We all entered the starting coral and I was jumping and dancing around trying to stay warm. I wiggled my toes and did anything I could to keep the blood circulating so I wouldn't freeze up. It was in the single digits after all, and the wind chill made it feel even colder.
As the Spartan Race master of ceremonies prepares us for battle, I take deeper breaths, my heart steadies, and my mind clears. "Who am I" I am a Spartan! "Who am I" I am a Spartan! "Who am I" I am a Spartan! My heart electrifies and I charge off the starting line.
Up the first hill, and half way up the second before I have to change my pace to a brisk hike. Most everyone has slowed way down, and the best climbers are making ground to the front of the pack. I got a poor start in the coral, having to go out and around slower people rather than charge straight up the hill without anyone in my way. About 30 people ahead of me though, I felt confident in my position, as we turned right around and cut our way back down a portion of the hill. Icy, snow covered trail made me a little less sure of my footing than I usually am, but I still flew down at a great pace.
A couple Hurdles, and Walls, the Barbed Wire crawl and Multi Rig, Atlas Carry and Plate Drag, over a mile into the race, fast pace and quickly going through the course. At the Multi Rig, which was just a series of rings, many people who left their gloves on were slipping off. I tucked mine in my waistband, crossed like a monkey and was running again. The Plate Drag felt extremely light as it glided over the frozen ground rather than getting caught in craters and dragging extra mud and soil with it.
As I went Over-Under-Through the walls I had to lower my buff in order to take full breaths during the Bucket Brigade, the cold was making it hard to breath. As I dumped the bucket and my lungs once again were filled with air I charged back off with confidence, and again slipped my gloves off while doing the Rope Climb, and Hercules Hoist, and got them back on my hand as fast as I could to keep them warm.
I found a decently straight spear and reeled it in, making sure the rope was on the other side of the fence, and I wouldn't step on it like I did at the NJ Super last year. I set my sights on the Spartan head as the spear drops over distance, aimed with my left hand, took a breath, and threw the spear, it stuck solid. Knowing all that was left was a climb up the mountain, and a sprint back down, over the fire and past the finish line, I began my ascent like a mountain goat. I finished the 3.5 mile course in 44:11 which put me in 12th place, and got me excited for the rest of the season.
This course was an absolute blast, and as long as I kept moving I didn't get too cold, and I layered just right so that I didn't overheat either. While I was most nervous about my hands and being able to complete the obstacles, the strategy of taking my gloves off and putting them back on proved to be quite successful. I had my second burpee free race of all time.
Obstacles of note for the winter race:
For the Sandbag Carry, the bags were giant frozen pucks that were awkward to carry on your back so I had to do a front carry. There was a Snow Quarter Pipe that you had to run up, and Instead of Rolling Hills which features mud and water, it was Rolling Snow which were icy snow banks you had to run up and down, then right before the finish instead of a Dunk Wall there was a Snow pit which was your basic Dunk Wall minus the water.