I’m staring at a small white light just in front of my feet as I move along at a hurried pace. It seems to be about all that I can muster right now. Following this small elimination from my headlamp is what is keeping me moving. There is a much bigger goal but, at the time, that is more than I even want to consider at this point.
If you were to ask me what part of my body hurt the worst, I don’t think I could answer you. I remember my entire body hurting from fatigue. I couldn’t say that one part of my body hurt worse than another, that would be a disservice to the remainder of my body that hurt so so bad. I was only able to keep myself going by the thought, “It can’t be much further”. In reality, it wasn’t much further... I was moving downhill toward the finish line and I believed that my movement, would at some point, begin to warm me up- from the bone-chilling winds I experienced at the top of the mountain. It had been snowing at the top of the final mountain and I was still very cold. I think the temperature was now above freezing because the snow didn’t follow me down the last mountain side.
My entire ensemble that day consisted of compression leggings and two short sleeve compression shirts. The decision to wear minimal clothing seemed right at the time. The compression clothing would help fight off fatigue and dry out faster that other fabrics. In hindsight, a jacket would have been fantastic!
As I took up a slow trot down the mountain, I began to see others... carrying sandbags up the hill! I knew what had to be done, but for some reason thought I might be able to just do some burpees to get out of carrying one more thing up a mountain. Thirty, forty or fifty more today wouldn’t make a difference. I have already done 400+ burpees, and a few more didn’t seem like a big deal. I approached the girl standing in front of the pile of sandbags and in what I’m sure sounded very pathetic tone asked,” any chance I can do burpees instead?” Wearing a BIG fluffy coat, knit hat, and ski gloves, she gave me an empathetic smile and said ”No, sorry. The sandbag carry is a required obstacle. I can tell you this is the last obstacle before you cross the finish line.” “Thank you, that might be what gets me up and down this mountain one more time”, I said. I wanted to stop but not after coming this far. I knew this obstacle must have been at mile 25+. I wasn’t quitting! Knowing the finish line wasn't far away did give me the extra energy to not only complete this sandbag carry but pass people while I was doing it. As I passed people they were great to cheer me on. “Great job man! You’re a beast! How are you moving that fast?!” All I could say at that point was,”We are almost there.” I didn't care if that sandbag weighed 100 lbs.
I was finishing this race!
I threw off the sandbag and began an easy trot downhill once again. I carefully choose each step as much as I could with my headlamp in the night's darkness. I was determined, and with each phase to add a little more speed. I have no idea how I didn’t roll an ankle running down that mountain; at that point but I felt like angels were guiding my steps. Repeating in my head was only,” Almost there!”
Then I saw the glow of the finish line! The race was almost over! I just stared at that line of fire in front of the finish line knowing it meant just one last leap to my finishers shirt, medal and a hot shower and warm bed.
I crossed the finish line. Thank God, I have crossed the finish line. One of the Spartan people said, ”We haven’t seen anyone come down the mountain that fast in hours.” I could only muster a smile and “Thanks.”
There were only four or five people at the finish line that night. No one cheering me on as I approached, no one announcing my name and number over the speakers, there wasn't even music playing. After all, it was late...the sun had gone down hours ago, and the temperature went down with it. Surprisingly, I knew several of the people at the finish line. It felt good to have my medal and shirt handed to me from someone that understood how hard the race was to complete. I never wanted to hear my name over the loudspeakers anyway but to have fellow Spartans just say ”Great job!” was enough. That was a good feeling. Receiving congratulations from people that understood my determination to press on even when you want to stop and rest your aching muscles.
It had been 13.5 hours since I began that crazy race. I hadn’t stopped once, the exception of 15 minutes to eat a sandwich and drink a Gatorade at the halfway point.
I think four maybe five mountains to traverse,
Crawling uphill under barbed wire while pushing a big F$@king log,
Two rope climbs with my overstuffed camelback,
Hopping on one leg across an overpass and back,
At one point feeling sick while hiking but not letting myself stop,
Slipping and falling several times and hundreds of burpees.
I thought I would never do this again. I didn’t know it then, but this was only my first of many ULTRA Beast Spartan Races.
My very first ULTRA Beast in Killington Vermont was the second ULTRA ever in Spartan history.
This was it; the Death Race had been done once (I think). I had done the Sprint, Super and my first Beast that year. In my mind, it just seemed like the next thing to do. Holy shit it is hard!!!
I was not prepared for that race.....I think I did around 400 burpees and took 13+ hours to complete the race. I have now created a work up for this race that has served me very well.
Stay tuned for ULTRA Beast chronicle 2.
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