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OCR Report: 2017 Citi Field Sprint

Last weekend was my annual pilgrimage to New York for a family visit and Spartan Citi Field Sprint run.

The race really isn’t wildly different from year-to-year, so I’ll save my words for things that are actually notable.

First off, the weather. I’ve historically not had great luck with Spartan weather; almost every race has either had rain during the event or enough beforehand to make the mud dramatic. There was no mud for this one, obviously, but there was moderately heavy rain throughout. It was bad enough that the spear literally slipped out of my hand in the spear throw. I mean, the throw looked pathetic—it went maybe halfway to the target.

The race had far less Sisyphian climbing of the stands than last year, which was very nice. I think the race was shorter and easier overall, which was nice, as my brother was dealing with some shoulder issues.

We were hoping that my nephew would be able to do the kid’s race this year. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out—officially, due to the weather, but as a practical matter due to logistics. (The family had been having varying levels of illness in the week leading up to the race, and getting the kid out to the race while simultaneously caring for the other kid who’s still too young for the race and having care for him in place before and after his race while his dad and me were running turned out to not be feasible. He wound up going to his ninja class instead, which was some consolation.)

The Z-wall made an appearance, which was the first time I’ve seen it at a stadium race. I made a significant goof in that obstacle by not checking it out beforehand. As a result, I didn’t realize that the foothold around the blind corner, was also really, really far. So when I was on the obstacle, I really had no idea where that foothold was.

In better news: I did the rope climb for the first time in a race. Given the rain, that was a big surprise; I think the rope was thicker this year, since I was able to get some grip on my feet.

I’m feeling extremely sore today in weird ways. That’s less due to the race and more due to the fact that yesterday I drove about 800 miles from Long Island to Ohio. Yep, I’m a car owner again, for the first time in 14 years, because I bought my sister-in-law’s old car. I am not in driving shape, apparently, because my gas pedal shin is throbbin’.

 

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OCR Report: 2016 Spartan Citi Field Sprint

So, I was in New York over the weekend to visit my brother and sister-in-law and nephews, and to run in the Spartan Citi Field Sprint with my brother.

Spartan Citi Field 2016 swag

Swag from the Citi Field 2016 Race, including: shirt (with sleeve folded in a probably futile effort to juxtapose the prominent U.S. flag with the less-prominent “Made in China” designation); finisher medal; and picture frame (given to me as a birthday present and decorated by my nephews and I. The photo is the one that came with—you can tell because I’m not in black-and-white in real life.)

It was my first race of the year, and given that I haven’t been real happy with my training and (especially) diet thus far, it’s not shocking that the race was a mixed bag. In fact, a mixed bag is probably better than I should have expected. So without more intro, here is:

The good

It’s not surprising, but the race was overall well-organized and well-put-on. I’ve never had any significant logistical issues during Spartan races, and this was no exception—parking was fine, getting in was a snap, no major logjams on any of the obstacles, and so on. I feel bad about not writing more about those things, since they’re a major part of what makes an experience satisfactory or not, but since there weren’t problems there’s not much to say.

For myself, I’m getting better at the cargo net. Last year, it gave me—not difficulties, but definite tummy-rumblings at the height, which weren’t soothed by the knowledge that I was perfectly safe. This year, I’m happy to report having no real fear on it and no real trepidation approaching it, so that at least is something I have gotten over.

Speaking of getting over, I made it over all three of the walls (2 6-foot and one 8-f00t) without the aid of other people. I did use the support brackets, which may not be strictly tournament legal, but I have never been able to manage the 8-footer even with that before.

One excellent change that Spartan made to the race this year was that the Stupid Wheely Thingy that You Velcro to Your Feet But That the Velcro Never Stuck Long Enough To Work obstacle that was “used” in Milwaukee’s Miller Field Sprint in 2014 and was present at Citi Field last year but looked like it had been discontinued due to defectiveness before I arrived appears to have been completely retired. In its place was a sort of platform on wheels—you put your feet on the platform and wheelbarrow yourself a certain distance. It’s a good core challenge and a good task. I wish the platforms had been slightly bigger, just because my feet are ginormous and it was tough to get them both on. I get the reasoning—wider feet would make the task slightly easier—but as long as I recognize the irrationality of my complaints I feel that making them is an acceptable behavior.

More life-related: I really like seeing my nephews. They’re exhausting, but energizing—a good reminder of why I want to be better.

The Bad

I was pretty angry at myself on several of the obstacles. The rope climb I went nowhere on, even though this was the first race with a dry rope after learning how to actually climb a rope. But even though the rope was almost the first obstacle, it was also very thin and pretty slick. My S-hook didn’t clamp at all, so the whole rope climb didn’t work at all. (The rope I learned to climb on is manila, which has more texture.)

The monkey bars were also frustrating. This was the first time I touched them when I had any hope of completing them—they had been closed due to some sort of safety concern or injury at Citi Field last year, and at last year’s Chicago Super I was coated in slick mud and had no energy at all so I dropped of immediately. My gym has a lengthy set of monkey bars, and I’ve gotten fairly competent at them, but I’ve never tried the up-and-down ones that Spartan uses. And… I made some progress but slipped off a bit less than half way. I’m pretty sure that’s more an issue that I need a few tries to get comfortable with something than because I couldn’t do it—after my burpees, I went back and tried again and got about 3/4 of the way before slipping off. (There wasn’t a huge lineup, and it was about 4:30 by then, so I don’t feel like I broke anyone’s timed run.) I’m not sure how best to deal with this issue—it takes a while for me to feel comfortable enough on a thingy that’s at the edge of my ability to successfully do it, but there are very limited opportunities to actually be on those thingies before I have to do them. A conundrum.

The only complaint that I would make about the course itself was that the weaving through the stadium seats got to be a bit perpetual by the end. The last round, in particular, just felt like a thing we had to do—there were only a few stairs at a time, and then we’d go over a section, but since they’re in the seating you can’t really run fast, and since it’s basically horizontal it’s not a great challenge. It was just sort of there.

The silly

I’m hoping that my brother and I won the smallest team award. In order to be assured of running at the same time, we formed a team, and there were just the two of us on it. I suppose maybe somebody had an Official Spartan Team of 1, but that seems to be gilding the anti-social lily. So eat your heart out, Spartan 4-0.

Being with my brother often seems to turn things a bit lavatorial. I’m happy to report that there was no repeat of last year’s Massive Fart of Doom (and, in fact, the winds have finally carried the aroma away). But we did prepare for it. At least, we went to the gas station beforehand. (And the gas pump kindly played videos reviewing recent film releases for us. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have gone to see Batman vs. Spiderman if I had known that pump 3 only gave it 1 and a half stars.)

Before entering the stadium, both my brother and I availed ourselves of the port-a-potty facilities outside. While waiting for my brother, I heard from another in the bank of stalls terrible, deep booming and grunting and straining and screaming, like it was Elvis or my dad when he wants to make sure that everybody knows he’s on the toilet. After a bit of this, the sound-maker emerged—a perfectly fit, average to somewhat smaller than average sized woman. So congratulations to her.

 

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OCR Report: 2015 Chicagoland Badass Dash #2: A Most Suburban Race

Today I ran the Badass Dash in Rosemont, Illinois, a near suburb of Chicago and one that’s accessible via public transit, more or less. It’s the first OCR I’ve done outside of the big 3, but I’m really glad I did, because I enjoyed it a lot.

There is no mistaking Rosemont for anything other than a suburb. This is the sight you get when you’re coming off the train:

Suburban RosemontThe Race

The suburban Chicago nature of the race definitely showed through in the course. It started and finished inside the Ballpark at Rosemont. Stadium races have plenty of precedent, but this was a bit of a different animal.

The Ballpark at Rosemont is home to the Chicago Bandits, a professional fast-pitch softball team. So the park is not anything resembling the scale of Citi Field or Miller Park. That meant that most of the race was in the environs of the stadium rather than within it. (In fact, only three obstacles were actually within the stadium itself, although we did start and end on the field. The field, incidentally, was entirely turf—not just the outfield, but also the infield and the warning track.)

The environs aren’t terribly stadium-specific. I’m not sure exactly what was around it, but it had that standard suburban office park feel to it.

As a result, the terrain was quite flat—though not entirely, as the course designers did use some of the banks that led to roadways to add a bit of climbing and descending. Still, if your primary interest in OCR is rough terrain, this isn’t the race for you.

On the other hand, the lack of rough terrain had the happy side-effect that a lot of the course was visible. Here’s an artsy little shot that I took of my first sighting of the course:

Badass Dash Course from across highway

Look at that framing!

And yes, that’s an interstate I had to cross to get to the race. (There was a bridge; I didn’t play Frogger with the semis or anything.)

The race was advertised at 7K with 33 obstacles. Some of those obstacles were actually activities—push-ups or sit-ups or pull-ups or the like. The obstacles were not, on the whole, extremely difficult: if you’re looking for really hard obstacles with high failure rates, this also isn’t your race. I did have to do penalties on two obstacles. There was a tall and steep A-frame that you can sort of see in the above photo that was a problem—there were ropes to help pull yourself up, but the rain made both the ropes and the ramps slick; the second time I fell down, in a not-terribly-controlled way, I was thinking better of it. The other I failed was a set of monkey bars, which was the last or second-to-last obstacle (depending on if you count a run through bleachers as an obstacle or not). I actually got about halfway across, but the wet conditions hurt. I also managed to hurt my hand on the previous obstacle, which didn’t help much.

That said, there were several notably interesting and fun obstacles. The Australian Back Crawl was a plastic sheet positioned on a hill, with a cargo net above it. We laid on our backs and used the net to pull us up, all while a guy with a hose sprayed the sheet and us down with water.

Australian Back Crawl

Australian Back Crawl

(Unfortunately, after the Australian Back Crawl was one of the biggest backlogs on the course. There was a single mudslide to get down the hill, and I don’t know why it took so long, but I wound up bypassing it and just walking down the hill. I don’t feel like that was a bad decision in the slightest.)

This run on floating bins across a pond was also pretty cool—I made it about three steps before falling in spectacularly and having to swim the rest of the way across.

Feared Float

Because most of the obstacles needed to be alliterative, this was called the “Feared Float.”

A climb over stacked pallets wasn’t terribly physically difficult, although some people had some minor panic about the height and weirdness of having to climb over them. Meanwhile, the Claustrophobic Crawl—a narrow tube to travel through—was surprisingly difficult. There wasn’t nearly enough room to actually crawl, and there wasn’t a lot to grab onto, so I kind of had to pull myself forward with my forearms and then push myself with my toes. Surprisingly taxing. And there was a dodge ball section—really not terribly difficult, and the ball-huckers weren’t throwing terribly hard, but it was kind of a fun thing. (Except that this is where I jammed my thumb, trying to be fancy and catch a ball so I could send the thrower to prison.)

Dodge Ball

Dodge!

The Organization

The race was pretty well organized—but you could also see a few rough edges that might not show up in a bigger race series. On the good side, racers were released in fairly small sub-heats, which mostly kept backups down. Getting in, packet pick-up, and bag check were all pretty easy, although I’m not sure the bag check system was ideal. We got a numbered tag for the bag, and the attendants wrote the number on our hands, which they checked after we had picked the bag up after the race—but my ink came almost entirely off during the race. I got my bag back no problem, but it’s not hard to imagine that the system could have broken down in a bad way without truly permanent markers.

The race did cross some roads with traffic on them, but they all had attendants to ensure safety, and there was no point at which I felt any concern on that front. The volunteers at obstacles weren’t quite as good, though. There were a few points where it wasn’t entirely clear what the rules were. At one obstacle, for example, we had to potato-sack-jump down a path and back. Everyone seemed to be jumping backwards on the way back, but I’m not sure if that was the obstacle or just something that people were doing. A couple obstacles later, we had to either roll or carry a tire down and back a similar path—I’m still not sure which. And the cargo net also had a bit of confusion: It was divided in two sides by a flag on the top, and I think we were supposed to climb over it once on the left side, and then turn around and climb back over it on the right, but no one was shouting instructions so some people were coming down the up side.

The floating bins obstacle was one of the points where there was a backup, and it probably didn’t have to be. When I arrived at the obstacle, people were generally waiting for the person in front to finish—a polite thing to do, since the bins were all connected to one another—but also a time-consuming one. A more aggressive volunteer telling people when to go to give the person in front space but keep the line moving might have made it go faster.

I’m inclined to pin volunteer-related issues on the organizers: a volunteer, after all, is there for the day, and won’t know what issues there are unless the organizer explains them. Fortunately, the issues that there were were pretty minor and really didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the day.

One other area where the scale of the race really showed was in the free stuff. We got a backpackish thing, a medal, and a headband (not shown, since I wore it during the race and when I finished it was gone). Swag Hags, this is not the race for you. (Fortunately, I’m not one, but I include this information out of interest of completion.)

Badass Dash swag

The Badass Dash Medal and backpack.

(By the way, did I just coin the term “Swag Hag?” I feel like someone must have used it before, but I don’t remember seeing it elsewhere.)

Overall

I feel like there’s been a lot of negative in this report, which is too bad because my overall impression of the race is really positive. I really had a lot of fun. It was definitely less difficult than an outdoor Spartan, and even a notch lower in difficulty than the stadium sprints, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. It is really nice to be able to race an entire race, rather than have to slog the majority of it. Both have their place (I do believe there’s value in doing something grueling and completing it) but as I’ve done a lot of slogging this year, I’m pleased to get through a course running the whole thing.

Even the small amount of hills in this course demonstrated that that’s something I need to work on. That’s a problem, since the nearest hill that’s taller than I am is about 5 miles away. It will probably entail lots of stair-climbing at the gym. Ugh.

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OCR Report: 2015 Spartan Super Chicago (aka HOTEL 1991845)

I ran/walked/slogged/crawled/probably survived the Chicago Spartan Super yesterday. Here’s some thinkings about it.

The Race
The race started ominously. We entered a lengthy, narrow wooded path with deep, cement-like muck. So in addition to the fact that every step brought the real possibility of losing your shoes (it happened to me thrice), since it was right at the start, it was super-congested—and since it was super narrow, every time anyone had to stop to get their shoes back on, the whole crowd had to stop. The starter intended to split our heat into two groups to try to mitigate this, and in fact he did split the heat into two groups. But he split the heat vertically (down the middle from front to back) and didn’t say which group should go first, so both groups went at the same time.

Fortunately, despite some rain the night before, the rest of the course condition wasn’t nearly as wretched as Indianapolis. There was a pretty wide range of terrain—some open ground, which was generally perfectly solid, and some forest path which ranged from dry to slick.

The weather was very hot, which helped to make the race a lot harder. As a result, my favorite obstacle was the second half of the barbed wire crawl. It was through a fairly deep stream—not deep enough to swim but deep enough so it could support my entire body and just pull myself along the stream bed with my arms.

I’m not sure there were any particularly new obstacles, apart from possibly the Cliff Climb. (I won’t use the product-placement name on general principle). This looked nigh-impossible but turned out not to be particularly difficult—it was a climb up a near-vertical cliff face, but there were good ruts that served as sturdy footholds and a couple of sturdy roots to hold onto. There was a fair bit of backup at it, but it overall was a pretty neat use of the terrain. Some that I hadn’t done before were a couple of hurdles, which were just some square wooden logs maybe 4 or 5 feet off the ground, the log carry (which, aggravatingly, went through the second-worst muck of the course), and a haybale climb. (That last one wasn’t much of an obstacle—the hay bale was pretty worn down by the time I got there, so it didn’t pose much of a challenge at all.)

From the standpoint of my personal performance, things are pretty mixed. The good:

  • While it was short for a Super (probably less than 8 miles, officially, although that doesn’t typically include the obstacles with loops), it was the longest race I’ve ever done, and I’m pleased to have survived it in much better shape than Indy.
  • I’m feeling better on the cargo nets, which I’ve had some panic on in the past. The pyramid-shaped cargo net was a bit better for me than the vertical one, but there’s a bit of a caveat to that which I’ll explain below.
  • The inverted wall came easier this time than in Indianapolis. Hercules Hoist was, once again, a wheelhouse obstacle, and the sled drag also went really well. The Atlas Stone went a lot better than Indianapolis, and I was able to do it alone. I think they were a bit lighter than the ones in Indianapolis, though heavier than the ones at Stadium sprints.

The bad:

  • I didn’t complete any of the “marginal” obstacles—the ones that I might be able to do under good circumstances but with the fatigue and poor grip of the course I couldn’t. That resulted in six rounds of burpees: the rope climb, spear throw, rig, monkey bars, Spartan steps, and Z-wall. The rope climb especially hurt, since I have recently learned how to climb the rope in the gym.
  • I didn’t bonk nearly as bad as in Indianapolis, but I did bonk. Time was 4:12.
  • Fundamentally… I guess I’m not really satisfied with just surviving the race, so I was kind of disappointed in my overall performance.

Logistics
I don’t think I have anything more than trivial criticisms of the operation of the event itself. Parking was off-site, unless you wanted to spring for the very expensive VIP parking, but the shuttle buses seemed to be downright incessant—there was a line (well, really a ring) of about 10 buses at the lot when I left, so there was about a minute of time between when I got on the bus and when it left. And I was the second one on the bus. The one parking criticism that I have was at the very end. There were several overflow parking lots, which led to a bit of confusion on the ride home. The bus drivers asked which lot we were in, which perplexed me, since I hadn’t known that there was more than one. It turned out not to be an issue, because the buses went to all of the lots, but there was a moment of panic that I wouldn’t get back to my rental car.

I had the same luck at packet pickup, and at bag check—no lines either dropping my bag off or picking it up again.

There was a line at the end of the race, though: there was a mandatory photo op, like you were entering the Sears Tower or the Space Needle or the Atomium or something. If those photos turn out to be for sale for only $14 I’ll be really pissed. It was definitely a bit of an annoyance to have to wait for it.

There was also a lengthy, demoralizing line for the showers, but it traveled way faster than I expected. It was maybe a 10-minute wait, which isn’t great, but it wasn’t that bad.

Miscellany
This race had a code to memorize, but no place to recite it, which based on what I’ve seen online is now a thing. I have a few theories about it:

  • It could be that it’s an obstacle for the elite heats but not feasible logistically to enforce it for the open ones.
  • It could be something that’s intended to be a joke. If so, it didn’t really land. I’m not bothered by it, I just don’t get it.
  • It could be something to build mystique. I could easily imagine Spartan HQ saying, “You know, if we do something nonsensical and random, people will assume that since they don’t understand it that we must be geniuses.” Spartan sometimes seems to be a bit of a cult of personality—which I don’t mind, but I do think we should all be aware of it when participating.

Anyhow, my code was HOTEL 1991845, so I’m special. Or something.

The trickiness of the vertical cargo net that I alluded to above was due to politeness. Specifically, that brand of politeness that leads to mucking things up, like when someone tries to hold a door for someone but the door opens the wrong way so in order to hold the door they have to stand in front of it and block anyone else from walking through. There’s probably a German word for it.

Anyhow, the cargo net was pretty loose at the bottom, if it was attached at all (I was in the middle so I didn’t notice if there was any bracing at the sides), so well-meaning people who had finished would hold the net down on the other side.

Unfortunately, by holding the net down, they also pulled it. The result was that we had to climb while leaning backwards, which probably added more difficulty than the loose bottom did.

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OCR Unreport: 2015 Illinois Warrior Dash

The weekend was odd.

I had plans to run the Illinois Warrior Dash on Sunday, thanks to Maggie. She assembled a team, sponsored by Delta Faucet, and invited the Chicago Running Bloggers to participate—with a complementary entry.

Saturday, and the week before the race, and the month before the race, and the whole frickin’ year was rainy, and I spent a fair amount of Saturday watching reports from the race about the aparkalyptic* conditions in the parking lot. Apparently everything got flooded, and bunches of cars got stuck, and more of the kind of thing that happens when an already-saturated wooded area gets more rain and lots of traffic.

I also spent a lot of Saturday at a friend’s birthday party, but had to cut it a bit early so I could wake up good and early. Not for the race itself, but for a volunteer shift. Again, not for the race itself—I take care of birds at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum every other Sunday. That’s not exactly critical to the story, but it is an interesting bit of color, and it will pay off in a surprising way later on.

Anyhow, as I left for the museum, I found this in the lobby of my building:

Passive-aggressive signWhile I’m fundamentally opposed to the passive-aggressive nature of this sign, it also confused and still does confuse me for a couple reasons. First off: spilled pasta? Really? On the scale of urban irritants (of which there are many, no matter how much you like the city) how does spilled pasta even rate as something that gets noticed?

And second: I don’t know what the back walkway is. The building has an alley, but there are far worse things than spilled pasta there. Or there are back stairwells that can be used as an exit, but nobody really does use them.

Speaking of mysteries, I also saw this in my neighbor’s yard:

Sprinkler on a rainy dayDidn’t Alanis Morrisette once do a song about running the sprinkler on a rainy day?

Anyhow, there’s not much more to report about the Warrior Dash, since about 7:30 I got word that due to the weather and conditions (apparently conditions were bad enough that the course was inaccessible to medical personnel) it had been cancelled. In fact, I got that word immediately after getting a call from the car rental agency saying that my car reservation wouldn’t be ready at 9 am as I had made it and did I still need the car after all?

While last year’s experience wasn’t great, and I think that it was due mostly to an unforced error on Warrior Dash’s part (and a cascade of issues that stemmed from it), I’m a lot more sympathetic this year. Obviously I didn’t go there, and I don’t know precisely what the conditions were, but I know that kind of decision is a lousy one for an event organizer to have to make. I am inclined to appreciate their willingness to make that decidedly ungood decision.

* I hope you like the term “aparkalyptic.” It took me an hour to think of it; I wasted a lot of time trying to make “parkopocalypse” or variations of it work. Admittedly, this hour was just idle musing that I did while simultaneously cleaning up bird shit at the museum (payoff!), so it wasn’t like I was spending an hour racking my brains, but it did take longer than I expected.

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OCR Report: 2015 Indianapolis (and Citi Field) Spartan Sprint, Part III: The Funny Stuff

This last post wrapping up the Citi Field and Indianapolis Sprints will just share the funny stuff that happened at these races (and the times immediately before and after).

Farts are Never Not Funny
The absolute highlight of the Citi Field sprint for me was the ab wheel-turned-crab walk obstacle. Which had nothing to do with the obstacle itself and everything to do with… well, halfway down, my brother unleashed the biggest fart in the world. Like, I’m shocked the foundations of the stadium didn’t snap in half. My brother literally went airborne and flew maybe five feet. And as for the volunteer who was working that obstacle—well, we owe him several apologies. It couldn’t have been pleasant for him.

Wet Floor

On the way to Indianapolis, I stopped for lunch at Arby’s. Obviously, that was a mistake, but here’s another indicator:

Permanent Wet Floor sign.

This floor is perma-moist.

That’s not a temporary “Wet Floor” sign. That’s permanently affixed to the door. And it was justified—the floor in that ‘restaurant’ was moist and slick in a way that I have never experienced before. I nearly wiped out several times, which would have totally wrecked the curly fry situation.

Music Choices
En route to Indianapolis, the radio offerings were interesting. I did stumble on to a couple of things I really enjoyed, though. One was a show of classic rock—never a failure. The other, a bit weirder, was a sportscast of college softball. But what made it absolutely incredible was the sportscasters: They really, really, really, really, really didn’t want to be there. Their lack of interest or understanding of the game or awareness of the players or teams were glorious. Unfortunately, the classic rock ended after not too long, and the softball game got postponed due to rain in the 2nd inning. And here’s the weird thing: Both times when the show I wanted to listen to ended, they were replaced by jazz.

Benefits for AARP Members
This happened picking up the rental car for my Indianapolis trip. AARP members get exciting benefits when renting cars. For example, at Avis, they can get a special rate on a Garmin GPS. At Budget, on the other hand, AARP members can get a special rate on a Gramin GPS.

Avis AARP benefits

Avis’s Garmin GPS benefit

Budget AARP benefits

Budget’s Gramin GPS benefits

Ikea Meatballs: The Best Food Ever

After the Citi Field Sprint, my brother and I went to Ikea for lunch. The Swedish Meatballs there were the best things ever. Seriously, they were scary good. Like they have crack in them. Even vegans would love them. Even though the layout of the Ikea was such that it took us about 20 minutes of wandering around the store before we finally hit the meatball stand.

Have You Accepted Jesus as Your Personal Savior?

These were in the lobby of my Indy hotel. That bodes well, right?

Religious Pamphlets in Hotel Lobby.

Yay Jesus!

Racism, 1990s Style

And lastly: Do you still care about Ebonics? Because the fellow who shared my seat on the shuttle bus from the race to the parking lot sure did. The driver of the bus was black, and she was talking to another person who was black, and the guy next to me was horrified. “Do you understand Ebonics?” he demanded. Apparently the driver’s attempt to figure out which of the two lots she was supposed to be driving to was extremely confusing and angering to him. Because, you know, Ebonics.

(Yo! Like Fat Boy Big Wall on Facebook!)

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OCR Report: 2015 Indianapolis Spartan Sprint, Part 2: Personal stuff

See Part I here.

Given the incredible hardness of the Indy Sprint, one might suspect that my personal performance was less than good, but that’s about a quarter-truth.

It’s kind of tough to truly gauge the course. Going to Indianapolis was my third trip of the week, including another race, and several nights with interrupted sleep, so I was coming in pretty tired already. The night before Indy I slept terribly (the hotel bed was legendarily uncomfortable), and I woke up with a fairly upset stomach. As a result, I also didn’t eat much for breakfast—it would have been fine in a normal race, but after 4 hours I was feeling really unwell.

Hercules Hoist at 2015 Indianapolis Spartan Sprint

Hercules Hoist? Schmercules Hoist! (Not really.)

The first half or so of the race gave me a lot to feel good about. As I mentioned in part 1, the inverted wall was kind of a great obstacle. Hard, but I was able to get over it unaided on my second try, which is a great feeling. The Hercules hoist weirdly felt a bit easier than at other venues—at least, it was the first time I completed it standing up rather than sitting down. The height-based obstacles—the A-Frame cargo net and the vertical cargo net climb—were no problem for me, and they have induced a bit of panic in the past. (Vision may be the reason. I wear glasses, but glasses don’t work terribly well with mud pits, so I didn’t wear them on the course, which may have minimized the impact of being way high up.) The A-Frame cargo climb went over the course’s initial running section, which may not be a radical course design technique, but it’s a neat one. (It also let me get a nice laugh by shouting “Sorry ’bout the kilt’ as a wave was running underneath.”)

Other obstacles—particularly the ones late in the course—were more disastrous. I couldn’t even get on the Z-wall, although I don’t think I saw anyone who could unaided. I was looking forward to the Spartan Rig, but I was hopeless on it; I’m pretty sure that was the result of exhaustion. The atlas stones were huge, and I only managed it by sharing it with a neighbor. I’m intrigued about whether I could do them under better conditions—hauling heavy shit is as close to a wheelhouse as I’ve got, so it would be pretty demoralizing if I can’t manage them at all. The other heavy hauls—the sandbag carry and the bucket brigade—were both miserable: both really long loops and both extremely slick. I missed the spear throw badly, not because I went off-target but because I was well short.

scratch on hand

Only one battle scar, a little scratch on my hand. I’m claiming it was from the Shuriken Scramble.

And then the real problems started. By the end—3 and a half hours of climb-trudging in—I was done with the obstacles altogether. I think I skipped three, the Spartan Steps (I think that’s the name—consisting of an 8-or-so-foot wall up to a set of wooden rungs extending maybe 12 feet beyond, all of which had to be climbed), the really really long barbed wire crawl with dirt mounds throughout, and the rope swing. I should feel bad about that, but I absolutely don’t. Falling from the steps was almost an inevitability in my condition, as was puking through the barbed wire crawl and missing the mud pit under the rope swing entirely. (That last one, by the way, happened to the guy who was immediately in front of me, which sealed the deal.)

This may become a huge scandal—maybe as big as a shirt or a Huffington Post story—but I’m okay with that.

Race Logistics

I really don’t have any complaints about the production of the race itself. Parking was off-site, which was a bit of a pain, but unavoidable, and I didn’t have to wait for a shuttle bus either going to or from the race. (Plus I met a spectacularly racist spectator on the way back, which I’ll describe in Part 3.) The festival area seemed a bit more festive than other races I’ve been at, maybe since the field allows things to be more centralized than a stadium does. There seemed to be a few more activities than usual, including a rope climb, slosh pipe, and tire flip station. There was a lengthy line at the shower station after the race, which was annoying, but again I’m not sure if it was avoidable given how much mud there was and how extended the race times got.

Wall with fatboybigwall.com ad.

The festival area included a wall where you could write why you race, which weirdly coincides with part of Spartan’s marketing campaign. I contributed illicit marketing of my own.

As I mentioned in Part 1, I’m not thrilled about the race venue itself, or at least not the combination of muddy hill running and torrential downpours the night before making running impossible. But happily, the operation of the race seemed to be pretty good. Stay tuned for Part 3, which will have miscellaneous mirth from both Indy and Citi Field.

(Also, have you liked Fat Boy Big Wall on Facebook yet? You should do that!)

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Filed under OCR Report, Spartan Race