by Oliver Layco
It has been one year since I did my battle with the Beast. Through rain and cold I managed to finish and earn that green medal. Fast forward a year and I’m looking forward to getting my vengeance and running it like I wanted to. Unfortunately, my body had other plans and I had to have surgery to fix something in my ear. Hopes dashed, I concede and decide to volunteer for the race. In a surprising turn of events, my doctor tells me I can resume all activities and I decide against better judgment and proper preparation to try my luck with the Beast again. Going in, I felt optimistic about my chances; granted I lost a month of training because of my surgery but I still felt good. Race day comes, and I get excited as I see the sun rising over the cars, tents, and fields. I prep myself normally like every other race and when the time comes for me to start, I feel alive again. This race was like my return party to running. Little did I know, it would kick me down a few notches later on. As the gun went off, I would have a smile spread across my face as that familiar feeling of freedom came. As I make my way through the hills and plains, through the over and unders, and over the walls I’m actually feeling really good about myself. There were some mistakes along the way in the form of the pole balance and I had to do burpees, but I still felt good. The first real challenge approached when I had to carry a bucket with rocks up and down a hill, then immediately after do the rope climb. The spacing between all the obstacles seemed like they were really compact this time around. Needless to say, the bucket carry tired me out and I failed at the rope climb. Another surprise that caught me off guard was the spear toss was right after that; and I was able to stick the throw this time! With a good feeling in me, I kept chugging along. Then the first of a series of barbed wire crawls came up. (After this race, I’ve determined I am horrible at crawling on my belly.) There were a few twists this time for the crawls that threw me off. One being that halfway through there was a wall we had to jump over, the next being that we had to crawl uphill! Which was then followed by a sharp downhill into more crawling. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out a good technique to crawl faster. I even had to pause for a second or two during one of the crawls to catch my breath. When I did pause, there was a lady behind me who may have been trying to encourage me to keep going or she was being mean and told me to keep moving. Either way, it took me by surprise when I felt her pushing at my heel to urge me forward. From there, that’s when the race started to attack back. For all the good time I made in the first half of the race, I got smacked double that during the second half in the form of cramps. It started in the water bunny hills that we made our way through; the worst part was that it hit me hardest right when I reached the bottom of one trench. My next major set of cramps came during the tyrolean traverse. This is basically trying to cross a gap between cliffs, or in this case a pond, on a rope. The racer can then decide if they want to hang and drag themselves across or balance across the top of the rope. I went for the former, and I can honestly say that it’s one of the toughest obstacles they have; especially that late in the race. From there it felt like my energy was draining exponentially with each step. At one point both my quads cramped up and I was dragging my feet along with whatever I had left. It was here that the camaraderie of Spartan racers shone through and helped me grind out the last few miles and obstacles. Whether it was words of encouragement or giving me an energy gel pack, it was much appreciated and helped push me through the end. The cramps would constantly come and go but I told myself there’s no way I’m giving up this close to the end. Whether I was trudging through chest deep water, dragging a tire, or dragging a cinder block up and down a hill, I was determined to finish. When I reached the top of what would be the last hill and heard the music and saw the shine of the cars, I mustered whatever energy I had left and ran with what speed I could gather. One last barbed wire crawl and a jump through flames is what separated me from victory. I didn’t care that this set of barbed wire was particularly low, so I crawled as fast as I could and got cut up pretty well along the way. Next thing I knew, I was being hit by the gladiators and then I finally had that medal around my neck. This Beast was definitely a harder experience this time around, so hopefully next year I can have my real revenge on this course.