The Spartan World Championship took place on September 21st and September 22nd at Mount Killington, Vermont. Thousands of spectators gathered by the trail during those two days to show support to 6 500 racers from 16 countries. The brave ones had to face more than 40 terrible obstacles on a technical 23 km mountain trail for this « Spartan Beast ». It is worth mentionning that Mount Killington, the second highest in Vermount, culminates at 1 293 meters with a drop of 930 meters.
« We keep on pushing our athletes to the limit with our races », said the Spartan founder Joe Desena. « It’s certainly the most difficult race we created to this day. We cannot wait to show you what we are preparing for 2014 ».
Eric, our fellow staff member at 3-seconds, was training for this race since July 15th. Aged 38, he confessed that it was during what can only be described as a crazy moment that he decided to sign up for this race. « As a matter of fact, I just completed the « Super Spartan » (15km) at Mont-Tremblant a few days earlier. I wanted to test my inner warrior some more and try to get my Trifecta » ( Spartan gives this award when an athlete achieves all three races « sprint-5km + », « super-13km +» and « Beast 21km + » within the same calendar year). « When it was time to sign up, I didn’t know that the Vermont « Beast » was part of the World Championship. It’s only when I received an email from them a few weeks later that it hit me! » he said laughing.
Eric ran on Sunday, under the rain with a temperature of -10C degrees. He completed this extreme event in 8H43 when the average time for this race was 8H22. « I am not a professional athlete. I go to the gym and I have been practising martial arts for a long time, but I only started to run in the summer of 2013. My goal was to finish the race. » Let’s not forget that out of the 6 500 athletes who were there during this 2 day competition, only 4 451 actually finished the race. Less than 70% of the participants managed to ‘’tame’’ the beast.
« Mental preparation is the key for this type of event. As for me, I would say it’s about 80% mental and 20% physical. You never know what to expect during a Spartan race. At Killington, it was raining and cold, but we also had to swim across three times, climb up 12 feet walls with no grips, ropes to climb, never ending trails in rocks and mud under barbed wires, freezing ponds, 65lbs weights to carry on hundreds of meters and much more. And I’m not even talking about the fact that out of the 23 km, 10.2 km were done either climbing up or going down. »
« I saw athletes in a much better shape than myself gave up (one was a double NY marathon champion). Apart from the chances of hypothermia, muscle cramps, injuries and dehydration, I don’t know what pushed those racers to give up. Some of them were probably discouraged because of the many « burpees », in front of the fourth ascent of Mount Killington or just badly prepared. I respected my limits, I managed my speed and my energy reserves. Determination, courage and perseverance made a difference. Mainly during the last two hours, while climbing up the mountain for the fourth time, where I refused to let the beast beat me. »
« One of my co-worker who ran several marathons helped me a lot during my mental preparation. I also have to mention that my precious partner helped me to manage my anxiety before the race and supported me a lot during the event. She made a difference. »
Racing season is over for Eric in 2013. In 2014, he wishes to train other athletes in his footsteps and pass on his passion. He set up a racing club at the karate school where he practises and many of his friends will participate to obstacle races next year. « If I can finish this race, anybody can do it. There is one secret : lots of practice and preparation! You’ll have to train hard, visualize, get ready by thinking about the tiniest detail and always try your very best». Eric will write an article about his preparation and his training soon. In short, what he did during the summer of 2013 to prepare himself to tame the beast.
« During that race, I gave everything. I had to dig deep inside myself to finish it, but once you complete such an event, nothing can stop you. Maybe I will go on and face the beast in 2014…Would you be prepared to join me? »