Guest Blog: Tackling the BEAST – My Spartan Trifecta Journey Part 3

Our very own Spartan, Justin – manager of our Leeds store – has been on quite the journey. Vowing to complete all three Spartan Races in 2015 to obtain his coveted Trifecta Medal, he’s had a busy year. So how did he get on with the final leg of his journey, the mega 20k Spartan BEAST?

Spartan Race - barbed wire

So I’ve already revealed all about my journey so far – the Spartan Sprint 5k and Spartan Super 13k, which I completed in June and August respectively. Both races were challenging, incredibly rewarding and above all, fun. So, last up was the BEAST! Well, I thought the Super was a step up from the Sprint. But the BEAST!? Well that was a whole other ball game! 20k long, it was 7k longer than the Super and included more obstacles (25+, rather than 20). The BEAST was certainly A LOT tougher than the Super in every way – distance, severity of terrain, the number of obstacles and the addition of a “memory test”. (Will explain that a bit later on!)

Preparing for the BEAST

When it came to getting fighting fit for the BEAST, it certainly helped that I’d already done the other two races. Going straight into the BEAST would have been quite a lot to handle! Knowing how much harder the Super was in comparison to the Sprint, I knew that I definitely had to increase my cardio training further still. I also added weight carrying into my training too. Weight carrying can be done with weight plates, kettlebells, sandbags, powerbags or whatever you can get your hands on really. I recommend using proper equipment though for safety reasons.

Spartan training - treadmill and Octane elliptical trainer

Training for the BEAST – doing 10k on the Octane Elliptical (left) and a 10K incline with a Powerbag run (right)

Another great thing I learned from parts 1 and 2 of the Trifecta Journey was to always expect the unexpected as Spartan do not release the course map beforehand. Although a lot of the same obstacles appear in each race, there are ALWAYS new ones added in to test you. That reminds me, I mentioned the “Memory Test” earlier. At the start of the race, everyone was given a phrase to remember that corresponded to the last two digits of their race number. (Mine was UNIFORM 755-1539.) 15k into the race, you had to recite it back or face 30 burpees! Fortunately for me, I remembered mine. Others weren’t so lucky! It’s little surprises like that that certainly keep you on your toes in the Spartan Race.

It really was the BEAST of obstacle races…

Yep, the BEAST really was TOUGH! But in a good way, of course. There were loads of challenging moments, but a couple of things stood out for me this time. I’m not a fan of open water swimming so the lake crossing swim definitely took me way outside my comfort zone. The “brick carry” too, that really tested the mental resolve. We had to carry 2 house bricks for approximately 2 miles over several obstacles including 5ft walls, mud slopes, river runs and running periods – LOTS OF RUNNING!!

Spartan rope traverse

Another gruelling obstacle – rope traverse across water

But on the flip side, I had my fave moments too. Nailing BOTH spear tosses was awesome and doing the huge fire jump at the finish line, where my daughter Amelia was waiting to put my medal around my neck, was just the best. Earning the final piece of my Trifecta medal is a huge high and great sense of achievement!

Spartans

Me with my fellow Spartan comrade, Kev

A few tips…

Now I’m a proud member of the Spartan Trifecta Tribe, a few people have asked me for a few tips and advice. First thing I’d say is that if you’re a bit of a novice, I really do recommend starting with the 5K Sprint. It’s the shortest distance so anyone is capable of completing it and all you need is the will to do it and the time to train. A few more tips…

#1. Cardio, cardio, cardio: when training, you really need to build up your stamina for the distance you need to cover on Race Day. Make sure you put in the time to get ready. If you’re using a treadmill, I also recommend getting outside to run too to get used to uneven terrain and the elements. It’s also a good idea to supplement running with other, low impact cardio to protect your joints and avoid injury. Using cross trainers or rowing machines, for example. I love the Octane Zero Runner myself – zero impact running!

#2. Concentrate on “body weight everything, before barbell anything”. You will have to lift yourself over lots of walls, etc. so work on your upper body strength and managing to lift your own weight. (But don’t worry, you aren’t alone – we’re all in it together, so you’ll have your team mates to help you too!)

Bicep curls Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells

Bicep curls with the Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells were great for building upper body strength

#3. ALWAYS AVOID WEARING HEAVY COTTON! It stretches when wet and gets even heavier…. don’t wear it!

#4. And finally, get comfortable being uncomfortable, i.e. go running in the rain, off road / trail running is a must and practice carrying uneven loads like sandbags for instance.

As far as voluntary challenges go, the Spartan BEAST was 100% the toughest thing I have ever put myself through. I could only compare it to some of the exercises I took part in whilst serving in the Army in the 90s, but these were spread out over anything up to 7 days, whereas The BEAST was all concentrated into one afternoon! I am so proud to have succeeded in what I set out to do and would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting a serious challenge!

Spartan Race Trifecta Medals

My trio of medals which make up the Spartan Trifecta!

What’s next?

After some rest, I’ll be raring to go again, especially as I just found out that, after 7 attempts, I finally have a place in the Virgin London Marathon for next year! Road running is soon to become my new best friend 🙂 Maybe I could fit in a DOUBLE TRIFECTA too!? Hmm, that might be a bit too ambitious…

Fancy a go?

Just go to Spartan Race UK to get registered!

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Fitness Superstore

A "Bricks & Mortar" retailer founded in 1994, Fitness Superstore is the largest supplier of specialist fitness equipment in the UK, with eleven stores nationwide.
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