The Trials and Trails of the Monterey Spartan Beast 2014

This is the race I have been waiting for and dreading. 11+ miles of wicked Monterey hills and 25+ obstacles that would push me to my limits and beyond. A few days before the race, I started to get the nervous feeling in my gut. The longest I have ever run at one time was 10 miles and that was only 7 days before the Beast. I knew that I would be able to do the running/jogging part as its not straight 11+ miles thanks to the obstacles. I packed all of my obstacle race gear and a few changes of clothing and readied myself for a trip to sunny California. Two hours of flying and a hour and a half car ride later we arrived at the hotel that was 15 or so minutes away form the race.

The night before the race, my sleep was not very good. I woke up multiple times due to noise and possibly nerves. We found out when we were leaving that the water heating system was recently tuned and we were lucky to hear swishing noises all night in a pattern. Yay.

Rented a beast for the Beast.

I woke up 5 minutes before the alarm I had set to get ready for the Beast. I was ready for the Beast to start. We drove to the designated parking area and boarded the bus that would take us to the Beast’s course. Upon arriving at the race location, we were able to see the festival area, where the Start and Finish were located, bag check, merch and views to a few of the Beasts obstacles could be seen. After checking in and looking around for a bit, we were told over the sound system that the first runner was about 5 minutes away from the finish line. The first heat started at 8am and it was now about 10:20am and this runner was about to destroy the Beast in record time.

The calm before the race
The calm before the race

Around 10:30am, there was an opportunity to get in a Spartan Warm-up session which I took advantage of to supplement my own warm-up and stretching. As soon as I was able to get into the starting area of the Beast, I did and made my way up to the front of the line. I really don’t know why I did that, knowing that there would be a lot of people speeding past me once the race started. But I met a few people, one who drove down a few hours for his first ever obstacle course race (holy wow! What a way to start!) and another fellow that flew in from Connecticut to race. After a few minutes of chatting, we were about to be set loose on the Beast. The game faces came on and we were ready to go.

Some of the top of the hill views that I saw
Some of the top of the hill views that I saw

A lot of what the Beast was, is now a blur to me. Yes, there was a lot of running, probably 12 miles worth. The total course length was 12.7 miles and if I had to guess, there was about a half mile of obstacles, form the barb wire crawl, mud pits, cargo wall hangs and jumping wooden posts. I new that the hardest obstacles for me would be anything having to do with my arms and I was right. The first obstacle that I failed and had to do 30 burpees was the Cargo net swing. This was an obstacle that you had to swing under a cargo net, using it like monkey bars, and over a water pit to hit a bell at the end. In the middle of the cargo net, there were a few metal bars, a good 6-8 inches below the cargo net. I made it to the metal bars and then slipped off them into the water. I was surprised I got that far, but failure, whether at the beginning, middle or end of a obstacle, is the same: 30 burpees.

The cargo net swing
The cargo net swing

Another obstacle that I had issues with was the rope climb. I didn’t have enough strength to pull myself up nor was I able to get my feet wrapped around the rope. Another 30 burpees. But I was there at the time to witness Misty Diaz make her amazing climb to the top and whip her body heels over head to ring the bell. It was truly amazing to see her climb up the rope and ring the bell to conquer the rope climb.

My most difficult obstacle was carrying a weighted bag full of sand or something that had to weight 50 – 70 pounds. I had to take a lot of breaks to catch my breath and move on up a hill and then back down and around the same hill. Every time I lifted the bag my legs felt like that they were yelling at me. This was at mile 9 of the course, if my memory is correct. This was also the point at which my camelback became dry. Luckily there was a campsite faucet that I was able to fill up my tank again.

During the barbwire crawl, I heard on of the volunteers mention something about supporting is team and then unlo
aded the fire hose on me. Did I forget to mention that I was wearing a Portland Timbers jersey during the race? I’m pretty sure he was a San Jose Earthquakes fan, but what he didn’t know is, I absolutely loved the water. I was a little hot and the water was nice and cool. After I finished rolling out of the barbwire crawl I tried to stand up… and immediately fell over because I was dizzy! Haha!

Taking a break in the shade
Taking a break in the shade

Jumping from the wooded posts was something that I had done at a prior Spartan Sprint and as I was about to start this obstacle one of the volunteers said, “speed and balance are your friends. Mostly balance.” With that in mind, I took my first step and I was a little off balance, so I switched to speed mode and flew across the wooden posts.

For the last few miles, I felt like that if I stopped moving my left leg would cramp up. So I kept on moving only slowing down for the uphill climbs, which I walked or bear crawled up them.

I set a goal for myself to complete the Beast in under 5 hours, which was an estimated guess based of my previous Spartan Sprint (3.1 miles) time. My official time for the Spartan Beast was 4 hours, 57 minutes and 30 seconds. I finished the Spartan Beast in the top 36% overall, top 41% of my gender and top 43% of my age group. I never thought I would finish up that high, so I was pleasantly surprised!

Overall, this was a really tough course to do and complete. But there were a lot of beautiful moments as well. The views from the top of the Monterey hills were stunning. The willingness of fellow Spartan racers to help people who were having issues with obstacles get past the obstacles, Misty Diaz’s impressive rope climb and of course, going past the finish line.

Now to prepare for the Sprint and Super to complete my trifecta.

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