Slippery Wall: A OCR obstacle in which you climb up an inclined wall, using a rope. Normally you are covered in mud and very wet while trying to accomplish this.
Google “Spartan Slippery Wall”, watch the YouTube videos, chuckle.
A brief history of my experience with the slippery wall:
Indiana 2013: burpeed out of the slippery wall because I was a big pansy.
PACNW 2013: fell off the slippery wall. Three times. Secretly cried a little.
Wintergreen 2013: It’s a blur. Think I did the slippery wall.
Tampa 2014: had to be pushed and pulled over the slippery wall.
Charlotte 2014: got my squirley butt over the slippery wall all by myself and I have the armpit bruise to show it.
I jest. But in reality, the armpit bruise really does sum up why I keep doing one brand of OCR, Spartan Race, over and over. I am a huge fan of any physical event that encourages people to get up and do things, and I run every OCR/Mud Run I can. But I keep coming back to Spartan Race. While I don’t review Spartan races individually, (frankly, in most cases, you’ve read one review, you’ve read them all) I realized that I keep coming back to Spartan for several reasons….all of them summed up with my armpit bruise.
That bruise represents my experience with Spartan Race – the uniqueness of every race experience, the connection of Spartan Racers, and the sense of accomplishment that every race brings.
Raise Your Hand if You’ve Ever Had an Armpit Bruise
I’m guessing that not a lot of you raised your hands. I’ve been racing for a year and I’d never had one. While bruises are standard fare for most racers, where you have them and how you got them are never the same from race to race.
Spartan Race is a lot like that. If you’ve run any of their races before, you have a general idea of what the obstacles are going to be, but you can never be quite sure how and where they will appear. Some people have asked me how I keep from being bored running the same race over and over. It’s NOT the same race, no matter how many times you’ve run it. This means you have an odd combination of comfort of the familiar and terror of the unknown.
You know you’re going to have bruises – your’re just not sure where they will come from or where they will end up.
How do you treat an armpit bruise?
I have found that Spartans have a strange bond. We share information and hold each other to standards I just haven’t experienced in many other environments. We help each other.
There is a level of camaraderie that is prevalent throughout the community, both on and off the course. Need pushed over a wall? A true Spartan will be there to for you. Need a ride to the venue? Just post on Facebook and people you’ve never met will roger up. Not sure how to treat an armpit bruise? Ask around. Someone will offer up helpful advice.
Spartan Race is so established that we have come to learn that we can lean on our fellow Spartans. We trust and like each other for many reasons, not the least of which is because if you dare call yourself a Spartan, you will be expected to live up to the name.
Does Your Best Friend have an Armpit Bruise?
More importantly, does your best friend appreciate your armpit bruise?
All OCR competitors probably appreciate the idea of the armpit bruise, but the Spartan community takes it even further. We are like those guys who drive the same kind of car…..you give a little nod in respect when someone in a Spartan shirt walks by.
Spartans love our marks earned on and off the course. From tattoos to bruises to my favorite, here is where the barbed wire got me (inside right elbow, Indiana Sprint 2013), Spartans are joined by a shared experience. This is because it is so established that we can understand, emphasize and live vicariously through other racers, even if we weren’t with them on that particular course.
When you brag about an armpit bruise, Spartan Racers will high five you and say “let me see!” (I am betting most of my Non OCR friends will scrunch their nose and cock their heads in a questioning look.)
Armpit Bruise: A Badge of Honor
This armpit bruise represents the best things about Spartan Race – Conquering things I have failed at before. Like I said, I love doing small and unique OCR’s but one great thing about Spartan is that I am able to re-do and grow on obstacles that I have been unable to conquer before. I’ve never had an armpit bruise before because this was the first time I’ve thrown my own body up and and over that wall, unassisted (My calves are a hilarious mess too). I conquered something that I was intimidated by and that I had failed, multiple times.
I run Spartan Races because it gives me a tangible goal each race I run. I can’t get bored with the race because not only is the terrain different each time, I always have an obstacle to slay. The feeling I feel less than one year after my first Spartan Race is indescribable. I failed over half the obstacles my first race. Hated almost every minute of the darn thing. Now, failure of an obstacle is getting more and more rare. And now I love every minutes of the darn thing. Ok, ok, ALMOST every minute of the darn thing.
Next up – the rope climb……I wonder where that bruise is going to be?