Posted in Racing

Vermont Spartan Beast – 2016 (Part 1)

Let me begin the review by making one thing abundantly clear, this race was by far the longest and most physically grueling thing that I have ever done in my life. But with that said, it was a great race and one that I hope to do again next year.

I plan to write the report in two sections; but, let’s see how that works out.

  • Part 1 – The warm-up, miles 1-6, and
  • Part 2 – The real race, miles 6-16

So before I get started into the race report here are the basic statistics:

  • Time: 6:35 (the moving time subtracts most obstacles and nature breaks)
  • Miles – 15.5 (will stick with that, but Luke’s GPS was on the low end of the scale most were 16 miles plus)
  • Elevation Gain: 6,600 feet (some tracks have it 7,000 plus)

And the elevation profile:profile

As you can see the second half of the race had quite a bit more elevation gain than the first half.

So let’s get started.

The race started out simply enough with a quick downhill jog for the first half mile or so and we went over a couple of really easy obstacles a bunch of hay bales and a log hurdle. Then we began on the first climb up to one of the Killington summits. This part wasn’t that bad and we only had to deal with and average grade of about 20%, but in some spots it bumped up to the low 30’s. In this section we also hit the first barbed wire crawl, which was one of the easiest in all of the races I have done so far.

Just before the first peak we came across a 6-foot wall followed shortly after by a 7-foot wall. Once again, both of these were easy to complete. Then at the very top of the first climb came the monkey bars, one of the first real obstacles in the race. These are becoming one of my favorites since I finally seem to have them figured out.

We both made it across, but Luke had a bit of a scare about half-way across when he missed a bar and had to recover.

After that we had some short walls to climb over. And then we were off for about a half mile of downhill running through the woods. This was a fun part of the course.

Then came the one obstacle in the race that I dreaded, the memory test.

I got the the board and saw what I needed to remember:

Alpha 300 8307.

I pulled out my trusty sharpie and wrote the number on my bag of electrolytes. Then one of the nice volunteers strolled up to me and asked if he could use my sharpie to fix his name tag. At that point I was done,  so I handed it to him and he asked me:

What does M-I-N-E spell?  Mine.

And then he followed up with “at least I let you write the number first” . I didn’t think writing the number was against the rules and a huge number of the other competitive runners were doing it as well, I wasn’t very concerned. Luke on the other hand told me later, he was scared that I was going to be DQed. In the end I wasn’t and they never checked the memory test so it was all much ado about nothing. The joy of a Spartan Race.

We went downhill for a bit and came to a short steep section just after the two mile mark of the race. It was one tenth of a mile at a 30% grade. I thought: Wow! That was steep. Little did I know, this would be  easy compared to what we hit in the “real” race.

After we finished the climb, we hit some more downhill until we got to the bucket brigade.

Here’s the routine. Fill the bucket with 65-7o pounds of rocks and carry it up and down the hill. This is one of the few things on the course that I can still do better than Luke.



We both need to work on fillings our buckets way faster. We wasted a ton of time doing this. Overall, this section went well and both Luke and I came out feeling really, really good. Heavy carry 1 out of the way.

Off to the second climb of the day!

We were going to head to the peak of Snowden Mountain following the path of the Snowden Triple Chairlift. We would have 0.7 miles of climbing with 1,000 feet of altitude gain to conquer.

Half way up we came to the over-under-through wall. Even though this looks flat, it was still on 20% incline.  Not flat.

I wish video could do this place justice.

We trudged uphill a bit more and we come to the “Stairway to Sparta”




Like father,like son. As we climbed up the obstacle, both of us said:

“I’m not going tot flex for the photo”

I’m glad I did, it made a good shot. For both of us.

Then we moved off of the combined Sprint/Beast course and onto the Beast course. That took us over to one of the next “heavy” obstacles the Hercules Hoist. It was nice to see that it was only a single bag to lift, but they seemed to be wet and a bit heavier than I expected. This would have been pretty easy, except the pulley at the top of my rope barely turned and the rope kept getting stuck on the chair above me. If you notice, in the video my feet move around trying to get a better angle with the rope. But in the end Luke and I both made it through with no major issues.

We had one more minor uphill that brought us to this at mile five.

What an amazing view. Vermont is beautiful.

And then we were heading back downhill.  There was almost 1 1-/2 miles of downhill. Some of it like this

and some like this

On the way down I needed to face one of my nemesis’s of Spartan racing,  the Z-Wall. In all of my previous races, I have never completed this obstacle. Coming into this race I was a perfect 3 for 3 on failures. Even though I know how to complete it, somehow I manage to mess it up each time and fall off. This time, I make a vow to myself, I will finish and ring the bell.

Finally, after one minor slip right before Luke caught me on camera, I was able to make it across the walls and BAM! I finally got to hit the bell.

At that moment, I came to the realization that I was having a really good day out on course. Nearly half the race wasbdone and not a single burpee! If I could have seen my face, I’m sure I would have had a great big smile!

And as we ran down to the water, I had a really strange thought go through my mind…

“Up ’till this point, this race has been disappointingly easy”

But, then I reminded myself what I had been telling Luke all week. If at any point during the first half of the race you think anything other than “this is easy and I could go way faster” it is time to slow down.

So we went up and over the bridge and came to the shoreline. We were at the obstacle I had been looking forward to all day.

The lake swim followed by the rope ladder and Tarzan swing. Then back down into the water to finish the swim.

End of Part 1.





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