My first experience with Spartan up close was in July 2018 when I volunteered with OYNB. I knew it was something I wanted to do but had zero belief that I actually would.

Forward to July 2019 and there I was, in a field in the midlands about to enter my first ever Spartan. It was the physical challenge I set myself as part of my OYNB journey. I really badly wanted to do this but again, the internal workings of my mind was telling me ‘you don’t belong here’ ‘what do you think you are doing’. 

Even driving towards the venue my stomach was in bits. I had porridge before leaving the house at 5am and I had a quarter of a flap jack in the car as unable to swallow any more solids.

Arriving at the field

As I approached the OYNB tent I felt my anxiety levels rising. I was excited to see the team, seeing old faces but equally nervous about meeting so many new ones. That’s the great thing about meeting the online offline. You have that instant connection. Faces you have been corresponding with over months come to life. Many hugs and hellos later I dumped my bag and went for a look around. I won’t lie, it made my anxiety much worse… I went to see the finish line – the fire! OMG. It was high and very hot. Walking around was not helping settle my nerves. 

I can’t do this is what I was thinking, who am I kidding, this is a big mistake, shit shit shit I had pushed myself too far out of my comfort zone.

Everyone around me looked the part

I don’t belong here! Round and round in circles, this negative talk kept coming. It got to the point where I was no longer able to hold a conversation without crying! Feeling totally lost in this tidal wave of anxiety filled emotion. All I wanted to do was go. Just jump in the car and go. But I know if I had gone I would have felt ten times worse. It’s far too easy to run so I stayed to face the Spartan course. 

One o’clock approaches, it’s time to hit the start line. Dragging my feet I reluctantly head to the starting gate surrounded by hyped up excited Spartans. Spartan Phil was doing his thing, not feeling this buzz of excitement guys! Arooo I am spartan etc etc.

Off we go

My legs feel like lead, I can’t do this. I can’t run …. I can’t climb that! Can I stop now? But I have only just started! I am too fat for this, why did I think I could do this!

We hit the A frame, I can do this. I can climb, I used to climb trees as a kid, I know this. BOOM done, I did something.

Lots of hills, so many hills. Barbed wire crawl up a hill, I decided to roll until it got too much and everything went dizzy. So then sedately did a back shuffle up the hill. BOOM done, quite enjoyed that in a strange way. 

More hills, water stop. And feeling sick, I throw up. Why am I doing this, I should stop now. This is not for people like me! Feel bad that I am holding the team back, I want them to leave me. Just go guys, I’ll be fine. But no, they stuck by me. I feel emotional, grateful and guilty at the same time.

Onwards we go

More hills, the sandbag carry I wanted to throw up but I was running on empty. Dry retching, not a pretty sight (sorry guys). I really can’t go on here, I want to just drop on the floor. But no, I am encouraged by the team. I move my weary body around, somehow one leg moves in front of another with the help of a push here and there. 

The golf cart ambulance is following us, should I be paranoid? Do I look really bad! Stop thinking Ann, keep moving.

The Hercules Hoist I went into with confidence, I am going to do this. I grab the rope and pull a little too hard and end up flat on the floor. Ah well, still going we head to the trees and down some steep muddy banks before having a trip down a mud slide into nice cold muddy water. I am liking this, we are nearing the end. More mud and more hills. I can’t handle any more hills.

Yes I can.

I am amazed at the level of commitment and teamwork from the fellow OYNB’ers, it’s incredible. People I had never met before, helping me with these obstacles. What an experience. 

Here comes the bucket carry, I can hear the OYNB tribe cheering us on. I can’t stop now, I’m nearly there.

My nightmare of face planting onto the finish line flashes across my mind. Was just that a bad dream? Yes, just a nightmare.

I crossed the finish line.

I completed a Spartan.

I wanted to give up so many times but am so so happy I continued. 

Receiving my medal was amazing and I am still on a spartan high now. I may not have felt the buzz at the start line but I sure feel it now. 

Without the amazing people I was with, I would still be sat in that field right now! I hated it, I loved it and I hated it some more. I have signed up for Spartan in Windsor in October, and another in Twickenham in November, training is in full flow. 

I am determined to be a less tearful and anxious me on that start line come October. I want the feeling I had at the end of my first Spartan, whilst listening to Spartan Phil do his thing. Don't let your thoughts dictate your life, go for it. Live life better. AROO!


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