It’s been just over a week since the 2016 Spartan Race World Championships in Squaw Valley Tahoe and it still feels like it was just yesterday. This event is the culmination of the 2016 Spartan Race season, which for most Spartans including Team NorCal started in early March this year.
Team NorCal has participated in many different Spartan Races this year (Las Vegas, Monterey, San Francisco, San Jose, etc. just to name a few), but the World Championships presents a very unique challenge mentally and physically that you typically don’t experience in ANY of this past season races.
To give a little bit more insight about Spartan Race, they have various distances depending on the venue (these 4 are the most common):
- Sprint- 3+ Miles loaded with 20+ Obstacles
- Super- 8+ Miles loaded with 25+ Obstacles
- Beast- 12+ Miles loaded with 30+ Obstacles
- UltraBeast- 26+ Miles loaded with 60+ Obstacles
At the Spartan Race World Championships, the Beast distance is the series distance of choice (although there was a Sprint and UltraBeast distance). This year it was 15+ Miles loaded with 35+ Obstacles (5 Obstacles being brand new), altitudes starting around 6,000 Ft in elevation with ascents to almost 10,000 Ft, and cold/windy temperatures around 30 degrees (not to mention that each racer will get wet from head to toe 5+ times at different portions of the course). Obstacles included: Thigh Master (new), Ape Hanger (new), 200m+ Swim (freezing temperatures, best guess was in the 40s), Monkey Bars, Spartan Multi Rig, Hercules Hoist, Barb Wire Crawls, Atlas Stone Carry, Sled Drags, the dreaded Bucket Brigade (rumor was it was 1000m+ long Uphill), Sandbag Carry (400m+ Uphill/Downhill), Log Carry (300m+ Downhill/Uphill), Various Heights in Wall Climbs, and much much more!
Undaunted by these challenges, Team NorCal (Jenny Skibo, Marcus Ekdahl, Tyler Pinkney, Shelby Davis, Tyler Boyle, Kristen Meyer, and myself Matthew Brown) was pumped to have the opportunity to test themselves physically and mentally out on the mountain with other fellow Spartans from all around the world (40 countries were present at the Championships). Not only did this course test our physical and mental preparedness, it left long lasting impressions on each of us. From the Hi’s and Low’s, each of us took something from this race.
Going into this race, personally, meant a lot to me as a athlete, teammate, and coach. Not too many people get to be all 3 of these roles when they step into an athletic event, and believe me, it can be more taxing on your very soul than just stepping into one of those roles by themselves. But…I want to say it was a privilege, nay…a blessing for me to be given the opportunity to experience each of these roles over the weekend.
- Athlete: My goal for this race was to finish under 4 Hours and not be completely miserable (It took me 5 hours and 15 mins+ last year in Tahoe to drag my ass through the course in misery…). I accomplished this goal (3 hours and 53 minutes) and even felt like I could have kept going! (toying with the idea of trying the UltraBeast next year)
- Teammate: It was so awesome to race with several of our clients from NorCal Strength and Conditioning. Many of them had never experienced anything physically or mentally challenging as what the Spartan World Championships had to offer. It was just a blessing to see each of them get through it and be able to experience the journey with them as a fellow teammate (it’s easier to relate as you went through hell and back with them).
- Coach: This was the best role of them all as it is the most rewarding experience to see your athletes do things they didn’t even think they were capable of. Words cannot express how proud I am of each of our NorCal athletes that went out on that course. It was also the hardest role based on the scale, timing, and length of the race/course. Most of us were in different waves going at different time frames, Kristen going before all of us, Jenny and myself following her and Shelby and Tyler B. the last wave to go for the Saturday competitors. Sunday, Tyler P. and Marcus ran in different waves as well with Marcus finishing the race in the middle of a snow storm!
I could go on and on about the race and each other’s individual’s struggles and accomplishments, but I wanted them to describe it to you, themselves. My hope is that with their words they will inspire you to follow in their footsteps and “You” will join Team NorCal in our last upcoming race in Sacramento on November 12th and 13th.
The Sprint and Super along with continued Spartan training sessions at the gym definitely prepared me for the Beast. It was good to do it consecutively. I had such an incredible time at all three events. Each challenge has allowed me to proceed on to the next level, I never thought I would be competing in these events. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. The energy is contagious and makes you want to challenge yourself to do the next event. Not possible without the dedicated efforts of NorCal coach’s Matt and Kristen. –Marcus Ekdahl
As race day approached I started getting nervous seeing videos teasing the new obstacles on this years Tahoe course. I found that my training through the Spartan class had prepared me not only for obstacles I knew I was going to face but the ones I didn’t as well. Spartan racing has pushed me to overcome challenges that I never knew I could and have fun doing it in the process. –Tyler Boyle
I laughed I cried I conquered. The Beast race at the Spartan World Championships in Tahoe was the epitome of “embrace the suck”. But with the suck comes a fair amount of rewards. It was where I earned my Spartan Trifecta. Where I learned that I could overcome not only physical obstacles but also mental ones. It has given me more confidence in my abilities and shown me that I can make it through anything. I can’t wait to do it all again next year! –Shelby Davis
I knew running the Tahoe Beast would be challenging, but I never anticipated the mental strength I would gain as a result of participating. Each race I’ve done has provided new challenges to overcome and gave me opportunities to rise up better than when I started. Participating in Spartan classes and races give me goals to keep my training consistent in a fun and challenging way. –Jenny Skibo
The world championship race in Tahoe was an incredible experience. I feel like every race I complete I come out a more stronger person both mentally and physically. I came into this race way more prepared than I did last year, but I still experienced moments of doubts and wanting to give up. This sport has made me so much more mentally tough that I have learned to push through hard times because I know that the feeling of accomplishment if I do is worth giving everything I have. Nobody is ever going to be 100% ready to do an obstacle course race… that’s the exciting part about them. Challenge yourself and see what you’re capable of. I would love for everybody to experience this feeling. It’s not really one you understand until you conquer it yourself. –Kristen Meyer
I was very nervous going into the Tahoe Beast as the weather was projected to snow. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. I destroyed my goal for the race and got a very respectable time.The race was a great challenge, and all my training really helped me reach that goal. Without the Spartan class, I would not have done nearly as well. It really does prepare you for the races. –Tyler Pinkney