Monday, August 18, 2014

Spartan Race Amesbury report and 2 SPARTAN RACE GIVEAWAYS!!

Morgan Mckay and I having some festival fun after our 8:30 AM heat.
"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of."
-Benjamin Franklin

Even though I generally go to great lengths to avoid short distance races of any kind, 2014 marks the third year in a row I have made the trip to Amesbury, MA for the Spartan Sprint. This race seems to be one of the exceptions to my "no running fast" philosophy that dominates my racing calendar. One of the most compelling reasons that I return to this event year after year is that I really enjoy having the opportunity to get back out on course for a second lap after the elite heat to give back a little to the community that has given so much to me. I love that I can complete the course with athletes new to the sport, lend a hand over a wall or a little advice and encouragement from within the trenches instead of just on the sidelines. The Amesbury race was my first ever Spartan Obstacle race two years ago and one I can't resist simply because I can cram in a weekend's worth of fun in a 24-hour period and get home to my family at the end of the day.

For anyone who reads this blog, it probably isn't a surprise that I generally try to find some lesson or meaning in every adventure I undertake. Some of the lessons teach me about better training, race preparation, nutrition or race etiquette; others are pretty spiritual and powerful lessons. The Amesbury race always provides a reminder of the first commandment of racing; it isn't worth doing if it isn't fun.
Jeffrey Bent attempted to teach Mogan and I how to do one-arm handstands. I think we need to keep working on it!

I arrived at the venue before my 8:30 AM start solo and warmed up for the women's elite in plenty of time. I was initially a little concerned that the elite heat would generate a bit of a circus now that NBCSN was there filming for their new Spartan TV series, but I was happy to find that it didn't feel much different than last year's event. I visited with some old friends, but most were all-business as the evolution of the ladies' heat
Spartan testing my SPANDITS! shorts and top at the Amesbury Sprint. They
rock! Not a single snag or pull after two laps of the course!
Pink hair would have been a nice touch too. 
has become extremely competitive. Since I have reviewed this event in years past, I won't give a synopsis of the obstacles at Amesbury this year. However, there were few twists and added challenges to the traditional obstacles to keep things interesting. For one, Spartan is done messing around with the elite heat. New to 2014: double sandbags and tractor pulls for all elite racers (meaning that we needed to carry two sandbags at a time as well as pull two chained cinderblocks, rather than one). The bucket carry up the Amesbury Sports Park required elites to carry a bucket of gravel 7/8 full with gravel up the steep slopes of the Amesbury Sports Park, compared to the 2/3 full of the open heats. An awkward 60-70 pounds in a 5-gallon bucket with no handles was pretty brutal. In a 100m ascent, I am pretty certain I had to stop to rest with my bucket balanced precariously on my thighs no less than 5 times. When I arrived at the bottom and dumped my bucket into the gravel pile, my fingers were nearly seized up from loss of grip strength. Spartan Race also tossed in a few challenges for all heats such as increasing the course length to 5 miles, monkey bars with varying heights, and thin, slippery climbing ropes with no knots, which increased the difficulty ten-fold for many. Although I fared well, I missed the spear toss (shocker) and the rope climb resulting in a whopping 60-burpee penalty. Ouch.
Happy with a top 20 finishing time out of 3,800
women to run the course, but
the real fun had yet to come.

My favorite part of this race is all of the familiar faces and fun at the festival and post-race shenanigans. I met up with my Canadian pal Morgan Mckay, whom I met nearly 2 years ago at my first Death Race where we became instant friends. Since then, we have raced and played together many times and have witnessed one another have both great successes as well as suffer spectacularly on course. Along with her friend Jen and fellow Reload Ambassador Freddy Rodriguez, we jumped into an open heat to tackle the course a second time, this time on our own terms. We stopped to socialize and made new friends, buddy-carried one another, fell into the deepest depths of each mud pit and attempted every obstacle with as much added difficulty as we could create for one another. We stopped to help strangers, flopped in the sand turning ourselves into sugar-coated doughnuts (oh wait, that was just Morgan), and we laughed a lot.

Helping 10-year-old Alex Hulme overcome apprehension of the razor sharp barbs of the barbed-wire crawl, assisting Spartans on the monkey bars and inverted walls, and pulling strangers suctioned waist deep in mud was particularly rewarding. Smiles and laughter are contagious, and I am honored to he in a position to celebrate the successes of each of these strangers in their moment of triumph.

The spirit of our second lap on the course reminded me of my first Tough Mudder back in 2011 and why I have spent the better part of the last 3 years running through the mud and under barbed wire. Back in 2011, I distinctly remember a moment where Lani and I looked at one another's mud-caked faces and instantly broke into uncontrollable laughter at the absurdity of it all; the kind of laughter that brings you to your knees gasping for air. This was one of the defining moments that changed it all for both of us. Somewhere on the hills of the Amesbury Sports Park, Morgan and Jen helped me find that moment again. Thank you ladies for that. There is nothing more important than finding opportunities to laugh at the ridiculousness that is this life. It is an even greater treasure to be able laugh in the face of enormous challenges. When obstacle racing ceases to be fun or challenging, I'll move on. Until then, I'll train like hell for the next one.

We collected lots of friends, both new and old, along the course. I am guessing that it was the two beautiful 25-year old women that drew the following, but it was spectacularly fun anyway!

Nope, don't know the name of the guy holding both my hand and Jen's, but as you can see, neither of us seem to care.

Life is short. If there is ever a time to get out there and chase fun, it is now.

Want some awesome, fun, Spartan Race-tested shorts like the ones I wore? You can customize your own material and length and support a small company. Made in the USA! Check out SPANDITS! and tell them Shelley sent you (and use my code SPANDITSLOVE for 10% off your order).

A huge THANK YOU to Hammer Nutrition for Hammer Gels, Mito Caps, Race Caps Supreme and Recoverite that fueled my awesome race and great day! The code in the upper right of this page will give you 15% off your entire first order with Hammer.

Check out the NBCSN coverage of this event Tues Sept 23 at 10pm EST. Now for the FREE Spartan raffles!


Here is where you can enter the Reebok Spartan Race Cruise Sweepstakes! No purchase necessary. Open to US residents only. Winner will receive a trip for two including airfare, a 3-day Spartan cruise, and an entry to the ultimate tropical island Spartan Race. Click here to enter! Sweepstakes ends Sept 22.
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Click here to win an entry to any US 2014 or 2015 Spartan Race through Shelley's blog, Filthy Clean Living. Raffle drawing is Aug 25, 2014

 Click here to enter for a FREE entry to any US Spartan Race

Thanks to Reload Fitness and Mud and Adventure for you support!