… for some maybe. But not for me. I got up at 4:30 a.m. this very chilly past Sunday morning to travel 2+ hours to see my first Spartan Race. First, I guess you might be asking, what’s a Spartan Race? Well, it’s a marathon of sorts (give or take) depending on whether it’s a Super, a Beast, an Ultra Beast, a Hurricane Heat, well, with names like those you get the idea… with 25, 30 or 60+ obstacles respectively. Second question … why? Because I am my son’s biggest fan, of course 🙂 He has participated in a few of these races dotted across the U.S. and I wanted see first hand what it is about these Spartan races that attracts him and so many people of all ages, male & female, from all walks of life to get up before the sun, on a Sunday, and run in such grueling (and muddy) race.
This, as you may have already guessed, is not your run of the mill race… this is OCR. A mountain usually reserved for skiers is the setting with obstacles such as crawling under rows of barbed-wire, taking on the “rig” (although I’m still not sure exactly what that is, but it doesn’t sound like fun to me), carrying a 75+ pound bucket of stone up the mountain and back down, only to then have to pull yourself up and across the monkey bars, then climb a rope, all before jumping into a muddy pit of water where the only way out is under the wall in front of you, and finally, if all has gone well, jumping the fire pit… and those are just the few obstacles I could see (except for the rig & barbed wire). Sounds like fun, right? Well, there must be some part of it that is fun; otherwise, one would think that putting yourself through all of that just once would be more than enough. But, like my son, apparently once is not enough… These are die-hard circuit racers and athletes who train in their spare time to return to take on these Spartan races again and again, sometimes to beat a time, sometimes to support the team or a new racer, and sometimes, well, I guess, just because it is fun.
As a spectator, there is a lot of waiting, but with the beautiful fall color as a backdrop and so many photo ops, it was worth the wait to see my son and his #phillyspartans emerge from the trees (in one piece). I even had some of my own obstacles to contend with… like staying out of the way of athletes on a mission and maneuvering through the slippery thick mud that was everywhere…just praying I did not drop a lens cap in it, get my feet stuck in it, or worst case scenario slip and land on my backside. Photographically, this was one of the more interesting events I have photographed in quite some time. It brought out something in people that I don’t see very often in more traditional event settings. There were no smiles for the camera here.
Here, emotions are very raw and changed in a second, from triumph over the obstacle just completed to dread when looking at the next section ahead…
to determination when finishing that 29th burpee (30 is the penalty for not completing an obstacle and every obstacle has a “burpee zone”) and knowing you have just one more to go before moving on…
to rejuvenation when you lift your head out of the murky waters… and see the finish line just ahead!
The only emotion I don’t think I ever really saw was defeat, as every racer I watched and cheered on seemed to know giving up was NOT an option…
All ready looking forward to next Sunday… and sleeping in 😉
Until next time,