By Carrie Adams
With the inclusion of the World’s first marathon distance obstacle race, the Spartan Ultra Beast, some incredible athletes are throwing their hats in the ring to be a participant. With limited spots to fill and an application process, the Ultra Beast is going to be one of the most unique and challenging events on the planet. You can read more about the event and how to claim one of the prized spots in this once-in-a-lifetime experience HERE.
One of the participants is using a non-traditional, traditional approach to train for the Ultra. An Ironman. Spartan Beast finisher in 2011, Rick Kraics will be using his Ironman training and ultimately his Ironman event in Madison, Wisconsin 13 days before the event as his training for the Ultra. Listen to his story and wish him luck in his quest to go beyond the unknown in Spartan’s Ultra Beast September 22, 2012!
Ironman Training: Rick Kraics
My first Spartan Race was the 2011 Spartan Beast in Vermont. I think the average time out there that day was 5-6 hours on the 13ish mile course. So I felt pretty good about my 3:35:56 finishing time. That said it was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done. In fact, the Spartan Beast was mile for mile tougher than any other race I’ve ever done. When I finished the Beast my body was trashed, I was completely exhausted, my legs were cramping, my stomach was nauseous and I was just glad I didn’t have to climb up that damn mountain again. So earlier this year when Andy (one of the co-founders of Spartan Race) asked me if I wanted to step up and race in the Spartan Ultra Beast this year I had a decision to make. It took about 2 seconds. I said, “Of course I’m in. What do you need from me?” It turns out he wanted a lot out of me before I would officially be accepted into the Ultra Beast but I’ll tell you more about that later. First a little background on me.
As a kid I ran a number of road races and even a half marathon. Then I took a 15 year break from running. I didn’t have a reason why I
stopped running other than I had other stuff going on in my life and running itself wasn’t a priority. But in 2004 I started running again. I liked it. So I did my first marathon in 2005. Then I started doing triathlons in early 2007. I liked those too. So in late 2007 I did my first Ironman. I started trail running in 2010. I really liked trail running. So I started ultra running in early 2011. And then in late 2011 I ran my first Spartan Race – the Spartan Beast in Vermont. I loved competing in the Spartan Beast. So here I am again trying to prepare myself for what will again be mile for mile tougher than any other race I’ve ever competed in.
What exactly is the Ultra Beast? The Spartan Web page states, “The Spartan Ultra Beast will be the world’s first marathon distance Obstacle Race. It will be ONE heat that will feature two loops of the main Beast course. Races will face the toughest course Spartan Race can bring, TWICE, before finding the finish line. It’s not for the faint of heart! For your own safety and for the competitive nature of the event, you will have to apply for acceptance in the Ultra Beast Marathon.”
So, how does one prepare for the toughest course Spartan Race can bring, twice? Well, the bad news about training for the Ultra Beast is there are only two things I really know about the course. First, it will involve lots of elevation gain so I’ve got to train by running some hills and living in a place at sea level with no real elevation change doesn’t make that easy. And second I’ve got to increase my endurance because this race is going to take a long, long time.
The good news is what Andy wanted from me in order to be accepted into the Ultra Beast was for me to compete (again) in the Peaks Ultra, which is a race in Pittsfield, VT. If you know Pittsfield (the location of the infamous Death Race), then you know there are plenty of mountains to run. I ran the 30 mile race and in doing so felt like a slacker. You see the morning I started running a fella by the name of Willy had just won the 500 mile Peaks Ultra race. It took him just over eight days. Other course options included a 50, 100, 150 and 200 milers. So you’ll understand when I tell you that my 2nd place finish in the 30 miler still feels kind of hollow. On a positive note though, that race started my hill training again so I’m on my way to being better prepared for the Ultra Beast.
So now with hill training out of the way (wink, wink) I need to focus on endurance training. The Ultra Beast is going to be the toughest race I tackle this year for sure but that doesn’t mean it is going to be the longest. According to Wikipedia ”Endurance (also called Sufferance, Stamina, Resilience, or Durability) is the ability for a human or animal to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.” That sounds exactly like what I’ll need for the Ultra Beast! The part I can train for is the ability to remain active for a long period of time. What better way to do that than to do another Ironman? For me I’m guessing an Ironman should take approximately twice as long as it will take to finish the Ultra Beast. And as it happens Ironman Wisconsin is exactly 13 days before the Ultra Beast in September. Sounds like the perfect, last long training day before I set my sights on the muddy mountains of Vermont. Who knows maybe I’ll try to go unsupported and carry all my fuel and water on the run to emulate the Ultra Beast? Nah, that is just crazy talk. But seriously finishing an Ironman by itself is no joke. I know, I bonked and DNF’ed the last one I entered 2 years ago. I don’t plan on repeating that performance. Instead, I plan on finishing the Ironman to have fun, race hard and prepare myself both physically and mentally to compete in the Spartan Ultra Beast.
So that’s it. I’m a runner, triathlete, obstacle racer and Spartan that is dead set on taming the Ultra Beast in Killington this September. My logic is simple. I figure if I can handle 140.6 miles of Ironman swimming, cycling and running on Sept. 9th than I should have enough gas in the tank to finish a grueling 26.2 miles of untamed Ultra Beast on September 22nd. And if I don’t, then you can carry me home on my shield.