I am not a Spartan Race World Champion. Let’s just clear that up right now. Anybody could pay to enter the race in Lake Tahoe and not run in the elite wave. Indeed, about 10,000 people did exactly that – myself included, side by side with Scott and Amber Keneally.
I say “side by side”. I mean “staggering slightly behind”…because it absolutely kicked my ass. 15 horrible miles up and down a mountain, 9000 feet high. I finished it – eventually – but there were more than a few moments when I really didn’t think I was going to… Like this one:
Hypothermia, my old friend, we meet yet again! Don’t be fooled by the sunny weather in the photos: we were high up, exposed on the top of a mountain in strong winds, having just swum through a lake that was about 10 degrees. We were also standing still, waiting patiently for Scott to complete the rope climb – a personal challenge of this for the last couple of years.
The other major challenge was the running. Duuuuuh. I had heard about the effects of altitude. 9000 feet isn’t that high up, but it makes a hellova difference when you’re trying to leg it up a mountain. Especially when you run exactly 0 miles per week in training, for about 28 years solid.
Yup, don’t run. I hate it. Really and true despise it. Why the hell was I in Lake Tahoe, attempting the longest run of my entire life – up and down a mountain? Well, because it’s exactly as ridiculous as it sounds. I mean…if I made a habit out of running long distances, sometimes up mountains, what would be the fun of doing it again? I was there to see if I could.
And I could. It helped that I had the very best of company, in the form of Amber and Scott, as well as the indomitable James Appleton who, having already thrashed the other 9,988 of us to place 12th overall, followed our little group around the course, helping us through the dark times and taking these photos that made our suffering look fairly noble.
I also had the unequivocal pleasure of hanging out with my favourite OCR compadres, as well as meeting some more of the legends of the sport – most poignantly The Painted Warrior himself, who I watched complete the Ultra Beast in a showcase as inspiring as it was humbling.
So yeah – the mighty Lake Tahoe Spartan Beast. Mentally, it was nothing on Tough Guy: we were just running about on a mountain, doing monkey bars now and then… Not exactly warfare. But physically it was harder – much harder. So I’m proud to have done it – and maybe I’ll try again anther year, with a little more preparation…