Howling Trails

Spartan World Championships: 25k/7000ft/305 burpess


I would be lying if I didn’t say I am slightly…er…embarrassed…by my performance last Saturday in Killington. It was not my day. I finished about 15 places further down then I would have liked to have. I couldn’t get my legs moving and I was falling off obstacles left right and center. But! With that being said I am very proud at conquering & completing what were some of the toughest moments (physically & mentally) of my life. And at the end of the day I learned to just have fun and make some new friends While I was at it.


There is me trying talk to my new friend Chris at one of the last obstacles. [Note how he doesn’t seem so keen to friend me back. :)]


Well, Saturday was the most ultimate ass-kicking of my life. I went into the Spartan World Championship enamored by the athleticism of the women around me but excited to test my hard work against them. Wooophhh!  Boy… was my performance far from what I was hoping for. It was not a ‘bad” race by all means, however it was far from being a “good” race. I was under prepared mentally and felt even more under trained and just couldn’t seem to get my legs going.

Anyone who knows me is familiar with how slow I am at running/hiking uphill. Climbing has never been a forte of mine, (I like to blame on my extra long femurs and the lopsided leverage they cause) so I’ve been working hard on this weakness, or at least that is what I like to tell myself. Therefore, coming into this race I thought to myself “I’m from the West Coast, I’m use to elevation gain, I spend lots of time on the grind and technical trails, Vermont should be a piece a cake…right?!”  Well let’s just say I was served biggest piece humble pie you’d ever seen two days ago. [Spoiler Alert: there was 6600ft of gain in 23k. Then throw in 305 burpees on top of 30 obstacles and you a recipe for things to get a wee bit silly for Michelle…yes first person type of silly]


 Those are a lot of steep inclines eh?

Around 7k, just after the first water obstacle, (aka the 100m swim, in a freezing cold lake, sans lifejacket, to a rope ladder, proceed by a Tarzan rope swing, proceeded by another 100m swim to shore, only to have to complete 30 burpeees because no one could actually make it across the Tarzan ropes-obstacle… oh! And did I mention it was only 7 degrees out?) I was sitting pretty just 5-ish minutes first place lady and feeling pretty darn great. That is until we headed deep into the woods, of a barely their trail, to the top of a ski hill, for the next 10k. Apparently they never heard of ‘switchbacks’ in the world of Spartan racing.

 There is a view of the Tarzan Swing obstacle.

Through out the next 10k we came across the first barbed wire crawl (easy peasy), followed by a balance obstacle (also ruled it) then the 300m log carry (pretty sure I grabbed the largest and longest log in the pile). When we reached the top of mountain it was about 3· and gusts of winds upwards to 65km/hr. It was a pleasant surprise to see my folks up there cheering me on and braving the poor conditions. My pops told me I was now 22 minutes off the lead. Ok! No biggie, what goes up must come down right? What I lack in my climbing skills I usually can make up on descending. One problem, despite taking 10k to reach the summit it only took 3k to reach the base. (funny how that is eh?) When I reached the 2nd 300m bucket carry at the base, my dad said I made ground and was only 14 minutes off the lead, which made me feel empowered for all of 120 seconds before my dreams came crashing down as soon as I looked up and saw our next climb. Up…up…up…straight up… under the gondola…right back to the summit: the summit I just so proudly raced down in record time.


Proof that I probably indeed chose the biggest log I could find. Look at the girth on that bad boy!

Right from the get-go my race legs weren’t feeling so spry, however this is when things started to turn for the worst (mentally and physically). I just couldn’t get my legs moving and my brain was over it. After descending the mountain for the 4th time, around mile 11 of 13, we were faced with the worst obstacle of the day: a 1k, 60lbs (double if you were of the male gender) sandbag carry back up and down the ski run.  I could honestly say that this was one of the most challenging mental moments of my life. There was human carnage everywhere. The poor men had to carry two sandbags. Most of them had resorted to carry one bag up 30ft then running back down to bring the next bag up. I don’t like to say here is where I gave up, however this where I decided to it would be a good time to sit down and enjoy the view for a few minutes. I made the mistake of grabbing a sandbag wrapped up like a brick, rather than the ones were in over sized bags that allowed people to sling them over their shoulders with better grip. After reflecting upon this mistake for way too long and being passed by half dozen females, I though it would probably be a good idea to suck it up, play thee ol’ Booi family card and use comic relief and a forced smile to get me through the remaining 2 miles in good spirits. According to Strava the only CR I received that day was on this sandbag carry. It took me 24minutes to move 800m. (I should probably mention that I was the only lady on Strava who raced.)

Here is a funny video of the carnage on the Sandbag carry.

When I finally decided to let go of the fact I wasn’t actually going to win this thing, I loosened up and pulled yet another card out of the Booi deck decided to befriend everyone in site (whether they liked it or not). And quite frankly, I was so incredibly excited that I made it across the Tyrolean traverse (mile 12) that nothing else seemed to have mattered. Even though…with one mile to go… I managed to fail the rope climb (never had that happened before), the spear toss (definitely only ever had that happen before), and two sets of monkey bars (how ridiculous is that?) and bring my burpee total up 305, I still managed to find some energy to poke fun at myself and finish with a smile as I hurdled over the final fire obstacle.


Coming through the one of the final obstacles and very happy to see that there was no more barbed wire to crawl through.

Overall what do I think? My fueling was a little all over the place. My bladder didn’t work, this meant I was carrying 750ml of water for no reason and I could only drink at aide stations. Thank goodness it was not hot out. The course marking was superb. Which is quite the blessing as most of the trails had more of a bushwhacking feel. I loved loved loved the water obstacles and hated hated hated the climbing. But that’s not a complaint. Will I go back next year? If you asked me during the sandbag carry I would have say no way and also told you how I was really thinking about how much I rather run a 100miler instead of doing this, but now a few days past I cannot wait to redeem myself!


I love this photo.