What Happened When Mpora Went To Kent And Took On The Legendary Spartan Race?
We sent a very reluctant Jack Clayton to tackle a Spartan Race, the world’s best obstacle race.
7:30am - We've arrived at the Spartan Race event in Sevenoaks. I'm nervous. I'm really nervous.
7:34am - I see some ominous obstacles, and people who've clearly trained for this milling about.
7:35am - My total lack of preparation for today starts to hit home.
7:36am - What am I doing here? I can't do a Spartan Race.
7:37am - We chat with two of our Spartan Race contacts Karl and James, and agree that I'll be setting off in the 9:40 heat. First things first though, we'll be following the 'Elite' competitors round the course in the on-site 4x4.
"Madness?...THIS. IS. SPARTA!"
7:41am - I wear a smile, but my insides are filled with a swarm of butterflies; a swarm of butterflies that are literally on fire. I really should have trained for this.
8:00am - The Elites are off and running.
8:01am - "Right, everyone. Get in the car. Let's go-go-go!" says Karl,
8:03am - Karl is racing the 4x4 across fields, and down country roads. His walkie-talkie is a hotbed of activity. The Elites take this event very seriously, and it's up to people like Karl to make sure it runs smoothly.
8:06am - "ETA: TWO MINUTES. AND I'M COMING IN HOT," shouts Karl into the walkie-talkie, as we hurtle round another bend in the road.
8:09am - We're out of the car, and running.
8:14am - We've arrived at the log-carrying obstacle, just in time to see the leaders of the Elite race running down the hill towards us (they haven't even broken a sweat).
8:17am - We're back in the 4x4, hurtling towards another part of the course.
8:20am - We've parked up in a large field, surrounded by some more scary-looking obstacles.
8:22am - The leaders of the Elite race emerge from the morning mist, run towards a big pile of tyres, pick up two each, and disappear into a wooded area.
"Enough barbed wire to fortify a maximum security prison."
8:23am - We're back in the 4x4 again. Karl is driving us to another obstacle.
8:24am - We park up by some monkey bars, and a water station.
8:28am - The race leaders attack the monkey bars, as the on-site volunteers shout words of encouragement. The Elites make it look insanely easy but I know, in my gut, it's anything but.
8:33am - We've driven back to the finishing area, from where we'll see the Elite competitors tackle the final few obstacles. I'm already pretty tired, and all we've done so far is drive around in a car and watch other people do the obstacles.
8:58am - I pick up my headband, my tracker tag, and my free beer token (to use after the race).
9:01am - I do some stretches, jog on the spot a bit, and generally try to look like someone who knows what he's meant to do before a Spartan Race.
9:35am - Time moves quickly, and before I know it I'm in the official pre-race warm-up area with my fellow competitors. We're put through our paces by a pair of on-site fitness gurus.
9:40am - We're at the start line, and oh...heck. I'm actually about to do this.
9:41am - We're off. We're running...
9:43am - ...and running...
9:44am - ...and yep, still running.
9:45am - We hit the first set of fence-obstacles, and I hurdle them with ease like a natural born Spartan. Wait...am I actually going to be good at obstacle course racing?
9:47am - I see someone walking. I decide to walk for a bit.
9:51am - We're running through winding woodland trails and, I have to say, I'm enjoying myself far more than I thought I would. Competitors utter words of encouragement to each other, and it's a really nice feel-good atmosphere out here on the course.
10:10am - I've climbed over things, flipped car tyres, climbed over other things, done a rope-pull with a heavy weight, carried some logs, and tackled the biggest cargo net I've ever seen.
10:11am - I'm feeling like a proper Spartan now, and start to quote the best lines from the movie 300 inside my own head: "Madness?...THIS. IS. SPARTA!"
10:13am - Barbed wire. So. Much. Barbed. Wire. Too much barbed wire. Far too much barbed wire. Enough barbed wire to fortify a maximum security prison. And my brave comrades are crawling under the barbed wire. Heroes, the lot of them.
10:15am - I've only been under the barbed wire obstacle for a couple of minutes, but already I'm feeling pretty stressed out about how much barbed wire I still need to crawl under. I don't want to trivialise war, but this is definitely a tiny bit like a war (OK, bit of an overstatement to be fair).
10:16am - "I'm stuck. I'm stuck on the barbed wire," cries a girl to my left.
10:17am - WAR!
10:18am - I'm still under the barbed wire. Will I ever not be under barbed wire? Will I ever know the comforting feel of home again?
10:20am - I'm finally out from under the barbed wire nightmare. I'm finally free.
10:28am - I'm halfway up a hill, with a tyre under each arm. And yeah, I'm really starting to "feel the burn."
10:39am - I've climbed sideways on a sideways-climbing-obstacle-thing. I've carried what feels like the world's heaviest stone ball from one bale of hay to another. And now, now...I'm halfway through hauling myself over a fence with an inverted angle.
10:40am - "JACK! ," I hear from across the field. I turn and see Yalda (Producer) and Ryan (Filmer) walking towards us. I wave at them with tired arms, before hopping off the fence I'm straddling.
"Jack, we need you to do some of these obstacles again. We need to get the right shots for the video we're making," says Yalda.
"Tell me you're joking" I say, while wiping sweat from my incredibly sweaty eyelids.
11:06am - Over twenty minutes later and I've now done virtually every obstacle in this field...twice. If I was starting to feel it before, I really am feeling it now.
11:11am - I top my energy levels up with a lemon 'n' lime flavoured caffeine pack, and rehydrate my insides with about 700 cups of water.
11:19am - I'm hauling a pair of sand bags up a hill. The dude in front of me, who's stopped for a breather, turns round and says "Why do we do this to ourselves?"
He laughs. I laugh. And then we're both back to carrying sandbags.
11:30am - I'm running across the bridge, and back into the finishing area. Not many obstacles left now, and I find myself catching that all-important second wind.
11:37am - Monkey bars, done. Javelin, done (not very well, but it still counts).
11:42am - Time for the rope climb. Time to climb up a rope and in doing so prove to the spectators gathered here to watch that I, Jack Clayton, can climb a rope.
11:44am - Bloody hell. I've only gone and climbed all the way up the rope. As I tap the bell at the top, I let out a celebratory "YEEEEEEEAAAAAAHHH" to let those below know just how pumped I am about climbing up a rope (I really, honestly, am).
11:47am - The final two fences are absolutely enormous, but high on the adrenaline after my successful rope climb I attack them both with real confidence and somehow make it over them without too much in the way of drama.
After this, it's a jump over some burning logs followed by a straight sprint to the finish line where I pick up my Spartan Race finisher's medal.
11: 59am - I exchange my beer token for an ice cold can, and sample the delicious liquid inside. It's fair to say, after all of my morning's exertions, that a beer has truly never tasted so good.
12:01pm - I look down at my medal, and slowly rub my fingers over it. I've done it. I've actually gone and done it. I AM NOW A SPARTAN. And, what's more, I've had an excellent time becoming one.