Arriving not long after sunrise, I’m ready to race my first Spartan Super, roughly 8 miles long with 25 obstacles. Looking around the Kualoa Ranch on Oahu, Hawaii, I am in awe at the breathtaking mountain ridges featured in many movies like Jurassic Park and Kong: Skull Island. Joining me are 24 other women in the elite heat, ready to charge into challenges, dirt, pain, and victory. The excitement is palpable as we hear the inspiring pre-race speech: “Look at the Spartans on your right and your left. You will draw strength from them, as they will draw strength from you. You will not let them fail!” These words seem magical! They seal our common purpose to overcome together and bind us into a family of warriors. Yes, we’re competing, but we’re also encouraging and inspiring each other! I experienced this powerful camaraderie when two selfless Spartan women wouldn’t let me fail.
After our battle cry, “Aroo! Aroo! Aroo!” we take off running. The two top racers, Rea Kolbl and Alyssa Hawley, take off like they’re being chased by velociraptors. I splash into the creek, alternating between jogging and swimming. Rounding the creek-bend, I see the two top elite women for the last time. Wow, they’re fast! I learned later they beat the top elite men’s time! I dash out of the creek and see the 7ft wall. When I reach the wall, I grab the top, do a muscle-up, and swing my legs over. I’m feeling great and think, “Wow, I’m still in the lead group!” Little did I know that my euphoria was about to suffer a Kong-sized hammer fist!
I arrive at the Atlas Carry. Rookie mistake #1: I grab the first Atlas stone I see; not realizing it’s the men’s. “Dang! This is heavy!” I carry it halfway to the flag before I see a woman carrying a lighter one. I quickly turn to look back and twist my ankle! I double back and switch stones, return to the flag, do my 5 burpees on just one leg, and complete the obstacle. I feel less pain now, so I pick up the pace again. I reach the Bucket Brigade, a grueling obstacle! Rookie mistake #2: I don’t notice the holes at 2/3 and completely fill the bucket instead. I’m focused on carrying this overfull bucket up the hill. It’s killing my back while returning downhill, but I still manage to stick my tongue out while passing the photographer. He laughs.
Halfway through, my ankle is sore, but I keep running. I make the 8ft wall, fail the spear throw (30 burpees penalty), and succeed on the Hercules Hoist. Then, just when I settle into a good running pace, I roll the same ankle again! The pain is excruciating! Almost in tears, I try to stand but fail, so I’m forced to sit. Two athletes, Stacie and Elizabeth, see me in distress. Learning I have a sprained ankle, Elizabeth extends her hand saying, “Put your arm around my shoulders; I’ll help you walk.” I tell them I don’t want to ruin their race. “Nah, I need a break,” Elizabeth says. “I did the Beast yesterday and could use some rest.” These two awesome women didn’t have to pause their races to help me. Elizabeth walks with me until I tell her to go on. They’d let the volunteers know I need help. That’s the meaning of not letting your fellow racers fail. Forever respect and thanks!
My ankle hurts like hell; I drag my foot like a zombie. I stop at the Twister and ask for medics. The volunteer radios them and offers me a chair and water. While I wait, other racers go by, and some cheer me up. The nurse wraps my ankle. She asks if I’m going to continue. I say yes, but in my head, “I will crawl, if I have to! I will finish!”
Six obstacles remain. I’m resolute about getting my trifecta goal. I feel confident with my ankle wrapped. Too confident. As I speed up to finish strong, guess what, I roll my ankle yet again! AHHH! I sit down on a log and cry. Not sure if that’s more from pain or frustration. Another volunteer hurries over to check on me. “How much farther?” I ask. He replies, “Just a few more obstacles, and you’re done!” Olympus is the next obstacle; I have to keep my feet against the wall, ignore the pain and alternate between holds and holes. I ring the bell! Done! Climb over the Bridge, four more! Grit and grip strength to beat the Multi-Rig and Rope Climb! Digging deep to conquer the Inverted Wall, and finally, the Fire Jump with a perfect “zombie lurch” finish! With a hefty clank, the Super trifecta piece and medal feel amazing together around my neck. As I’m leaving, there’s Elizabeth, and I hug her! I hope to see her and Stacie at future races. Next race, I’ll emulate their example: I won’t let my fellow racers fail, and no woman left behind!