If there is one benefit to tackling strenuous obstacles through hills and fields on a sunny afternoon, it is the spectacular view to distract from my nausea caused by chicken fillet rolls.
Since October I have been training for a Spartan Ultra in Andorra. This ultramarathon requires 50 km high in the Pyrenees – and 60 obstacles just for hell. What if I fail an obstacle? 30 burpees.
Give me strength.
My last stop before I try this godforsaken run takes me to the stable. Living on a family-owned farm just outside Gorey, Co Wexford, owners Patrick and Anna Syme have converted their barns into several gyms and gyms; and part of their land is dedicated to a challenging obstacle course.
As one of our last tests before we go to Mount Doom on probably the best and worst vacation we will ever have, I and the other two guys who run with me in Andorra decided to head south and see what the craic was all about.
What remains of the family farm is a harmonious synergy between untouched nature and, in our case, sweaty men who throw themselves over fences, swing over ponds and meander around the place. Pure happiness.
Bridal parties, bachelorette parties and sports teams travel from all over the country to tackle this tough course called the obstacle course. We increased it from 5 km to 8 km by running through Christmas tree fields on slopes. Although the course is far from our stupidly difficult challenge of two weeks, it is a perfect opportunity to test our training and not destroy our bodies for too long.
Up and over some stacked tree trunks – as you do – and we’re off. Today’s first lesson: do not precede an ultramarathon with a wonderful Centra chicken fillet roll. Believe me, you do not want that nausea I had last Sunday. Anna actually recommended eating a regular breakfast for me on the ultramarathon morning; and since it is usually porridge, cereal or toast, I refrain from all chicken fillets and stick to it.
It was especially difficult for me to pull tires. Since I was not a heavyweight type, I had to pull my entire body weight to the ground while pulling a rope with a thick tire around a tall tree branch.
Spartan runners usually have to crawl through the mud and under barbed wire, so it was a relief when we saw that this was replaced by a harmless net in the stable. Although this was far too short-lived. Today’s second lesson: make sure your shorts do not get caught in the net and fall down to reveal lingerie with the text “Vibes! Vibes! Vibes!”
On to the monkeys and I learned that the best incentive to get to the other side is the threat of soaking my brand new pink runners in dirty dusty water. Looking cool is half the point, right ?!
The inverted walls that are littered around the track look light, but getting over these guys requires not only a huge amount of energy, but also the confidence to sweep up the leg and pull yourself forward. The tallest of the stables defeated me, so inverted walls seem to be my enemy in Andorra. I will have burpee-filled nightmares for weeks.
One reason why this course was a good idea – in addition to the clear benefits of all field trolling – was the respect it gave us to balance running endurance and test obstacles. Running 3 km of slopes before this course made it a little harder, just think what 30 km or 40 km will do.
But not all obstacles in the stable were spartan-inspired death pits ready to swallow wide-eyed participants. A long rope bridge over a pond was tricky to place my feet, but in the end I had a great time. And mounting over hay bales fits the course’s Instagram-worthy cottagecore aesthetic.
Another obstacle was a long tubular slide. Easy and fun for most people, right? Anna told a story about an elementary school teacher on a school trip who wedged herself halfway, which led to the most fun these children ever had at school. She said they almost had to call the fire department to saw the guy out. Luckily we slid easily down to the sandbox below.
The last obstacle is directly from Ninja Warrior: everyone’s second favorite reality show on the obstacle course (after Takeshi’s Castle). The sloping wall is a high rise, but after taking a run on it and manically grabbing the edge, I made it in one piece.
Although the track was tough, and I really struggled with some of the obstacles, I had an absolute blast. The same will probably not be said about my next assignment: Andorra. My next and final column will be when I (hopefully) have conquered the Pyrenees and returned in one piece.
So why am I driving this Spartan Ultra? This is something I will ask myself a lot on top of a mountain in two weeks. Hopefully I will come up with a good answer then. I need it.
#Fortunately #obstacles #spartaninspired #death #pits