2018 has been the year of endurance! Completing both the Hurricane Heat and the Hurricane Heat 12 Hour, I had one more big challenge left to complete my biggest challenge to date, the Endurance TRIFECTA! To do this I needed to tackle around 30 miles and over 60 obstacles on some of the hardest terrain in the U.K. The Spartan Ultra was the final piece of the Endurance TRIFECTA and I needed to travel to Scotland to make it happen. I had been waiting for this event since the beginning of the year being one of the first ones I decided to take part in. There was nothing left to do but make it happen!
At least there’s a view at the top!
Scotland is an amazing setting for Spartan races because you know it will be challenging. Perth was the new location this year and had a lot to live up to compared to the previous races in Scotland’s Spartan history. Did it live up to the hype? It definitely did. When a course starts with incline that goes on for ages, you know it’s going to be hilly all the way through; despite this, Perth was a beautiful setting for the event. The views from Kinnoull Hill were amazing and definitely gave you a sense of achievement for climbing your way up to the top. The mud was pretty limited (except for on the damn Block Pull and right near the end after the Dunk Wall), which I actually didn’t mind when it came to the distance I would be running. The trails were brilliant and pretty great to navigate…all except for the kilometre of broken trees, branches and thistle plants! That was an ankle breaker for sure and definitely the slowest section for me coming from an ankle injury earlier in the year.
I need to take two of those?
I am generally quite familiar with Spartan obstacles and for the most part, am very comfortable doing them…that is until you realise that you have signed up for the Ultra! Sandbag carries were double (both 50lbs and 60lbs sandbags) so that made something generally quite accomplishable, damn hard! Especially as they all seemed wet (love a bit of extra weight on top of my extra weight!). The Block Pull was very challenging! Especially as the muddiest section of the course was where you needed to drag them. The Ultra runners had a special double block to pull which made things very difficult. This was the start of my grip being battered!
Olympus was double the length, which when I saw, I burst out laughing as I fail that on a good day, on most occasions, when it’s normal size (did I hear burpees). The gaps on the Monkey Rings were wider, which I actually liked as I generally skip one when I’m doing it anyway (thanks guys). The monkey bars were uneven so a lot more technical and the ropes on the slip wall were half the size for Ultra runners meaning we needed to sprint up the wall after coming out of Rolling Mud. As for the Bucket Carry, I won’t even go into the mile we needed to walk! No, it wasn’t adjusted for the Ultra, but damn that felt like Punishment!
Apart from those small (and slightly evil) adjustments, obstacles were pretty standard. Despite the obstacles being ones I would normally knock out of the park, this race was an absolute burpee fest! I’m very comfortable with most grip based obstacles but that day was just not my day. Hands were shot and that caused a lot of problems (blame the block drag!) so I can’t really count how many times I needed to drop and do 30 burpees! I did hit 3 out of 4 spear throws however, so there was a silver lining I guess.
What I thought?
This was hands down the hardest race I had ever taken part in. A marathon on its own is hard enough, but when you add a whole bunch of obstacles, plus very tough terrain (ahhh the hills) you have what makes an incredible challenge. Very different from its Endurance TRIFECTA siblings (HH and the HH12HR) this is a true Spartan Race with an extra level of difficulty! All that being said, I couldn’t help but absolutely LOVE this event. How can I love something so tough you ask? Well for a few reasons actually.
The moment you put on that Ultra vest you are automatically looked at as a legend. No, that doesn’t mean you will finish, but damn straight you are going to try your hardest! Everyone on the course had a huge amount of support for you and that gave a huge boost when you were feeling low. It was amazing.
The fact that you can actually train for this event as you do know the gist of what’s going to happen is a massive plus. Honestly I probably didn’t do as much running or hill training as I should have, but having done a marathon and regularly being faced by Spartan terrain, I wasn’t afraid of what was to come. Did it hurt all the way through, yes (especially after the first lap), but was there a chance I was going to stop, hell no!
All in all, this was one of my favourite races to date. The venue combined with an brilliantly set up race made for one tough, yet amazing event! Not only did I complete one of my biggest goals of the year by finishing the Spartan Ultra, but I finally completed the Endurance TRIFECTA, which is an amazing achievement for me. Through this journey I haven’t only completed a massive goal, but I have met some seriously resilient people who I now refer to as my Spartan family!
The next event in the 2018 Spartan U.K. calendar is the Windsor TRIFECTA weekend which I will definitely be taking on all three events. Will you be there? Remember there is still time to use code ‘URBANSPARTAN’ for 25% off of all Sprint, Super and Beast open heat races in Windsor. Sign up at www.spartanrace.uk/.
Did you compete in the Ultra? What were your thoughts? Would you race it again? What else did you do during the Scotland TRIFECTA weekend? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading.
Image credit to Epic Action Imagery