The Last Quarter Mile.
This past weekend I embarked on a journey that tested my mind, body and spirit at an intensity so strong, I’m still tingling. From head to toe I am feeling the throws of that mountain. I’m remembering every incline, every mile of trail flattened and every obstacle tackled with the grit of pure determination. On Saturday, me and three of my OCR friends ran the Wintergreen Spartan Super, an infamous course in the Spartan series.
“I am a SPARTAN!”
The starting gate had us waiting with chills, anxious and holding our breath in anticipation. When they ask us who we are, we collectively respond with power, unfaltering that cry. We. Are. Spartans. Yes! Yes, we are!
The crowd went wild, the buzzer sounded and we were off. We set out on what is one of the most treacherous, dangerous, and intimidating Spartan races. It’s held in Wintergreen Resort, providing picture perfect backdrops to our pain and struggle. Our path lead us up the ski slopes; a few blue but mostly black and double black diamonds. Up. Yes, up. With an elevation gain of about 5,400 ft we ran, climbed and hiked against gravity for a grueling 8+ miles. And we performed 28 obstacles of strength endurance, balance and power. Nature came at us with full force as we battled rocks, water and logs. We carried, pulled, pushed, heaved and launched. (spears AND curse words)
It was insane. It was exhilarating. It was EPIC.
We wore our pink shirts, cast among the sea of competitors. And we stood out. A team of four women who politely turned down help at each obstacle, choosing to muscle up the walls or climb the nets on our own. Spartans are such gentlemen; camaraderie is everywhere in the races. But we got this. It was time to trust the technique, trust the training and trust ourselves. There is an 8’ wall in my way, and I might be wearing pink, but I can get over it. Please just step aside.
That last quarter mile though. Oh man.
We emerged from the trees to the open slopes to find ourselves at the bottom of one last climb. Just a quarter mile to that fire. A quarter mile and six more intense obstacles. Please no more. Oh God. One by one we broke to our knees and heaved breaths so deep our lungs were pulsating with flames. They were scorched from breathing strong for that mountain. They were on fire from keeping calm the last five hours devoted to finishing. Finishing. We were going to finish.
Up from our knees. We unwrinkled our pink tops. We brushed back our hair. We wiped our eyes. OK. Let’s do this.
The last quarter mile was the hardest stretch of the race. Sometimes when you break, you emerge stronger. And we did. We were a team of four women and we ran that race on our terms. We each gave it our all and never once quit. We never once thought we couldn’t.
We jumped that fire with the biggest smiles that mountain had seen all day. We did it. We ran Wintergreen.
I am a Spartan.