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Spartan & How North Carolina Damages Friendships

Fair warning. There is language in this one.

Go ahead and close out now if you prefer to avoid talks about things like poo.

We good?


Are you familiar with the term shit show?


Then clearly you haven’t spent much time with me or my friends.

My life, in general, has been a theoretical shit show for the last few months. Mostly just your normal adulting stuff.

So, I guess it makes sense that the Spartan Sprint we did yesterday would turn into a literal shit show.

It wasn’t enough that I had to wake up at 12:45 am to brew some coffee, throw on some clothes, and begin the drive to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Spartan Sprint.

It wasn’t enough that we had to stand in the cold, dark rain for an hour to get to our assigned volunteer spots.

It wasn’t enough that we had to spend eight hours on our feet before racing watching runner after runner come through the merchandise booth visibly shivering and complaining about the course. (Except the kids. The mud-covered kids were all smiles with their medals around their necks, seemingly blissfully unaware that the mud they had been crawling through was not your standard mud.)

At 1:45 pm, we were finally able to jump the wall to the starting line. And that is the moment that I realized that this one was gonna be a little more challenging than the last, because I barely managed to hoist myself up over the wall into the waiting stream of “mud.”

So, this mud. First, it had to be at least 3 inches deep throughout the course. There were some areas that it went well above shin-height. You would tell your feet to step in a certain spot, but then they would end up two feet to the left while the rest of your body was still over to the right trying to maintain course. At a certain point, I just accepted that I had zero control over my body and started just letting things happen.

There was one point coming down a hill that I began a cool little mud surf slide, grabbed a tree, and well, do you remember that video of the woman trying to get into her car on an icy driveway with her father helping her and she just keeps sliding uncontrollably around while her mother laughs hysterically in the background? Yeah, that. That is what yesterday was.

Thank goodness for my son that allowed us to literally climb on his back to get up over the wall obstacles, limiting us to 240 burpees. Because by burpee 150, I had started to kind of list to the right, just sort of collapsing onto my right side every time I went down for the push up piece. And because there was really nothing I could do to fix it, I just started laughing. As I lumbered back up for burpee 151, I made eye contact with a dude that was just standing there watching me and also laughing at me. So, that made me feel pretty good about myself.

There were about five water crossings in this Sprint, which wouldn’t have been too bad, except that climbing out of it up the slime-covered embankments proved near-impossible without help. I estimate that I touched at least six foreign butts in this process. Touched is probably too light a word. I groped. I was so desperate to get through this course and into dry clothes that I just started grabbing asses and pushing them up and out of my way. On a nicer course, I may have enjoyed that process a little more. Spartan butts tend to be pretty athletic butts. I mean, if you’re gonna grope a butt, you should really make it a Spartan butt.

(There was also a point during the Herc Hoist that Kim’s butt was hovering centimeters above my face as we struggled to lift that damn bag into the air twice. In another time and place I may have objected. As it was, I didn’t care what was in my face. I just wanted to get through the obstacle and move on.)

But I enjoyed nothing yesterday. Because at about 1/2 a mile into the run, we came to the realization that we were, in fact, running through a very heavy mixture of mud and manure. The smell was so strong that I’m pretty sure it was more manure than mud. Like, maybe 3 parts manure and 1 part mud. And it was not sturdy manure mud. It was goupy manure mud that really got into all of the places manure mud shouldn’t be.

It was at that point that it dawned on me that nearly every really bad experience I’ve had with Kim has happened in the state of North Carolina. Trail Ragnar. Whisky, Tango, Foxtrot Half. Charlotte Spartan.

We army crawled through manure mud. We swam through manure mud water. We walked off of that course with manure in our hair, in our ears, under our nails.

And the bonus was that after the last chest-deep water crossing, the temperature dropped a good 15 degrees and the wind kicked in. Which was actually a nice distraction from the fact that we were continually slamming our bodies face first into manure as we finished out our 240 burpees.

When we got to the fire jump, I was so overcome with warmth that I almost jumped into the fire instead of over it. I can only imagine what the race photo looks like. I was really trying to smile happily as I jumped so I might have a decent new profile pic, but I felt my face turn into some mix of relief and resentment over the split second of warmth.

My son was really happy about the post-race beer. All I wanted was warm, dry clothes. And I was fully prepared to drop trow right there at the car, throw on dry clothes, and get the hell outta dodge. But there were children and calls for decency, so I reluctantly trudged through the manure mud back to the changing tent.

Have you been in one of these changing tents before? They’re really just masses of naked human bodies crammed together in nearly complete darkness and trying not to touch each other’s “stuff.” After peeling off my socks and tights, I realized I was standing in a puddle of the manure mud. So, that was awesome. At that point, I was just done. Like, my spirit just said f- this and totally shut down.

My spirit also said I’m no longer allowed to cross the state line into North Carolina with Kim ever again.

240 Burpees and 4 miles of shit show.

I get why they painted the Spartan sign like this now. And it really just makes me want to punch a race organizer in the throat.


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Just reading and writing and running and looking for my happy place.


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