Often times growing up playing lacrosse and ski racing, once a deficit happened in a game or a race you simply ran out of time before you could ever catch up. Even now in trail running it is hard to break a few minute gap between you and your competitor. However, in Obstacle Course Racing and Spartan Race in particular the race isn't over until it you cross the finish line. This lesson I first learned in Amesbury and carried over with a vengeance in Leesburg, Virginia over the past weekend.
I headed to Leesburg for the Spartan Race Super at Morven Park. Morven Park is a horse eventing place and is not known for it's terrain. I went into the race thinking it would be a battle to keep up with the faster women on what would be more of a cross country race and bode well for the speed runners. As we approached on race day I found myself shoulder to should with many familiar faces dominating the circuit currently. We took off and I found myself once again somewhere around 15th place. Luckily distance was on my side for this race with the distance topping off around 10.5 miles and over 75 obstacles. As the race progressed I found myself picking away my competitors finishing the race in 5th two second behind 4th place. However, this was not the excitement of the weekend.
Sunday morning rolled around and I decided I would take on the course not once but twice in the weekend. As we approached the race site in the morning, I was sore. Everything in my body was telling me running again would not only be painful but would be twice as hard to achieve a good result. After a long stretch before the race began and babying my body a bit I took to the starting line. I was standing side by side with friend and fellow racer Andi Hardy. She is one of the top women and currently podiumed in almost every race she has been in this year. She shared my same sentiment about her body. We took off together and ran the first four miles side by side. Eventually my pace quickened and she told me to go.
It was not until the last 1.5 miles that the excitement happened. I crossed the last timing mat before the finish in 5th place and over three minutes behind the lead three women. As the obstacle piled up and I pushed forward, my pace picked up. I passed two women going into the last three obstacles. As I approached the traverse wall I saw 2nd and 3rd place doing burpees and thought this was my chance to make a pass with a clean obstacle. Unfortunately the downpours that plagued my race had left the wall slick and a miss step caused me to join the other two in burpees. They moved onto the next obstacle as I was finishing my burpees both missed the spear throw. With a solid plant into the hay I was off to the rope climb. The race was tight as I was about to reach the top of the climb I could hear 3rd behind me coming up the rope. With a quick ring of the bell and exit from the water I battled the gladiators to pull out the 2nd place finish for the race.
This race was truly proof that anything can happen in a Spartan Race and I can easily say the last 1.5 miles of the race was basically a blur to me. However, I learned it's really not over until it's over! For your next race when you think you have nothing left and can't catch up dig deep, surge on and you just might surprise yourself!