In our second year back to Washougal Park for the annual Sprint on August 3 and 4, 2013, Reebok Spartan Race felt right at home. With many return Spartans, there was an excitement at the start line that could be felt all around the festival area. The Spartans had returned.
The elite heat went out fast, and finished strong. Perhaps it was this familiarity with the terrain, the obstacles and “that hill” that saw the elites move around the course in lightening quick time. Hobie Call took the first place honors, but Spartan Pro Team members Brakken Krakker and Hunter McIntyre never out of his shadow taking second and third respectively. It was a very close race, something which is proving to be a habit now at every Spartan Race.
Amelia Boone continued her amazing streak by making it three successive wins on the trot. Lena Dembisky edging out Spartan Pro Team member April Lou to second place in another toughly fought female elite finish.
In the open heats, there was no shortage of inspirational stories. Take the story of Ben Pfeiffer. Setting off from his home town of Bremerton, Washington at midnight on the day of the race, he arrived at the venue at close to 4am. He napped for an hour and got ready for the Hurricane Heat – his “breakfast” consisting of only energy drinks and water. After finishing one of the most grueling Hurricane Heats of the year, he again slept for an hour before returning to complete the regular Sprint. In itself, this is no mean feat, but if one considers that Ben weighs over 350lbs, it’s very easy to see how Ben quickly became known on site as “That Guy From The Hurricane Heat”.
On the course, Ben met TJ, a local of Portland who, as it would turn out, would be the last to cross the line, but displayed one of the most gritty performances of the weekend. Standing at 6ft and weighing 340lbs, he knew he had a battle in front of him, but finishing was never a question for TJ. He explains, “To prepare for this race, I made sure to take it seriously and learn from people who did it as well as checking out the videos online.” At the finish he remarked, “You will be wagering your toughness both physical and mental against the course and the course will want to take it from you. Just take one step and then another they will add up in the end.”
We met another incredible Spartan Racer on Saturday. Lousiana resident Lua Walter was unceremoniously dumped by her fiancé on her birthday only five months ago, the plan was that she and her intended were to run the race together. Instead, she packed her trail shoes and running clothes and flew the 2000 miles alone and triumphantly did the course herself, making a vast list of new friends in a flurry of high-fives in the process.
Keeping it in the family, was leading open heat competitor Stephen Sinek, aka The Painted Warrior, who convinced his parents Frank and Tricia to take part. Agreeing that is “was very challenging”, completing the course hasn’t dissuaded them to think that they are beyond doing another. With Malibu in December now being the focus, Frank calmly points out that, “this race is as grueling as you want to make it. You can either sprint through it or you can take your time, as there are enough people here that will make sure you finish. It’s a real team effort. It was tough but it was a great experience, one that I wouldn’t have had sitting on my couch.” Wise words from a man that nonchalantly points out, almost as an afterthought, that he’s suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for 16 years.
Offering a last word of advice, Tricia smiles, “In the words of William Wallace, ‘every man dies, but not every man truly lives.”’
If you’re not sure what she means, sign up for a Spartan Race and you’ll know at the finish line.