The Spartan Trifecta World Championship consists of three obstacle-course races on consecutive days. Athletes from around the world compete in Sprint (7K run plus 20 obstacles), Super (12K run plus 25 obstacles), and Beast (25K run plus 30 obstacles) races. The courses take racers into the mountains and ancient ruins surrounding Sparta, Greece and challenges them to clear obstacles such as a 100-pound atlas stone carry, spear throw, eight-foot wall climb, plate drag, inverted wall, monkey bars and rope climb. A failed obstacle means 30 burpees before you can continue the race.
Sprint Distance Race Day - Day 3 of my Trip (Friday, Nov. 4)
My race time was not until 1:10pm, so I had some time to kill. I much prefer racing early as I hate the anticipation. I was up by 6am local time, so I took my time getting ready. The hotel serves breakfast, so I went down to see what the offered. Mostly baked goods and spreads, but I did manage to get some olives and turkey slices.
I packed up my race gear and started walking to the race start around 10am. I always drink some Cordyceps prior to races, but I was not able to find a to-go cup at the hotel. As I waited for the race to start, I found a little coffee shop and got some hot water to mix up my Cordyceps powder in. It right around this time that I realized I had failed to put on my Garmin watch. I still had about 45 minutes before my race started, so I decided to hustle back to the room and get it. While it isn’t critical that I have my watch, I like to know how far I have left in a race to help determine my pacing. It’s more mental than anything.
Not that I felt complete with my watch on my arm, I checked my bag and started to warm up. The sun was out, and it was warm! I had a good sweat going before the race even started.
I made my way up to the front of my start group (Male, 40-44) and took in the moment. Greek warriors protecting the start line, music from the movie ‘300’ playing. The announcer getting us all fired up. Adrenaline was definitely pumping!
After reminding everyone of what our “profession” was with the chant of “Aroo, Aroo, Aroo”, we were off and running.
As usual, we were all really fast out of the gate. The race is straight up a hill to start, so things spread out quickly. The terrain was the toughest that I have ever experienced. Lots of water of various depths. From ankle deep to over 5 feet deep. It was not just crossing streams either, it was hundreds of meters at a time running through water.
The obstacles were what I expected, with the exception of the atlas stone carry being in ankle to shin-deep water and the sandbag being broken in to two segments with a bonus rope climb in the middle. I felt a drop in energy around the 3 mile mark. Not sure if it was jet-lag or the heat, but I fought through it and found a second wind around mile 4. This was supposed to be a 5K, but ended up being 4.7 miles (7.6K). My only failed obstacle on the day was the spear throw. My spear it the bail of hay, but didn’t stay in long enough before falling out. So it was 30 burpees and a few minutes of lost time for me.
Finished 56th in the Male 40-44 Age Group and was the 7th American for the Sprint distance race.
After the race, I walked back to the hotel and got cleaned up. I found a little restaurant and enjoyed an authentic Greek salad (one of my favorites back home). I spent the rest of the day taking in some of the ruins of Acropolis, the Ancient Sparta Theatre and other ancient buildings dating back over 2,050 years! I also walked over to the tomb of the infamous King Leonidas.
I hit up the market again for some water for race morning and bought a few to-go coffee cups with lids for my Cordyceps the next two mornings.
I’m trying to learn some Greek and so far I’ve been able to remember “Thank You”, which is “Efacharisto”, “Yes”, which is “Nai” and “Hello”, which is “Chairete”.
The TV in the room only gets a few channels, all of which are in Greek. So before bed I logged in to Netflix on my computer and watched “All Quiet on the Western Front”. I very realistic and sad movie depicting the journey of a 17 year old German soldier during World War I.
After a call to say hi to the family, I was asleep by 11pm.
Super Distance Race Day - Day 4 of my Trip (Saturday, Nov. 5)
Race time for the Super was a little earlier (10:20am), so I set me alarm for 7am. I woke up around 6:45 on my own, so I was happy to know that my body was rested. I had my pre-race meal of a banana and some almond butter – thankfully brought from home, because I have not seen any here. I headed down to the race site around 8:30am.
The race was a tough one. I felt good most of the time. It took me a little bit to get me stride after the atlas carry and some of the steep climbs. I was feeling great about my race until the last half-mile. The monkey bars is an obstacle that I have never failed. It is one if the few obstacles that I can actually practice during training. What I did not expect was the variation they put on for the Super. The bars were spaced at least 6 feet apart and had about 18 inches of height difference. I tried to keep my momentum going, but my arms just weren’t long enough to get to the second high bar. So I failed and had to do 30 burpees on the street. I then failed the spear throw again; this time it fell short. Seemed like the string attached to the spear got caught on something as the spear was on target and then abruptly hit the ground. So 30 more burpees right before the finish line.
These two failures probably cost me at least 5 minutes and to come right at the end made for a frustrating day. I still managed to finish 48th for the race and was the 6th American. After two of the three races, I’m sitting in 47th place and 6th American. Hoping tomorrow I can make up some ground on a few people.
After getting cleaned up, I walked to the Olive and Olive Oil Museum. It was a fascinating place that took you through the history of the oil dating back to prehistoric times. I love olives and olive oil and to see how it has played such a large role in Greek culture was amazing.
I found a restaurant on the way back to the hotel and enjoyed some amazing grilled vegetables.
There was talk of having a staggered start based on total time for the final race on Sunday, so I decided to walk back down to the Festival area for the Athlete Briefing at 7pm. While it turned out not to be the case, I did get an early look at the Beast course maps. It’s going to be an epic end to the weekend with over 15 miles of hilly trails and over 30 obstacles!
Beast Distance Race Day - Day 5 of my Trip (Sunday, Nov. 6)
Final day of racing. Thunderstorms woke me up several times overnight and it was still raining pretty hard when I woke up around 6am. My start time for the Beast was 9:40am. First thing I looked at when I woke up was the World Series results. With the game starting at 2am local time, I was unable to follow it live at all. Seeing that the Astros won the Series was a great way to start the day!
I took my time getting ready and made a make-shift poncho out of a trash bag and headed out. I was thankful that I bought that little umbrella for 9€ at the market the other night. It kept my head dry on the 15 minute walk to the race site. I checked my bag and headed over to the start line. Rain was still coming down as we took off on the 26K (~16 mile) course.
I knew that this was going to be a challenge as it should be - after all, this is a World Championship! The rain made for an extremely muddy course and there were many times by feet just slipped right out from under me. The ankle-deep water was not shin-deep and all of the obstacles involving metal bars (Twister, Beater, Monkey Bars) were wet and very difficult. Even on fresh legs, the 2,600 feet of elevation gain would have been brutal, but on legs that just raced the last two days…it was painful. I pushed myself to keep running and only walked/hiked on a few very steep inclines along the way. The views from atop to mountains looking down into Sparta and the Taygetus mountains were worth the pain it took to reach the top!
Some of the obstacles felt nearly impossible in the conditions. The slack line and balance beams were covered in mud and everyone around me failed them as well. These penalty for these two was an extra running loop and thankfully not burpees. As usual, I found a second wind late in the race. All the years of endurance training for Ironman triathlons pays off in these moments. I was moving along pretty well and knew that I only had a few obstacles left. I had completed several that others were failing (Olympus, Beater, Z-Wall, and even the first of two Spear throws).
As I approached the town, I could hear the announced at the finish line. I knew I was almost home, but some challenges awaited. First was the rope climb. I am pretty confident in my rope climb and have not failed it in the last few years, but I also knew I was physical beat. I climbed to the top and made a swing at the bell. I missed. I held on for dear life and used all I had left to pull myself up a little higher and hit the bell! Next up was the monkey bars. They were spaced the same as they were for the Super. I knew I had to try and swing and lunge myself to the high bar as my arms aren’t long enough to just reach it. As soon as I grabbed the first bar, I knew I was in trouble. It was covered in mud. I did the best I could to get a good grip, but as soon as I stated swinging, I fell. 30 burpees.
Three easy ones, slip wall, 7’ wall climb and A-Frame cargo and then it was the second spear throw. I calmed my breath and made a good throw. It hit the target and fell to the ground. Once again, I hadn’t put enough force behind it. 30 burpees.
A small cargo net climb and all the lay between me and finish line was the Multi-Rig. The “beat mode” set up has always been tough for me. The straight bar traverse and rings are not the issue, it’s the hanging ropes. I’ve worked on my grip strength, and I’d like to say that I would have been able to swing from rope to rope on a dry day, but with them being wet, I couldn’t hold on. 30 burpees.
Despite doing 90 burpees withing sight of the finish line, I’m still happy with the race. I finished 43rd in my Age Group and was the 5th American.
After washing off the mud to reveal all of my cuts, scrapes and bruises, I collected my “Trifecta World Championship” medal and made my way back to the Festival Area. There I was able to get all my swag from completing four lifetime Trifectas and two this year. I got a patch, hat and a medal. Not sure how I’m going to get all of this home!
After going back to the room and showering, I rested for a little bit and then went out and bought some souvenirs and ate some dinner. I’m exhausted. I will sleep well tonight!
The weekend was a true test of strength, endurance, and mental toughness. They truly set the difficulty level of these courses to "World Championship"! I used this unique opportunity to get myself in the best shape of my life. I challenged myself in all weekend and managed to place 44th in the Men’s 40-44 Age Group and was the 5th American finisher with a combined three-race time of 6 hours 15 minutes and 33 seconds.
Being able to represent the United States and race with the best Obstacle Course Racers in the world was an honor. I’m filled with gratitude to be able to share this experience with people from 78 different countries. I’m grateful for the support from my family, friends, and co-workers. I’m grateful that my body held up through all the hard training and I was able to perform at my best when needed. Racing in this historic city filled with the spirit of iconic warriors was truly the experience of a lifetime!
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Wishing you optimal health and peak performance,