We headed up to lake Tahoe on Friday, the day before the race, Myself, Pat, TJ, Mike and Ben accompanied by our support crew for the weekend AJ, Charlie and Iris Lewis, with our great clients Dave and Liz to join us the next morning.
Although our training and preparation for the race ideally would have been longer we all felt ready and genuinely excited to see what was in store for us and to looked forward to the whole experience. I personally was excited to share the event with great friends and to race in honor of Melissa Dobson, and to test myself at a world championship event with high class athletes to see how I measured up.
We were very fortunate to be offered Phil Johnsons cabin to stay which made our stay much more comfortable. We all went to the venue on Friday evening to get a feel for the atmosphere and to see the Olympic village, host of the 1960 winter Olympics, but mostly hoping for a sneak preview of the course and some of the obstacles!
We got we asked for, a map of the course, a list of the obstacles anda firsthand look at the mountain we were going to have to climb the next day! That’s when it started to set in that we were really doing this unbelievable race. Our whole crew sat down for an Italian style carb loading dinner and got to meet a few other competitors, none of which were stupid enough to be making the world championship beast race their first Spartan experience. After dinner it was back to the cabin and an early night to prepare for an early start and a big day!
We woke up to AJ and Charlie making breakfast for us all! Everything we asked for and needed to fuel us for the race, perfect start to the day! My first job was to ke ep Pat calm and stop him from using up all his energy before we even left the house. We all set off to the venue, met up with Dave and Liz soon after, went through the check in process and then tried to wait patiently for our start time.
We had some downtime before our 10:15 start so we got to watch many athletes come through a few of the obstacles near to the start/finish and in the distance we could see a few of the racers way up the mountain. After a slight delay we were off in our wave along with another 300 competitors. It wasn’t long before we were waist high in muddy water and climbing over walls nets and monkey bars. Our team stayed together for about the first 6 miles but as we started the 3 mile climb to the top of the mountain we started to separate a little, with so many people on the course (6000 competitors in the beast race) it was easy to lose each other. Tj and I stayed together all the way to the swim at the 9 mile point which is when the race really started to take its toll on many of the competitors! The water was freezing, it made the remainder of the race and obstacles so much more difficult. We were wet, very cold and experiencing intense muscle cramping. Close to a 1000 competitors withdrew from the race after the swim to give you an idea of the toll it took. All of Team Melissa completed the swim, as well as the physical and mental pain and barriers to complete the race. The ‘bucket brigade’ at the 13 mile point was a great challenge. We had to fill a bucket up with 80lbs of stones and carry it back up the hill and down again! I forgot to mention the penalty for failing to complete and obstacle was 30 burpees. So there were no shortcuts, if you’ve ever done a burpee you’ll understand how much more difficult the race became!
Ultimately Team Melissa had an amazing race and finish. Our support group at the race and back home helped take the edge off, and we’re so thankful for everyone that came up to watch. Not one person from Team Melissa was disqualified, which was our ultimate goal but we had great finishing places too considering our short training time and inexperience at Spartan races.
I finished in 4hrs 58 minutes in 288th place, TJ 4:59 295th place, Ben Blackmun 5:55 936th, Mike 6:01 1017th, Pat 6:06 1101st
This race was a huge mental and physical challenge, but I’m proud to say Team Melissa competed and finished!
~ Ben Mackie