Thursday, October 15, 2015

Journey to Trifecta: Spartan Stadium ANZ Sydney - Super- Sprint Combo 2015

5 weeks prior to this event, I was in Melbourne for just one weekend to race in the chilly temps, all for the Spartan Beast medal, the first piece to the end game: the elusive Spartan Trifecta. You can read about it here. It was an end game that finally bore fruit in Sydney at the iconic ANZ Stadium where not one but two Spartan races were held; the Super and the Sprint.

Getting the Trifecta was the objective of this race but Spartan Sydney this time also had lured me in with the world premier of the stadium combo – the Super and Sprint in one as well as the exclusive Spartan 300 - a series of ninja-warrior like obstacles that flows into one another without giving participants rest as the main finisher. And I got to try it twice.

The Spartan Super was up first that beautiful sunny Saturday and my team hopped into the non-elite 730am wave to start our race. We knew we needed time to rest before the Sprint so we went as hard as we could for the Super, a 12km, +35 obstacles course. For the Sprint, we took it easy due to three of gungho teammates tiring themselves out in the Elite wave of the Super. We must have been the first group of Spartans to start off walking.

We were flagged off by the big man himself, Max Delacy and we took off running. The first major obstacle we hit was the sandbag carry up and down a multi-level ramp. Ladies of course, helped themselves to the lighter sandbag while guys weren’t so fortunate. Thanks to our bootcamp training, we completed this obstacle with little effort.

To make up for the distance, the Super route sent us into the basements and hallways of the ANZ Stadium, allowing us to see areas and lounges that were usually off-limits to the common person. We jogged past those areas, finding stride in our movements. And then out of nowhere, an obstacle will appear out to break our momentum. Having done the Super first then the Sprint, the latter was much easier with a shorter distance and lesser obstacles.

There were certain sections where the course split into two routes for the Super and the Sprint and while we were envious of those who were doing the Sprint then, we comforted ourselves with the knowledge that we’ll be doing the shorter route later.

Two of my teammates and I failed the ball toss on both attempts while my sister nailed it by some miracle. That quickly became the first of our many burpees to come. The rope climb followed less than 100 meters after the ball toss which we all succeeded save for a teammate who had shoulder and back injuries. To me, it felt like the fastest rope climb I’ve ever done in my life. I suppose I was caught up in the moment of it all.

The opposite could be said for the second rope climb in the Sprint where I lost feeling of my arms and only managed to succeed on plain old stubbornness (and also the fear of falling).

The spear throw, once my most dreaded obstacle, was now my most favourite because for all three rounds of spear throw at this entire event, I nailed it all. It felt awesome to see the spear just fly through the middle of the faux Spartan and the encouraging Marshal dressed as Ash Ketchum from Pokemon yelled out ‘See, even girls can throw too!’

However, if there was one thing to be beware of in a Spartan Stadium, it would be the stairs. Oh lord, the stairs. Up and down we went, back and forth we went on the stairs for a good 1km. We had to dodge or step around railings and that made it trickier to really do this fast. One wrong step could also mean a turned ankle. Oddly enough for the second round in the Sprint, I actually found myself liking this obstacle. And what a sight it was to see from the other side of the stadium.

One thing that was irritating where those who opted to shortcut across those stairs rather than complete the entire thing. The same goes for those who cheated on their burpees or got their Trifecta on a rookie pass. Believe me, there were some. Anyway, at the end of the day, they are only cheating themselves.

The SkiErg obstacle completely took all of us by surprise a week before the race. We had been training for the rowing machine but the SkiErg were something entirely new to us. A completely body workout, we had to drive the handles to the ground and back up again to gain the required distance in one minute. For the elite male, it was 300m, elite females and normal male; 250m and for normal females; 200m.  In both rounds of the race, this obstacle left my group panting and lying on the ground.

To make worst, right after the SkiErg, it was the much loved Fortress. With my arms gone and after two failed attempt on this obstacle, I opted to do my 30 burpees instead. The Fortress Conqueror from Melbourne Beast relinquished his title to my sister who got into the zone and effortlessly climbed the obstacle on her first try. Sadly, it was an outcome that could not be replicated in the Sprint attempt.

And finally, right after the SkiErg and the Fortress, we were greeted by the behemoth Spartan 300. There was no way around the Cliffhanger obstacle, only up and forward. Any failed attempt in this section would incur a 10 burpee penalty which seemed more favourable than some of the obstacles.

By some miracle and sheer will power (and also, probably adrenaline from dehydration), I managed to scale the wall on my first attempt despite my footing giving out numerous times. Several participants cramped up on this obstacle. One guy made it to the top at the expanse of two calf cramps.

The rock climbing section flowed into a cargo net that led to the leap of faith. The leap of faith then led into a descend on top another container where we had to ring swing our way across the section onto another container where there was another cargo net heading upwards before a major descending cargo net back to solid ground.

But wait! That’s not the end of it. The container and cargo net obstacle led to the ice container, a cake walk compared to Tough Mudder’s Artic Enema. After that, it was the spear throw which once again, saw many racers do a penalty of 10 burpees rather than the usual 30.

The weighted balance beam followed after. I kept the medicine ball tucked between my neck and shoulder blade for stability and managed to balance my way through this obstacle on both accounts.
However, after the crazy cargo obstacle, our upper body strength was almost gone and 15 reps of ball throws were difficult. We had to rope traverse and climb yet another cargo net after only to traverse again on the other side. This was not an easy obstacle with many cramping and falling.

There was a rope climb but still suffering the effects of the earlier obstacles, I just went straight into my burpees. The sled push came after which was easy for us who were used to more loaded tyre drags with more friction at bootcamp. The sandbag hoist followed and it took a lot of effort to just hang on.

There was a log jump obstacle which I purposely failed at after hearing one teammate had chest pains after smacking his chest right into it. While I was sure my boobs would have softened the impact, I rather not take the risk seeing as I had another race the following week. After the log, we moved on to the upside down cargo net climb. It basically went up then under and up again before we could pull ourselves over and on to the container.

To end the epic 300 was the highly anticipated net crawl before we saw the finish line and ran for it. We were promptly awarded our well-earned medals by the cheery volunteers and even managed to grab a picture with Max himself. As we, as a team, slumped to the ground staring at our medals, it sunk in. We did it. We got our Trifecta, we survived Melbourne’s chilly temps and we conquered the 300 twice.

I loved every moment of this race, my friends, the people, the stadium, the atmosphere, the music and even the lack of water stations and burpees because at the end of the day, that was what a Spartan Race in Australia was all about. This whole experience – jetting to Melbourne and then to Sydney - it felt like a rite of passage and a fitting end to my road to the Trifecta.

Read more about Spartan
Melbourne Beast 2015
Singapore Sprint 2015 announcement
Kuala Lumpur Sprint 2015 announcement
Brisbane Beast 2014

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