A lot of firsts happened to me this year. This was one of them. It was my first time completing the Trifecta Medal. Spartan Race SoCal Beast happened on September 17, 2016 at Pala, California.
A Trifecta Medal is earned once a Spartan racer finishes three distance race courses – Sprint, Super, and Beast in a calendar year (January 1st to December 31st) anywhere in the world at any order. The Hurricane Heat, another type of Spartan race, doesn’t count towards a Trifecta but the Ultra Beast, it’s Spartan Beast were the distance is doubled, will be counted as a Beast. Stadium events are considered as Sprints. Anyone can earn multiple Trifectas in a given year. As I said before, I’m sticking to one for now.
I would like to give a really loud shout out thanks to my good friend Dolores Grant for introducing me to mud runs last year. Without her, I would be a couch potato on weekends. 😀 Also last year, we both joined a hiking group, 3H Family, which I would also like to thank dearly for a part of my training on conquering the hills. I’m also grateful for the RUT Camp classes at Long Beach for my cardio workout earlier this year. Lastly, to my new found friends from hiking for your inspiration and encouragement.
After doing two previous Spartan races, I felt comfortable and confident heading towards my third race in completion of the Spartan Race Trifecta. Although every race will feel different from each other, there are a lot of factors to consider but the 2 factors that played the biggest parts are the rough terrain and weather on that day. Knowing that I had a terrible run last January on the Spartan Race Sprint in Temecula because of the cold stormy weather, I knew going in the Spartan Race Beast, I needed to be more prepared and not to think of it lightly since it has 12+ miles and 30+ obstacles I had to face.
My Blog on Spartan Race Sprint last January: https://jmpventures.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/spartan-sprint-race-volunteer-shifts-january-30-31-2016/
My Blog on Spartan Race Super last July: https://jmpventures.wordpress.com/2016/07/17/spartan-san-francisco-super-07162016/
The Spartan Race was held at Pala Raceway in Pala, California. It has multiple race tracks catered for motocross and dirt bikes. The scenery of the surrounding Palomar Mountain State Park can be seen on the southeast.
I came from Sylmar and carpooled with my fellow Trifecta Squad, Sergio Garcia and Normie Chanes, at Murrieta, California. We got to the parking lot at 9710 California 76, Pala, CA 92059 with a $10 fee. From there, a shuttle bus (huge school bus), took us to the Pala Raceway.
We then signed in at the registration booths where we gave our waiver form and showed our ID and the volunteers gave us our Spartan Race packet that consists of the timing chip, starting time wristband, headband with bib number, and a free beer ticket. We met the other fellow team members, Maria Elena Guerrero, and Gloria Moreno with her friend Lina near the merchandise booths. We had our group photos and started wearing the stuff from our Spartan Race packet, sprayed sunscreen on our bodies, and ate some snacks/breakfast.
Before heading out to the bag check area, we saw Tony Ramos, Ale Eskalona, (who are super hikers) and a friend. We took a group photo in front of the signing board and then checked our bags in for a $5 fee each.
Maria Elena started at an earlier time with another friend while the rest of us waited for our start time at 10 am. Since the organizers were running late on releasing each wave of runners, we started around 10:15 am.
At the starting line, my stomach had butterflies of being excited and at the same time nervous but I knew I would be okay. Spartan Race warns competitors not to start earlier than their designated time but there was only one volunteer there and did not have the chance to check all of us. We took more photos, hopped over the wall, and waited to be released. The music and the emcee were pumping us up. A few minutes later and we’re off running.
We head to the eastside of the course to our first obstacle which was the Overwalls. After the first mile, we came across three obstacles; the one that I remembered was the A-Frame obstacle. Then we started our ascent to Heriot Mountain which is only 1,669.95 feet above sea level. As an avid hiker myself and the rest of the team, Normie said, “We got this!” We encountered much higher elevation than this. As I mentioned earlier, it all depends on how the weather is cooperating. The sun’s heat started to warm us up and there was no breeze which caused some of the racers to slow down. The mountain took 5 miles, around 5 obstacles and one water station. Luckily, we got our hydration packs.
On the way down, the terrain was rough with lots of rocks and can easily sprain an ankle. The sun didn’t do any favors. From what I read later, the temperatures soared into the 90’s that day. There was no shade at all. We then came across a Spartan on the side of the trail who sprained her ankle. Luckily, Sergio offered his ankle brace for her to use and she was set to continue the race and so did we. I told Sergio that we should just do a fast walk. My main purpose was to avoid getting a sprained ankle too because of the small rocky terrain.
Then we came across more obstacles as we got down the festival area. These were the 6 and 7 foot Walls, the Inverted Wall, and the Hurdles. I mastered those obstacles early on, and I also helped the girls go over those tall walls. The Bucket Brigade obstacle loop had a lesser elevation gain which helped a bit but the heat was also unbearable with the heavy load we were carrying. Then we did the Tyrolean Traverse which I assisted Normie so she could complete the obstacle. I did my turn faster than the last time I did on the Spartan Race Super.
Then there were the three obstacles close to each other that test our grip strength. These were the Rope Climb, Multi-Rig, and the Herculean Hoist. I helped Normie on the Multi-Rig then Sergio and I helped her on the Herculean Hoist, I love these obstacles. Although, the Multi-Rig gave me a bloody scrape on the tip of my middle finger on my right hand, I had some band aids for that which temporarily helped.
Last July at my Spartan Race Super in Diablo Grande, I complimented that I loved the Barbed Wire Crawl obstacle. This time at Pala, I didn’t like it at all because it was on an uphill climb and lots of small stones that scraped my knees and legs. Luckily it was a short distance. Then there was the Bear Crawl obstacle that I didn’t like and that was done twice on the race. I’m getting those knee pads next time for protection. After that was the Atlas Carry which I didn’t complete at the previous races; however, this time around, I finally did it. It was a sense of accomplishment on my part.
Sergio’s legs were already exhausted before mile 8 that he got cramps all over from the walls early on. We gave him some mustard and electrolytes but that didn’t help. So Normie and I suggested for him to wait for us at mile 12 which the trail was across mile 8 while we continued the four miles on another set of hills away from the festival area. Luckily he did wait for us or else he had to go through more obstacles along the way such as the Stairway to Sparta, 10 foot Wall, and the Z Walls. There was also Sandbag Carry obstacle which had a steeper climb with a long flat walk at the top and then a steep descent coming back down. We took a photo at mile 10. Then to my surprise, it was at the 10 foot wall that Normie and I saw Norma Leanos who was my team mate at the Spartan Race Super in Diablo Grande. I helped both girls up the wall. Then the obstacles that followed were the Monkey Bars and the Plate Drag. I skipped a couple of obstacles because of my scraped fingertip.
Normie, Norma, and I arrived near mile 12 at a water station where Sergio was waiting for us. He recovered from his cramps especially of a drink that he got from one of the racers. Our next obstacle is the Memory Test which was back at the festival area. Early on, near the top of Heriot Mountain, we were asked to memorize a code that we would later mention it to the volunteer or else the 30 burpees. My code was Quebec-949-5373 and I passed and so did the others on our team.
Spear Throw obstacle was a bust for all of my teammates. We also had to go through humps that the motorbikes use during their races. Then we were excited to see the Rolling Mud Dunk obstacle which was refreshing even though it was muddy water. I even did my breaststroke swim in it which was fun. Then the Slip Wall obstacle was next, always a favorite of mine. And lastly, the always popular Fire Jump obstacle where we jumped as a team and raced to the finish line and got our medals. We then thought of jumping again on the Fire Jump individually with our medals so we could get more photos. 😀 LoL We then proceed to get our banana, nutrition bars, energy drink, and our finisher t-shirts. We also took our Celebratory picture. Of the four of us, the three of us completed our Trifecta while Sergio will get his in December at Castaic, California.
We cleaned ourselves up at the shower station. Thanks to that cool guy who found a free beer ticket for me to use which I couldn’t find in my bag. We later met Dolores and Sona Arutyunyan at the beer station. We didn’t get to see them earlier because they had a different start time. As we head to where the shuttles are, Maria Elena found us. It was so nice of her that she offered to bring us back to the parking lot. It was so dark that it was hard to locate our cars especially when there were no volunteers around to guide us. It took us awhile but we found them.
Our finish time wasn’t spectacular but we had lots of fun and no serious injuries. Thanks to Normie and Norma for taking their time to take our photos and videos along the course. We found out later after the event that Gloria saw the girl who sprained her ankle earlier at the finish line and asked Gloria to give thanks to Sergio for the brace and said she couldn’t finish the race without it. Sergio became her guardian angel. Thanks to all the volunteers for making the event an enjoyable one. It was such an awesome time for all of us Spartans. I can’t wait for the next one. 🙂 Aroo!