Last Friday my runner friend Mike, Chris (aka Mr. Sarcastic and yes we will talk more about him later) and myself set out on a small 550 mile (1100+ miles if you add in the drive home) road trip to St. Louis. I will blog more about the road trip itself and all the fun things we did later because today I am focusing on the purpose of the trip. A race, of course! And not just any race but a one of a kind race in a sand mine, the SpeRUNking Sand Mine Challenge. What is speRUNking you ask? Well it is the act of exploring caves while running, hurdling obstacles, crawling and tip-toeing through quicksand.” Awesome, right?!
The morning of the race we made our way from our hotel in St. Louis to Crystal City. It was a quick trip there and I have now come to believe that all epic adventures have directions that sound like this, “Follow fence line on your left until you come to a dirt road.”
We were lucky enough to get to the race early enough to park close to the sand mine and drive over this amazing one lane bridge.
Here is what it looked like once we got over the bridge and through the tunnel.
Mike and I picked up our race packets and had plenty of time to scope out the sand mine and the competition. Chris was not racing and thus became our personal photographer and holder of our stuff.
The race had waves starts that were 5 minutes apart. Mike and I were in the 3rd wave of the day and although we did not stay together we both thought the wave start went very well even though we found ourselves passing some people from the previous waves.
This race was 3.2 miles filled with obstacles and sand, lots and lots of sand! I didn’t find the obstacles to be too difficult but there were a couple that I was not found of. One was a ladder that was laid vertically over a ditch like area. Some people were attempting to walk across the ladder but that just looked like an accident waiting to happen. I opted to crawl across it instead. (I believe someone smashed his face on the ladder when he fell and the injury ended up requiring surgery.) I also could have done without the fire jump. It was very similar to the fire jump in the Warrior Dash but since this was in a cave the fire made breathing difficult. The sand also made breathing difficult at times as it was kicked up into the air by the runners.
I finished the race in 34:04 which was good enough to place me 18th out of 100 in my age group and 172nd out of 896 total runners!
If I lived closer, I would definitely do this race again but since I live so far away this will probably be the first and last time I do it. If you have the opportunity to do this race in the future I highly recommend it as it is a very unique experience!