Last Friday it was finally time again. Together with many other Spartans, I was waiting at the starting line of the Spartan Race in St. Pölten while the familiar “Aroooo” echoed through the air. On my way to finish all distances of the Spartan Races and complete my Trifecta medal, I was about to complete the sprint distance this time – in the middle of the night!
If you have not read the first article of this series, then you should read it here: #RoadTo Sparta: Winter Spartan.
Before the race
The pickup of the start number took place, as usual, 2 hours before the start of the race. Since I started at 21:45, it was still bright at this time and I could get a good overview of the terrain and some of the obstacles.
The special thing about this Spartan Race was the fact that it took place at night in the dark. Therefore, a headlamp was mandatory for every runner, as most of the route ran through an unlighted forest.
How to find your way in a dark forest? Quite simple: White and reflective bands were positioned at regular intervals. Occasionally, lamps were used as additional way of marking. With the headlamp it was immediately apparent where to go.
Nevertheless, caution was required, because the light of the headlamp was sparse and the forest offered, in addition to the specially prepared obstacles, many natural pitfalls.
Since I started in the fourth start wave, I still had the opportunity to take a closer look at the previous waves. At the first obstacle, 2 trenches, you could see that the runners had to wait quite a while already. At the latest in front of the second obstacle, a net under which one must fight through, you had to expect longer waiting times.
Because of that it was clear to me that right after the start I had to stay in the front field to avoid waiting times as much as possible. After the well-known Spartan group warm-up I positioned myself as much in front of my wave as possible.
Contrary to most of the Spartan Races I have participated in you started downhill in complete darkness. I was the first of my wave to reach the trenches that I tackled without hesitation. However, one noticed the numerous runners in front of me and the trenches were correspondingly slippery and difficult to pass.
Nevertheless, I was the first of my start wave to pass the trenches and passed the following net as soon as possible. Then it went straight into the dark forest with the first of many climbs of the race. I kept a good pace and, despite my quick start, felt pretty good and able to keep up my brisk pace.
When I turned around after 5 minutes, I could not see a single light. It seemed that I had improved my lead well and was pretty much alone in almost complete darkness. A very interesting feeling that I have not felt before in my life.
I passed the other obstacles without much difficulty and after 15 minutes I started to overtake the runners of the previous start wave. To my great disappointment, 2 of the climbing obstacles, the Ape Hanger and the Tyrolean Traverse were closed for the Night Race.
Despite the flat-looking terrain, the course had a lot of climbs to deal with. Especially, the gradients (which sometimes had to be climbed with logs on the shoulder) proved do be increasingly hard for me over time.
However, motivated by the fact that I had not yet been overtaken and certainly had already overtaken half of my previous start wave, I kept my pace despite my increasing fatigue.
Unfortunately, in front of one of the last obstacles, where the Spartans had to crawl beneath a tank, I had to wait for the first time. Even the next obstacle, the javelin throw, caused longer waiting times as more than half of the stations were blocked.
Because of that it took me about 4 minutes to complete the last 200m, which slightly reduced my overall time. My personal highlight of the race, however, was the javelin throw, the only obstacle I had failed for each Spartan Race. This time I managed to hit the target and finished the race burpee-free!
I finished the race without ever being overtaken by a Spartan with a total time of 47:31 in third place of my age group and in total at 23rd place out of 822 participants. A result I am very satisfied with!
Due to the falling temperatures during the night and my wet clothes, I left the Spartan Race slightly cold, and ended the night with my family – One step closer to my Trifecta medal.
Did you participate in this Spartan Race as well? Let me know in the comments!
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