is one of the most physically demanding competitions open to the general public--an eight-mile trek designed, in part, by British Royal Marines and filled with obstacles to make you reconsider you insurance plan. Amongst other mishaps, the race waiver is keen to list drowning, fractures, over-use syndrome, animal bites, heat and cold injuries, and the potential for permanent paralysis and/or death.
Essentially, it's as close as you can get to boot camp without having to shoot anyone afterward. So, when our editor called a week ago to ask if we'd like to participate and write about the experience, the kid in us started jumping. Of course, this isn't quite the actual Marines, but then again, we haven't exactly been sticking to a low-sodium diet. So, with a week to train, this was turning into a look at how the average guy could hack it in military hell week. Check the jump for our video.
Don't get it wrong, we haven't exactly been eating Twinkies for breakfast. During the week, we even managed to squeeze in a jog and a set of push-ups, but by 8:30 am on race day, we were looking for the press tent, running around Oleta River State Park feeling anything but athletic at that time. There were over 2,000 contestants, of which at least 1,500 looked like they train for this race year round. Groups were being released into the course every half-hour, and at 11 a.m., we were standing at the starting line while a Spartan warrior counted us down and lit smoke bombs.
Everyone set off at a jog, and after about half a mile, it was like being back at summer camp. We had counted on water obstacles, and after a quick, waist-high splash, we came to a real stretch.
200-300 feet isn't so much to swim, but fully dressed with sneakers will weigh you down quick, as found out the girl just ahead calling us for help. We gave her a tow back to shore on our shoulders, and once we could stand, we were so exhausted and full of salt water, it was unbelievable to think that we were barely an eighth of the way through.
So, now with an extra couple pounds of water in our shoes and shirts, the obstacles were a breeze compared to the death marches in between. Halfway through the forest, we could hardly walk anymore. Oleta River State Park has some of the most beautiful and narrow paths in the city, which can be very relaxing if you're not jumping out of the way for people both half and twice your age.
It's worth noting here that it was our second time running the course that day (since we were filming, we'd already run it once without doing the obstacles to shoot some b-roll), but when it felt like our ligaments would snap, the fact that the main thing driving us was that we were still excited to get to the next obstacle was just confusing.
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By the time the end was in sight, crawling under barbed wire in nice, cool mud was heaven. Later, while eating a catered sandwich, we realized we'd left our shirts by the showers, but we were so beat up, it wasn't even worth walking the 50 feet back.
That night, we went to a party at the Flamingo. When not sore and nodding-off on the patio, we looked across the Intracostal and guessed with a friend at how far downtown was from us. It was weird to see that distance and know how much farther we'd run, but not as weird as seeing ourselves stone sober and just as banged up as our friend, who'd taken up a tequila challenge the night before.
But, watching him sip despite his aching liver was eerily similar to watching those runners who refused to slow down no matter how tired their legs got. And suddenly, it was like an epiphany, and the answer was as clear as his vodka. It's not that your average guy (or lady) can't hack it in these situations, but rather, it's a question of what is he or she willing to get banged up on. They're opposite ends of the same cycle. So, maybe the next time we give the Spartan Race a go (because we had a blast and would definitely like to do it again), a little whiskey will help balance our yin and yang.