Last weekend, my Spartan year kicked of with the Valmorel Winter Sprint. Although the race was on Saturday, we left on Wednesday night so we had a few days of free time in Valmorel and some time to get used to the altitude and the snowy conditions. We stayed in a small apartment. It was not much but it had everything we needed: a kitchen, beds and a shower.
Being there upfront we could pick up our starting package on Friday so we didn’t need to rush on Saturday. The starting line was just a 10 minute walk from our apartment, so after a good night of sleep, we arrived fully rested at the event site.
The race started in the village of Valmorel and immediately went uphill with a steep climb through deep snow. After a few 100 meters we had to go upstream in a small, half frozen creek. The water was as cold as one would expect but for some reason my feet didn’t get cold afterwards.
I was told that last year the race was about 8 km, so I was a bit surprised that after 4 km we were nowhere near the top so I continued walking (running was not an option for me in the snow) until I reached the top. Once there I could enjoy the nice view while carrying a 50 lbs sandbag before I started the descent. At least I thought I started the descent but after a while, the course went uphill again.
After some more climbing and a few nice obstacles, we finally started to descent. At this point we already did about 7 km and although I could see the village on my right side, the course was going left. Eventually after a few more kilometers and obstacles, I reached the village again. A few more obstacles and steep climbs separated me from the finish line but after 3 hours and 14 minutes I jumped over the fire pit (without fire) and crossed the finish to receive my medal and finisher shirt.
Like any other Spartan Race, there were plenty of obstacles. Some were more challenging than others but the snow made all of them a bit more difficult. The once I feared the most where the multi rig and the balance beam, but both went without problems. I have to admit that I tried the balance beam 6 times on friday, but out of 6 tries, I only managed to succeed twice. So I guess I was lucky on Saturday.
The thing I like most about the obstacle in a Spartan Race is that there a lot of them that are focused on strength. The sandbag carry, the tire drag, the woodcary, etc… Those are realy my cup of tea. I’m not saying that I’m less skilled in the other more technical obstacles but I prefer the once that require strength.
I only failed on two obstacles: the traverse wall and the snow ball throwing. Meaning I only had to do 60 burpees. But I can assure you, doing 60 burpees in the snow is more than enough.
The traverse wall is not my favorite obstacle. So far, I failed it 3 times out of 4. I have no idea why, but for some reason I don’t get the hang of it. I started of good, and had good grip, bur for some reason m foot slipped and I couldn’t recover. Maybe I should build myself a traverse wall to put in my garden. It might take some work but it’s more favorable than doing burpees.
The second failed obstacle was the snowball throwing. Since it was a winter sprint, the spear throwing was replaced with a snowball. Although the target was big enough, I managed to miss it by 5 cm. I felt so stupid doing burpees that could have been avoided. For the spear throwing, you need some kind of skill or technique, but throwing a snowball… That should be child’s play.
In total, I think I lost about 10 minutes doing burpees. Burpees are never easy, but burpees in the snow are a real pain in the ass. But in the end, I could have been worse. Failing two obstacles on a total of 15 – 20 is not that bad. And with some practice, I’m sure that I will do even better in the future.
Distance: 12,75 km
Elevation gained: 874 m
Kilometers Driven: 1822 km