This race was a tale of 2 battles. Getting to the event and the event itself! To date I have done quite a few Spartan Races and various other events across the country but this was the furthest I had ever planned on traveling to get to a race and I definitely under estimated the power of the hills in Edinburgh. Writing this I am still recovering from what I would say is a race that well and truly…kicked my ass!
I’ve never been the best a pre-planning but I had this one locked down! I was treating this as a in and out mission: wake up, airport, event, airport, home! I had the idea of staying but thought I could handle the mission at hand. I had my flights booked 2 months in advance and even knew what bus to get to and from the venue along with timings! Was I planned or what?
Unfortunately my airline provider had a very different idea! Just as I was about to lay my head down to rest I received a message saying my flight was cancelled! My goal for the double TRIFECTA was over! I called to see if there was a chance to change but apparently all seats were taken and the earliest I could arrive in Edinburgh was 6:45pm. I’m not one to take no for an answer when I have a goal in mind; I went to sleep for 4 hours (well tried to) and went to the airport. Customer service reps on the phone clearly didn’t know the full story! There were 2 available seats on the plane taking off an hour after my cancelled service was due too. Happy days, I was off to the Spartan Beast and on my way to completing my first 2017 TRIFECTA.
So as soon as I arrived in Edinburgh, it was raining pretty damn hard! After completing The Three Peaks Challenge just under a year ago, I knew what the weather would be like: rainy, windy and pretty damn horrid. The event village had the regular stands for food, coffee and merchandise, but wasn’t as packed as the previous 2 Spartan races this year. This was strictly a Beast and Ultra Beast event so that would explain why, it’s hard as nails. Still there were around 500 in attendance ready for battle. To protect me from the rain before the event took off I took shelter in the Active Root tent, who supplied the event with recovery drinks throughout.
My wave was the last open wave for the day and wasn’t that packed. They really need to bring back the Spartan announcer from last year to get the crowd pumped again, he was perfect! Also there wasn’t a warm up and it was left to the crowd to do for themselves. This can be forgiven because of the short time schedule and nature of the race. We were off!
I knew that a sensible pace was the only thing that gets you through a beast. Leading up to the event I was recovering from a groin strain so wanted to take my running easy, especially on the mucky slippery surface. From the start it was clear that the reoccurring theme from 2017 races was about to return and in big fashion: HILLS, lots and lots of hills. This entire event was carved around the most energy sapping opponent, hills. Moaning aside, I ran knowing I had at least 13 miles of this to come.
As the beast is quite a long race, the obstacles were spread out over long distances. Most of the big obstacles were close to the event village, which was clearly because of logistics. The first set of obstacles included hay stacks to climb and a few 4ft walls. Nothing challenging. This led into the start of the mud that would return throughout the run. One of the newer obstacles to the UK made an appearance quite soon into the race, the dunk wall! Submerging your head under floating walls to come out on the other side was actually really refreshing; plus it cleaned away all of the mud.
A few more swimming sections and then a pretty tough tire carry that just seemed to go on forever followed. The hills at this point were really taking it out of me, also a clear indication my training wasn’t strong enough. Dropped the tires off to come to inverted wall which I’m usually really confident with. The course has a different idea this time. Got over the first one fine, the second however not so fine. I slipped down the other side of the wall and hit the ground pretty hard, that was the end of my shoulder and any hanging obstacles for the rest of the race. I was hurt pretty bad! From here I knew the rest was going to be a burpee fest!
Two hellish carries followed which included the worst bucket brigade I have ever done. Up and down the hills I was close to throwing my bucket down! Finishing that I was a little more enthusiastic until it came to a sandbag carry. This sandbag wasn’t like the regular 20lb ones us spartans normally need to carry, these were industrial bags that weighed a ton! People were trying to ditch sand from their bags along the way but I couldn’t be asked with the hassle and kept moving forward! Nothing was helped by the weather, which by this point, was horrendous, people were getting pulled from the course due to hypothermia and there I was freezing with just a T-shirt!
Luckily that was the last of the hardest obstacles. More running followed until we reached barbwire crawl part 2; once again not that long or difficult. My nemesis in the spear throw returned straight after. I couldn’t put any power into my throw as that’s the shoulder that was taken out by my earlier fall! Burpees please! The balance walls were surprisingly easy considering the wind and I managed to lift the atlas stone without much trouble so I continued fine throughout this stage. I knew the key was to keep moving so I didn’t freeze and I wanted to get to the end of this race ASAP. The fact that at this stage we could hear the music coming from the event village so we all knew we were closing in on the finish line.
My favourite obstacle the rope climb which I thought may cause a little bother was fine. The z wall was slick as hell so that was a burpee maker for me. This was followed by a new obstacle where you use pegs to make your way up towards a cow bell. I liked this addition and it seemed pretty easy to me. The Herc hoist was close after and once again didn’t prove too perilous. Next came another new obstacle that I had been waiting to try for months: The Twister. I was so annoyed that hanging for me was such a pain at this point. I tried, I failed, I burpeed! I’ll definitely be back for that one! By this point I was physically and mentally spent. As soon as I saw two 8ft walls I knew the race was over. Hopped them, leaped over the fire jump and got my medal!
All in all this was the hardest race I have ever run. Hands down. Edinburgh makes Windsor seem like a day trip to the park. The weather was bad and the hills were devilish but the race was spectacular. Regardless of the pain, a spartan race isn’t supposed to be easy, especially a beast! This event punished me for my lack of training and my ignorance to the hills, but at the same time I have never felt so proud to put on a medal for a race I’ve completed. My only negative about the race was that there was limited water and snacks at pit stops which could have been better. Apart from that all volunteers (even the ones that breasted me to do the burpees) were great and did a great job standing in such conditions. To anyone who conquered that course, hats off to you and if you did the ultra beast with 2 laps, you are amazing! That completes my first TRIFECTA for 2017 so now onto my second starting with the Super at Marston Lodge!
Did you take part in the Spartan Beast in Edinburgh? How did you find it? What was your finish time? Have you got your 2017 TRIFECTA? Let me know in the comments below.