In this installment of our Spartan Love series, Craig suggests that characterizing metrics from a race effort often demand more than one perspective.
There are a few ways in which we measure success in obstacle racing. Some people consider just finishing an obstacle race to be a success. It is very common for people to consider finish time as a measure of race success. An elite racer will look at his or her placement at the end of a race.
As for me, I look at my overall time, along with the number of failed obstacles.
With all of those measurements and the huge amount of variation between race companies and even between same-company races at different venues it’s hard to say exactly which one of my races has been the most successful. However, it’s easy to say which one was my worst.
My worst race ever was the Utah Spartan Super in August of 2015. But here’s the weird thing about that race…
It was also my best.
Let me tell you about it. It was August and the Utah heat was blazing. It was about 100 degrees on a cloud-free day. As always, I was nervous prior to the start with those dang butterflies that go away within about 30 seconds after the start of the race, but make the half hour leading up to it kind of miserable.
However, I was racing with a friend who was racing her first Spartan Race so I did my best to keep my cool. We took off out of the starting chute and we made our way at a slow pace up the long eastern mountainside of Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. We worked through a couple obstacles. I’m proud of my obstacle performance and I didn’t disappoint that day. At every step of the way I was able to help my friend, sometimes literally carrying her through some of the obstacles. We struggled after about a mile and a half. As my friend was coming down from the first never-ending mountain, she rolled her ankle. From then on, success was measured by one thing: finishing. We slowly trudged up and down that mountain. When we failed at obstacles, which was often, we did the burpees together. My friend was able to overcome the mountain, the obstacles, her pain and her fear. At the end of a VERY long and exhausting eight hours on that hot mountain we finished the race. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired or more pleased in my life!
So why do I say this 8-hour burpee-filled Super was my best race?
That answer has nothing to do with my time, and everything to do with my friend. I met her 22 years ago. Twenty years ago she made me the happiest man in world by becoming my bride. Fifteen and 12 years ago she gave me the matchless gifts of my daughter and son, respectively. She has been with me through every high and every low. Every success I have, on AND off the course is because she inspires me to be the kind of man she deserves. It was a privilege and an honor to be with her through that long, hot, miserable, yet wonderful day - her first Spartan Race.
That is why I can say, without hesitation, that my worst race was also my best race!
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