The Spartan test of strength is not for all
By SCOT PEARSON
For Tiffany Coates, a name many in the community will be familiar with, a graduate of Willapa Valley High School Class of 2006, running 10 boot camp type workouts in a week is just a warmup for her latest fitness focus, Spartan Racing.
Coates has been participating in Spartan Racing for the past few years and just recently took first place at the Sacramento Sprint Spartan Run, an 8-mile "super" event in her age group.
"During the Sacramento race I had no idea what place I was in. I always tell myself "don't stop"..."just keep moving", I knew I had done decent because I completed every obstacle but one," said Coates.
Even with the penalty of having to do 30 "burpees" (squat thrusts) for not completing that one obstacle, Coates was still able to best the field with a time of 1:16:10.
Her finish gave her a fourth-place spot for women overall, and an 83rd-place finish in a competition of over 4,000 participants.
"I have always been a very competitive person. My dad raised me to be. I became interested in Spartan racing after running a couple of local mud runs. Someone told me to try a Spartan. I fell in love. The Spartan races are intense, competitive, and very challenging."
As she notes, she has always been involved in one sport or another. After graduating in 2006, Coates went on to Lower Columbia College and played softball - winning back-to-back championships in '07 and '08. She continued her passion for physical fitness and graduated from California University with a degree in Advanced Health and Fitness and has been certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Her daily job as a fitness instructor keeps her in shape doing no less than 10 Boot Camp sessions during the week, as well as keeping up a daily personal trainer fitness schedule.
When see talks about the difference between her daily routines and running a Spartan race, this is what she has to say: "They expose your weakness as an athlete both mentally and physically. When you cross the finish line - it's such a relief, but also so rewarding because you know you just accomplished something great."
Spartan Races generally come in three formats; A Sprint - 3 miles with 10 obstacles; Super, 8 miles with 20 and the Beast, 12 miles with at least 25 obstacles. And all are run through the muddiest of conditions just to make it a little more challenging.
"I don't have a preference between the races- each course is on different terrain and offers different difficulties. The Sacramento Super (8miles) was harder for me than the So Cal Beast (13 miles). You can never prepare perfectly for any of the Spartan races- you just have to mentally expect the unexpected," said Coates.
That Beast Spartan Race was run in 105-degree weather and Coates placed fourth in her age group, in the top 700 out of a field of 3,000.
"It was getting so hot that they kept shorting the course."
Challenged but never giving up, Coates recalls some of the more trying times during racing
"The hardest obstacle was the tire pull at about mile 7.5. They had giant bus tires at the bottom of a hill attached to ropes. The obstacle was you had to pull this tire to the top or else you had to burpees. It took me a good five minutes to complete. Most women were partnering up helping one another. The other hardest part of the race was when they put the monkey bars and rope climb back to back at mile 4. My forearms were shot."
For some who compete it is about the medal, for others it is about the thrill and challenge, and still others are driven to finish faster than the last one they ran.
"You are awarded medals when you finish and if you complete three in a year it is called a "Trifecta". I just finished three in two months."