course (with my chip clipped) and would run another race - I just could not see myself going back down that mountain and coming back up again. We were also leaving early the next day, so rerunning the course was not an option the following day. I was very discouraged to go out like that after so much training. They did give me a medal, but it's tainted for me and won't count until I complete a beast. The plus side was that I was able to see Gretchen cross the finish line for the first time after me though and get some good photos of her :) I'm always so proud of her.
Gretchen and I are now registered in the South Carolina Spartan Beast this coming weekend. The race is on October 13th - my 39th birthday, and the following day is our 12 year wedding anniversary. This is our 5th Spartan Race this year - PA Sprint, NJ Super, Virginia Super, Killington Beast. It will also make my trifecta official. BIG weekend. Redemption time.