Ryan Healy is a personal trainer for the Lynch/van Otterloo (LVO) YMCA in Marblehead. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, and earned her BS in Exercise Sports Science from Elon University. Find more posts by her in conjunction with the LVO YMCA at yhealthandwellness.wordpress.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember; please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
It was a cold and frosty morning as we walked towards the gates outside of Fenway Park. I exhaled, watching my icy breath, as I took in the magnitude of the event we were about to begin. It was here that I was about to take part, for the first time ever, in a craze that’s been sweeping the country: obstacle racing.
You may have heard of events like the Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, or the race we ran, a Spartan Sprint. Individuals and teams run from one obstacle to the next, completing challenges that test them mentally and physically, often involving fire, mud, water, barbed wire, crawling, climbing, or scaling walls. So when my boyfriend challenged me in June to complete this race with him and a group of his friends and clients, I was hesitant. It was something I’d never done before, I was nervous, but my gut told me that this is my year to try more things that edge me out of my comfort zone and into new and exciting experiences. It would be good for me, or so I hoped.
The day finally arrived, Sunday November 18th, and we stood as a team among thousands that raced that weekend, huddling and jumping around to stay warm, as we waited to be called to the start line. We finally got the nod, and it was 10 burpees before they even said go, and then we were off and up the ramps lined with rope we had to either crawl under or jump over, to the top of the stands. We raced up, down, and across countless sets of bleachers. We slammed medicine balls, carried cement blocks, and ran up and down stairs with water jugs to the top of Fenway.
Inside the park we traversed countless walls of varying heights, climbed cargo nets, ropes, and slatted pyramid structures. We pulled cement blocks attached to ropes into the air until they were dangling at the top of the rafters, carried a 60 pound sandbag on our shoulders running up and down the stadium, rowed, hopped, did Spartan push-ups, and ran across the Green Monster.
Once we got outside, obstacles included a heavy weighted jump rope, baseball toss, javelin throw, and a horizontal rock wall. The last and final stretch of the event was on the field, an incredible feeling in itself, but even more special because it signified the end of an intense and taxing race. We were just a large vertical wall, 30 burpees, a cargo net, 10 box jumps, and a gladiator style pummeling away from the finish line. And just as we started the race, we finished together.
The day felt monumental for so many reasons. I saw more of Fenway that I’d ever imagined. I competed on the same field as some of the legendary players like Carlton Fisk, Ted Williams, and Jim Rice. I have a new appreciation for all that my body can do and how well it performed challenges I’ve never asked of it. But the most significant reason this race was so enjoyable for me was because I was part of an incredible team. A team that never left anyone behind, stayed positive, and kicked some serious butt. Each of us had different obstacles that we excelled at and obstacles that we leaned on our teammates to get through. The race tested our endurance, agility, resilience, and strength, but we did it, at our own pace, and we did it together.