What I Learned After the Spartan Race World Championships

I recently completed the 2017 Spartan Race World Championship in Lake Tahoe along with two friends of mine. The race was 17 miles long and consisted of 38 obstacles. 

The race started at 6,000 feet with the highest peak was over 9,000 feet high. The first 4-5 miles were straight up the side of the first mountain with technical climbing for about a mile of the climb. The course included many of the “standard” Spartan Race obstacles (spear throw, rope, A-frame, sandbag carries and more) but they were all heavier, farther in distance, higher and harder in every way possible.

Since my first Spartan Race 3 years ago at AT&T Park, one month before being medically cleared, I have now completed 4 additional races with 3 of them being nine mile-long races consisting of 25-30 obstacles. One of those races was 48 hours after having a seizure. Yes, I did have medical clearance from my neurologist following that seizure.

Nine miles wasn’t too much further than the farthest I had ever run which was 6 miles. Besides the trail run aspects of it, I was confident that I could complete those races. I wasn’t concerned about the obstacles and the ones that I missed, burpees, while exhausting, I have trained for.

But, coming into the World Championships, I had never completed 16-18 miles before. When watching the previous year’s races on YouTube we knew that there would be obstacles such as a 45-50 degree swim. As we approached the event, Spartan Race executives started leaking certain images and videos such as the A-frame obstacle which had been nearly tripled in size.

I knew that my training had to evolve from what I was used to. I had to focus more on cardio and muscular endurance if I was going to have any shot at completing the World Championships. I had already decided that the only way I would quit the race was if I became so injured that I couldn’t continue. I would not DNF (Did Not Finish) due to a lack of training.

Over the months leading up to the race I combined 2 different workout plans that I had found online and altered for my training needs. For example, every Friday I would add an additional mile to my run until I worked up until 13-14 miles.

Once we got to Lake Tahoe I became nervous, filled with a combination of excitement and fear. Reality was setting in. It was go time.

After nearly 10 hours the three of us crossed the finish line, completing our first (and likely, last) Spartan Race World Championships and our first Spartan Beast race. We had conquered Lake Tahoe and took one more step to earning our Spartan Race Trifecta this year - completing all three races (Sprint, Super, Beast) within one season.

Now that I have had time to reflect (and recover!) from the race, I wanted to share a few lessons that I hope are useful to you, and that have proven to be helpful to me throughout life:

  1. Stay focused on your goal and don’t let anything stand in your way
  2. Push through when you’re feeling beaten down or exhausted or tired
  3. Start with the end in mind and work back from there to help you achieve your goal
  4. Always have people in your corner who will help to push you 

I never thought that I could compete and complete the Spartan Race World Championships when I had seen the race over the last two seasons. Coming into this season I focused my attention on achieving my Trifecta. 

Without traveling too far away, the closest Beast was the World Championships. I knew that meant it would be immeasurably harder however months in advance I determined that I would cross the finish line no matter what happened. From that finish line I worked back to figure out who I would achieve that accomplishment. 

Next up: accomplishing my final race of the season to earn my first Trifecta. Fortunately, that will be my third AT&T Park race which is easy compared to the other races.