How I run a Spartan Race with a broken rib

by have0limits

I have been planning to compete in the Spartan Race for some time. It is kind of an obstacle run with many walls to be jumped over, many hills, ropes and rope ladders to be climbed, ditches and rivers to be crossed and other more and less treacherous obstructions to be overcome. After running several ultra marathons I felt I needed another challenge, which would make it necessary for me to do more strength workout instead of losing more and more muscle substance with long distance running only. After some time of “getting used to the idea”, the choice fell on the Spartan Race in Spain, Saint Augustin near Madrid.

I have to confess: I wasn’t prepared nearly as good as I was for my ultra marathons in the past. Due to numerous (mainly health related) problems in the preceding period, I actually wasn’t able to do any of the needed strength workout and I only sporadically could do running training. You can see it in my “curves” on the video below. Maybe I didn’t take the competition too seriously, since it definitely looked less serious to me than any of my ultra marathons, although some of the participants told me completing Spartan Race was the greatest achievement of their lives.

The moment of truth came in May 2016. The fate made me a surprise in order to toughen it up a little bit.

Just before the race start when training jumping over a wall, I broke my rib. The injury gave me insane pain and substantially limited my movements. It looked pretty hopeless to me. How am I going to compete? How am I going to run, jump over walls, crawl under barbwire or climb ropes with a broken rib, if every step means suffering and every move means hell? Even breathing sends waves of pain through my body.

I was standing around the starting line and hesitating between hope and resignation, fighting with my understandable thoughts of doom. And then suddenly, it dawned on me.

Why not just start and see how far I can go? Curiosity is the key! In my previous experiences I could find out a man is able to endure and achieve much more than he initially thinks is humanly possible. Why not try and see how far I can go with a broken rib in this race?

And so I did.

Despite the infernal pain, restricted movements and limited breathing, it went pretty well. Yes, I had trouble with some obstacles, especially the ones requiring grip and coordination, and twice I needed to do penalty burpees, but I proceeded pretty well and also had great fun in helping other people get through the obstacles. The most painful part was crawling under barb wire, due to the pressure it put on my broken rib. I was innerly screaming in pain and I slowed down considerably, litterally creeping in mud, not being able to get much air, but since it was 100 meters before the finish line, there was absolutely no way I was gonna give up.

At the finish line I was astounded I was able to complete a spartan race with a broken rib. On top of that it turned out I took 3rd place from all the participants from Germany. Today, several days later, I actually can’t believe it was possible.

I am nothing less than astounded by what a human body is able to accomplish despite its limitations.

So, if you are overwhelmed by the size of the challenge, use your natural curiosity to find out how far you can go. It may turn out to be easier than you thought.

I wonder how this story inspired you. Share your impressions, remarks, conclusions with me and other readers in the comments below. I will also happily answer your questions.