Taking a Short Break from Marathon Training – Spartan Super Sarawak
One of our Elite Ambassadors, Ian Deeth, will run his debut marathon in the Gold Coast, Queensland on 2 July. So far, Ian has discussed his background in sports, his perspective on finding your passion and infinite purpose and the value of setting goals. On 6 May, Ian temporarily switched focus to compete in his first Elite OCR (obstacle course racing) event of the year.
The Spartan Super in Miri, Sarawak, was my first OCR race in nine months. So far this year, my training has been solely geared towards my debut marathon, but the temptation to jump back into an OCR race was too much, especially as Miri was a very easy destination to get to. Coming into this race off zero specific obstacle racing training, the real test was whether I could still do obstacles, carry heavy stuff and of course, accurately throw a spear! I was confident of my experience in the sport (nine years now); it would see me through and I was excited about the challenge.
A Spartan Super consists of roughly 10 kilometres of running, with 25 obstacles. In Miri, the first 17 of these obstacles, including two heavy carries, were evenly spread out over the first 4 kilometres of the race. This was followed by an open 5-kilometre running section, with a few rhythm-breaker obstacles, such as the 7-foot wall and bender, which are designed to temporarily take you off of your stride. The final 1 kilometre featured mainly upper-body obstacles, such as twister, before the final two obstacles of the spear throw and Hercules hoist.
Prior to 2023, an obstacle failure would result in a penalty of 30 burpees. For most elites, this would take between 90 seconds and 2 minutes, but would also result in increased fatigue that would hinder your performance. Since the start of this year, the rules have changed and burpees have been replaced by the much ‘kinder’ penalty of 200-metre penalty loops, which take much less time and energy. Could this result in a more competitive race?
Knowing my running fitness was strong but my obstacle game was rusty, the plan for this race was simple; go clean and conservative through the first 4 kilometres, then push the pace once I reached the open running section. The positions of my competitors played zero part in my pacing and strategy; I implemented my plan as expected, safely negotiating the obstacle-dense first 4 kilometres, clearing each obstacle with minimal effort but taking no risks. This saw me comfortably in fourth position, just a few metres behind third place. As I hit the open road section, I overtook the athlete in third and began closing in on the second-placed athlete, using race markers to work out how far behind I was. As I approached the course's final kilometre, I felt strong and had plenty in reserve but I also realised that second place was probably beyond my reach. I also knew, barring a disaster, that I had a podium position locked in. After nailing a textbook spear throw, I completed the final obstacle, the Hercules hoist, and crossed the line in third place. I had probably been a little too conservative during the first half of the race to have fully unlocked my race potential. Still, nevertheless, the feeling of being back on course and testing myself in this unique sport left me feeling elated.
I was, however, most definitely feeling the effects of the race several days later, and without question, the delayed onset of muscle soreness meant that my marathon training plan would be impacted. However, on balance, I feel the mental release from pure marathon training was worth the temporary change in focus. I’ve managed to achieve a podium placing in every year I have competed in the sport, which dates back to my first race in September, 2015. I’m super proud and stoked to keep up this record and I will be focusing back on hybrid racing in the second half of the year.