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Spartan Sprint Toronto 2015 - Race Recap

Oy, that sucked.

Newsflash – running up and down grassy hills during a heat wave is not a good idea. Go figure. I struggled from the beginning, and obstacles that were easy on a normal day resulted in burpees today. Boo.

Today was probably my hottest race, and that’s coming from someone who ran a half marathon in Israeli dessert. And then there was that time when Ottawa Beast started three hours late, so the elite wave took off at 12pm.

And honestly, it was not fun.

For me. It was not fun for me. Apparently, I do not do well in the cold OR extreme heat. In fact, my Royal Highness seem to do best with a very narrow range of perfect temperatures and conditions.

Here’s the race course (see Suunto GPS data here).

The course was 5.5-5.9km in length, with elevation gain of about 335m (1,100 ft), and elevation change of 676m (2,200ft). For reference, 2014 Spartan Race World Championship in Vermont had elevation gain of 8,300 feet (and 16,600 feet of elevation change). I am more confident in the course distance, than I am in course total elevation, as different devices seem to be showing differences of 100m or more.

And here’s the record from a fellow racer (thanks, Jen!).

You can easily discern the initial climb at the start, followed by descent, and then another climb immediately after. In total, we have completed three major climbs – which is consistent with my prediction.

While this Spartan Sprint was significantly more difficult than the Hardwood Hills course few years ago, as Sprints around North America go, this was not a difficult course (weather aside).

None of the obstacles were a surprise – the typical fare of rope climb, wall traverse, sand pill carry, spider web, and the rig.

The general shape of the elevation change is also accurate. For example, here’s my altitude record.

  • Water stations started early, and continued throughout the race. Plenty of medical staff were present.

  • Occasional sprinkler stations provided welcome relief from the sun, in addition to the water stations. We also did get into a creek at some point, and the water was ice cold. Perfect in the heat.

  • People were the highlight. . It was great to see some familiar faces - although not as many as I would have expected. When Big Tony - who has been spectating at the Toronto Race for the last five years - asked who was doing this event for the first time, over 80% of the field were doing their first Spartan.

  • The rig continues to be my favorite obstacle - to both complete, and watch after. It is difficult and awesome. My favorite combo ever.

  • The monkey bars had six lanes, and only ONE of those lanes was for women. Difference? Female racers were to complete half the distance, and the bell was hanging in the middle. Volunteers insisted that if women started on one of the other lanes, they had to complete the entire length of the monkey bars. Now, if some obstacles are going to be gender specific (whether or not that's a good idea is a topic for another post), one to six ratio does not make sense from the numbers perspective. In shorter distances, female racers constitute half or more of total participants. The result was almost an immediate bottleneck, so I think eventually, women were told they could use all lanes, and the volunteers would indicate where they should "drop".

  • Barbed wire was quite disappointing - it was one of the last obstacles before the finish, and could be easily completed while staying on your knees in the soft liquid mud. The strands of wire were few and far in between. On the "bright" side, you were soaking wet just as you were about to face the rig next.

  • The festival area is getting a little... crowded. Realistically, I do not know if this ski resort was ever meant to hold this many people simultaneously.

My Suunto seems to think that I need 68 hours of recovery after this event. 24 hours would have to do, as I am doing the Super tomorrow.

I decided to follow my own advice though, and take the heat seriously. I thought I was going to pass out at some points during the race today. Tomorrow, I’ll be doing the event with friends – that means not exerting myself to the same degree. All the fun, less effort. That’s my kind of heat wave racing.

Oh, and I heard men in kilts may be involved. I wouldn’t miss that for the world.

Hugs, SOLO


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