by Andi Hardy, Spartan Elite Athlete
Tucked among the steep, wooded mountains, two hour’s drive from Mexico City, lies a beautiful, small, colonial city called Valle de Bravo. Just outside that city the first Mexico Super Spartan Race was hosted on May 17, 18, and 19, 2013. And a SUPER race it was. The venue was amazing, getting to it was an adventure. The people of Mexico were so accommodating and supportive. The competition was strong.
Eight American Spartan Race elite athletes had the opportunity to experience this superb Super. Hunter McIntyre, Christopher Rutz, Miguel Medina, David Megida, Brad Fredricks, Dave Huckle, Margaret Schlacter, and Andi Hardy were the contenders all hoping for a taste of Mexican podium and the money that went with it. All they were promised was an experience of a lifetime.
After the first ever Mexican Spartan Race in February 2013, a sprint, the Mexican nation had fallen for this sport. Once announced, this Super sold out in less than 48 hours. In fact, another day had to be added to the already two day event just to accommodate the overflow of registrations. 9:00 Saturday AM was the elite heat start time for men and 9:30 AM for women. And elite competitors they brought, Olympians, major marathon winners, tough local athletes to name a few.
The Mexican atmosphere was crazy intense. Spartan Race held back nothing. The festival area was filled with sponsors and vendors, companies like Salomon, Chevrolet, Sport Beans, Garmin, Monster Energy, Coleman, WODBOX, Jumex Sport, City Express Hotel. There were many food/drink choices, festival challenges, merchandise, race information and registration to name a few. Costumed Spartan gladiators were all over the venue adding flavor to the photo ops. Volunteers were everywhere, all with huge smiles on their faces. Race officials were all patient and upbeat.
The start line was grand. Roman columns lined the gates, the announcer made the anticipation nerve-wracking as could be, interviewing competitors, and making Spartan speeches. A large clock counted down the seconds and minutes til the start. Several tubes of Spartan smoke were thrown out there to create even more of a dramatic beginning.
Once the last Aroo had gone off, we were on our way for our experience of a lifetime. Right off the start, the terrain posed to be an obstacle within itself. Grassy clumps arose some 2-3 inches off of the ground. One had to watch every step as a face-plant was not out of the question. The first mud crawl was like none I’d ever experienced. The mud –so black, its density – so thick, the smell was so foul. And it sucked you in and didn’t want to spit you back out. Crawling out of 3 ½ feet of sucking mud was a challenge, and then round the corner, more of this followed, then shortly after a nice, mucky barbed wire crawl. Out of the barbs and up what would be a series of steep mountain slopes. The mountains were over 9300 feet in elevation. If that alone didn’t shut racers down, the obstacles would finish them off. Needless to say, burpee penalties were not in anyone’s plan.
Obstacles as we know and love were placed at all the right places throughout the race. Not once could you get into a comfortable running pace because a wall would appear or a bag of sand to haul through an uneven single track circle, or a dusty, bumpy upgrade of a tractor pull, another slope that had to be bear crawled. Looking up was not a great option as the discouragement took over at the size of the incline. Through a river, up more inclines, wall after wall, rope climb, traverse wall, log presses, balance beams, and the biggest obstacle; the thin air for us Americans who train at sea level. This caused oxygen deprivation that made our legs feel like cement blocks. Dizzy spells and muscle cramping added to the pain. “Vamonos, vamonos” was common encouragement from the volunteers and fans.
Finally, up the final clumpy hill to the spear throw. Mexican spears were a bit different from our well-practiced familiar ones in the states. But burpees this far into the race would be a killer at this elevation. After spearman, another muck crossing had to be conquered, then a wall to slide down while being doused with a fire hose. Lucky for those who came through alone, the highly pressured water didn’t leave your face even for a breath of air. High pressure water followed loners through th
e slippery wall climb until you made a mad dash to jump the fire and on to the cargo bridge. Once across the cargo, six hard hitting gladiators stood between your tired gasping body and that hard earned medal.
At the end of the day, we got what we were promised and more. Not only was this Mexican Super Spartan an experience of a lifetime, we found meaning way beyond a podium placement and a check in Mexico. Smiles of achievement and bonds of camaraderie don’t need translation either.But a Spartan Race wouldn’t be complete without a Kid’s Race. And because we are just big kids, several of us joined in the excitement. One grabbed a pugil stick, his job was to stay on his feet while being targeted by water balloons. Another rabbited the races and loudly cheered on every single child. Yet another grabbed the hands of scared, crying tots and helped bring smiles of joy to these young faces. Others cheered from the sidelines.
Want to learn more about our international races? Click HERE to see our line-up.