A Rookie’s Tale

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His name was Blake. Blake had never done a Spartan Race before, and was the holder of a rookie pass. This meant that he could forego the burpee penalty for obstacle failure, just this once

We saw him sitting at the Hercule’s Hoist, sitting on the ground looking tired and worn. It was early into the race, and we had heard people calling encouragements to him as he crawled under barbed wire earlier. He wanted to quit, and that was clear. His posture, his expression, his speechless sighing.

Yet he stood up and kept going. We called some encouragement as we passed him, but soon slowed as he asked us if he could stick with us for the race, as his friends had gone on without him. Of course, the answer was yes.

Slowly, slowly we plodded along the course. It wasn’t glamorous, or easy, but he kept going. We all kept going.

The dead ball carry was an easy task for him. He helped others hoist the weight into their shoulders after he’d done his own carry, and took pleasure in finding a strength in a day where his weaknesses were so exposed.

As we walked down a hill, the 8 foot walls came into sight and he confidently said that he could get us over the wall, and moments later added that he had no chance of getting himself over. He did, indeed, get us over the wall with no problems… Along with about ten other people. We continued along, but only metres from the obstacle he stopped and turned around.

“I’m going to try.” He told us, and we headed to the other side of the wall. There waited the group of people he had helped over the wall, ready to help him over. “I’m heavy…” He warned.

“There’s enough of us to handle it, mate.” One woman told him with a smile. We all helped him get to a point where he could reach the top of the wall- some helping hold him while others cheered him on. He gripped the top, and with a grunt, tossed his leg over the top of the wall so he was secure.

The people at the bottom of the wall cheered, and so did a new group who were heading down the hill towards the walls. He landed and another cheer broke out. We walked silently away from the obstacle, and for perhaps the first time, we saw a sincere smile from our new friend.

“You did it.” Yvonne, my team mate, told him. “You did it!” She repeated, high fiving him.

Blake’s newfound confidence did not extend to taking on the mud mounds, and he had a chance to get ahead of us and keep going by himself. If he wanted to find his friends, it made sense to do so. Instead he stuck with us at the side of the obstacle. One mud pile after another, with a pool of sludgey water in between each. We struggled up them and slid joyfully down them. When we needed a hand, his was there without fail.

Together we did burpees at following obstacles. He did ten. We did thirty. It was more than he had planned on doing, and the process saw him getting more and more comfortable with the discomfort.

The sandbag carry was one of the last obstacles, and he took the 30kg sandbag and headed up the side of the hill. I watched him drop it, take a breath, and then keep going. He repeated the process a few times, until he reached the top. Then he headed down the hill, face set with Spartan determination.

The three of us crossed a creek, jumped some fire, and Yvonne and I ducked passed the gladiators. Blake tousled with one of the gladiators, who made him fight to hit that finish line. But he got there, and we all stood together as a team, grinning like idiots and proud as we could be.

The rookie who wanted to quit, whose friends ditched him, finished the race. He didn’t do all the burpees, but he found himself inspired and found something to aspire to. His next goal, if you were wondering, is to ride 200km to raise funds for cancer research. After that, he wants to come back to the Sydney Sprint fitter and healthier.

I wasn’t sure about the rookie pass, I’ll confess. But after that, I’m certain that it’s a good idea. For those who need to learn that they’re capable, and those who need to be surrounded by the atmosphere of a Spartan Race before to see that it’s not just for the elite, but for everyone.

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13 thoughts on “A Rookie’s Tale

  1. Great article! I was on the rookie pass also and think it is a great thing. I went with my training group and was the last from our group to finish and had one of our trainers with me through the race. It has definitely spurred me on. I plan on being at the next one in Sydney, hopefully 15-20kg lighter. As I’ll be getting my burpees on next time!

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    1. Thanks, Ange!
      I’m SO glad you took the chance to experience a race with the rookie pass. It’s even better when someone sticks with you through the whole thing, too. I look forward to seeing you at the next Sydney race. Maybe we’ll do some burpees together. πŸ™‚

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  2. I did the Brisbane spartan in March and also took the rookie pass. I started my fitness journey only 6 months ago and have lost 23kgs. Right at the beginning I choose to sign up to do the spartan not really knowing what it was about. A bit of research and I was terrified. I really struggled doing the race but was determined to finish it. I did. My amazing friend Katrina choose to do it with me and I am very greatful to of had her with me. She pushed me along cause I too could have given up. This article brings tears to my eyes.
    The rookie pass is the best thing for people to give it a go and it also shows that anyone can do this race. I am definitely going to be going back for next years race fitter and more determined than ever.
    Great article!!!!

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    1. Bobbi, good work! I heard the Brisbane Sprint was BRUTAL! You showed up, and you didn’t give up, and that’s what it’s about.

      Maybe sometime I’ll see you in the mud. We can do some burpees together!

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  3. I’m so glad I read this. I saw Blake at the barb wire crawl and he looked stuffed. They were sending the medics to him. I’m so glad he kept going. We checked in on him but he told us to keep going. They were sending someone. So happy you stayed with him. This story is the spirit of spartan. It is stories like this that inspire me to c

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    1. They inspire me to continue, too! I was struggling up the hills due to an old calf injury, but as soon as I was able to get out of my own thoughts and encourage someone else along the way, everything changed. Seeing someone else fight on kept me fighting.

      See you in the mud, Michelle!

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  4. This is a lovely story!! I was there with a Rookie pass too as I had purchased my entry and then found out I was pregnant (11 weeks for the race!!) and was nervous about how tired I would get. I was so pleased that there was no negative response to the Rookie pass! I ended up attempting everything, completing most things and thoroughly surprising myself with how much fun my hubby and I had along the way!! Nice work everyone on a day well spent!

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