by Thomas Nastasi
On July 13, 2013, I drove three hours and fifteen minutes to Roxbury, NY for the Tri-State Superhero Scramble. This was the farthest I have ever driven for a race. Let me give you a little background about this event. Superhero Scramble is a well-known event in the South. They are trying to expand into the Northeast and scheduled the Tri-State event to be held in Tuxedo, NY (one hour away from me). About two months prior to the event, they changed the venue due to a contract problem. They “scrambled” to find a new venue: Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury, NY. After much deliberation with my cousin and friend Ron, we decided we would still attend the race.
Fast forward to the week before the race; I got bronchitis. I was bedridden from Monday until Thursday. I started taking antibiotics on Wednesday. My wife helped me with every homeopathic remedy there is. A spoon with honey and cinnamon every night, teas, soups. She did a great job holding down the fort while I was down and out. Friday, I was able to go to work and put a full day in. I decided I would see how I felt on Saturday morning and make the call then. At 4:00 am on Saturday morning, I arose from a much needed slumber and put my racing clothes on. Unfortunately for my body, there was never a doubt in my mind that I was not going to race.
We arrived at the mountain and were very unsure. No one we knew had completed this event yet. We were in for a surprise. The course was said to be 6.1 miles with 28 obstacles. Did I mention it was on a steep mountain and I had bronchitis? Anyway, I wore my Camelbak for the first time ever. I figured I probably needed the “water on demand” because of the antibiotics drying me out. I couldn’t take deep breaths and was coughing terribly although less frequently than the day before. I was in for it.
The race started and we were off. I made sure I paced myself. I started with a slow jog up the rocky mountain. It was the first time in two years that I went a week without exercise. I wasn’t sure how I would respond. I could tell right away that my breathing would not allow me to run this whole course. I started to slow down and continued at a slow jog. Along the first mile, we climbed a small portion of the mountain while encountering tall wooden walls. I could feel that my body was fatigued and run down. I reminded myself to take it easy and just complete the course; easier said than done.
As we descended down the mountain, we encountered a rock climbing wall. This was pretty cool since I had never done one before. I was a bit surprised how dangerous it was and was a little nervous for other racers. Next was a giant cargo net contraption. Then we crawled through barbed wire while a giant hose shot you with water. I was definitely feeling exasperated and we were probably at the 2 mile mark. Then the fun began!
As I stood beaten and battered, I stared up the mountain and saw the course marked ahead of me. We were expected to trek up the mountain from the base to the top; it was said to be a 1500 foot ascent. This was killer. Every step you took burned your calves and thighs, but I just kept pacing myself and sipping my water. It took about 15–20 minutes to get to the top, and the view was incredible. We were taller than any other surrounding mountain.
I couldn’t believe I made it. I figured this was it for climbing; everything else must be downhill. Boy was I wrong. Somehow there were more trails that ascended higher. I still can’t figure out how. At the top, we had to climb a short rope. I was still doing well at the obstacles and finally caught up to my cousin, John. I was actually relieved to see that John was struggling too. We decided to stick together for the rest of the race. There were more tall walls randomly placed along the course. We also came across a blast area where we climbed to the bottom carrying a rock and back out. That was pretty cool. There was a long balance beam and some more walls along the way. Finally, we hit the mile four marker. We knew we were close to the descent.
As we ran down the mountain, we had to be extremely careful; these trails were filled with loose rocks and uneven terrain, and it was almost as difficult as climbing up. When we hit the bottom of the mountain we had a larger rope climb. I had just enough energy to get that done. Next up was a 20’ jump into a muddy pool which made me extremely nervous. I paused for a moment and jumped. I don’t know why I was so nervous. It looks higher when you look straight down.
They made us run more, and then we came to the Super Crunch wall. This was a slightly slanted wall with ropes that you had to climb up and try to get over the ledge. Volunteers grabbed my legs at the top, and I immediately started to cramp in my abdomen. It hurt extremely bad; I was in severe pain. But the pain went away after a minute, and I climbed some more to the top of a giant slide. This slide was insane. You were about 30 feet high and dropped straight down to the bottom of the slide which was about 10 feet higher than the water. You then shot out and flew through the air into a mud pool. As you can see, the photos show how terrified I was. As I look back, I would have liked to do it a hundred times—it was that much fun.
The finish line ensued, and we were done. It took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to finish this race. Last year’s Super Spartan at Mountain creek (12 miles, 30 obstacles) took me 2 hours and 56 minutes. I am pretty confident that my body was not ready for this event. We were exhausted!
It was hard to judge this race. During the five hour ride home, due to traffic, John and I both agreed we would never drive that far again for a race. That night I was again complaining about the venue. But after giving it a few days, we both agreed the race was great and that it was perfect training for the Spartan Race Beast in Killington, VT. We realized that this was a much smaller mountain with similar inclines to those we will face when we go to Killington. Superhero Scramble was the wakeup call we needed to train harder and prepare for what is to come. As a result, this race I have made a 100% commitment to no alcohol or junk food. It has been a little over two weeks and I already notice a difference. I feel leaner, lost five pounds, and am constantly thinking about Killington. During these past two weeks, I have attended three family parties and have been very good about what I eat. I want to be in the best shape of my life for the Spartan Beast. The Superhero Scramble was the motivating factor needed to get us in check. I am glad I competed in it and didn’t once think about quitting. Next up: Warrior Dash: Morristown, NJ.