Last weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in The Biggest Loser Run Walk Off Road Challenge in Glen Rose, Texas. I understood this would be 3.5 miles on a Spartan Race course, though I got so much more than I bargained for.
After reading information on The Biggest Loser Run Walk website, I was under the assumption that I would be competing in the race among other Run/Walk participants, with either Mark or Tara (both former Biggest Loser contestants) as my team captain. I watched a short video on the registration site and saw the words “we start as a team and finish as a team”, so I was in!
After arriving at the race site, I was surprised to see a Spartan Race going on at the same time as this Biggest Loser Off Road Challenge. In my mind, I visioned something similar to the Biggest Loser Run Walk at Six Flags 5K that my son and I walked in October. It was just a Biggest Loser Run Walk. This, however, was different. It was a Spartan with a few Biggest Loser Run Walk participants. There was no alternate course.
After we briefly met Tara and Mark, we lined up at the starting line. I watched as other Spartan racers warmed up and may have questioned what I was getting myself into. Our first challenge? A 4 foot wall. One I had doubts about and told Tara I couldn’t do. I mean, I am 4’11”. There was no way. …But Tara generously got on the ground, offering her knee as a lift, and I did it! Obstacle #1 complete? NO. That was just a taste. A warm-up.
Then, the race started.
My friend and I tracked through rocks and dirt as we approached the first official obstacle: chest deep muddy water. Though it was barely 50 degrees outside, we made our way through and gave a few high fives at the end. With mud on our face, shoes soaked with mud and a picture to prove it, our legs were numb, but we kept up with a few identifiable members of our team.
I had no idea what each turn would bring, but we tracked up hill, down hill, through rocks, mud and thorns… just to get to obstacle two. When I tell you this is challenging for someone who did not train one bit… that is an understatement.
We soon found mile 1, with miles 2 and 3 to follow, conquering each obstacle along the way. The Biggest Loser Run Walk website says the obstacles are optional, though if you skip one, there is a penalty involved. (So attempt them!) The 30 foot cargo net climb was fun, as was the spear throw. The muddy rope climb… not so much.
At one point around mile 3, you will come to Biggest Loser arrows, directing you to take a short cut to the finish. *The Biggest Loser course is 3.5 miles, the Spartan Sprint is 4.5 miles, bringing more obstacles with it. My friend and I looked at each set of arrows, then debated which we should follow. Proud to see we had made it as far as we did, we decided to take on the full Spartan Sprint (what’s an extra mile?) which we were told was an option at the race briefing.
Those 4.5 miles were tough. Heck, let’s be honest… It’s brutal! But jumping over the fire pit to cross the finish line is something I would do everyday! And to be rewarded with well deserved metals is something I’d do everyday, too!
I will not lie when I say I could not move that afternoon, and didn’t want to get out of bed the next day. My entire body was sore and thanks to a great husband who offered BenGay, Alieve, Hot Pads and Epsom salt bath soaks, the pain subsided quickly, though served as a great reminder that I might be a little bit crazy.
If you’re looking for tips for completing an off road challenge, let me share my experience:
- Wear gloves. My hands were cut up from grabbing tree limbs and accidentally sticking my hand on thorns. Make sure the gloves have a good wet grip.
- Don’t wear your best shoes, but make sure there is a good grip on the sole.
- Wear moisture resistant clothing. You will get wet. When you dry off, you will get wet again.
- Pack a clean set of clothes, a towel and a garbage bag. Don’t forget a clean pair of shoes.
- Train. Do burpees. Climb on monkey bars. Practice jumping over fire. (not really, but it does happen!)
- Get a good partner to participate in the race with you. Support was everywhere and it was great to see!
- Have an “After Race Kit” ready at home. Stock up on medicine, Epsom Salt and muscle rub.
- Don’t give up. If I can do it, anyone can do it! There were times I slid down a muddy slope, rather than walking down, but I did it (and have the bruises to prove it!) As soon as you cross that finish line, you’ll be so glad you participated and will be checking to see just how long until the next event! Trust me!