May 20th was the morning of the Spartan Super over on the Aston Down airfield base in Gloucestershire. The forecast expected rain, but I set off ready to get my second section of my first 2017 TRIFECTA! Leading up to this Super I wasn’t as prepared as I was for the Sprint as a bout of illness had led to a lack of training. I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Up early and straight to the course; I set off with the goal of giving the race everything I had! Plus I was running this event for The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, so I had something to prove.
Unlike its predecessor, this event was a lot easier to find. The roads were signposted well so arriving at the event village was easy. With the help of a few generous spartans we got dropped off from the station which wasn’t as close as we thought. The event area was lively as always with Spartan events. No long cues for registration or bag drop. It was a smooth transition from arriving to getting your headband on and being ready to race.
Being the Spartan Super I knew that I would be going to run for a good 8 miles at least. One thing I didn’t know about Aston Down was that it is hilly….VERY hilly! This was the theme of the event: a lot of really steep hills combined with carries that by the end of them you were shattered, but we’ll talk about that later.
As we set off, I felt that there were quite a few people in our wave. After the first few walls the course opened up which allowed the pack to spread and gave everyone more space. Following a small section of trail running we came to a few more walls, the Hercules hoist (which I always find easy) and then probably what I found the hardest section of the race! Lumbered with a log, we needed to make our way up and down a very muddy and slippery forest trail. On more then one occasion my shoe grip gave way and I felt myself slip. The combination of multiple lengths of this muddy hill and the log made this section devilish to say the least.
When I was finally got rid of that log (thanks god) and after a bit more running, we came to the barbed wire crawl which I am usually ready for. There was a difference this time; it was mostly uphill. Another hill. This was one of two barbwire crawls through really boggy mud. My white vest was not what it looked like at the start of the event.
This was followed by what must have been added to the event to completely destroy our grip strength. A series of carries around a route which we later found out spelled AROO! The Spartan race team have a funny (and slightly twisted) sense of humour. Dual logs and tires were among the items we carted around the route until suddenly, with a tire around my neck, the worst cramp attacked my right quad. I was instantly downed. This is the first time I had actually felt like i needed to step aside and take a breather. One of the fantastic Spartan volunteers ran up the hill to my rescue and helped me stretch out for about 5 minutes. After picking myself off, I managed to run off the pain and the cramp to finally complete that section of the event.
After you think the carrying is over racers get pinned down with the bucket brigade. This was definitely the most unforgiving bucket carry I have done to date. We were led through what was clearly and abandoned bunker which was uneven and dastardly to walk on, not to mention your holding a bucket full of rocks. Not nice at all. Completing that we got to some more familiar obstacles like the atlas stone, monkey rings (which I did without difficulty) and then monkey bars, which after a collision with another spartan, led to a lovely 30 penalty burpees. The rope climb and other walls were welcome as they were my strong point and I had no reservations about getting up (and over) them whatsoever.
Coming to the end of the race I knew I was about to meet my nemesis: The spear throw! I aimed. I launched. I missed. 30 burpees please. Following that (and being absolutely shattered at this point) were a few more walls and the fire jump to mark the end of the race. Greeted with my first 2017 super medal and second TRIFECTA wedge, the race was won.
The Spartan Race Super in Aston Down was a lot harder then I had expected, but with my lack of training coming up to the event, I expected it on the day. It was hard, it was ruthless, it was unforgiving but regardless of that, it was a fantastic race and after completing it, I feel the medal was well deserved; you wouldn’t expect anything less from the Spartan team. With a finish time of 2:45 I know that I need to get back in the gym and on the road to get ready for Edinburgh’s Beast. If this was hard then that is going to be unrelenting. Time to go hard or go home.
How did you do during the Spartan Super? How did you find the course? Are you on your way to your first 2017 TRIFECTA? Let me know in the comments