To Ultra Beast or Not to Ultra Beast?
That really is the question. For those of you who are not familiar with Spartan Race, the Ultra Beast is a 26.2+ mile obstacle course race where participants are faced with rope climbs, heavy object carrying, spear throwing, and other physical and mental challenges. I’ve already completed the three Spartan Sprints (CO 2012, MS, CO 2013), a Super Spartan (Mid-Atlantic), and a Spartan Beast (Carolinas). I’ve even done a Hurricane Heat where you are pretty much at the mercy of the race organizers. For my Hurricane Heat, we were required to carry our teammates (or in my case be carried since I was one of the smaller people on the team) over, under, and through obstacles. We also had to carry massive logs over a mile of rolling Virginia horse country so that spectators would have a place to sit at the rope climb obstacle.
I thought after completing all these challenges and earning my Trifecta I would be done with Spartan. None of the challenges were particularly hard for me. I personally think getting through a half-marathon requires more mental strength than a Spartan Race because in a Spartan Race you have obstacles to distract you from the pains and strains of continuous forward progress. Seriously, climbing an 8 foot wall or swimming in freezing water will definitely make you think of other things besides the pain in your feet! As long as you have a strong enough desire to finish and a reasonable level of fitness (and enough time in the day depending on how slow you are) anyone can complete a Spartan Race. My sister, who happens to be a naturally fast runner, was able to earn her Trifecta without any obstacle course racing-specific training. And in two of the races, I was holding her back because of my injured calf.
Then I entered my email into a little box on the Spartan Website, waited two months, and received an email yesterday saying I was invited to apply for the Ultra Beast. And now I’m wondering, should I say enough is enough or should I throw my hat in the ring? After completing this year’s CO Spartan Sprint, I decided I was done with obstacle course racing, at least for the next year or so. That way I could fully focus on running and hopefully getting faster at distances greater than a marathon (my focus now is 50 miles, but I think a hundo is in my not so distant future). I think the answer is I let this challenge go and really focus on running a sub-9 hour 50. I have to think about this one a little more.
On another, obstacle course related note, I’m running the Colorado Tough Mudder tomorrow. I fully admit ahead of time to the world that I plan on skipping some obstacles, mainly the ones involving electricity. I’ve been shocked enough in my life to know what it feels like, I have no plans on ever running in the World’s Toughest Mudder, and I could really care less if it makes me appear to be weak. I’m just not doing it. Updates to follow post race!