Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!

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Spartan Race NJ: Mud and mayhem

On Saturday, 9/7/13, a bunch of my friends and I participated in the Tri-state Super Spartan race in Vernon, NJ! In fact, our team, Big Daddy, was the largest team with 100+ members strong. It would be my third obstacle race–but I was a bit nervous because obstacle races tend to pack in lots of unpleasant surprises. It’s fun once you get through it, but racing through the unknown is a special kind of torture.

I want to thank Skechers Performance for providing me with awesome Skechers GoRun2 shoes that I used for the race. It was actually good to use a light shoe, as it dried quickly in the water obstacles and was flexible when I had to climb over walls and cargo nets. I got no blisters!!

My friend JC drove me and Suzanne to the race site at Mountain Creek ski resort, 1.5 hours away from NYC. We were assigned to the 11:30 am start wave, but through my experience at the Citi Field Spartan Sprint back in April, wave start times are kind of aribitrary, and you can start in a different wave if you miss yours. Traffic was a nightmare, as there were 2 parking zones: a $40 VIP parking lot ( a ripoff, but the start is across the street) and a further lot 1 mile away that has a free shuttle bus. We parked, and waited 20 minutes in line to get on a shuttle, and by that time it was 12pm already. Oops.

We took the time waiting on line to paint on each other’s faces. Oo-rah!

Once we arrived at the race site, we picked up our packets, put on our timing chips, and dropped off our baggage. The worst part of the race was the pre-race organization, namely bag check. There weren’t enough people staffing the bag check tent, and it took 30 minutes for us to drop off our bags with a volunteer. We missed our tentative 12:30pm race start and opted for the 1:00pm wave instead.

Once we got started, it was a tough climb 1.5 miles straight up the ski slope. The sun was beating down, but it was clear and felt like 75F, so it wasn’t terrible. I’ll detail the obstacles shortly, but the main things that stuck out to me were the camaraderie of the different teams, and the variety of obstacles. I was glad I was running with JC and Suzanne, and we stuck together pretty much the whole time. JC was nervous about the swimming obstacle, but I encouraged him and we both reached the other side of the creek safely. I loved seeing familiar faces on the course, like Shamz, Art, and David. During the 8 foot wall obstacle, a former Marine asked us if we needed a boost, then knelt down while he let us step on his shoulder. There were some really nice people helping others out.

It took me over 3 hours to complete the course, but I had so much fun doing it, and I managed to escape injury. The toughest part for me was the barbed wire crawl–it was a 100m pit of mud, and you can to crawl on your hands and knees under barbed wire for what seemed like an eternity. There was another part where you traversed several pits of mud, then had to dunk your head in muddy water under a wooden partition to emerge across the other side. Ick. The finish line photos say it all!

My final time:


Pace: 21:30/mile

Age group: 132/394

Gender: 567/1469

Overall: 2952/5429

Suz painting JC's face

Suz painting JC’s face

Pros of the race:

– Via a super special discount, we got free race registration and only had to pay $13 insurance. If you volunteer at any Spartan Race, you get a free entry!

– The course was relatively well-organized and well-marked. Most of the volunteers were great, but some stations were understaffed (spear station and baggage check), leading to disgruntled volunteers…

– You get a solid, relatively difficult obstacle race (I would say 7/10 in terms of difficulty, at least for me). There was fire, mud, barbed wire, climbing, and obstacles that required teamwork. What more could you ask for?

-free hi-resolution race photos available for download

– You get a neat headband printed with your race number, so you can be visible in photos.

– medal is heavy and nice

– nice photo ops at the finish line.

-Finish line festival had decent food (that you paid for). There was pulled pork and ice cream


– cheap cotton finisher shirt, no race location and date on it (same shirt for all locations)

– If you’re uncomfortable with the unknown, you wouldn’t really like this race. There’s 20+ obstacles in this 8-mile course. Train hard! They site doesn’t really tell you what type of gear or shoes to wear.

– baggage check costs $5 and logistics were a nightmare. It was not an organized line and I waited in line 25 minutes to check my bag

– Spartan races tend to be hard to get to, due to their locations at ski resorts. Allow extra driving/parking time!

Obstacle Highlights (this is not a complete list of obstacles):

– cargo net climb

– inverted wall

-swim across a creek (there were life vests)

– rope climb (this was one I failed at–I got up to 3/4 of the way)

– scaling a wooden wall

– climbing an 8 ft wall

– Tire flips

– “tractor” pull (pull a heavy rock)

– spear throw–if you fail, do 30 burpees (many failed)

– carry a sandbag up and down a steep hill

– the course itself was an obstacle–the first 1.5 miles were completely uphill, up a double black diamond ski slope


Lisa’s tips for future obstacle races:

– Bring a water bottle. a hand-held one with a grip thing is best–I used one with a rubber bracelet around it so I could tug it with me on my life vest in the water obstacle. There were only 3 water stations in the 8 miles.

-wear shoes that are relatively light with decent tread. Wear shoes that are easy to wash or that you plan on donating afterward–they will get muddy!

– bring shower gel, a change of clothes, and flip flops after the race.

– Go extra early! Many obstacle races have huge numbers of participants and the locations are remote/hard to get to. Allow yourself time for parking/traffic.

I knew at the finish line… that I have the coolest friends ever!!

So what did we do after our epic adventure? We hosed ourselves off in the makeshift “showers,” waited for the shuttle bus, then drove to Edgewater, NJ to eat dinner at the Japanese market, Mitsuwa. It’s the largest Japanese supermarket in the US! I ate a delicious spicy pork ramen at Santoka Ramen in the food court. Yum!! It was the perfect way to reward ourselves after a day of mud and mayhem. On to

the next adventure!

Me with my Skechers GoRun2's

Me with my Skechers GoRun2’s

Spicy pork ramen at Santoka ramen

Spicy pork ramen at Santoka ramen

spartan run


spartan crew 2