Despite the cold weather forecast, I decided to sign up for a trail race in my home state of Delaware. For once, the weather predictions were actually accurate. It was cold and I had some congestion but I pushed through and finished 9th in my age group and 48th overall!
It has taken me some time to put a recap together on the Ultra Beast, partly because I just don’t know what to say. This was by far the hardest thing I have ever done mentally or physically. First, thank you to the fellow Spartans out there that helped push me through. I would not have made it without seeing some friends and a bunch of very supportive strangers, including a great couple (Shana and Eric Atkins) who allowed me to stay with them for the last quarter of the race (8 miles). Thank you to my amazing fiancé, Lori, who would not let me quit and gave me no choice – while coming out of the pit before my second lap she was screaming “if you love me you will finish!”
Now to the good stuff! As if the anticipation was not strong enough to start this at 6am, we had to wait almost a full half an hour to clear the BEARS off the course! Standing on the incline waiting to begin gave me way too much time to think about the shoes I had chosen being the wrong ones, as I was already feeling some pressure on my Achilles. The last time I wore them I washed and dried them, and the shape had changed on them. No option now but to just get going.
The first 2 miles were not awful but I was not able to run from the start due to my shoes, so this was going to be long first lap. Unlike most races where you start off with a reasonable amount of running, this was a stupid amount of rock climbing just to get to the first peak. Once there, we had the log carry which thankfully was not super long. We went downhill back to the festival area to what would be the last time spectators would see us, at the multi-rig followed by the rope climb. In typical Jason fashion I fell on the rig and had to put in my burpees. With some encouragement from Lori and friends I got them done and moved on. The next 6 miles were a bear (no pun intended) with more uphill climbs, a downhill on concrete through the fun park at the venue, all leading up to my least favorite obstacle: the Bucket Carry. Thankfully the volunteers there had some music set up to at least help take my mind off of things. After the bucket it was all downhill, in the sense of I had taken longer than I wanted to get to this point and was running out of supplements for my first lap. After jumping over the 8ft wall and rolling my ankle, I had to hobble my way through the last 5 miles. I was in a dark place and was pretty confident that I was going to call it quits and not go out for my second lap. At the top of the mountain was the spear throw aka “the burpee maker”. I knew this was going to be my breaking point. Damned if I did not hit that spear and get my second wind! I attempted to sprint after that but was quickly brought back to the reality that my heel was killing me. I was very excited to see the monkey bars as I would finally get off of my feet for a few seconds. As I came down to the festival area I got to the Herc Hoist, which is normally an obstacle I look forward to. But I was not able to plant my foot and could not hold the bag… more burpees. These were of the one legged variety since I was not able to plant my foot. As I approached the finish I was looking forward to refueling and taking a short break, but of course the wonderful Norm had one last surprise… we had to climb up a rope against a rock face just to get to our drop area. I went to full cramp about halfway up the rope.
Finally I was able to change shoes and eat some food. I thought I would be okay when I was leaving the drop area because my feet felt better. Unfortunately I had already exerted way more energy on the first lap than I had intended. The second lap was going to have to be slow and steady. I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked for the second lap and ironically had to rush to get to the bucket carry before the first time cutoff. Once there, I was able keep it moving and make it through the next few obstacles before having to whip out my headlamp, which was no fun considering my goal was to not have to use it. After that it was all about just keeping pace and trying to finish! The uphill climbs seemed more frequent than on the first lap but I was able to keep moving. Once I made it back to the festival area all I could think was ‘do I have enough strength left in the tank to do the Herc Hoist?’ I dug deep, gave out a few primal screams, and finished it without having to do burpees. The A-Frame Cargo climb followed the Herc Hoist and finally the Dunk Wall and Fire Jump.
Once I crossed the finish line it all hit me. We started at sunrise… it was now dark. High fives were exchanged all around, I found Lori and was not sure what to do, where to go or what to feel. We went to the results tent where I was able to get my time, t-shirt, and medal – but I could not get over what had just happened. Most people would be excited to have finished a 30 mile 60+ obstacle race. I, on the other hand, was overwhelmed with emotions. One of those was disappointment in myself for the performance I just displayed.
On the way to the parking lot I was questioning why I thought that was a good idea and how I was going to bounce back. Of course the competitive nature in me quickly took over and in less than 24 hours had decided that I was going to go back for vengeance next year if this race was happening in the same location. IT IS… AND I AM!