2017 Breckenridge Spartan Race Review

Spartan Race Breckenridge 2017

Who does a Spartan Race?

People have funny reactions to Spartan races. For some, there is an instant “Hell No!” reaction. For others, there is a little curiosity but it is centered around why someone would do this rather than the event itself. Then you have those that are hooked. From the first time I saw the black banners waving at Fort Carson in 2016, I knew I was all in. Terrified and nervous but nevertheless all in. Obstacle Course racing or OCR, has that primal kick that is lacking in our safe, sedentary lives. Some do it compete against others, most of us do it to find out about ourselves. Work on building a little grit.

Most Surprising Part of the Weekend?

The most surprising part of the weekend were the sheer number of people who had never done a Spartan race before and signed up for the Beast! That takes guts.

Time for a little Backstory.

Back in 2016 I saw the goal of achieving a Trifecta as part goal and part fantasy. The 5 mile Sprint race had basically chewed me up and spit me out. Very humbling for a fitness coach and at the same time opened up a number of new doors for me. The Trifecta is an award given when you complete the 3-5 mile sprint, 8-10 mile Super and 12-14 mile Beast in one calendar year. The Sprint has 20 plus obstacles, the Super has 25 plus and the Beast has 30 plus. These are approximations because every course is different and because they don’t want you to know the lay of the course until the day of the race.

Breckenridge was the missing link to my Trifecta and I couldn’t have picked a better place. Originally I had planned to go to Seattle. One, I would have an advantage by going to sea level since I train at 5,900 feet. Two, it would not be as hilly. Then I started feeling a little ashamed. Colorado is my home and I am not going to back-door this challenge. Give me the highest elevation race and I will either do it or not. The whole idea of Spartan is not to make life easier but to challenge yourself. To sweeten the pot a little more, I decided to do the Sprint the next day.

The Venue

Beaver Run Breckenridge

You probably need to know two things about the Breckenridge Spartan.

  1. The course goes from about 9,200 feet above sea level to 11,200. And down, then up, then down. And yes, there are obstacles and burpees at 11,000 feet.
  2. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

This race has the makings for an adventure of a lifetime. But you need to be prepared.

How to deal with altitude.

Breckenridge

I was really shocked by how many people started the Beast without carrying any water or supplies. When you are at elevation, you need more water and electrolytes than you think. A lot more. The air is dry, there isn’t enough of it and you are going to be going full blast for 4-7 hours. If you don’t refuel, you will blow yourself up at some point. I saw a lot of carnage but most of it could have been prevented.

  1. Take a sports drink with you.
  2. Take food.
  3. Bring mustard packets or electrolyte tablets in case of emergency or just to share with fellow runners. It is a nice thing to do.
  4. Take your time. You know the race course creator is going to try and trick you into gassing out early. Be smart, take your time and enjoy the scenery.

This isn’t rocket science. You start at a base of a mountain. where else are you going to go?

Breckenridge Spartan 2017

 

 

Coolest Obstacle

The Water Crossing

Breckenridge River CrossingBreckenridge River crossing

 

Here is an obstacle where it works in your favor to be tall and wide. They said it was 50 degree water and after a mile I was hot already so this was a pleasant way to cool off.

Line of the day came from a woman from Mississippi who shouted “My vagina is frozen!”

Worst Obstacle

The bucket carry was just brutal. Usually I am pretty good at this but at 10,000 plus feet, I just couldn’t catch my breath. In addition, we were putting damp sand into the buckets instead of rocks. You guys got me on this one! The slow incline just sucked the energy out of me. The log carry and sandbag carry were a breeze compared to this.

Would I do this again and should you do the Breckenridge Spartan races

Of course I will be doing both races again. The key for me is getting in the right frame of mind. The chance to earn a Trifecta, for me, is a celebration of life. I earned the right to do this race and I basically set out a game plan to do this.

  1. Either finish or be carried of the course.
  2. Do the race right. Try all obstacles, do all burpees. No exceptions.
  3. Enjoy the moment and have an adventure. Look at the magnificent scenery, make some new friends and leave a bunch of emotional baggage at the top of the mountain.

This was truly a special weekend for me. I would say life changing but all Spartan races are life changing. As always, these races are flawlessly executed and the experience was a 10 out of 10.

 

5 Essential Tips Before Your Next Spartan Race

Ready for Your Spartan Race? Tough Mudder?

 


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Congratulations, you are embarking on a truly epic adventure. Whether it is a Spartan race, Tough Mudder or any of the other OCR events, you will finish a changed person. But that doesn’t mean you have to make rookie mistakes. Let me help you out with a couple tips that will make your first Spartan race more enjoyable.

Enjoyable? Yes, enjoyable. Just because you are going to be uncomfortable for an extended length of time doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.

Confused? You won’t be after you cross the finish line.

Tip #1: Hydration

I ran the Fort Carson Super and Sprint races last week. Let me set this up for you. The weather was in the low 70’s, sunny with a little wind. The Super is the longer of the two and is for more experienced runners. I didn’t see near the amount of cramping, puking and dizziness on the course Saturday as I did for the easier, shorter Sprint on Sunday.

Why?

Because the Super is long enough for people to pay attention to hydration and carry supplies. The Sprint is very deceptive in that it is billed as a 3-5 mile course. Most people wouldn’t carry water for a 3 mile run, so why bother with it race day?

Big Mistake for a couple of reasons.

Reason 1. If all you drink is purified water, you will never fully hydrate.

Water without electrolytes cannot hydrate. It tends to pass through the body. When your urine is clear, it doesn’t mean you are hydrated. It means the water is passing through the body and not getting absorbed into the cells. To achieve hydration you need electrolytes. Electrolytes are Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium Phosphate and Chloride. Without them, you will cramp up and feel like you are dying.

So the amount of water you drink isn’t as important as what you drink.

If you drink filtered water on the way to the race, drink the filtered water at the water stations, you are rolling the dice, especially if it is a hot day.

There just isn’t any reason to take a chance on this. If you are a bigger guy, like me, or if you sweat a lot take a camelback. You can always run around any water obstacles, drop it, come back and do the obstacle. It won’t do anything but help you.

Electrolyte heaven for Spartan race

Here are some great examples of getting some electrolytes in your system.

Tip #2 Length of the course

Fort Carson Spartan race 2017

Can I break some bad news to you? A Spartan Sprint is 3-5 miles long. This is very different than putting on your running shoes and going for a 3-5 mile run. Vastly different. The course is designed to break you and make you uncomfortable. It takes most people around 2 hours to finish a Sprint, sometimes 3 hours. That is not a casual jog for a couple hours, that is grueling effort. So please don’t take the course lightly.

A Sprint can take you around 4 hours and a Beast can be 6 plus hours.

In my opinion, unless you are a fast, elite runner, consider taking the following with you.

  • Hydration that includes electrolytes. See tip #1.
  • Food such as energy bars, protein bars, nuts etc…
  • Caffeine such as energy gels, energy shots etc…

Additional but still very important tip

If you are carrying food in your pockets, they will have a tendency to be pulled out of your pockets as you jump in the water. I know, it happened to me. Try and get pants with a button or zipper. If you are using a camelback, just shove everything in there and throw it in the grass while you get muddy. Also, it is never a bad idea to put everything in a watertight baggy. Just in case…

Tip #3 Food

When you get hungry you get miserable. It is amazing how a little food can lift your spirits. Under the last tip I mentioned energy bars, protein bars and nuts. You can also bring a sandwich, burrito, donuts and even candy bars. No I am not kidding. Don’t go hungry. It will erode your willpower and zap your energy. Even something as simple as a stick of gum or a peppermint can lift your spirits.

Now given you aren’t going to see Hunter McIntyre eating a pizza during the World Championships, I am assuming you are at a slightly lower level and just want to finish the race. So take time and eat.

Tip #4 Energy Cost

If you are in great shape and know how to get through all the obstacles, managing your energy is relatively simple. For the rest of us, there is the hidden danger of doing countless burpees. Burpees will zap your energy and your will to live within minutes. So please try and plan for them best you can.

Keep the following in mind.

  • The course is designed to break you. Any easy stretches are a prelude to something nasty.
  • You will have hills and descents all day.
  • You will be carrying heavy stuff and climbing all day.
  • You will be doing burpees. You may even be as unfortunate as me, as I did 4 penalty burpees stations in a row.

I am not trying to scare you, just leave a little energy in your back pocket for the final push. After a few races you will start to get a feel of the rhythm of the course but, in my humble opinion, it is never a bad idea to hold back a little at the start.

Tip#5 Don’t Wear Cotton!

Don’t wear cotton on the course. Cotton sucks!

  • It gets wet and heavy.
  • It gets muddy and clunky.
  • It will chafe you and make your life miserable.

This also goes for wearing cotton underwear, a mistake I made last year. Ouch!

Compression shorts make for great underwear. Get some running shorts and a tech shirt and you are good to go. Also, pay attention to your socks. No cotton here either. Get some good trail socks that will dry out. While you are thinking about that, a good pair of trail shoes are also invaluable.

This may sound a little weird to you but I love 5 toe socks. I have a couple pairs of Injinji’s and I love them like I have never loved a sock before. They keep the toes from getting blisters and tend to keep rocks and other unwanted junk out.

Best socks for Spartan Race

So there you have it. 5 Tips You need to know Before your Next Spartan Race.

Remember, this is not really a race but an adventure. You won’t know what is going to happen but if you follow the above steps, you will have a better chance of being less miserable.