Yes, I traveled 1000 miles to compete in a Spartan Race. Crazy? Maybe. But fun and totally worth it? YES! In case you are a new reader, I have a passion for fitness and run in Spartan obstacle course races. I may be frugal but fitness is one area of my life where I do spend some money, although as responsibly as possible.
A Spartan race is an obstacle course race where you do anything from going over/under walls, climbing ropes, barbed wire crawls, cargo nets, sandbag carries, etc. Just think military style obstacles and you get the idea. To some people this sounds nuts but I absolutely love it! This is not the cheapest hobby but I have been doing my best to participate without breaking the bank and my budget.
Spartan races actually have three different distance courses giving options to those of all abilities. The shortest is the Sprint which is 3+ miles and 15+ obstacles, the Super is 8+ miles and 24+ obstacles, and the Beast at 12+ miles and 30+ obstacles. In addition to just doing races, Spartan also has the Trifecta which you receive if you complete one race of each distance within a calendar year. 2015 was the year of the Trifecta for me but despite my very careful planning I had to add on another race to make it happen.
My season started out well in June when my friend and I completed the Super down in Massachusetts. Considering it was the first time we had completed this distance it felt pretty easy. The next race was the Ottawa Beast held at Mont Ste Marie. I had never even gone this distance on foot before so needless to say I was nervous. The day was hot and although I had plenty of supplies in my Camelback pack I made the huge error of not drinking enough water early on. I ended up getting dehydrated and had to quit just before mile 9. This was my first ever DNF and it was completely heartbreaking but medically it was just not safe to continue. My racing buddy was able to finish without me but all I went home with and a broken heart and a purple heart metal from the medical tent. Not only was I unable to complete this race, but it also meant I was missing a big piece from my Trifecta.
The third race of the season was the Spartan Sprint at Killington, VT. The weekend had races both Saturday and Sunday. Our race was on Sunday but I decided that I still really wanted to complete my Trifecta this year but wanted to reduce my costs as much as possible. In order to make this happen I volunteered at the race on Saturday, earning free entry into any race. Since the Beast distance pricing this late in the season was already up to $175 this was a key piece to my plan. The race on Sunday was great, especially as both my racing buddy and I were able to talk our husbands into joining us for the first time. My brother, who is much better/faster (and younger) than us, joined us even though he had already raced on Saturday. It was a great race and I now had 2 pieces to the Trifecta with a voucher for the third.
The only Beast races left in the country were the World Championships held in Tahoe, Dallas, and South Carolina. Being that I live on the east coast the South Carolina race made the most sense. I debating driving but taking an extra 2 days off work plus the exhaustion of sitting in the car were big deterrents. Thankfully I was able to find a cheap flight so I could make it happen.
I flew out on Friday in order to make sure I got there in plenty of time. This turned out to be a good thing since my initial flight was cancelled but they re-booked me a couple of hours later. After a long day of travel I arrived in Charlotte, NC around 5:30. Since there were no good restaurants near my hotel I caught up with an old friend in Charlotte and had dinner with her before heading out of town. She was very kind and offered to buy my dinner so I had zero food costs for the day (I brought food on the plane).
My hotel was nothing fancy but was clean and only 25 minutes from the race venue in Winnsboro, SC. I woke up to a hard frost on the car but thankfully the sun was shinning and it warmed up to the low 40’s but the time I started at 9:15 and eventually into the 50’s. This was the first race that I went to solo: no husband cheering me on and no race buddy. I was nervous, especially because this was my second attempt at the Beast distance, but I met up with another couple who I had met volunteering at Killington and decided to stick with them as it is always nice to have a friendly face.
Within 30 yards of the start line we were already trudging through water. I was worried about being cold but had appropriate clothing with my Under Armour Cold Gear pants and top and Darn Tough wool socks so I was just fine. (If you don’t know about Darn Tough socks you should check them out. They are so comfortable and have a lifetime guarantee. They are not cheap but are so worth it!)
This course ended up being just under 13 miles and exactly 30 obstacles. I had a ton of fun and was able to complete almost every obstacle, only missing the spear throw by a few inches. There was very little vertical gain (unlike the Ottawa course that had us going up and down the mountain multiple times) so this helped to make things easier and I was able to finish with a time of 4:47.
Since this race meant the completion of my Trifecta I did spend some money at the merch tent. I worked hard for this and I wanted something to show for it so I bought a Trifecta jacket and magnet for my car. These items definitely fall within the “want” category but I have been wearing my jacket proudly every day since the race.
After the race I headed back into Charlotte, NC for the night. I have a relative that lives 25 minutes from the airport and he is always inviting me and Mr. SFF down to visit so it was the perfect place to crash for the night and saved me a second night at a hotel. He took me out for dinner (since he doesn’t cook) so I was once again able to avoid paying for any food all day.
My flight left early the next morning so I headed right to the airport. I did need something healthy to eat so during my short layover in Philly I bought a smoothy at Jamba Juice. It was packed with all sorts of good things and was just perfect for my recovery day. This was the only food that I purchased all weekend and although I still had some snacks left it hit the spot.
Total Spent on My Trip
I was able to keep some of my costs low but this was not a cheap excursion. But I do not in the least bit regret going as it was an amazing race and I will have the memories to last me a lifetime. Plus, the feeling of jumping across that fire right at the finish line is like no other.
Race entry: free due to my volunteer shift
Race insurance: $15.33
Parking at the venue: $10
Food purchased ahead of time: $9.02
Super 8 (Friday night): $70.55
Car rental: $114.70
Jacket & car magnet: $80
Jamba Juice: $7.56
I am already dreaming of my race season next year as I want to tackle the Killington Beast course, which is known as being on of the hardest in the country. I am hoping to once again volunteer at one of the other races to help cover some of my costs but I still have plenty of time to plan. AROO!