Review and experience on Spartan KL Sprint Malaysia 2015
It was the inaugural Spartan Race in Malaysia and my first time participating in an obstacle race. This Sprint course held at Setia Eco Park in Shah Alam, Selangor was 6KM+ with over 23 obstacles that had tested the physical strength and endurance of its participants. I joined the race with four other close friends as a team and we completed it. The beginning of the race was a piece of cake, with hurdles to climb (or crawl) over, climbing across traverse walls, hiking up and down hills, climbing up and down nets, carrying sand bags, flipping tyres, dragging weights (heavier for men, lighter for women), sliding in and climbing out of mud, and crawling (or rather rolling) under a distance of barbed wires. And then it got more challenging.
When we crossed the finish line and received our medals and t-shirt, we felt absolutely delighted, an indescribable self-satisfaction as though we've achieved something important in our lives. And we had a great time talking about it the rest of the day. Our finishing time was actually pretty bad at 2 hours and 11 minutes but we didn't run much as we wanted to ensure that we would have enough energy to attempt all the obstacles. The design of the course certainly didn't underestimate us Malaysians even though it was the first ever Spartan Race in Malaysia. The obstacles were physically challenging but totally fair and very fun.
For those of you who're interested in joining next year but would like to know if it's doable and worthwhile for you, the following might give you a rough idea on that. First, let's give you some information about me so that you could do your estimation and comparison. I think I'm generally taller and more agile than average Malaysians in their late 20s but I was lack of muscles and my upper body strength was considerably weak. I didn't work out consistently (I only started working out 3 weeks before this). I didn't have any gym membership. I could not do more than 1 - 3 pull-ups or chin-ups. Jogging and aggressive inline skating were pretty much the only sports or exercises that I was doing in the past 12 months.
Here's a list of which obstacles were extremely hard or impossible for me;
It required us to pull a 20-something KG bucket up to the top with a rope and slowly lowering it back down to the ground. My teammate helped me out but I believe I could've done it myself if it wasn't for the sand that were falling into my eyes (and contact lenses) every time I pulled the rope.
Basically climbing a 15-foot rope and ringing the bell at the top (and coming back down without hurting yourself). If I didn't spend 40 bucks just to train for this for a night, I would've definitely failed this. But 40 bucks well spent in the end. I was almost absolutely sure I couldn't do it, but now that I've conquered it in a single try, I can't wait to do it again.
It's hard because each participant only got one shot to hit the target. I was the only one in my team to have made it but I strongly believe if it was due to a mix of luck and all those years of sucking in basketball.
The course started with small hurdles to easily climbable walls, and in the second half of the course, when my muscles were a bit tired already, there were two much taller walls (wooden and muddy) which I think were 7 foot and then 8 foot. Due to my decent height, my hands were able to easily grip the top of the walls, but my upper body strength was too weak to muscle myself high enough for a leg hook it. Thankfully, teammates were allowed to help boost each other up. That's what teams are for. Can't imagine joining this as an individual participant.
Atlas Ball Carry
The stones were big, rounded, apparently weighs 50KG (for male participants and 25KG for female) and we had to carry it to the opposite flag, do 5 burpees and carry it back over. I couldn't even lift it up without my teammate's help. It's doable once it was lifted up but it's roundness made it very difficult to maintain the grip, not to mention it's freakin' heavy.
Monkey Bars (?)
The only obstacle I officially failed and had to do burpees for. It wasn't the usual monkey bars as it also had a variety of rings, ropes and bars. In fact, I think it might be one of the most difficult one in the world as I never seen this version of the obstacle making appearance in the full video recordings of the Sprint courses in other countries. And not to mention that it was slippery as hell as it was right after the obstacle where we had to slide and climb ourselves out of the slippery mud. If you fell or slipped off, you either keep try again or just accept the punishment. Only the fittest one in my team managed to cross over after several tries. Even if I had the upper body strength, I would've needed a solid grip as well.
In case anyone wants to know, I was wearing an old pair of running shoes, ankle socks, MMA shorts, singlet and cheap weight lifting gloves, all in dark colour as we were already warned that we'd be soaked in mud. Gloves would definitely ease the rope burns and scraps, but might make your grip more slippery. They became nothing but a burden after getting down and dirty in muddy waters, and I had to keep wearing them as my shorts didn't have pockets. Make sure you bring clothes and footwear to change. And don't forget about underwear like I did. Washing your muddy clothes and shoes will be very, very challenging as well. Take it as an obstacle.
Anyway, in overall, I totally enjoyed the race and I can't wait to see the photos that were promised by the organisers (will upload some here if there are any photos of us). It took me a long time to wash off all the mud off my clothes and shoes, but totally worth it. Most importantly, it made me realise how weak my body actually is, and it sort of motivated me to want to work on that from now on. I want to be able to complete all obstacles without any help in the next Spartan Race, which will be a Super course taking place on 20 March 2016.
Only few things that the organisers need to truly improve on. One -- more details about the race on the website, like when are we supposed to collect our race kits, will there be a qualifying time, etc. Thankfully the replies on their Facebook Page were efficient enough. Two -- the staffs should ensure that no participant cheats. I'm sure that there were many who failed obstacles didn't do full 30 burpees while some probably even just walked right through without attempting at all and still received their finisher medals and t-shirt at the end.
Five -- why did they organised this Sprint in the final quarter of the year when the participants could only officially complete the Trifecta if they complete three races within a calendar year (Jan - Dec)? Well it's either the organisers never thought this through, or they're simply milking it, which they'd never admit. (UPDATE: Probably due to months of complaints from the participants, the organiser announced that this Sprint will now count as part of the Trifecta). And last but not least --- we are ready for tougher challenges. Bring on the Tyrolean Traverse and Tire Drag obstacles in the next race. Aroo! Wait, shouldn't it be "ahoo" or "aauu"?
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