This is much harder than Tough Mudder. Significantly longer distance. Tough Mudder’s double-black-diamond ski slope you crawl up, counts as an obstacle in its own right? The Beast has five of those. Tough Mudder doesn’t ask you to lift heavy things, usually just your body weight over a wall. The Spartan obstacles emphasize brute upper-body strength and bulk lifting. Tough Mudder has a sense of humor and camaraderie that keeps you in high spirits, the Spartan Race’s burpee punishments for failing obstacles adds dread to every challenge. When I got to the lake rope crossing at Mile 12, the thought of getting soaking wet and cold again was utterly spirit-killing, I thought about just bypassing the obstacle, doing the burpees but staying dry. This guy with a megaphone is screaming “IF YOU DO NOT COMPLETE THIS CHALLENGE YOU MUST GIVE ME THIRTY BURPEES OR I WILL DISQUALITY YOU FROM THE RACE!!” Dude, fuck you. I’ve come this far through your shitty course and you’re yelling at me and threatening to kick me out. Fuck you. I got into that fucking lake and hauled myself hand-over-hand across that fucking rope, because fuck you.
I would have had a much better time if I had been running or done any rock climbing or trained in any way since Tough Mudder back in June, and if I wasn’t recovering from being sick as a dog the weekend before; so I’m impressed that I finished. I was seriously considering bailing out halfway through when my knees started killing me. But what are you going to do, there’s no way to get off this mountain but walk, and by the time the course had looped back near base camp, we were three quarters done, and I wasn’t going to quit. The Spartan Beast was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the ordeal emptied me of all personality, emotion, and motivation. There is only one foot in front of the other, on hand and knees, over walls, under wire, through mud and water. Until the end. But now I know my limit. And I have no desire to approach it ever again.
For all my complaining about the Spartan Beast, there were a lot of things that were awesome. The obstacles were creative and well executed, some of the best you’ll find in any race. My favorite was the Platimun Rig: series of gymnast rings to horizontal bars to rectangular bars to a rope to rings at foot-level, that was super fun. The rope ladder to Tarzan swing would have been fun if the water temperature hadn’t cramped my muscles up so badly. At the highest mountain summit is a two-story cargo net rig you climb over, you’re twenty feet in midair with the fog and wind whipping at your clothes, its an impressive moment. The heavy lifting tasks in and of themselves are fine, they’re just geared towards bigger guys – a 60lb weight is a different challenge for a 150lb dude than a 180lb dude, so keep that in mind. I think Crossfit people might like the Beast. So if you really want a challenge - something you need to train for and plan clothing, gear, liquid and calorie intake, an experience that is not at all safe, that will drain you past all reserves of strength, endurance, and spirit, to conquer the most brutal ordeal you’ve ever been through, then The Spartan Beast is your race.