And what a weekend it was. I had the time of my life doing something I love in a place that I have never been before. So I’ll be doing a recap of everything that went down this weekend both with racing and adventuring.
I came in Friday to Honolulu airport at 2 PM. We already had some friends that made it to the island (Honolulu) and we were going to meet up with them. When we finally made it to the house, we picked our rooms and decided to have a bit of fun. We found a little soccer ball in the backyard and started playing around while we waited for everyone else to come in and while we were preparing dinner. Dinner was amazing. My dude Deater prepared bacon wrapped asparagus and Mike was on the grill cooking up some burgers and hot dogs. After a great meal and sharing some laughs it was time for bed so we can get some sleep before the event the next day.
We decided to do the Beast (13+ miles) on Saturday and the Super (8-10 miles) and Sprint (3+ miles) together on Sunday. The house we were staying at was only about 20 minutes from the race site which was at Kualoa Ranch, so it was a nice short drive along the coast. Race morning was finally here; we checked in and dropped our stuff off at the Weeple Army tent. Funny how some friends over in the continental US won largest team in Hawaii.
So as usual, my race gear consisted of my piggy hat, my pink speedo, a pair of pro compression socks (orange & green), my Inov8 trailrocs 255s, dry goods for my thighs, trail toes for my feet, Alo cream, Woodsman Mustache Wax, a 3L Camelbak filled with water only, 2 clif bars, 2 urawk bars, 2 bags of trail mix with beef jerky, 2 gu chomp bags, 2 gu gels & a baggy of Gu Energy Roctane salt tablets.
After goofing around a bit, talking with some friends & getting some pictures in, we were off! It had started up and over a little hill, and changed over to this little dirt road. And not too far into the race at all there was a little creek crossing where the water was actually pretty frigid for being in Hawaii. A quick little dip in the creek and then we arrive to the “Over, Under and Through” obstacle where you jump up and over a 4′ wall, roll under the next wall & finally hoist yourself through a 3’x3′ window that is about 3′ high. At this point of the race it was already a picturesque scene. The sun was shining and you were just engulfed by lush vegetation. Then we started going up a bit. And up a little bit more. When I turned the corner, to my surprise I saw my dude Deater walking and yelling at me to hurry up. I caught up to him and asked if he was alright, he had told me “Dude, we’re in Hawaii, I’m not rushing this race at all.” So we started “running” together for the rest of the race.
We were just honestly in awe of how beautiful everything around us was, well that and the mere fact that WE WERE IN HAWAII!!!
Anyways, after I caught up with Deater we headed down some simple trails and had a fun sprint down this narrow single track. At the end of the single track you hung a right and did the “Kissing Gorilla Cargo Net Climb” which was basically a cargo net attached to the side of about a 15-20′ high cliff. The volunteers loved the fact that Deater and I were running in our speedos and cheered us on. And after getting to the top of the net came the fun part! It was a technical back and forth switch back down the side of that cliff. It was fast and fun! We kind of ran down it, so we were grabbing trees and using the momentum generated to make turns quicker. It was exhilarating and really got the blood flowing.
After we finally got out of the brush, we encountered our favorite obstacle ever! “Rolling Mud” which is basically mounds of dirt you run up and run down into a ditch of water (which as always has the coldest water no matter where the event is held) about 3-4 times depending on the venue. And immediately after that, there was a nice little “Barbwire Crawl” that followed.
Once we got out of the crawl, we were in the open space of Kualoa Ranch and we were once again just in awe of how beautiful everything was. We did some climbing, and some descents, but it was never anything outrageous. You were just always kind of looking around seeing how beautiful everything was. And after sprinting down one of the descents, we reached the first aid station which was followed by the first “8′ wall” which is just a bunch of boards stacked up 8′ tall that you have to get up and over. And guess what we saw out of the corner of our eye?! THE JURASSIC PARK SIGN!!! Growing up I loved these movies, so I definitely had to get a picture with it. And right after the wall was a little more climbing and the ‘Tire Pull” obstacle where you have to drag a tire that’s attached to a rope to where you are standing and walk it back till the rope is taut. Some venues have it where you walk out the tire first and then pull it back, just depends where you are. And after the “Tire Pull” obstacle we were just running up and down these vast green hills that took your breath away no matter where you looked. And this is the point where there was a fork in the road. You either went left to finish off the “Sprint Course” or right to continue on to the “Super & Beast Course.”
So as mentioned earlier, we were doing the “Beast” course on the first day so we headed down the path on the right. Up and over a ridge and then we were met with the “Shepard’s Ladder” which was a bunch of 2x4s stacked up about 10-15′ high like a ladder that you had to go up and over. Then we got to go through this little brush. Tree’s were all over, but it was just for a bit, because as soon as we were out, we went up and down another ridge and sprinted down the descent. That’s where we came to the “Inverted Wall.” It’s an angled wall that you have to jump to reach the top and then swing yourself over. And as soon as we got over there were some “Balance Beams!” Probably the easiest balance beams I’ve ever done. So easy in fact that Deater decided to do a cart wheels on them!
After we had some laughs with the volunteers, we were off again. The next obstacle we encountered was the “Bucket Carry” which was immediately followed by and the next aid station. Now it wasn’t that the “Bucket Carry” was hard, it was actually easier than some of the other venues I’ve done the same obstacle at, but you went up and over this little hill (I know, it’s repetitive, but there were a lot of ridges, hills etc.), but when you reached the top the descent was deceptively steep, so if you didn’t watch your step, you would for sure slip, fall and hurt yourself.
But this was the last obstacle we would encounter for a while. After the “Bucket Carry” & getting some water, we headed down this simple dirt trail which eventually led to a climb & the split between the “Super & Beast Course.”
One golden rule you take into racing with you is to never trust a volunteer. You really don’t know how knowledgeable they are about the course between directions or distances. The volunteer at the Beast/Super split had told us that it would be about 4 miles till we came back to where we were currently standing… it was 6. But what you met first right after the split (for only the “Beast” Course) was the “Memorization” obstacle. You would take the last two digits of your bib number, look it up on the board and you would have to memorize a word & 7 digits. If you failed to repeat the correct word and digits when asked, you would have to do 30 burpees because it counted as a failed obstacle.
So right after memorizing our words & numbers, we started to climb. The further we went, the slicker it got. It came to a point where there was ankle deep mud and if it wasn’t that, it was so slick that we were slipping and sliding. We were grabbing roots, trees and brush just to try and stabilize ourselves. But what goes up, must come down. And the same type of muddy terrain we encountered on the way up was what we met on the way down. But when you reached the bottom is where you really had to pay attention. It was about a 5-6 mile loop to get back to where you were currently standing. The correct way to go about it would have been to run 100-200m or so and hang a left where the arrow was directing you to go, if you missed it (which a lot of people did) you would have done the loop backwards, but would have still ended up in the same spot.
Anyways, since Deater and I had been paying attention, we hung a left. and then it began. That was honestly the worst 6 miles ever. It was hot, there was basically no coverage and you were just baking in the sun. But again, we were in Hawaii, we were in paradise, so we just sucked it up and trudged on. We finally reached the “Memorization Obstacle” where we had to recite our words & digits and Deater and I both passed. Woot woot. But we before we started off again we guzzled down as much water as possible. Then we got to run through this pretty gnarly brush, it was a descent and the trail markers were barely visible, but we still had fun with it screaming out “MARCO!” “POLO!” Then, suddenly, openness. It was a quick change from that thick brush, but you were out in the open again and SURROUNDED by the Trees of Life (“Lion King” reference). And there was one point further down the trail where we had to jump a locked gate… that was blocked by cows. We hesitantly went over because those cows were legit giving us the death stare.
So after finally getting over the gate, and a little further down the trail, guess what we stumbled upon? Another piece of the “Jurassic Park” set!!! Ahhhhh the little fan girl in me was elated. I definitely squealed with excitement.
There was a 6′ wall we had to get over and then, OH AND THEN, we got to run through the creek that they featured in “Jurassic Park” as well! The scene where the little kid is getting chased down by the little dinosaurs. Too epic. I was over joyed.
And we ran that creek, for what seemed like forever. The creek run was a long portion of the “Beast” course loop. But when we got out, and thankfully found some volunteers (we thought we got lost), we headed back to finish the loop and complete the outside section of the “Beast Course.” There was a lot more climbs, and ridges & hills, but I don’t want to bore you.
At this point, we finally saw some human beings which was amazing because we thought for sure we were the only ones out there. We also saw racers going in the opposite direction from us (the ones who went the wrong way in the beginning of the “Beast” loop). I believe we counted 20 or so before we had gone up and over the slippery slope mountain again to rejoin the “Super” portion of the course. And jeez if it wasn’t hard the first time going up and down those slippery slopes, it was that much harder with added difficulty of cross traffic & adding the fact that you were fatigued as well.
This is where it started to go bad.
We finally got back onto the “Super” course and finally started seeing more people. I had long since run dry in my camelbak again and it was about 2-3 miles till the next water station. Being that dehydrated and racing really stresses and fatigues the body, even worse when you’re diabetic. Also adding to the fact that I hadn’t had insulin in my system, my body was going nuts and fighting back hard.
At this point I just told Deater to go on ahead. The trail wasn’t particularly hard at all. It was a simple trail, mostly if not all single track. And it was about three LONG switch backs. And I knew some people had cut the course because more than a few of them who had passed me on the switchbacks were some of the same people who had started the “Beast” loop the wrong way and crossed paths with Deater and I when we were finishing that same loop. If that was confusing, I’m sorry, it sounded right in my head.
Anyways, my mouth was dry, I was starting to get dizzy, but the one thing I focused on was keeping my head up and getting to that water station. When I finally got through the last switch back it was up and down and over some hills, through another little creek, and then a nice straightaway right towards the water station. When I finally reached it, I collapsed and was just dousing myself in the water. I was barely coherent and just forcing myself to finish the race. After this water station, there was about a mile left on the course. And it was PACKED with people because this is where the “Sprint” portion of the race joined together with the “Super & Beast” courses at the end. Right after the water station there was the “Monkey Bar” obstacle. Brings back all those childhood memories of when I used to go the park as youngin and NOT make it all the way across. But I can do it now! Screw you, younger me! At this point I was kind of half jogging/half walking because my energy was getting depleted fast. As you started forward again after the monkey bars, there was this little hill that you couldn’t quite see over, and for good reason. Because once you descended down that hill, you saw the “Traverse Walls!” These walls are about 10-15′ long with 2×4 wood blocks where you have to place your hands and feet and “Traverse” to the other side of the wall and ring a bell at the end. I just BARELY made it, but with each other obstacle accomplished my energy was getting that much more depleted. And after the “Traverse Wall” was a fairly simple “Sand Bag Carry.” I say fairly simple because I was almost going to pass out at this point. I finished the “Sand Bag Carry,” went up and over another hill, and what do you know?! Another obstacle! This next obstacle was the “Atlas Carry.” Where in the obstacle you pick up a heavy stone, carry it across a ways for about 15-20 yards place the stone down, do 5 mandatory burpees, pick the stone back up and take it back to where you had started from. A few more twist and turns and right after that was a much longer “Barbwire Crawl” than the one we previously had done after “Rolling Mud.” I was on my hands and knees, moving super slow just trying to keep enough energy in the tank to cross the finish.
After getting up and out of the “Barbwire Crawl” was one of my favorite obstacles, the “Rope Climb.” And I say favorite because I can actually do them now. That wasn’t the case this day. They were extremely slick and caked with mud, I made it up halfway the rope I chose, my shoulders and arms locked up and I just fell. I had zero energy left. It took me half an hour to finish the 30 burpee penalty I had for failing the “Rope Climb.” I had to walk the rest of the way. Right after the “Rope Climb” maybe about 40om or so, you went down this path, turned a corner and you were back in the festival area. I really don’t know how, but I was able to land the “Spear Throw” get up and over the “Slippery Wall” and finally make it across the finish line. I collapsed back at the tent. I was done. I drank some coconut water, ate some snacks and just had to lay there. My head felt like it was going to explode, but I finished. That’s all I cared about and what I went there to do. I wouldn’t let myself quit (even though it probably would have been the smarter thing to do). After getting back to my normal state of mind, we just ended up hanging out and catching up with old friends and talking about the course. We went home that night, had a HUGE dinner and just knocked out because we had to do the same thing all over again the next day.
I’ll skip the portion where I explain the “Sprint & Super” course. The only thing I will mention is that for the “Super Course” we did not have to go through the “Memorization Obstacle” and do that loop for the “Beast”, but the three switch backs and everything towards the end of the “Beast” course was still there. And the “Sprint” course cut off a little ways after the “Tire Pull.” And on this course, the only other “obstacle” we got to do that the other two courses didn’t was called the “Tree Crawl.” It was just basically a bunch of brush you had to bob and weave through for a short ways before you met up with everyone again at the water station & “Monkey Bar” obstacle.
One other thing I will mention that we had a lot of fun doing was getting to do the “Sprint course” with Amanda Ricciardi’s Aunt and baby sister for their first Spartan Race ever! They had a blast and it was fun getting the chance to do it with them for their first time. Adriana did so well, she left everyone else behind so she can go on ahead and finish faster. Guess it runs in the family!
And a special shout out to my boy Spartin Perrier “The French Spartan” who took first on the “Beast Course” the first day!
Hawaii was amazing all around. From getting the chance to travel there and actually do Spartan Race’s first trifecta weekend, to the fact that we got to kayak & cliff dive off the Mokulua Islands, to the amazing dinner we shared with the Ricciardis & the visit we had to the beautiful Waimea waterfall sanctuary which was absolutely gorgeous and finally being able to watch a Hawaiian Fire Dance show which was legitimately out of this world.
This trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so glad I took the time to actually go and do it and have an amazing adventure with my friends. Would I do it again? Of course, but not to race though. While the course was beautiful and we had an amazing time, I felt as though that if that course was laid out anywhere else, it would have been extremely boring. But it wasn’t, because we were in Hawaii… HOLLAAAAAA!!!
Oh, and the one thing that I left Hawaii with that annoys the hell out of everyone is my war horn that I picked up at Waimea Falls!!!
So if you ever hear a bellow in the distance, you know what’s coming!