After getting asked last year to participate in the Toronto Spartan Sprint, I really wanted to participate again this year with a bit more focused training. I had been starting to go to the gym on a bit more regular basis but wasn’t doing much cardio at all. So when it came to do a 6-7km run with a bunch of obstacles, it really kicked my ass. While I didn’t have specific goals in mind (challenging, when they don’t provide an exact distance and the course changes from year to year), I knew that I wanted to improve my time over last year.
“What’d you do on Sunday?”
“Nothin’. Just leapt over some flaming logs.”
I was listed as #216 out of 1420, with a time of 1:11:52, which tied one other runner — way to go, Zack! In total, 1384 (97.5%) competitors made it through the entire course. The fastest time came in at a blazing 39:39 (whoa!) while the longest, successful Spartan battled for 5:16:52 (no quit). Calculating the times of all the finishers, the average time was 1:37:20 with a median completion of 1:34:43.
Because my time was last year was recorded on a timing box that suffered damage in a small electrical fire, I never had an official time. I think it was about 1:15:00 based on a rough estimation of other finishers and asking someone the time after I’d finished. The 2012 race had a lot more participants — 5825 — and a smaller spread between the fastest and slowest times, 31:04 – 3:19:16. The average time was 1:11:52 with a median of 1:10:11. There were no DNFs recorded last year but only 82% had results, at least in part because of the fire.
So, a casual (not causal) analysis suggests the course last year was somewhat faster/shorter. I was a bit over the (recorded) average/median last year, well under it this year — I’m calling it a success, both absolutely (~3min) and relatively (2012: 107% against median; 2013: 76% against median).
All my extra running/cardio training also paid off in me not being completely knackered after the race this year, which was a nice bonus. In fact, I felt like I left some effort on the course. With a lack of progress markers, it was hard to gauge how much I needed to leave in reserve and there’s one longer run in particular I regret not pushing the pace.
Having two races under my belt, I think next year I’ll know to basically push myself as hard as I can when running on access roads and catch my breath while at obstacle stations or negotiating the forest singletrack. And I do think I want to make this an annual event. While I’ve just started my training for a marathon in the fall (gulp), I actually don’t really like running that much. But I find the obstacle course challenge to be pretty fun. I may also try to do the longer Spartan Beast (~20k) distance next year as my fitness goal.
Even though the weather was way better this year, the turnout was much, much smaller — a result of the horrible rain last year? Also, I was a solo participant this year. While the three of us who ran last year all went at our own pace, this year definitely wasn’t social during the commute to the course and I missed the camaraderie of sharing post-race stories and discussing the obstacles. Though on the course, you’d often end up chatting with people at the obstacle stations and those you were running with between.
Still, I think I’d like to try and organize a team or group for next year’s race.