by Carrie Adams
It was what the racers couldn’t see that was the most frightening. The scariest things are the things we don’t know, the things we can’t see past the treeline, the darkside of the mountain where the brambles are thick, the footing steep and unsure. The dark secrets
held in the mountains that loomed defiantly in the distance. Racers took stock of what they did know and what they could see. It wasn’t comforting.
Thick white fog rolled fast and smooth off the mountain peaks, signaling that however windy it was at the base, you could count on it being twice that at 3,300 feet up. From the start line, course marking flags at the top of K-1 were visible; one could only imagine how they’d arrive to see them up close. The Tarzan swing ropes swayed sharply in the gusts of air that swept across the water leaving ripples in its wake as they dangled from the suspension bridge by the festival grounds. Base camp had not one but two ambulances waiting and the local mountain rescue and local medical crews huddled together near the lodge ready for anything. They would field several calls on the day.
The rumors were rampant, some we mentioned in a post HERE last week and very little was confirmed by staff or crew although Mike Morris, Race Director was overheard saying, “There will be times on this course where you will realize you are out there alone, and there is no one nearby… and you’ll just have to keep going.”
The beginning of the course was obvious and clearly headed straight up, small berms and a few obstacles near the start line, all these small clues from basecamp were ominously clear. The water was cold. Very cold, and competitors had been warned there would be a lot of it on the course. Shivering against the morning wind the competitors nervously contemplated gear, clothes, and made final preparations with their self-support. Only two water stations would be out on the course but their exact location wasn’t known either. Again, so much was unknown.
When the first wave set out and the last of the racers fell out of view when they cut sharply into the thick underbrush at the base of K-1, it was time for them to find out just what they’d feared. For many, it was far more than they bargained for.
Heats went off, one after another, the same panicked, excited expression stretched across the faces of the runners. Worry in their eyes, goose bumps from the chill in the air or the fear that had settled into the pit of their stomach people took off from the start and disappeared, most of them for several hours. The first finisher wouldn’t emerge for the final obstacles until nearly three hours into the race. And it wasn’t who many expected to see.
One look at the results board and one thing stands out immediately. Hobie Call’s name is NOT at the top. In our review of the male competitors coming to the race that we posted last week HERE, several names were visible at the top of the leader board that we predicted would be. It would ultimately be Cody Moat’s day two times over, taking the top spot and besting Hobie Call in the Beast (one loop) and then continuing on and winning the Ultra Beast (two loops). Call, nursing a hamstring injury was second on the day, finishing almost five minutes after Moat. Other high finishers included Brakken Kraker who took third, Ben Nephew who captured fourth, and Sebastian Monette who snagged fifth. We talk more about the Ultra Beast, HERE in this blog post published yesterday.
On the women’s side it was a tight race! We previewed the ladies last
week HERE. The top spot went to Canadian biathlete and Obstacle Racing phenom Claude Godbout, who, like Moat, went on to a second loop capturing both race victories! Godbout took not only top spot for females, but 7th overall, beating all but six men on the course. Godbout was our top place finisher in the 2011 Vermont Beast last year and was able to reclaim her first place status. Amelia Boone was a notable racer as well in Vermont. The Death Race veteran swept in from the windy city of Chicago and took second place in the Beast and the Ultra Beast. Like Godbout, she out paced many of our top men, her 14thoverall in the single loop Beast performance landed only 12 men total ahead of her. Boone was followed by Ella Kociuba in third and Jenny Tobin in fourth a battle at the finish line.
In addition to the elite Beast heat Nearly 6,000 competitors and spectators from across the U.S. and several foreign countries representing every walk of life, age and stage and varying degrees of athletic abilities converged on Killington, VT to tackle the 2012 Spartan Race World Championship. Consisting of a Beast (one loop) 13 + and a first of its kind Ultra Beast (two loop) 26+ mile race, presented by Dial For Men on Sat., September 22nd and Sunday, September 23rd it capped off our season with one hell of an Obstacle Race with $50,000 being handed out before the day was over for the top finishers. The most EVER given out at an Obstacle Race event.
The real star on race day was the course itself. Race director Mike Morris, Course Builder Russel Cohen and the build staff and crew outdid themselves this year with the course, adding mileage and elevation from last year’s already legendary inaugural Beast. Some fan favorites like the mogul sandbag carry were on tap and the mentally challenging memorization challenge that has racers memorize a unique code and recite it over five miles later when quizzed. A frustrating task for weary and cold competitors. Sled drags, multiple barb wire low crawls, two rope climbs, and over 25 other obstacles challenged competitors all day.
When all was said and done, it would take the competitors up and down three mountains, traversing nearly 14 miles and over 6,000 feet of elevation gain. Competitors were forced far beyond their limits and the finish line was one of the most emotional places in the festival area. Rain began to fall in the late afternoon and when the sun began to set, darkness descended quickly and many competitors finished in the storm. Shivering and smiling, green medal encircling their necks, they were Spartan Beast finishers. They had conquered all the things unknown before they began, but what they knew at the finish line made it all worthwhile.
We know at HQ that when we finish something so hard, so completely consuming of mind, body, and spirit, there is nothing that can capture that – it can only be felt and it can only be experienced by the person in the moment. And those moments, those that really resonate are the ones where people are connecting with a part of themselves they’ve lost or maybe don’t find often enough, and it’s something that is difficult to explain and impossible to give to someone who hasn’t been there. To all our Beast finishers, they will always be connected, bonded by an experience that needs no words to be understood.
What so many didn’t know when the began they knew at the finish. They knew the secrets of the mountain, the cold of the water, the pain of the elevation they’d traverse, and the obstacles they’d encounter but more than that they’d know that not knowing didn’t really matter. The glory in the final footstep over the finish line could only come with the courage to take the first one off the start. Congratulations to all our Beast finishers!
Huge thanks to our volunteers – we can’t put on these events without you! To the people and the businesses of Killington and surrounding towns – Pittsfield, we’re looking at you – THANK YOU for your generosity and your welcoming of the close to 10,000 people who came and conquered Sparta! To Snowshoe Lodge, the staff, medical, and rescue crews, and all of Killington for their hospitality and letting us come and play on the mountain but keeping us safe – our thanks.
To our amazing sponsor partners – Our presenting sponsor Dial for Men, Gaspari, Air National Guard, Inov8, and Geigerrig – you help us keep it awesome on race day. We love you all!
Registration is open for 2013. Don’t miss your chance. Register HERE.
Looking for Results? Click HERE.
Your FREE Race day images coming soon! Check HERE over the next few days for the images to be uploaded.
Can’t wait to race again? We understand. Click HERE and find your next Spartan finish line.