By Robyn Koszta
On the 01st of May we saw the first Spartan Race of 2021 held at Port Stephens in Australia and as life is unpredictable these days, Spartan decided to make the Super race the National Championship race for the year. GAME ON!
The Spartan super race is a 10km course with 25 obstacles throughout, some of the obstacles are mandatory -must be completed- whereas other obstacles request that you attempt. If you fail the competitor must do 30 full burpees, that's chest to ground and jump to the sky.
Racers at the Spartan Super and Sprint events traditionally unleash themselves to the course from the very first step so I anticipated a tight and competitive weekend ahead.
The excitement could be felt in the air on the morning of the race. Perhaps it was because for so many people this was their first spartan race in over a year reconnecting with fellow races or simply it was the anticipation of what was to come. We were all so grateful for the fact we could connect and race during covid unlike other regions across the globe.
Port Stephens is a new race venue so no one really knew what was ahead of us. A map online was about all we had to go by. We could see that it was going to be a flat course, but race director Michelle likes to keep us on our toes and this course did not disappoint. We started out the race on fairly sandy terrain which quickly turned to swamp and mud. Running at this stage the front girls had taken off and I had settled into a comfortable pace, certainly not my quickest pace but felt I could maintain this through the terrain. There were only 6 obstacles scattered over the first 5km and then at about 5km mark we hit the twister, as I was running
towards the twister Bec Curtis was running back from the area and yelled out to me, advising to dry my hands as much as possible. As I approached, I could see a couple of other girls doing their burpees as the rigging was very slippery and wet from the morning dew.
I came in at the same time as another girl so I tried to pick my lane as best I could. I managed to make it to the halfway point of the twister where you need to use the cross bar to get onto the second half however it was so damp from the morning dew as well as other competitors’ muddy hands, I used up more energy than expected to this point and could not hang on any longer and dropped off. Down for 30 burpees!
Obstacle number 10 introduced us to “Stairway to Sparta” this is a new obstacle to Australian Spartan races only being on the Gold Coast last November and I love this obstacle. I wasn't sure what was going on, but it seemed to catch a lot of the girls off guard. There were girls doing burpees and the lovely volunteer trying to give advice of the best way to do it. I was lucky I ran my hardest at this wall stepped up with one foot on the wall and propelled myself enough to just grab hold of the top and thump myself against the wall before swinging a leg up and
pulling myself up and climbing over the rest. Confidence approaching obstacles can really make a difference to success or failure. I managed to make up around 3 places by getting through this obstacle.
With about 1.5km left on course there were still 12 obstacles in front of us. I made it through the monkey bars using a sideways two hand approach on each bar instead of swinging from bar to bar. I find this technique more manageable and safe in the later stages of a race. I knew I had a decent gap between myself and another racer behind me, so I was just focusing on getting through the obstacles without failing any.
I nailed my spear throw only just but that is all at counts. 30 burpees saved for another day! As I approached the obstacle named Olympus I saw Monica Holmwood running off, I managed to make it through without a glitch and quickly caught up to Monica at the sandbag carry. We went through together and powered onto the bucket carry. Monica got in just before me and picked up her bucket and went to put it onto her shoulder but dropped it in the process meaning she had to go back and get another bucket and start again.
I seized the opportunity to make up ground on Monica but it wasn't long before we were running together through a swamp before approaching the multi rig and rings. We both set off choosing the safer option of two hands on the rings instead of swinging, at the halfway point I switched up my technique to try swinging in
the hope of getting ahead of Monica, I nearly came undone and almost slipped off in the process! My mind switched from the risk of failing and 30 burpees or switching back to a slower conservative approach. I chose the latter and made it through without dropping off.
Monica got off just before me and zoomed off ahead of me. The final stretch was a fire jump and container complex which you climb up a cargo net onto a
shipping container then over another cargo net to get to another container before climbing down and crossing the finish line. To my amazement I finished in 4th and very happy with my result. I thoroughly enjoyed the battle within the 10km race with Monica, creating a heightened level of racing and competition.
There was a sprint race held on the same day which is half the distance of 5km however has 20 obstacles over the course. I had not intended on doing this
race but decided to sign up on the day. It went along the same course as the 10km race but cut off the swamp running. I managed to finish up in 2nd for this race simply because I didn’t fail any obstacles!
It was such and fun day of racing and I am looking forward to getting back out there on the 29th of May on the Sunshine Coast.