Failed obstacles: 18 = 540 burpees
A little throwback:
September 3, 2016, Vechec – for the first time in my life I saw a huge medal at Ultra Beast finishers and I said to myself: “It’s beautiful. Too bad I’ll never have it. ” During the Sprint, I got “slapped” because I underestimated the terrain, but it was the most valuable lesson in my life. Very disappointed, I started doing everything to improve.
year 2017 – I conquered the first Super and later also the Beast so I had completed the first trifecta. At the same time, I was thinking of Ultra, but it was still only a fantasy.
year 2018 – 2x multitrifecta, it would be great to participate in Ultra on homeland (Valčianska dolina), I made the first effort to compete, but I was probably not ready yet.
year 2019 – 3x multitrifecta, I had been preparing all summer to conquer my first trifecta weekend (Valčianska dolina) and I did it relatively easily. Two weeks later, in Lipno, I received unofficial approval to participate in Ultra 2020 in Czech Republic.
year 2020 – I conquered the Ultra and I’ve got the purple beauty!
You can’t be prepared enough for the Ultra race. At least that was how I felt. I thought I didn’t train hard enough, I didn’t feel I’m ready, I doubted myself and I was afraid that I will suffer some more serious injuries due to great fatigue. However, I could not allow any of these irrational thoughts to stop me.
I started the official preparation in the autumn of 2019, when there were first discussions about the Ultra and it was announced that it will be in the Czech Republic. Since that day I thought about the Ultra every single day and all the other races were not important at once, I only took them as a training. Since I had been thinking about the race years before, I already knew what I would need to finish it, I thought about it very well. At the beginning of 2020, I contacted Zita Szimon if she would support me on the track. Zita always reminded me of a trained soldier, that’s why she was my choice no. 1 and I am glad that after a few days of thinking, she agreed to this offer. I personally received valuable advices from the experienced racer Pavel Tůma, which later turned out to be the key to success, and which I also confirmed with instructional videos of Martin Dvořák or Veronika Dvořáková. Every time I talked to someone about this topic, I was very nervous, mostly during the last two weeks before the race. I got huge cramps in my stomach, I calmed down only a few days before the start, when I realized the fact that I would not change anything anyway.
The big day came, or night. The alarm clock rang at 23:45 the day before, and I could start preparing for the performance of my life. I didn’t feel ready at all, and panic and anxiety overwhelmed me like never before. I wanted to cry. Fortunately, Veronika was with me, who managed to calm me down. One and a half hour later I was picked-up and at 1:30 I was already in the festival arena. Zita also came and we prepared last things, the equipment and we headed to start. We were accompanied by staff members, a few volunteers who slept in the area and friends. I felt like I was going to be executed.
But I was not nervous anymore and just after 2:00 me and Zita started our long adventure. Our official time limit was midnight, we had to be back by then. The first part (20km) had easier terrain, I knew I could be faster there, but it was harder for obstacles. At the same time, I had to watch out for slippery wet grass, and all obstacles were also wet from the night rain. Annoying, flying insects flied around our heads (I ate about 5 flies) and a deer glanced at us like we were fools who had nothing to do at night and went to hide in the bushes. I overcame the heavier combo in the beginning – Monkey Bar, Ape Hanger, Tyrolean Traverse – but I did first burpees at the tenth obstacle – Twister. I missed the target at the spear throw, but I surprised myself when I could flip the log. I was very disappointed when I didn’t overcome my favourite Multi Rig, and when I slipped off of the next Z-wall, I was really worried about wasting too much time. Only Bucket Carry itself took me for 35 minutes to pass, but I counted on it in advance and for how long it was, it was still an acceptable loss. I had to make the lost time up on the running sections, but my left shoulder had slightly dislocated painfully two or three times and I also almost twisted my ankle twice. I got frightened and had to pay more attention to where I was stepping. Great experience was the night swimming in the lake. The forest was still covered in dark, and I, as the only swimmer at the time, swirled the calm water. I was accompanied by a lifeguard in a boat and Zita ran with my crutches to the other side of the lake. The same thing was repeated on the way back. The water was refreshing, it woke me up. The nature around was also awakening, it was dawning. I think shortly afterwards we met the first volunteers at the water station, who started their shift, which meant that it was 6 o’clock in the morning and we were on the track for 4 hours. I quickly memorized the memory test (P57RE7) and kept running. I was also encouraged by overcoming the Beater, which was extremely challenging and slippery. Zita fed me regularly during the running about every 30 minutes, she gave me a piece of dried meat, nuts, or I asked for dates with salt. She was worried about overcoming Olympus, but I didn’t hesitate and slowly approached the festival arena, where all the heats started to mix, so it happened that the first elite runners outran me. I was the leading racer for an estimated 6 hours! Who can say the same? Despite the fact that we had already walked through this section once before, it was different to go through it in the dark and in the light – I felt more like I was there for the first time. Before entering the comfort zone, I had to overcome the obstacle like in the beginning. The Monkey Bar was still fine, but I already felt that my arms were getting sore, which was reflected on the Ape Hanger and also on the Tyrolean Traverse. I only reached halfway on both of them and the muscles in my forearm started to strike, they were completely stiff and sore. I knew I had a problem because I would struggle with all the obstacles where the power of my hands was being used. My strong point suddenly became a weakness.
I wanted to get to the comfort zone within seven hours. I got there at 6:36, so I fulfilled the plan. Refreshments followed – a meal in the form of rice with tuna. I was careful to chew the meal properly, eat tiny bites, and meanwhile I changed my clothes. I changed the upper set, lubricated the armpits and the foot with vaseline, changed the sock and the shoe. Planned 15 min. pit stop was missed by about 5 minutes, but we were ready to go to the next, hilly part. According to my calculations, the second part should have taken me about twice as long as the first part to meet my midnight limit. I was not allowed to stay anywhere for long, so I hugged and kissed only two of my women who outran me. Twister has recently become an obstacle that I don’t like very much, and at the same time it confirmed to me that my hands had had enough. I didn’t feel pain while walking, but as soon as I hung on to something, I couldn’t last. In the hills, I wanted to follow a tactic: slowly but smoothly uphill and on my butt downhill. I managed to follow it, but there were a lot of climbs in a row. I understood that it was a test for the psyche, but my stubborn head stayed calm, I relied on it the most. It was quite funny when I once told Zita that in my opinion we would just go up this hill, go down and there will be another checkpoint (31.5km). I was wrong by only two hills, that’s exactly how much more we had to step up and then go down. According to other competitors, we were approaching the 30th km and we were on a long slope when we took a short break. My shoulders stiffened and ached. Zita instructed me to stretch and I tried to do what she told me to move my limbs a little and not be so stiff. Somewhere among these Liberec hills, another Spear Throw was waiting for me, unfortunately, it meant 30 burpees for me. I was glad to meet Pavel Tůma there, it was an encouragement to me. I complained about my shoulder pain and he gave me an analgetic that relieved me from the pain for a few hours. I wanted to run as much as I could and return to the festival arena in those few hours. I had to go little bit faster, but I had a few more difficult long climbs ahead of me, including the Sandbag and a climb to the ski jumping hill. The Sandbag was a real struggle, which Tomáš Meravý helped me with, because Zita was too small to be able to hold a bag on my shoulders. On the way down, I used the “buttslide” technique again and had the bag in my lap. It was the safest and fastest way to get down from every hill. Torn pants were a small tax for how much energy it saved me, and what I liked the best was that my knee didn’t hurt. After a few more ascents and descents and successful obstacle overcoming, including a correctly repeated memory test, we hurried back to the festival arena, the sun was slowly setting. I was pleased with the local people, who applauded me from the terraces of the pubs along the track. Zita and I once talked so much that we didn’t notice that we had lost the track markings – we took a wrong turn. We lost maybe less than 10 minutes before we got back on track, but rather it was a wound to the psyche. I was starting to have it enough, I already felt that it all took a very long time, my shoulders and palms hurt a lot again, but I had a great pace despite the pain, faster than the first kilometers. I knew I had another critical point ahead of me – Bucket Carry. I reached it in complete dark. I had no idea if it took me longer or shorter than early in the morning, but when I finished it, I could focus on the last series of obstacles. I naively hoped that my forearms would rest after a hard day’s work, but I knew the reality might be different. It was good that the Monkey Bar was the first harder obstacle, because it’s still the easiest one for me, and I said to myself that if I didn’t make it, it didn’t make sense to me to try other harder obstacles. As soon as I hung up on the Monkey Bar, I felt an old familiar pain in my forearms, just a little bigger, and I couldn’t even catch the next bar. Never mind, the burpees are a reward, so I can move on. I just gently touched Ape Hanger and Tyrolean Traverse, thanked them for being there, and ran to the burpee zone not to waste time and energy on unnecessary attempts. I came to the comfort zone again in 20:27, so I still had about an hour and a half to midnight for the last 2 km. I didn’t stop, I had to concentrate on the last passage. To be honest, I didn’t even want to focus on my beloved ones, who were already impatiently waiting for me, I was afraid that it might put me emotionally down. Fortunately, this did not happen and after flying through the comfort zone, burpee tactics followed again at all obstacles where I needed arm strength: Hercules Hoist, Twister, Spear Throw, Log Flip, Multirig, Z-Wall, and in the end I couldn’t even climb the rope. So a good dose of burpees at the end. To make matters worse, in one of these burpee zones, some sharp straw or something like that stabbed in my palm, and I couldn’t make the burpees on my palms, I had to do them on clenched fists by the end of the race. Absolutely great were all the people who came to escort me to the finish line and made burpees with me at the last obstacles. There were staff members, nice volunteers (I feel like they were the same ones who escorted me to the start) and friends. Zita did a great job once again, counting our burpees aloud and giving us regular breaks to rest. She was doing very well not to let me rest for long. I was still not at the finish line and midnight was coming, but somehow I already knew that I would probably make it. At the last wall, I said to myself not to fall down (at Beast in Romania, I kicked my toe to the last wall). I managed to climb over the wall and seven minutes before midnight and with the applause of the people who stayed with me until the end, I came to the finish line. The dream medal, which I did not think I would ever get, and which I have longed for for so long, was hanged around my neck by my Veronika, to whom I owe a huge “thank you” for everything she had done and still does for me, and without which I wouldn’t be able to achieve this success.
The peculiar thing for me is that when I arrived to the finish line, I did not feel such a rush of emotions, like now when I’m writing these lines. They told me it was normal, but I felt weird, almost like a robot, but know that the strongest emotion that has been with me since then is immense gratitude to every single one of you.
Namely, I would like to thank once again the people who were the central characters in this story:
Zita Szimon for accepting my offer to be my support on the track, for feeding me regularly, for being a mental support and a good companion all the time, and for killing me if I would want to give it up.
Pavel Tůma for the most valuable advices regarding preparation for the race, food during the race, tips on what to do in the comfort zone and for the help on the track.
Michal Kúkola for enabling this crazy idea of mine, for organizing and completing all the formalities.
MyWonderWoman for having her, for endless support and help in preparation for the race.
For the support on the track or even from the distance, I thank the volunteers (although some still do faux pas) led by Volunteer Mama Lada Havelková, other staff members, friends and family.
Thanks also to the sponsors:
Human Health Institute for support and personal growth.
Black CrossGym for the opportunity to constantly prepare for the next race and stay in shape.
Edgar Power Drink for supplying energy before and during the race, thanks to this drink I’m not sick.
Icebug RunningCZ for the shoes that I relied on in the hills, I didn’t slipped even when I was already expecting that I will end up with my face on the ground.
P.S .: Some of you may noticed that throughout the weekend a crew of cameramen were around me during the race, almost the whole time. And some of you already know that it is because a project is being prepared about me – a feature-length documentary. Marosh The Ultra Spartan will show my Ultra trip. Many of you have asked me when this film will be finished and that you can’t wait for it. Yes, I’m curious about it too, but the exact date of the premiere is not known, we definitely have to wait patiently for a few months. But as they say, well worth to wait, it’s going to be huge!
P.S.2: I will add one more fun fact. I think it could have been something after half past one at night, when we came to the hotel room after the race and Veronika handed me my phone. I had 89 new messages and notifications. Therefore, please do not be angry if I did not answer or write to someone. I try to read all the news, comments, congratulations, etc. and for all of that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
And no, I didn’t have a big muscle soreness, I’m just very tired and even a week after the race I want to sleep almost non-stop. Take care and see you at the next race. Aroo! J