Finally, the 2018 OCR season has started!! For me at least. Feels like it has been forever since I’ve been in a race. Had a lot of anxiety and nerves going into Saturday. 2017 was pretty much my rookie season. Learning the ropes, pun intended. But this year feels more serious. Like I have something to prove to myself.
Starting off with a winter race wasn’t something I planned, but unless I drove to florida, this was going to be the earliest Spartan Race relatively close to me. After last years winter race, I didn’t think I would do it again. But I just couldn’t pass up the chance to go to a race in March. Plus that sweet sweet winter medal!
Got into Cortland Friday night. It snowed most of the day. Then snowed some more in the morning. It was warmer than last year but with those winds it didn’t matter. I had 3 layers on top and two on my legs. The Under Armour base layer gear really kept me warm. Plus I had my secret weapons for the obstacles: Fit Four gloves, with UA winter gloves to keep them warm. My plan was to keep the winter gloves on until I got to a grip obstacle, then I would take them off and put them in my pockets. This way my hands would stay warm and fresh for the obstacles.
I started in the 930 Age Group 30-39 Heat. The new Competitive division. Race begins and we’re going up a pretty decent hill. Snow was fairly deep so you really had to pick your feet up. Had a good pace to start but slowed down before the first Hurdles obstacle. Got over that and some walls and then was running through the woods. Lots of trees with thin branches, plus holes in the ground, so you had to keep your head on a swivel looking up and down.
Barbed wire crawl was a muddy, icy mess. Scraping your knees against ice isn’t fun. I don’t roll cause I get dizzy easy. But the barbed wire was so high that I could crawl pretty easily underneath it. Lost my hat at one point, but a fellow spartan grabbed it and threw it to me.
Monkey bars were fun. Got to test my weapons and they worked perfectly. My grip was amazing, didn’t feel a single slip. Some of the distance between the bars was pretty decent too, had to kip a little to get momentum. But no real issues. Smacked the bell and moved on.
Plate drug was kinda nuts. The plates were frozen into the ground and there was ice wrapped around the ropes. Made it real hard to pull. Got through it though and kept going.
Through the car graveyard, over and under some walls, then the sandbag carry. It was in the spot the bucket carry was last year. But because the weather was warmer, there was more mud from all the melted ice. Made stepping with heavy weight pretty treacherous and slow going. Got through it as fast as I could but it really slowed me down.
Got to Olympus and there was a TON of people doing burpees. Everyone complaining that it was slick. Since I’m right handed, I always start with a wall that ends on my right hand side. Banged my shoes against the walls a couple times to clean the treads off. The starting red block was covered in ice. Made it a slippery start. But I moved down the wall, only using the grips and holes. Never the chains. Feet up high on the wall in a squat position to take the weight off of my knees. Didn’t move as fast as I usually do, I could tell the wall was slick, so I took a little more time and trusted my grip. Hit that bell with satisfaction.
Atlas carry was harder then usual, again cause of the weather. The balls were covered in ice and it was difficult to get your footing to lift it up. Couple tries and I got it up, did my burpees and brought it back. Then the Bucket brigade. Was excited to see the buckets had lids on them. That made it great to just pick it up and go. Plus no one could cheat. Also it allowed you to carry the bucket sideways and upside down, where the lid was rounded. Still it slowed me down pretty good. The carries always talk a lot out of me. I have to get better at them.
Multi rig followed. All rings. Again a lot of people slipping off. But using my gloves made it real easy. No slipping for me, just smoothly across to the bell. Herc Hoist this year had plastic underneath the sandbags to keep the water and ice from soaking into the sand. So it didn’t make them icy blocks. Unlike last year, I had no issues getting that bag up to the top then back down.
Inverted wall was no issue. Then the rope climb. Again the ropes were covered with ice. I started trying to use my legs with it but they just kept slipping, so I knew I was going to have to go fast and use all arms. Couldn’t trust my feet to get enough grip on the rope. Got up with pretty good speed, my arms felt tired but I was able to get to that bell then slide back down.
After that I knew the only obstacle left that I could “fail” was the spear throw. Picked out a good lane, the previous spartan had nailed the bullseye so I wasn’t worried about the hay being too hard. Even though I haven’t thrown the spear in weeks, I set myself and threw it strong. It was lower then I would have wanted but it stuck! I didn’t hang around, just started running yelling no burpees!!
Back around the festival then up the mountain again. There was definitely a lot more elevation this year then last. Legs were feeling pretty tired and I was moving slow. Tried to get running but it felt like more energy without getting anywhere faster. So I stuck to determined strides. Once I reached the top, it leveled out then back down the mountain through the woods. It was slick going, but I couldn’t stop. Had to just keep going and try to stay upright. Could hear several people on my tail. Tried to keep going faster but I couldn’t hold them off. A couple people passed me right before the slip wall.
Slip wall wasn’t easy. It was covered in ice and snow, which made it hard to climb up. Plus the rope was also covered in ice and it was shorter then normal. Took me two leaps but I finally was able to grab it and pull myself up. Ran down the hill and under the “dunk” wall. Fire jump was almost right after it so I didn’t have much momentum. Will be interesting to see that fire jump picture.
Ended up finished in 1:13. 12 minutes faster then last year and the course was longer with more elevation. I’d say almost a mile longer. Was hoping to finish closer to an hour but I’m proud of my perfect race.
Was a little bummed that the finisher shirt wasn’t a unique design, it was just the 2018 Finisher shirts in a long sleeved version. Kinda stinks but I love how comfortable they are.
Ended up running a 2nd lap for fun. That was even more treacherous since now most of the paths were ice from everyone stepping on them. Plus there was a lot more mud! But also all the icy obstacles had cleared up and were easier to grip. It was fun being able to relax and enjoy the race and try some new techniques with no pressure.
Didn’t really hang out too long afterwards. The cold made it hard to want to just watch obstacles, and there wasn’t anything to do inside. But I still ended up having a really good time. Looking forward to my next race, the Hot Chocolate 15K in April!
Thanks for reading my post. If you have any questions or comments feel free to share them! Thanks for the support.
A great read – mainly because I can’t imagine what doing a Spartan in ice and snow would be like as we get neither in a tropical climate in Malaysia! You make it sound pretty easy too although I imagine a lot of that is down to the previous year’s experience.
Just wanted to ask questions about 2 different issues – what shoes did you wear to move on that sort of slippery terrain? Would Reebok OCR shoes have cut it or did you have to specialize even further?
The second question was – what did you make of the new competitive age group categories? Did you like how it worked?
Thanks and yes it isn’t easy. You’re wearing a lot of clothing compare to a typical race so that can definitely wear you down. Plus running in the cold can be difficult, I made sure to get several training runs in before in similar weather.
Now your questions. I use Saucony Peregrines to run on that terrain. They have very aggressive rubber spikes on the bottom to really dig into the ground. Reebok OCR shoes would have been awful, you would be sliding all over the place wearing those. Especially in the later heats since the fluffy snow got packed down to ice from all the people running on it.
Biggest difference now with AG versus Competitive: there’s only one corral for each age group. So basically you start in the same corral with all the people you’re running against in your age group. Which I like better since it means you’re all running on the same terrain, dealing with the same weather, at the same time. In Competitive, my age group could be scattered throughout different corrals.
Thanks again for the questions and I appreciate you taking the time to read my post!