Going into the Spartan Race Montana Sprint I wasn’t sure if my legs would be fully recovered after the US Army Best Ranger Competition a couple weeks prior, but that wasn’t going to stop me from pushing the pace as best I could. I put in a hard week followed by a good recovery week prior to flying out to Montana Friday afternoon. Since the Sprint race was on Sunday I decided to go out and cheer on all the Beast racers Saturday morning, and it was a great race to watch.
Sunday morning approached very rapidly and before I knew it, race officials were calling top elite guys up to the starting line. I was called last up and introduced as the 2015 Spartan World Champion which is still a bit surreal for me. It was very clear from that point that I had a huge target on my back. With most of the Spartan pro team athletes in attendance along with top Battle Frog athlete Ryan Atkins, I knew it was going to be a battle to pull off a podium finish. I had a good plan of action to go out hard the first couple of miles and see who would come with me. I know that the Sprint distance isn’t my preferred race, but to be the US National Champion you have to be the most consistent in all distances.
Out of the group of us contending for the podium Ryan Kent and Brakken were by far the freshest guys in the field. I knew that Atkins would be strong even after his amazing 50 mile race the weekend before. Chad had also just completed in a tough 8 mile race three days before, but you can never count him out. He’s the World’s Toughest Mudder for a reason. I’ve had some of my best races coming off major endurance events so I didn’t think for a second that a race the weekend or few days before would slow them down.
It wasn’t long before we were charging through a smoke screen and right into the first climb of many to come throughout the course. Ryan Kent was hot on my heels up the first hill and into the monkey bars with everyone else just a few strides behind. I knew that Atkins would go out a little slow to see how he was feeling then close the gap if he was able. It wasn’t long before that assumption was a reality. Coming off the grueling sand bag carry Atkins was just behind me and the small lead I built up was already almost gone.
We battled uphill and into the Herc Hoist where Ryans upper body strength got the best of me and he pulled away by about five seconds into the log carry. I pushed somewhat hard on the log carry to try and close the gap, but I wasn’t making any ground on Ryan. However, he wasn’t gapping me but we were getting away from the rest of the field so I chalked that obstacle up as a win. I pushed hard on the next hill and led the majority of the race until we got to the new traverse ladder obstacle. Right before the race Robert Coble said that bells were free game to kick again with the exception of the rope climb so going into the ladder I thought it might give me a slight edge to go feet first and kick the bell. Well I quickly found out that wasn’t the fastest way to negotiate the obstacle and my 20 second lead got reduced to a dead even race as Ryan and I were moving shoulder to shoulder across the log hop.
I took some time to recover during the Atlas Carry to prepare for my next move up the mountain. I was able to get past Ryan about half way up the hill and put another 20 seconds on him by the time we got to the rope climb. I knew I had one more gear left since Ryan likes to surge through the last mile of obstacles and I was conserving to push with him. My plan was to change into that gear right after the spear, but little did I know, a wrench was about to be thrown into all my hard work.
I got to the spear first and wanted to be the first to stick it, putting more pressure on Ryan knowing he would have to nail it. However, that plan backfired when I rushed my throw and missed, giving him more time to relax and stick his. I knew I had just lost the race with that mistake and I would have to fight for a podium finish since we were only a little over a minute ahead of the rest of the field. I tried not to get down on myself and knew that I still had some gas left for the final push to the finish despite the 30 burpees.
I left the pit in 4th place with Brakken and Chad getting past me. My legs were on fire at that point and I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take before I could start pushing again. Well lucky for me the barbed wire was coming up, and it was a super long one! I knew this would give my legs some time to recover in order to push hard up the last hill. I came out the barbed wire and charged the dunk wall before going into the final climb. I could see Chad just a couple feet ahead and was able to pass him on the way up and also closed the gap on Brakken a bit. Atkins was right there as well and all I could think about was if I hadn’t missed the spear I would probably be finishing with the win right now. But that opportunity had passed so into the bucket brigade we went with only a few seconds separating us.
I tried to push and close the gap on Brakken but my legs were spent from the effort put into getting back up to the leaders after 30 burpees. At that point I accepted that third place was probably the best I would finish unless someone fell off the rig, but I knew that wasn’t likely. I pushed over the vertical cargo and into the rig with the final bell in reach, gave it a quick tap and was on my way to a third place finish.
Initially I was a bit disappointed, I but had to remind myself that the Sprint distance isn’t my preferred race. Coming away with a podium finish and no injuries wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Especially since the race was just a short time after the grueling 68 hour Best Ranger Competition. I learned a lot and am very content with where I’m at with my training. I know where I’m strong and what I need to work on before Monterey. Every race is going to be a battle this season and I’m super pumped to toe the line with the world’s best each month.
Thanks to all my friends, family, and sponsors for all the support. This dream wouldn’t be a reality without all of you!