As obstacle racing events go, there was one race that seemed to have passed under the radar of our attention. The third ever Spartan Ultra Beast, taking place in Australia, came and went without the usual fanfare that accompanies the handing out of glow-in-the-dark medals.
Even Obstacle Racing Media did not talk about it. It’s almost as if… it didn’t happen! Here’s one scene from this completely fictional event.
MEANWHILE IN AUSSIELAND
CAST OF CHARACTERS
DAVE HUCKLE, a 33-year old obstacle racer, founder of the Weeple Army, the largest Spartan Race team JOHNNY WAITE, International Quality Control Manager at Spartan Race, and the sweetheart of the sport PAUL BUIJS, a 36-year old New Yorker, founder of Mud and Adventure ALEX MULVIHILL, a 27-year old Aussie obstacle racer and Crossfitter, who keeps making OCR podium despite her asthma MELISSA ROBERTSON, an Aussie obstacle racer, and 1st female in the Sydney Ultra Beast
SETTING: Sydney, Australia
TIME: November 2, 2013
As racers are still finishing up, DAVE, JOHNNY, PAUL, ALEX and MELISSA congregate not too far from the finish line, with huge medals hanging around their necks, some with a beer in hand. JOHNNY: (wiping his face with a towel) And done! How long was each lap? DAVE: I didn’t have a GPS, but it was under 13 miles each loop. It felt like somewhere between 22-24 total miles instead of 26.2. ALEX: (joining the group) How did you guys go? DAVE: Just under 10 hours. I ran the whole thing with JOHNNY, so we waited for each other to do burpees when the time came. JOHNNY: I am always just in it for the experience and don’t worry too much about placing. Unlike Melissa over here. Am I right? (winking at MELISSA) MELISSA: Haha. I was pretty happy with coming first, that’s for sure. DAVE: How long did it take? MELISSA: Well, the results are up already. (glances over DAVE’s shoulder on the results board) Took me 6 hours and 13 minutes. PAUL: (incredulously) Seriously? The results are up? I love Australian Spartan Race! Did everyone finish? ALEX: Well, I know that 105 racers started - 96 men and 9 women. MELISSA: Yeah, 1 guy DNFed. PAUL: Holy moly, only 9 women? MELISSA: Let me tell ya, the line-ups at the girls bathroom were not an issue. ALEX: For once! (laughing) JOHNNY: (examining the results) The fastest finish time was 4 hours and 50 minutes. Holy shit! It took Pak over eight and a half hours to complete the Vermont Ultra Beast. MELISSA: Yeah, and Morgan, the first female in Vermont’s Ultra was out there for eleven and a half hours! Our course was definitely shorter. ALEX: Were any of you guys at Vermont Championship? JOHNNY: I was there in 2012 and 2013, but could not participate, as I was running the Team Death Race. DAVE: Right! I remember those poor guys doing burpees out in the parking lot in the middle of the night. Pouring rain and all. PAUL: I was signed up for both the Beast and the Ultra Beast in Vermont, but the Beast kicked my butt so bad, I didn’t even toe the start line for the Ultra. MELISSA: Sydney can’t match Vermont for its terrain, so we make up for it with the heat! (smiles) Besides, many standard obstacles were harder. Monkey bars were much thicker, and none of the rope climbs had knots. ALEX: Today the terrain was an obstacle in itself! It was so dry and dusty. PAUL: Yeah, the terrain was hilly, but not ski resort hilly. And my lips were dry and cracked the whole time! (turning to Melissa) So you were in Vermont? ALEX: She came 15th in the Saturday Beast Elite wave! MELISSA: (nods) I definitely found Vermont to be the harder. DAVE: Well, I thought this course was the best laid out Beast course I have done. The terrain was rough and rugged and the course designer used it extremely effectively. JOHNNY: (also nodding emphatically) Nonstop hills! It was always up or down, and uneven footing most of the way. DAVE: I loved the water obstacles, but the Herculean Hoist and the Dead Ball were the most challenging for me. I'm no beefcake. PAUL: I know! I’m not sure how heavy that kettlebell was, but I gave it a strong tug, and the damn thing wouldn’t budge. And I’m strong for my 150 pounds. JOHNNY: I loved it all! Although I had trouble with the second round rope climbs, as I used all arms and they were fried. ALEX: (exasperated) And can you believe that damn sandbag carry? JOHNNY: Yes! Crazy steep through bushwhacking! ALEX: (explains) Thistle plants. And bindies were those sharp prickly ones. PAUL: The sandbag carry sucked! Then again, it’s amazing how much experience plays into it - after that epic sandbag carry at Vermont, I was able to complete this section without putting the bag down once. (pauses to reflect) I hated the long barbed wire crawl more! ALEX: (nodding) It was pretty much gravel by the second lap. And rolling made me nauseous, so I dragged myself on my side and on my back. PAUL: And we had to do two laps! So the first time it was brutal because of the sun, and the second time around, it was frustrating trying to maneuver around all the people from the non-elite beast waves. JOHNNY: It WAS really hot. Over 35 Celsius. Not Vermont temperatures. DAVE: You Canadians, and your strange metric system! JOHNNY: (jokingly punching DAVE in the shoulder) WE are strange? You know Aussies use Celsius too, right? MELISSA: 35 Celsius is about 95 Fahrenheit. ALEX: The fact that they ran out of water at the aid stations really did not help. My bladder was empty at one point and I got very worried. Thankfully, we ended up getting boxes of sports drink at all the obstacles. DAVE: What I loved was the way the Australian Spartan races use water obstacles. I did the Brisbane Super earlier in the year and they used lots of natural water obstacles there too. JOHNNY: I loved all the water and mud. So much mud! ALEX: (laughing) Yeah, the flies must have loved that too. DAVE: Would you guys do anything differently? ALEX: Ha! I would have definitely done more hill training. As a trail runner, I was at ease on trails, but wasn’t used to so many hills. I walked 60-70% of the course. PAUL: I wore my Salomon Sense Ultra’s, and given the inclines and mud pits, I think I may have been better off with FellCross. MELISSA: (turning to DAVE, JOHNNY and PAUL) Will we see you in Australia next year? DAVE: Sure, why not! I never miss an opportunity to visit Exmouth. PAUL: I’m definitely open to the idea. I much prefer the hot to the cold. ALEX: I am contemplating doing the Vermont Beastin 2014. It’d be cool to get my Trifecta over in US next year. JOHNNY: Well, I’m focusing on the super long distances next year, but I’d definitely do this one again. The Aussies do it right!!! MELISSA: (smiling) They do, indeed. Something tells me Aussies will do it right again at the upcoming WTM2013. My bet is on Deanna. PAUL: (shaking his head) Amelia Boone will be back to defend her title. MELISSA: (shrugging) You never know.. Things often change last minute JOHNNY: So what do you say, guys? Same time, same place, next year? ALL TOGETHER: Aroo! Group hugs at the end, and heads out to get another beer.
P.S. Read Melissa Robertson’s Ultra Beast race report here and another one written by Bec Grimwood here. Those interested in the Sydney Beast, here’s a race recap for you: YOUR TURN: Did the Ultra Beast Sydney really happen? Are we forgetting that there’s more to obstacle racing than just North America? Hoo roo, mates - love you heaps, Solo