12 months ago, Jen and I went down the hill to Morzine to see what all the fuss was about with a new event to grace the area. It turns out that Reebok Spartan Race is a worldwide series of endurance obstacle races and the Morzine event is widely regarded as the most challenging Spartan Race in Europe due to the mountainous terrain, rivers and waterfalls involved. The guys and gals had to climb crawl and carry a series of walls, nets, rocks and wheels over a course of either 8k, 15k, 21k or 42k!
As we watched some seriously athletic looking participants running some serious distances and navigating even more serious obstacles, little did I know that Jen was thinking ‘Christmas Present – tick!’
So fast forward 12 months, Christmas present and challenge accepted, a Spartan training plan badly adhered to due to illness, nervous vomiting the morning of the race and I’m at the start line feeling very out of place and ill prepared. Problem with the start line you is have to scale a 6 foot wall to get to it! 6 foot wall negotiated and starting gun fired and we are off, very much into the unknown of what my body can cope with. Now I must mention that I was only doing the ‘Spartan Sprint’ – approximately 8km with 25 Obstacles over land, water and air. You can actually graduate up to the ‘’Spartan Ultra Beast’’ which is a full marathon and something close to 60 obstacles with this years winning time clocking in at a little over 9 hours – eek!
Back to the Spartan Sprint, whilst the Elite category does attract some very intimidating looking physical specimens, fortunately for me the Open category presents a bit less age and body envy with a couple more dad bods around!!!
The first 3rd of the course is around Morzine Village including the river and took us over some interesting wall and rope climbs, trekking through the freezing river, cargo netting, balance beams and tractor tire lifts as well as remembering a mobile phone number for later in the day! All ‘’Obstacle course 101’’ you might say and you would be right apart from the hundreds of people watching you struggle to complete them. Most of the obstacles are obligatory however about 20% have a failure option of 30 Burpees, which is always good fun. Try doing 10 now straight off the bat, they are a killer!!
The second 3rd of the course took us up into the mountain toward the Pointe de Nyon (you may have skied this sector of the Les Gets/Morzine ski area). This was a tough climb, followed by what I think were the biggest 3 challenges of the day:
- Firstly, descending a 50m vertical rope (no safety harness) down into the Cascade de Nyon with god knows how many other people on the rope, all struggling to stay alive. This was an exercise in keeping your nerve just as much as strength!
- Following that and trying not to freeze, we had to cargo net out of the Cascade whilst the water fall was flowing over us…..it was astonishingly cold!!!
- 3rd and toughest challenge of the day for me and my lack of strength was the bucket carry, a mini 250m course of its own carrying a bucket (no handle) filled with stones and gravel up a muddy incline and back down into the river through some deliberately wet concrete. It was a toughie!!
Absolutely knackered by now we were off on the final 3rd of the day back into the village, up ropes and down walls into the river and up more cargo netting before having to recite the phone number learnt earlier in the day, chuck a spear into a target some meters away and then attempt the worlds hardest monkey bars before jumping over a pile of burning coal to cross the finish line and collect a well deserved Spartan Sprint medal!
The quickest time of the day was 50 minutes and the slowest 5 hours. I managed a decent top 50% finish with 2 hours 37mins. Given it usually takes around an hour to run 10km, it just goes to show what an effort it took to do some of these obstacles!!
The whole experience was absolutely fantastic and I would recommend to everyone that, while Spartan Race is here in the Alps (hopefully for the next 4 years) to come and give it a go. I’m forming a team for next years ‘Spartan Super’ which is the one up from Sprint – why not come and join me? If I can do it, anyone can!