Thursday, August 29, 2013

Spartan Sprint Fenway 2012 in Review

I believe I've written before that the original triumvirate of obstacle course companies that spawned the craze in the U.S. are Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash.  I am a Mudder alumna, so I thought I should give the other races a go as well!

I still haven't made it to a Warrior Dash, but I rallied a very random group of friends to represent at the Spartan Sprint in Fenway Park in November 2012.  The fact that it was a Spartan Sprint already means it wasn't the same type of experience as Mudder, because the Sprint races are approximately a 5k in length.  Regular Spartan Races are more like Mudder in length, but that's tough to do when you're trying to work with a baseball stadium!

Which leads to the second piece of why this was an atypical Spartan experience .... we were in Fenway Park!  So the typical muddy, watery obstacles were flat-out not going to happen because I'm not sure anybody ever will have permission to mess up that baseball field in the name of something like an obstacle course race ... or for any other reason.  My Spartan Sprint experience was remarkably clean and dry because of that limitation.  But I still thoroughly enjoyed it because honestly, it was like an extended CrossFit workout that sent me scampering allllll over Fenway Park into sections I would never otherwise get to see!  So much fun!

We did bear crawls and low crawls up the ramps leading to the nosebleed sections, sprinted in and out of the bleachers (if you do not focus on where your feet are going, you get some lovely bruises on your hips and thighs from bashing into the bleacher seats ... it's not as easy as it looks!), hopped up stairs with our feet tied together, carried sandbags up and down the outfield seating, did burpees in front of Bleacher Bar actually on the field, did box jumps on the cement barriers protecting the dugouts, and climbed loads and loads of stairs through the Green Monster and every other section of the baseball park.  Out behind the stadium is a lot where usually team buses are parked, but that's where we did the Spartan standard exercises of javelin throw, wall climb, and ball toss.  If you missed or fell off the wall, it was on you to do your 30 burpee punishment.  There was a rope climb and a weighted rope pull tucked underneath the bleachers, along with some walls and things to climb over and under and through, and we even did a farmer's carry with jerry cans full of water!

My proudest moment of the race involved the rowing machines.  The first time I ever sat on a rower for a workout was just a few months before, so I knew enough to appreciate that rowing will kick your butt.  Outside one of the concession stands, there were at least 30 rowers set up.  You had 2 minutes to row 500 meters.  If you made it, the little screen on the machine congratulated you and told you to keep going!  If you didn't make it, the little screen yelled that you had to go do 30 burpees.  :)  I made the time cut and did not have to do any more burpees!  Win on two counts: finally getting the hang of rowing, and no burpee punishment!!

The race ended with an anticlimactic pugil-stick gauntlet.  Anticlimactic because someone had just taken out one of the pugilists when we sprinted through, so we didn't get pummeled by anybody.  Maybe next time?

The Sprint was a fun race, and definitely a unique experience running it in Fenway Park!  The two folks on my team who aren't just runners but are all-around solid athletes felt like they got a great workout and had a great time, and they still had juice at the end.  The folks who run quite a bit but don't do much else also had fun, but were slowing down drastically by the end because of all the exercise stations along the way.  And the chap who bit the bullet and came with us because we told him we would not leave him behind, no matter what (and we did not!!!) was ready to lay down on the floor because of sheer exhaustion by the end.  But he also said he had a great time and was proud of himself for completing everything and crossing the finish line!

As for logistics, Spartan did a pretty good job.  There was an epic snafu with our registrations and our bibs had different names, genders, and ages on them, but when the results were posted online all information was accurate, so I don't know what happened there.  Check-in went smoothly, heat starts were consistent, and it wasn't total chaos at the end trying to get bags back and rendezvous with supporters.  It helps that baseball stadiums are already designed for massive amounts of people, and Spartan did a good job utilizing that to make the race day flow.  It was a fun time!  Spartan Sprint has my vote, especially if it's in a random location that allows you to view a local landmark from a completely different perspective!  I will never look at the outfield seating of Fenway the same way...

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