The Spartan Trifecta World Championship is held annually in Sparta, Greece, typically during the first weekend of November. The event is a three-day affair, with the Sprint race taking place on the first day, the Super race on the second day, and the Beast race on the final day.
Athletes have the opportunity to be on the podium for each of the three races but the overall Trifecta World Champion is the athlete with the lowest combined time across all three disciplines.
Day 1- Getting There!
Well, if you’d like an introduction to ‘How not to fly’ then certainly follow how I prepared for my flight for the Spartan Trifecta World Championships. I checked my passport several times before leaving for the airport and decided to invest in a hotel the night before, to ensure that I was rested for the trip. On the morning of my flight, I decided to place my passport in my pocket before leaving the hotel, to ensure that it was there, ready for security. As I took the passport out of my bag, I found that I had mistakenly packed my old (out of date) passport!
Leaving the hotel at 5am, I frantically phoned my partner, asking him to just book me onto any flight leaving for Athens that day - fortunately he found one that fit, but from a different airport. According to the parking websites, there were no parking spaces available at Heathrow Airport but thankfully, my Mum was able to take me….where I could eventually relax!
After a lovely flight and three hours of driving a hire car through the dark and windy roads of Greece , I finally arrived in a very sleepy town. With a long 14-hour traveling time, I was knackered but conscious of my need to fuel my body so plodded down to the only restaurant in the town, where I enjoyed a meal with the entire restaurant to myself.
Day 2 - Sprint Day!
Before coming to the World Championships, I tore my calf at the World Championships back in September. While I initially thought it had recovered, it flared up, leaving me limping when even walking. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to put my all into the first race and was feeling apprehensive about the two races to follow.
I started off in second place, starting off fast. I was expecting the course to only be 5k, so started at a pace that I knew I could maintain on tricky terrain. Unfortunately, after the first downhill stint, my calf injury prevented me from keeping this up. The terrain was incredibly uneven; at various points having to tackle ditches, huge rocks, streams, running over sections of cut and laid bamboo… I dropped to third and then fourth place as two other racers overtook me. At that stage, I just wanted to finish the race, feeling positive that there may be some upcoming sections where the ground would be easier for me to manage.
Having no feeling in either of my legs, I was at a large disadvantage compared to the other athletes but knew that I was strong on the obstacles and could potentially overtake them at another stage of the race. As we approached a few technical obstacles, I flew through them, edging my way into third place.
Towards the end, the chap in second place missed the spear throw, allowing me to overtake him while he was completing the penalty loop. Now on flat tarmac, I opened up the pace, despite pain in my calf. The last section of the race was technical, with monkey bars and other more challenging obstacles. Flying through these, I finished in second place, about 2 minutes ahead of the bronze position.
I was really pleased with my performance in the race; completing all the obstacles with no penalties. But there was no denying it was a challenging race with my injury.
This was meant to be the ‘short’ race at 3 miles. But it ended up being just under 5. With two more races to go, and my calf causing me a lot of pain by this point, I had to rest up and prepare for ‘The Super’.
Day 3 - The Super
The Super race is usually a 10km course with similar obstacles to the Sprint, but with more running in between - how wonderful for someone who was struggling to run!
Dosed up with painkillers, I hobbled onto the startline, ready to go. As the gun went off, I didn’t have much in the tank. I kept the pace back, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to compete for top position. As the terrain became more technical, I dropped back even further but with only one penalty loop for missing the spear throw, I finished in 3rd place.
Day 4 - The Beast
Normally, the Beast is a half marathon (21km) race which includes more challenging obstacles, including the ‘Stairway to Sparta’. This is one of the most challenging OCR races in terms of distance, and there are a range of obstacles to tackle along the way. This race combines different terrains with steep inclines and obstacles that included:
- Inverted wall
- Bucket, log, stone, sandbag carry
- Spear throw
- Plate drag
- Monkey bars
While the race was only meant to be 21km, I finished with almost 30km tracked. This race was a really big mind-game for me. I wasn’t feeling confident in terms of placement but just wanted to finish the race…after all, I had come all this way and invested the money to compete. It wasn’t about racing but about completing the course. Setting off at a slow pace, I was in fourth position but I felt strong, considering the other factors. Within 5km of the course, I actually overtook two of the other Para athletes while running up a hill…this is where the mind games really started.
As we proceeded through the really challenging terrain, the other two athletes decided to just stick within 1 meter of me as I was running. As I started walking, they started walking. As I ran, they ran. I was pacing them! Because of this, I slowed right down, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to speed off and with them following me, there was no rush!
This game of cat and mouse continued for about an hour, when I accidentally took a wrong turn, meaning I fell behind both of them. When I had caught up to them, they had separated and despite overtaking one athlete, I couldn’t catch up with the other. This led me to achieving third place in the Beast race.
As a teacher, it is incredibly difficult to take time away from school. Because of this, I had to miss the final podium for the overall World Champion. Despite this, I was able to collect my Bronze medal for the overall results.
It was an incredibly challenging weekend, mentally and physically. I found it very difficult to attend an event, not feeling 100% and not able to give it my all. Athletes who I have competed and won against overtook me, as I struggled with the terrain and my injury. Having said that, my proudest achievement is that I would have placed 25th in the able-bodied category. This achievement is something I will be taking forward into my preparation for the last few events of the year - before I take some time to rest and recuperate for next season!
I am writing this blog having just competed in the British 3k Championships (the week after the Spartan Trifecta World Championships) and I am very pleased to now be resting from competitions until the season starts next year!
Teacher of Mathematics from Basingstoke
Age group: 30-35
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