Spartan Melbourne Sprint + HH Recap - by Andrew Falconer

Australian Obstacle Racing News   |   Mar 17, 2019

Firstly id like to thank the Australian Adaptive Obstacle Racers for helping me make this obsession a reality. And Mark Daniels and Matt Frost (YMCA Casey ARC) for starting the obsession.

I was born with no lower right arm below the elbow and no feet, have represented Australia in athletics and have 12 national para cycling tittles, but once i retired from elite national level cycling, I needed a vice, Matt Frost encouraged me to do a Spartan Event, and when i caught up with Mark at Invictus games in Sydney, the seed was planted.

Tooradin was my second spartan event, my first was bright last year.

Saturday started early up at 4am to be a course marshall for the the Elite and Age Group categories. I think it's important to give back to events that you go to, so volunteering was the way. I was one of the marshals on the multi rig so if you failed the obstacle you get to go to the penalty zone and do 30 burpees.

My sprint race started at 12:40 and by the time I jumped over the fence, I was pumped and ready to go. My theory was really simple. Go out, have fun and show others that missing limbs is no excuse not to have a go.

We did our little warm up with Yosti on the PA, screamed out our Spartan Call, and off we went,  about 70 of us in this wave. I had barely started and Bri Bowen, one of my mates from the Wodonga Leisure Centre where i train, ran up next to me and said "Mind if I join you?".

I replied "Well Bri, I ain't fast but lets do this!' - and we did.

It was a dry and hot day, about 34 degrees and the wind was picking up. We ran, we walked, we got over obstacles. We did burpees, but we never ever gave up. We helped each other. What ever the obstacle. We had to carry an atlas ball weighing 30 kgs some distance or a sand bag for a distance or under barbed wire while being hosed down, or going through a muddy dam, we did it together giving each other support and encouragement.

2 hours and 14 minutes later we finished the Sprint. The words of encouragement and support from Bri and my fellow Spartans was amazing.

Sunday was greeted by my alarm going off at 4am again to go and do the Hurricane Heat, which is more about getting individuals to work as a team and being mentally and physically punished until we do.

Now at no time were we forced to do anything and could always withdraw from the heat, whenever we chose to, but it was simply seeing how strong physically and mentally you are and your teamwork.

It's a military type of set up. You start off in a large group and learn to work together. Then you get split in three equal units, red, green and black. You are then given tasks to complete as a team - it may be getting your entire team over 8 foot walls or having two of your unit members not touching the ground whilst we place a continuous bridge of planks of wood on our knees. You then run to the front once the raised member has passed you as to continue the bridge. It puts a lot of trust into your team mates and this can go on for hours (only the Krypteia - like drill sergeants or recruit instructors - know when the evolution will end.

We did a lot of rank and file drills, and during this hurricane heat we had to carry a bit of wood (420mm long x 30 mm wide x 50mm thick) which we held out in front of us for long periods of time, and if  your arms dropped we had to start all over again, or burpess, or high and low planks.  After about 6 and a half hours, we finally made it back to the Spartan HQ, lined up in rank and were dismissed.

Another spartan dog tag and t-shirt earned.

It's not about the t shirts or medals for me though. It's showing people that as an adaptive athlete, we will get the job done.

Thanks to James from Obstacle Racers Australia, Mark Daniels from Australian Adaptive Obstacle Course Racers, Mel (Spartan Marshall in charge), Bri Bowen, Steve Turner, Matt Frost, my crew at the Wodonga Leisure Centre, the Vyners and my better half Naarah (who supports me in everything I do).

I'm looking forward to doing many more Spartan events this year and can't wait to show everyone what us adaptive athletes can do!

Hope to see you on course at an event soon.

Andrew Falconer