They are so right, you do know at the finish line! I'll never forget the rush I got after I finished my first half marathon, but the one after this race dwarfed it! I felt like a BAMF. :)
So Matthew and I left Asheville around 6:15 am on Saturday morning to drive to Charlotte. The race was held at the US National Whitewater Center. We both had protein shakes for breakfast then Matthew switched to water and I had G2. We got to the site around 8am. Matthew took this pic on the way in:
I was about to pee my pants already. We got parked easily (they charged $5 to park) and started towards the check in. Check in was pretty deserted, we got our packets (timing chips, bibs, free drink ticket) and went to get marked up. They put your bib number on your arms, hands, calves and cheeks. They also stamp your forehead with this stamp:
So beautiful! We looked around for a little while, I made myself eat a Clif bar (what I eat before every LR and half), and checked out the merchandise. We both got Spartan tech shirts and stickers, and the guy who was helping us threw in a water bottle also. Here's the finish line:
We walked back to the car to put all our stuff up. They did offer a bag check but it was another $5, so we just took everything back to the car. We made our way back to the start line and waited. We got to watch to heats start before ours and we actually got to see a couple of guys finish in the elite heat. They were finishing right under an hour, so that was intimidating. We had been told the fastest course time was about 35 minutes. I had to make about 3 bathroom runs. The CLIF bar was not a good idea. I guess I was too nervous!
Finally around 10 our heat got to start. We ran about a half mile (trails) to our first obstacle: dive under and crawl under these net things, then jump over a small wall. Repeat. Then we took off up into the mountains on single track. We obviously weren't trying to win or anything but looking back I wish we'd started off faster. We got stuck behind so many people on that single track and it was early enough that our shoes weren't covered in mud yet! So we lost a lot of time, but oh well. Oh and as we were starting into the woods there was a girl in the crowd and I hear her say to her friend about Matthew, "Dang he looks like a Spartan!."
It started to get slippery quickly. We have clay in NC, not dirt. When it's wet it's crazy slick and it cakes to your shoes. Running the next bit was a HUGE core workout. And like Matthew said, we didn't run 4 miles, we tried not to fall for 4 miles! I couldn't stretch out and run because I'd slip. And you did not want to fall. Tree stumps, roots, and rocks awaited if you fell.
I don't remember all the obstacles and honestly the terrain was just as difficult as the obstacles. At one point we had to run across this mud pit. You could see people stuck all throughout. Matthew went first and hollered back to just pick up your feet as soon as they went down. I take off across and make it but I lost a shoe. Luckily my brother is awesome and went back and got it for me (You'll notice this trend throughout: My brother saved my butt!!). After I get my shoe back on we look ahead to start running and notice there are ropes hanging down in another pit. THE ROPE CLIMB WAS THE ACTUAL OBSTACLE. Oh dear. I completed my first set of burpees.
Other obstacles: set of walls probably 4 foot high (over, under, through middle, over, under), carrying sandbags up a hill and back down, a set of walls one 6 foot and one 8 foot, tractor pull (rope tied to cinder block to pull down and up a hill), monkey bars, a huge hill that you had to rappel up, two more walls 8 foot each (the girls could use the side with a foot hold), a bucket on a pulley that you had to hoist to the top then let back down, a traverse wall, a climb over hay bales, a cargo net, barbed wire crawl, a type of rowing machine that you had to go 200m but you were pulling down instead of rowing, a spear throw, an incline wall they had coated in dish soap, fire jump, gladiator pit, and a swim to end it.
I know I'm missing a bunch of stuff and like I said this does not include all the crazy terrain, we even had to run in the river for a good quarter to half mile.
It was so amazing to complete the last obstacles: fire jump, gladiator pit, then swim. That swim was so refreshing, I wanted to stay in there forever! After crossing the finish line you get your medal and your shirt.
The red shirt is the tech shirt I bought, the black shirt is cotton and it's the finisher shirt. And the medal is definitely my favorite!
We made our way to the showers after the race:
They were actually really nice, Dial for Men sponsored them so there was this new soap they have. It comes out of the can like shaving cream and foams up but is a body wash.
After rinsing as best we could we headed to the car.
Official Results: 2:11:45
Age Group: 120/195 (62%)
Gender: 527/1018 (52%)
Overall: 2456/3397 (72%)
Among all racers on Saturday.
- This was an unforgettable race. It was challenging, painful, and fun.
- It was well organized.
- Plenty of bathrooms.
- We got good parking but we also got there early.
- The volunteers were great.
- **Edited to add** The race photographers Nuvision Action Image allow you to download your race pics for FREE!!! And they're pics are great, I'll be sharing mine with you soon.
- I understand wanting only people who completed the race to get shirts (Brad paid for entry then couldn't race, he didn't get anything), but the shirts don't say finisher anywhere on them. Also, they're handing you these shirts right after you finish and even though the last obstacle was water we were still covered in dirt. So I just got my new shirt muddy, great. Lastly, they're cotton shirts. When you pay such a high registration fee, I think you should get tech shirts.
- Only one water station. Yes they told us ahead of time, but what were we supposed to do? Can't use a handheld because you need your hands. Some people were wearing Camelbak's but I just think they'd be ruined.
- I thought it was crappy to charge for bag check.
- That damn tattoo would not come off!!! Matthew has a scab on his forehead from trying to get it to come off!
Would I do this race again? ABSOLUTELY! I'm signing up for the 2013 race later today with the promo code 'NC50'. It takes 50% off your registration, but it's only good until Tuesday night.
Like I said this was an unforgettable race. My brother was amazing as always. He definitely could have went ahead and finished way earlier but he stayed with me. He helped me (and a few other girls and guys) over the walls and even came back on the tractor pull to help me pull that big rock. He's always looking out for me and I love him so much for it!
I was given one free entry to this race in exchange for blogging about my experience. All opinions are my own. Thanks to Spartan Race!