There was only one event that all my Texas friends kept talking about all year – the Dallas Beast/Sprint weekend.
I’ve only ever spent one Halloween in the US when I was 10 years old. The Spartan weekend was falling the day before Halloween so it provided me with the perfect opportunity to dress up and just have fun. I was interested in doing the Beast and Sprint with friends and just enjoying myself rather than actually racing.
Saturday – Spartan Beast
My plan for Saturday was to join forces again with Haruko Harrington (aka The Mudcrusher) to take on the Beast. We had a fantastic time doing the Beast together in Hawaii so I was looking forward to doing another race together.
I made my outfit on the Thursday before the race thanks to some gear I picked up at Goodwill. A bright yellow shirt and yellow shorts combined with my excellent drawing skills turned me into a tube of Vegemite for the day.
After saying hello to my fellow Lone Star Spartans and then sending them off in one of the earlier waves, I found Haruko and we both prepared for hours of wandering through the Texas hills. We let people run past us towards the first of 23 obstacles as we caught up on what’s been happening in our lives and what we wanted to get out of the day’s race.
First up were some 4’ walls and hay bale jumps, followed by a creek walk in some sludgy mud. As we climbed out of the mud it was time to jump over a 6’ wall, crawl under a low wall (without getting pricked by cactus and stickers), and then climb through a hole in the last wall.
As we headed back towards the trees the course led us down an embankment and through chest-high murky water for about 50 metres. Normally I wouldn’t think twice about heading into the water, but something caught my eye that made me hesitate. That something was a dying fish.
There had already been over a thousand people trek through the murky water, stirring up mud from the bottom. Consequently, the fish that lived in the water were having trouble breathing and many were near the surface gasping for breath. We had no choice but to get into the water with the dying fish and try to avoid being hit in the face by a flying bass or karp. I waded into the water with Haruko following me before she jumped onto the back of a fellow Spartan and asked him to carry her through the water.
Leaving the dying fish behind was the best thing we’d done all day as we walked through more muddy swamps and another creek (this one was sans dying fish). The A-Frame Cargo was packed with people trying to climb up and over on their way to the monkey bars.
After the log hop, rope climb and tyre flip came some more walls (6’ this time) and a much needed water station where we stopped for a snack. It was then time for the burpee maker (spear throw), another wall (7’ in height), and a pond crossing.
We caught up to a group of people from Operation Enduring Warrior at the Tyrolean Traverse. OEW is a volunteer organisation comprised of current and former members of the US military. Their mission is to honour, empower and motivate wounded veterans through rehabilitation. It was inspiring to watch them out on the course as they approached each obstacle with courage and determination.
Saturday’s Beast was important to many of the Lone Star Spartans as it was the Kyle + Littlefield Memorial Run, in memoriam of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. Along the course were small posters with the face, name and details of fallen soldiers and veterans.
We clambered over the Stairway to Sparta before getting down and dirty in the rolling mud pits. Normally they are fun but these only served to make me miss the mud mile from the previous weekend’s Tough Mudder. Around the corner from the mud was the sled pull, and that’s where the fun ended.
For the next few kilometres we trekked up and down hills and through the trees. The monotonous walking was briefly broken up by a sandbag carry and bucket carry. At one point Haruko and I saw a park bench so we stopped and had snack before continuing. Our fellow Spartans all complained about the level of boredom that was quickly rising from the never ending walk. I was thankful that part of it was shaded as the Texas sun was relentless.
Eventually we left the Texas ‘hills’ and made it back to civilisation at the Atlas Carry. People were commenting that at least you could see the atlas stones this year, as in 2015 there had been so much mud that the stones were impossible to distinguish from the surrounding mud.
We slowly made our way through the barbed wire crawl and over an inverted wall before the sounds of complaining started again at a second, longer barbed wire crawl. By this stage we’d been on course for seven hours and were both over the long stretches between obstacles. Our non-stop chatter about food was making us both hungry so when we caught up with some friends at the multi-rig I was glad briefly put food out of mind.
Haruko helped me through the Z-Wall but first had to get her phone ready to record the Vegemite (me) on the wall. She was laughing while I was trying to hang on long enough to get some photos of our teamwork.
We joined a group of fellow Lone Star Spartans as we dragged plates and hoisted heavy sandbags into the air, before heading under the dunk wall. Normally the dunk wall is after a slip wall, but this time Spartan had changed things up. The wall was muddy and the rope was slick but we still got up and over before jumping over the fire and being handed our medals by our friend Dio.
It may have taken us eight hours and we may have mucked around a lot on course, but it was worth it to receive our 2x (me) and 3x (Haruko) Trifecta medals. I was just happy to have completed the course without being stabbed by a cactus like in Austin!
Sunday – Spartan Sprint
There was no real plan for Sunday’s Sprint, other than to do it with friends and in costume. Again the Goodwill didn’t disappoint in providing me with great cargo pants that matched the khaki shirt I was gifted back in Little Rock. Thanks to a late-night purchase of an inflatable pool toy, I was set to rock the course as the Crocodile Hunter. My friends Laura and Adam joined me in dressing up – Laura as a princess and Adam as Pipi Longstockings.
Before heading out on course we had to find Laura a lift to Austin otherwise she’d be relegated to sitting the race out. Thankfully a stranger by the name of Jared came up to us when we were at the kids course and started talking to us. He offered Laura a lift to Austin which meant she and I could finally do an OCR together, albeit probably her slowest OCR ever. Jared also joined us out on course, along with Sally the Saltie, my inflatable pool toy.
The first few obstacles were a lot messier than the day before and the mud was a lot deeper too. Laura hadn’t yet seen the fish as she ran in one of the first heats on Saturday morning so she was in for a shock when we arrived at the fish cemetery. Luckily I had Sally with me, so Laura lay down on Sally’s back and enjoyed a ride through the fish cemetery without having to touch the dead fish floating on the surface.
It was my turn to float on Sally as we waded through clean water towards the A-Frame. Sally joined us up and over the cargo net before she was taken through the Monkey Bars by Jared with me following in hot pursuit.
The Princess and the Croc both got up the rope climb (thanks to Jared for assisting Sally) before Sally stalked me at the tyre flips.
Another missed spear throw meant burpees before we wandered through bushes and played a game called ‘don’t pop Sally’. I had to be overly cautious at the barbed wire crawl but she made it through unscathed. My proudest moment was when Sally made it through the multi-rig!
Sally completed the last few obstacles and I learnt that doing a Z-wall whilst holding an inflatable croc is quite challenging. Finally, Laura and I took turns in riding Sally under the dunk wall before taking her through the fire jump together.
A lot of people commented that they were amazed I’d managed to get Sally through the course without getting stabbed by a cactus spine. Others were amused at the sight of an inflatable croc completing obstacles. I’m just happy that she made it through unscathed!
I had the best time walking the races with good friends and in awesome costumes. I will definitely have to dress up the next time I do a race just for fun!
Event: Spartan Race Beast/Sprint Weekend
Distance: Beast ~ 21km. Sprint ~ 7km.
Type: Obstacle Race
Location: Rough Creek Lodge, Glen Rose (TX)
Date: 29-30 October 2016