by Maurya Scanlon

Spartan Tweeter Maven MScan had her first Spartan Race Encounter at the Tuxedo, NY event on June 4, 2011.  She shares her story and race report.  Once the swelling goes down and the bruises heal, we expect she’ll be ready for another.  We hear she’s taking on The Beast, in Vermont.

I am now officially a Spartan.

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MScan and Steve Vanderbilt

I’ve spent so much time tweeting about Spartan Race and promoting the race, that I figured I should run one and actually join Spartan Nation. Going into it I knew what to expect, because of my relationship and affiliation with the company. I knew the obstacles that Spartan Race is famous for, and I knew that Hobie Call would absolutely cream the competition (which he did). What I did NOT know however, is that Spartan Race adapts itself very well to the different venues. The course was designed to use the landscape in the best way possible to  clobber the racers.  I’ll show you pictures of my knees to prove it.  Seriously, it’s gross.

There was no easing into this monster race.  It began with the steepest hill known to mankind (or so I thought at the time). To put it in perspective, we were running UP a ski slope.

I said to myself “MScan, take it easy, you’ve got a ways to go after you climb this hill.” A light jog did the trick. I got through the first couple of obstacles, over-under-through walls, monkey bars, etc. with a little difficulty but I was enjoying every minute of it.   Then it appeared in front of me…. the eight foot wall.   We were expected to hoist ourselves over this behemoth wall with only one foothold maybe three feet off the ground to help. I’m 5’3 ½” on a good day. It took two people and one near-death experience to get me over that wall, but I did it and then I took off running to catch the big, muscley men who beat me through the obstacle.

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The Bucket Carry

Another obstacle that will forever brand my memory was the bucket carry. This I had not trained for.  My pride definitely got in the way on this one. I was instructed to fill the bucket 3/4ths of the way full. I did so and as I prepared to lift it, I realized that I was probably carrying over half of my body weight (in rocks) in a home depot five gallon bucket.  I then gazed at the ungodly incline that lay before me, whimpered, and then began my torturous, shoulder-socket wrenching ascent. I had been pacing with this lovely cop-gentleman who needed a break at the top—and by break I mean he stopped and gave me words of encouragement that sounded like they were coming from a drill sergeant. After stopping numerous times to figure out how best to carry this bucket o’ rock, and after grunts and yells that made grown men stop and stare with incredulity, I made it to the top, high-fived a stranger like a Bro, turned and started back down.   My descent was paced more slips and a few missteps and falls.   (And P.S. emptying your bucket to 1/4th full on your way up that wicked incline does not a Spartan make. You’re all cheaters, and I hope you’re proud of yourselves.)

Anyway, I made it down the hill after numerous spazzmadic trips, falls, etc, emptied my bucket and ran to pull a sleigh in a circle. People were wrapping the ropes around their waists and pulling. I took a different approach. As if God himself had spoken to me, I had this miraculous idea to put the rope behind my head and around the shoulders and to run. I did so, felt like a genius, gloated a little and moved on. Fast forward 700 miles of uphill dying and 30 burpees (I can’t balance on a beam for anything; if my life depended on it, I’d die). I hit the soapy wall, the wall-scale, and spear throwing.

I OWNED the soapy wall, ALMOST made it to the bell on the scale wall (30 more burpees), failed dismally with the spear throwing (30 more burpees). Though, I’m not shocked about the spear-fail because who would ever imagine that in this day and age a 23 year old woman from NYC would need to know how to throw a spear? In case of the apocalypse, it might be a good skill to have, but otherwise? I digress…

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Barb Wire

I came to the longest mud crawl in the world. I kid you not, folks, we’ve patented it on the Guinness Book of World Records. This thing went on for days, and it wasn’t just a mud crawl. It was a “mud and rocks and barbed wire that will stalk you, track you down and attack you” crawl. Anyone who expected to get through this obstacle without a hole in the seat of his or her pants was foolish.

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Joe DeSena, Spartan Race Founder

At this point, I made my peace with the fact that I’d probably fight the Spartans and cross the finish line sans pants.  With the help of my cop-drill-sergeant friend, I made it through the mud crawl—and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t roll UP a hill, it’s possible. I stood finally, but my shorts decided not to come with me. That was a highlight.

I continued my journey uphill onto a trail made up entirely of loose boulder rock things. It was during this leg of the race, when only my eyeballs weren’t covered in mud, that I was the Spartan Chicking queen. I leapt from rock to rock as if I were Tarzan or something. I pulled ahead of at least ten men and continued to run. I then reached the ice pit.

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Fire Jumping

I thought to myself “this will feel good on my over heated muscles—optimism Maurya, optimism.” I lay down on the ice to roll down the stairs under MORE barbed wire, and suddenly thought “NOT FUN. NOT FUN. ROLL FASTER.” Forget lighting a fire under my tush, the ice did the trick. I was out of that obstacle like a flash. My shorts stayed with me this time. It was after this that I realized I had to run down hill, jump over fire and fight Spartans. I could do that right?

As an aside, I had noticed that the Spartans were being weenies when girls came to fight them. I made up my mind that I would challenge them.  I ran through fire and as if I were in Braveheart, came into the Spartan pit screaming “BRING IT!” I got past the first two thinking I was a tough cookie, then the third one with this Spartan pirouette of doom took me out. He took me out so hard I was SURE that the sky was green. I got up and crossed the finish line to a group of muddy bros who high-fived me because, well,  I’m a nut case. By this time, I have no skin left on my knees, shins or elbows. I had a bugbite on my eyelid, a serious sunburn, and odd shaped bruises everywhere.

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Spartan Gladiators

In all seriousness though I didn’t think I could do it, but I figured I’d try.  At Spartan Race, the employees all run the events – we eat our own cooking!  Heck, Joe DeSena was out there running it and he started the whole thing!  And the feeling of pride that I felt upon finishing was unlike any other moment in my life. Yes I was bruised, bleeding, and wickedly dehydrated, but I had finished. I had finished in an hour and fifteen minutes, and I could finally call myself a Spartan.

I understand now why people endure the pain of competition and push themselves. You best believe that I’m training for the Beast in August. I will OWN that, if I can get feeling back in my legs by then. Thank you, Spartan Race for reintroducing me to my competitive self and for making this walking bruise believe in the power of “yes I can.”

I earned that free beer and it tasted like sweet, sweet victory.

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6 Responses

  1. avatar

    good stuff. makes me want to do a SPartan race even more now! we need to get you to pittsburgh pa.

    • avatar

      We have a race in Palmerton, PA which is 5 hours from Pittsburgh, or you can come to our one in Aldie, VA which is only 4 hours away from Pittsburgh. Make a weekend of it. On the event pages for these two races there are accomodation recommendations. I’m going to try to be at the VA one!

  2. avatar

    Awesome recap of your experience! When I was reading your story, I was reliving the whole experience in my mind! It was my first Spartan race as well and definietly will not be my last!

    • avatar

      I relive that experience everytime I see my knees. haha! The scratches are INSANE and the bruises are a thing of beauty. Can’t wait to do another one!

  3. avatar

    Congrats on finishing and rocking out the race! You are a true Spartan! AROO!!!
    I wanted to give you a big, “Thank you!” for pointing out how tough the bucket carrying up the hill was, but you did it. I am 5’0″ on a good day, extremely petite… I cleaned it and carried it up on my shoulder and down the same… But I did NOT empty out my dirt til the bottom… NothIng infuriated me more than CHEATERS on this obstacle… Suck it up and give it your all, that’s what makes you a Spartan…
    Great job!!!

  4. avatar

    Thanks so much! During the bucket carry I just kept thinking, “This is it. This is the end. I’m going to die. I’m going to fall down this mountain with this 5 gallon bucket of rocks and die.” I survived to tell (or rather type) the tale. I couldn’t hoist it on my shoulder because I’m a clutz and messing with natural body weight equilibrium means certain death for me. I figured it I carried it like a really big baby, I’d maintain my balance. I was right.

    Great job to you. I’m glad to know I’m not the shortest person who ran this race. :) How’d you fare at the behemoth wall of doom?

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