Spartan Bright Trifecta Weekend - Saturday - By Shaun Lachlan

Australian Obstacle Racing News   |   Nov 25, 2018

The Bright Trifecta weekend has become the landmark event on the Spartan calendar. Spartan’s from all over Australia (and in some cases the world), flock to the Alpine Shire in Northern Victoria
and completely book out Bright and all surrounding towns. When you arrive in Bright, you’re instantly welcomed with a banner with the Spartan insignia attached to remind you why you’re here.

Most Spartan’s arrive to Bright on Friday afternoon and head down to the Bright Brewery to pick up their race packets. Personally, we lucked out when we booked our AirBNB for the weekend. 500 meters from the Bright Brewery and 800 meters from Pioneer Park and the festival area. As soon as we arrived we unpacked the car, put Aria on our lead (dog friendly accommodation is legendary) and walked on down to the Brewery to pick up our race packs. As soon as you reach the Brewery you cannot walk two steps without running into someone you either know from the internet or have become great friends from racing with or against. One of the great things about Spartan racers seems to be a universal love for dogs, so Aria was in heaven making new friends and receiving many pats. After this it was time to load up on pasta and get a good night’s rest before the insanity that is race weekend starts tomorrow.

The Saturday morning alarm is an early one, 5:20am to have time to digest some breakfast before
the age group super at 7:20am to finish off the national series. Thankfully, the Bright Trifecta was
being held a month later this year, so it wasn’t quite as frosty in the morning, it was still pretty fresh though. The Elite’s were sent out at 7am and they were looking fierce, straight after they left the age group wave was called in to the starting area. I was feeling confident, even though the best I’d finished in the national series so far was second in my age group, I’d been training really hard, especially on hills which Bright is famous for. One of the upsides of racing age group is the friendly competitive nature of the group. At the starting line there are jokes made, banter back and forth and heckling all around. Richard Williams started up his usual pre-race mantras and before we knew it we were off. The pack spread quickly as we scaled the first sets of toblerones and over a 4ft wall and out onto some single track leading to a river crossing. A 6ft wall came up next and before I knew it, the first kilometre was over in 4 minutes and 10 seconds. A blazing pace to head out at, but I was still feeling comfortable. After this a lot of winding single track led us all through the next few kilometres, climbing a ladder waller, completing an overhead torsion bar carry and then heading up to the sandbag carry. The sandbag loop was in the same position as 2017 and it may have just been my escalating heartrate, but it felt like the loop was longer this year. My strategy is to always take the carry’s at a comfortable pace so I can really push the running either side of the obstacle, so I had to keep telling myself not to worry if anyone passed me. After dropping the sandbag back in to the crate I felt weightless running the next short section of road until we took a familiar turn and it was time to start ascending Mystic Mountain. The upside in the Super is that you only need to climb 2/3 of the way up Mystic, the downside is that it’s still a 450m climb over just over a kilometre. Thanks to a lot of hill training this year, Mystic really didn’t feel that bad. I just switched my brain off and took it one step at a time and before I knew it I was at the (admittedly cruel) 6ft wall at the clearing and then off on my way running downhill.

Being able to run downhill, especially on single track is an incredibly underrated skill for Spartan
Racers. It takes a lot to trust the grip of your shoes and the strength of your ankles, but there’s a lot of time that can be made up with downhill skills. After descending Mystic it was into a refreshing river crossing then back to the festival area for an absolute gauntlet of obstacles.

Olympus, barbed wire crawl, inverted wall, rope climb, A-frame cargo, container complex, Hercules hoist, atlas carry, torsion crawl, balance beams, through toblerones, monkey bars, z-wall and then bucket carry all back to back with no relief in between. 14 obstacles, where one mistake could set off a chain reaction that could lead to an enormous number of burpees for your day. Luckily for me, no mistakes were made, and I was off on my way for the final 4km of the course. This section was mainly single track mixed in with a few obstacles like the tyre drag and walls. There was a slight ascent back up Mystic before a downhill road run back to the festival area. It was after this there was an over, under, through, the double bender, swinging rings and then the penultimate obstacle, the spear throw. I picked up my spear, found the balance point, set my feet and launched. The spear was perfectly on target and the point went straight into the foam… then fell straight out and it was off to the burpee zone for me. These 30 burpees were some of the hardest I’ve ever done.

Knowing I was towards the front of the pack and that every second I waste could be positions lost in the rankings meant I had to burpee like my life depended on it. After finishing the burpees I was absolutely breathless and headed over to the final obstacle. It seemed like a simple net crawl, until I tried to lift the net up. It was one of the heaviest cargo nets I’ve ever had the experience of touching and there were no other racers around to take any of the slack. I managed to get my head under and start wriggling through. I could feel the rope cutting my back as it scratched across my skin as I crawled. On a few occasions I got completely pinned down by the net and thought that I was just going to be stuck there forever. Finally, I made it to the end and ran over the finish line. Alex Burns was there volunteering and cheering me on to the finish. He actually took a selfie with me that I have no memory of but when you look at the photo you can see there is no colour in my face and I’m completely broken from the race. I walked over to the timing tent and checked my position. 1st in my age category and 5th overall in the wave. I tried to celebrate, but I legitimately didn’t have the energy to do anything. I simply took my medal and water and went to lay down for a while to get read to head out on the age group sprint which was starting in one hour at 10:20am.

After being happy with my finish in the Super I started telling myself I’d just take it easy in the Sprint and Beast and round out the weekend. As soon as I lined up in the starting area for the Sprint, my primitive competitive male brain kicked in though and decided it was all or nothing no matter what.

Looking around the starting area there were a lot of fresh faces who had not run the Super so the challenge was not going to be easy. Richard’s speech commenced, we all AROO’ed and then we were off. The pace was fast but actually a bit slower than the Super which meant I could keep to the front of the pack. Only 2km in and we were already turning back in towards the festival area and the obstacle gauntlet. No fails this time either, but a special mention to how hard the barbed wire crawl becomes once you also have to traverse around a busy field of Super racers still  running. It was relieving to be able to run right past the Atlas Stones and Torsion Crawl to finish off the obstacles and head back out to the single track. The Sandbag carry came up next and was noticeably harder this time around. Next was the run towards the first ascent of Mystic and what I feel like was a really nice and funny touch from the course planners. The red Sprint arrow points to go up Mystic just like the Super and Beast, and then instantly after ascending a few meters sends you back down on a different path. Then came the final run back to the festival area through the final few obstacles (another spear throw landing in and falling out), burpees and then a much easier cargo net crawl to the finish thanks to others being around to share the load. Upon finishing I knew I’d had a pretty slow run overall because I was feeling exhausted so when I went to the timing tent I wasn’t expecting much. 4th place, I’ll take that.

At this point it was almost time for the Age Group presentations, my wife Rachael and our friend Karly had walked down from our accommodation to watch before running their first ever Sprint. I was so depleted from the last 2 races that it took me 30 minutes to eat 3 slices of pizza. Before this weekend I’d placed 2 nd in my Age Group on 2 separate occasions so I was very excited to finally get a different medal and finally actually be present for a medal ceremony.

Now it was time for the second sprint lap. Before going out for this lap with Rach, Karly and Amy, Alex Burns gave some very important advice to actually spend some kind taking in our surroundings when we were out on course. Spartan Races are almost always in beautiful and picturesque parts of our country, however if you’re racing competitively you are so focussed on finishing that all you see are obstacles and arrows and nothing else. So out on this lap we moved a little slower (Rach and Karly were really worried that they’d be slowing Amy and I down but after already racing in the morning they were moving terrifyingly fast for me), but countless times along the way we stopped and took in just how incredible the landscapes of Bright are.

Rach and Karly were everything you could dream of when taking first timers out on course, they didn’t complain ever, they pushed themselves as hard as they could, they never gave up and they completed all of their penalties. An in joke quickly formed that any time we ascended any small incline the question “was that Mystic?” was asked, to which the answer was always definitely yes. Towards the end of the race there was one more big hill before heading back to the festival area. We had walked most of the second half of the course and were more than happy to walk it in to the finish. Rach however, was done with hills and summoned all of her strength and bolted up that hill like her life depended on it. Within seconds she was at the top and celebrating her victory and suddenly at least 15 strangers from all around us started cheering and applauding her amazing efforts. After the final gauntlet of obstacles, we all crossed the finish line together and we were done for the day. It was now time to eat, rest up and get ready for the impending Beast tomorrow.