"The toughest marathon distance race of 2012 is the Ultra Beast. This event is for our most talented and experienced athletes to compete against each other while battling steep mountain gradients and the world's toughest obstacles.
The Ultra Beast will be staged as a two lap version of the Vermont Beast on Saturday September 22nd, 2012. You must apply for an invitation to race.
This self-supported obstacle race will call upon a racer's experience in endurance and adventure racing. No whining about aid stations. No skipping obstacles. No matter how tough you think you are, you better think twice before applying for an invitation. "
Me: "I wanted to send a quick email to you regarding the Ultra Beast in Killington 9/22! I was talking to some Spartans over this past weekend and am very much interested in joining in the fun!! I know I could finish it in good time! Please let me know how to go about signing up for it - thanks so much!!"
Spartan: I googled your Athlinks. Let me chat with Mike Morris. It is an invitation only event. Be in touch soon.
3 days later...
Spartan: "I suppose I could just make your day? Congratulations, your Spartan Ultra Beast application has been reviewed and you are being invited to register for the World’s First Marathon Distance Obstacle race to take place on September 22, 2012. You are a part of obstacle racing history. There is NO other event of this type anywhere in the world. The field will be limited to a small, extreme group of athletes and you are part of a select few invited to take part. Good luck. Welcome to the Ultra Beast."
Me: "THANK YOU SO MUCH!
I'm so excited!!!!!"
Spartan "We'll see how excited you are around mile 13. :-) I'll be there. Hope to see you."
The Spartan Championship Race, Killington, VT, USA. Site of the inaugural ULTRA BEAST
September 22, 2012
Call Sign: Mike 025-5877
Me: "Wanna stick together?"
Jon: "yeah, I'm thinkin about 8hours?"
me: "exactly right. Let's go!"
Lap one of the Ultra Beast went better than anticipated but slower then expected. Having never run a super, I was surprised by a lot of the obstacles and technical trails. Obstacles were strategically placed in difficult areas (#effnorm) and the cold temperatures combined with rain and wind were slowing us down. Jon kept me moving so my muscles would stay warm, even when I wanted to walk or slow down. We paced, pushed, and motivated each other at every obstacle.
I saw my parents at the half-way mark. Two loops of the Beast course made it easy to find them, no searching through the crowd, just utter relief that my family was there to support me. They weren't allowed to assist in any way other than verbal communication, so they talked calmly to me and motivated me while they watched me change into my second outfits/shoes at the gear exchange, grab some food and eat/drink really quick, and look around frantically for my friends to introduce them. "Mom, Dad, this is Jon - he's not gonna let me die today. Mom, Dad, this is Freddy. He promises not to let me die either. And this is Jeff, he's just a badass." After a plan to see them the next day, good luck wishes, a couple pictures, hugs, and kisses, we were off again.
Jeff and Freddy join Jon and I for the second loop. Behind schedule, we had to start running.
Unfortunately, that "won't let her die" part of the conversation got tested out. About three miles into lap two, the course came back down the mountain and looped into festival so spectators could see the athletes. I spotted my parents and gave then a wave and a yell, excited to show them what I could do. Wanting to do my parents proud, I began climbing the rope with fierce aggression. Up and up I go, almost to the top. My arms are tired and my grip strength weary. Standing on the last knot I couldn't quite reach the bell. Trying to climb just a little higher, resting my arms by sitting on the knot and shaking out. I jump and grab higher... One more foot to go... Four more inches... And then I fall. All the way down from all the way at the top, into a 2ft-deep water pit. I bet my parents can still hear my scream. Freddy ran over and coached me through my burpees. Each one harder than the last. Jeff and Jon cheered me on, ready to get going. Tears running down my face, out of breath and scared, I finish all 30. I blew a kiss to my parents and gave a stern nod, assuring them I was alright, and we were off again.
One of the next pivotal moments I can remember is dreading running up to the bridge which housed the freezing swim, rope ladder climb, and Tarzan swing. Burpee city, for me. We run up to it just as Mike Morris finished taping off that area, redirecting us on course past it because a wedding was about to start. The sighs of relief were unparalleled as we began burpeeing out for every single obstacle we would miss. Never been so happy to do burpees in my life.
A couple miles later, in the middle of a stretch of running through the woods (again) we stop for a bathroom break. Freddy comes back to the group and asks "Was anybody else a little concerned by that color?" We all just looked at each other, shared what we had left for water in our packs, shrugged it off and continued our trek to the finish line.
It was getting dark, raining harder and harder, and the warmth from the sun was long gone. my headlamp didn't work because it got wet (perfect!) so the boys shared their headlamp light with me as we ran up and down hills, calling out trees, rocks, and roots in our path, and sang our call signs for miles and miles.
All I can remember repeating to myself for the last half of the second loop is "Mom, Dad, please still be there as I finish this. Please don't leave. Stay until you see me. Please be there, please." And "We've got this. Almost done. Here we go."
As we came down the last mountain it was slick, muddy, and pouring. We were all soaked, freezing cold, dehydrated, and hangry. But supportive of one another. Excited to finish. We could hear the festival area as we got closer and closer. Picking up the pace to finish on time, we keep calling out what we see on the ground that might trip us up, and motivating each other, "We're almost there! Almost done c'mon, we've got this"
To this date, I have never completed a harder race. And I honestly don't know that I will. Nothing compares to the sheer agony of hypothermia, sore muscles and aches, pain and injury, while simultaneously running alongside the best friends and athletes with the best attitudes, jokes, and that insane feeling that we're finishing the race. It's happening. We're completing the first ever Ultra Beast. Making history.
AND we have really badass glow-in-the-dark medals to prove it.
My parents did stay until the very end of that race. They watched all four of us cross the finish line, 11 hours 24 minutes after we started, triumphant (limping) crew that we were.
Special thanks goes out to my three teammates Freddy, Jeff, and Jon. You're all badasses and I can't imagine this race without you. Congrats, we made it!
Amanda, for grabbing pictures of us on course and totally sparking our friendship.
Mariano, for helping me get into (and out of) the car, the cabin, and the shower that night. And making me eat and drink. That was crucial.
My sister for being motivating during my training and supporting my decision to do this race in the first place. You believing in me helped me believe in me, too.
My parents for not only showing up, taking pictures, and motivating me, but for staying. Seeing the two of you at the end was magical, honestly. I was elated to see your smiles and feel your hugs and love.
And finally, Carrie and Mike for accepting my application and inviting me to take on this insane race and letting me make these memories, test my limits, and always have that something to compare tolerance to.