Special Ops Spartan Sprint Tampa Race Recap

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Over the weekend I traveled to Tampa, FL for the Special Ops Spartan Sprint, which was held at Raymond James Stadium.  This was my first Spartan Race and second ever obstacle/mud run.  And it was definitely tougher than the Warrior Dash I ran last spring in Jackson, MS.  My arms are still sore today and this race was certainly a reminder that I need to focus more on my cross training.  I was able to complete the vast majority of the obstacles, but they were not easy.  And for the obstacles that I failed to complete, I did my requisite 30 burpee penalty.  From my view, I was about the only person that did this.  Several people would do 5-10 burpees and then go on to the next obstacle.  Some people seemed to be upset by this, but it honestly did not change to fact that I did what I needed to do to complete the course, and that is the point for me.  However, I do feel that Spartan Race should enforce and monitor this penalty a little bit better at future events.  This was the only area that lacked in an otherwise well-organized, top-notch event.

This was after I finished the event and I had a chance to clean up a bit.

This was after I finished the event and I had a chance to clean up a bit.

Course: A: Fun and very challenging course.  This was the first Spartan Race that incorporated the stadium and usual obstacles in one.  In total, there were 18 obstacles, not to mention the stadium stairs I had to run as a portion of the course.  We ran from the ground level up the six levels to the top of the concourse and down twice.  We also had to climb a five foot wall to get into the starting corral and hopped stair rails while running through the seating areas.  I am listing the obstacles mostly in order as we encountered them on race day, along with a quick blurb about them.  I did not wear my GoPro nor did I have a cell phone for pictures.

Crawling under a large cargo net.  Easy.  No one really had to crawl since every participant held the net up for each other.

Get L-O-W.  Easy.  This was crawling under a couple of walls.  This was an easy obstacle, but it cut my knees up a little bit.

Over-Under-Through. Easy. Participants has to go over a small wall, under one, and through a hole in one.

Hobie Hop. Slightly Moderate. Participants were required us to put straps around our ankles and hopped up and down two flights of stairs.  Surprisingly, no one fell while I was in this area.

Traverse Wall. Hard.  You horizontally scale a wall using small hand and foot holds. This was much tougher than I expected.  I fell a few times and got trapped behind someone going ultra slow.  I ended up doing 30 burpees for this obstacle.

Six Foot Wall.  Easy.  Climb a six-foot wall.

Before going to the next obstacle, we had an option of burpees or running to the top of the concourse.  I chose the running option so I am not sure how people got to the top for the next obstacle.

Sandbag carry.  Easy.  Men and women had different sized sandbags to carry.  You grabbed a sandbag, climbed the stairs to the upper deck, maneuvered through the seats, then returned your sandbag.

Seven Foot Wall.  Moderate.  I could not scale this wall without a little assistance from a foot hold on the side.

Football Throw. Easy.  This was on the football field and sadly cost me 30 burpees.  We had one 10 yard throw of a foam football into a trash can.  I hit the rim of the can and went off to the burpee pit.

This is what crawling under 80 yards of barbed wire looks like.

This is what crawling under 80 yards of barbed wire looks like.

80 Yard Barbed Wire Crawl.  Moderate.  We basically crawled under barbed wire for the entire length of the football field.  This was by far the longest obstacle and low crawling for that long will take its toll on you.  The football turf was pulled up, so this crawl was through a sand and dirt mixture that stuck with you for the rest of the event.

Eight Foot Wall. Hard.  Jumping and grabbing the top of the wall, then pulling myself up and over was not going to happen without the assistance steps on the side.

Herculean Hoist. Hard.  There were different weights for male and female participants, and this marked the first event completely outside of the stadium corridor.  You used a rope and pulley to pull up a 50 pound bucket of concrete several feet and slowly drop it back to the ground.

Atlas Shrugged.  Hard. You carried a large, round rock 10 yards, did 10 burpees, and then returned the 10 yards with the stone.  There were different sized stones for male and female participants.  I struggled more than I care to admit with this obstacle.

Mud Hills.  Easy.  We went up the hill and down into a puddle and back up four times while being sprayed with a water hose.

Object Carry.  Easy.  We carried ammo boxes a short distance before moving on to the next obstacle.

Inverted Wall.  Hard.  You climbed a wall at a 45 degree angle from the backside.  I would not have been able to complete this obstacle if it were not for the motivation and spotting of the volunteers at this event.

Rope Climb.  Hard.  Climb a rope several feet, ring the bell, and return to the ground.  I failed horribly at this obstacle.  I had to do 30 more burpees for this.

Spear Throw. Moderate.  The act was not hard, but how often do you actually throw a spear?  My spear did not stay in the target, so I had to do 30 more burpees.

Slippery Wall.  Hard.  Climb a wall at a 45 degree angle that is covered in mud and other substances that made gaining traction a feat.  Two other competitors helped me climb the Slippery Wall.  It took several attempts to complete this.  I would have quit and done my 30 burpees without them motivation of one of my fellow participants, especially after falling on my face and sliding back into the mud pit.  I have several bruises from this obstacle alone.  But, I did complete the wall and was grateful for the help.  The entire crowd cheered when I was finally able to climb down the other side.

Fire Jump. Easy.  You jump over a fire.  This hopefully provided another great picture like Warrior Dash picture that I use everywhere.

Gladiator Arena.  Easy.  This was three Spartans hitting you with pugil sticks right before the finish line.

Both of the Spartan Race medals

Both of the Spartan Race medals

Swag: A-: All finishers received two medals (one for the event and one as a piece for the Trifecta), a t-shirt, and a headband to wear during the event for picture-taking purposes.  Video and photos of every race are provided for participants, so I will have a follow-up post as soon as I gain access to these items.  Bag check is $5, which seems like a bummer since most people  probably are checking a bag, but you receive a $5 coupon good towards something in the merchandise tent.  I used this for the $5 sticker pack.  The shirt was OK, the event specific shirt was much better and sold out before the 9:00 heat started.  Also, apparently there somehow was a shortage of medals for the event, so the later afternoon runners have to wait to have their medals mailed to them.

Spartan Race swag

Spartan Race swag

Overall: A: The event was every bit as challenging as promised and it was a huge accomplishment to finish the race. The organization was great and there never really was much of a bottleneck at any obstacle.  Start times were strictly enforced, and each facet of the race seemed to be planned out.  Another outstanding aspect of the race was that my heat at 9:00 am had several members of Operation Enduring Warrior, which was very cool.  Operation Enduring Warrior is a non-profit organization ran by veterans to help those wounded in service physically, mentally, or emotionally be rehabilitated.

A shot of the Operation Enduring Warriors approaching the finish line

A shot of the Operation Enduring Warriors approaching the finish line

I am still sore today and I have learned some definite areas I need to focus on before my next obstacle race.

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