‘Team Simply Morzine’ smash the Spartan Race Beast (ish)

The pain began at 4am on Friday 6th July when my alarm interrupted a deep sleep. The day had finally arrived. 8 mates – closer to 40 than we’d like – jetting off to Morzine for the weekend to tackle the mighty Spartan Race, known as the Beast. I thought it’d never come around when we signed up months ago. But it has. Tomorrow, we’ll climb 6000ft for 20kms tackling 40 obstacles.  It’s a massive uphill slog said to be one of the toughest in France. Back to the moment, and it’s time to leave the UK for destination Morzine. Bucky’s outside my front door, with Gav and Chambers in the car, and we’re off to Luton airport (picking up Nabby at MK). Piggsy’s arriving later tonight (couldn’t get the day off) and the 2 Scottish lads, brothers Mike and Dean, are meeting us in Morzine (some kind of cost saving exercise, I believe). That’s the Simply Morzine Spartan Race squad. An eclectic mix of good looks, raw talent, fitness, speed, strength, grit and agility. In our dreams. It’s the middle of the football World Cup and this rabble is more Panama than France. Spartan Race Morzine – show us what you’ve got…!

Meet the Simply Morzine team about to tackle the Spartan Beast Race:

Ben Marshall. That’s me. I work for Simply Morzine and thought it a good idea to organise a group of mates to do the Spartan Race. I’ve got 3 young kids, a bad foot and let’s just say I’m carrying a little excess water at the mo. On paper it doesn’t look good.

Gavin Prior. Weighing in at an impressive 105kg and standing at around than 5’ 2” this ex Leicester Tigers Academy hooker probably wasn’t built to climb mountains, rather, to drink beer. Although to be fair, Gav’s been doing a lot of training at Primal Fitness (see below) and is fit, even if he won’t admit it.

Adam Chambers. Technically a strong Spartan Race player. A tall, tough, Melton Rugby Club flank forward and former Thai boxing world champ. Chambers now runs his own indie gym in Melton Mowbray, @primalfitnessstudio, but is busier training others (mainly Gav) than himself.

James McNab. Nabby’s a sub 3:30 marathon runner and general running/fitness freak. But when it comes to obstacles this man has less staying power than an ice cream in the Morzine summer sun. Plus, he’s fussier than a 2 year old when it comes to food and doesn’t even eat cheese.

Darren Buck. Bucky used to be a great lad to have about, always eating, drinking and having a laugh down the pub. But in the last year or so the legend that is Bucky has kicked all that to the kerb – and reinvented himself into a real athlete. One to watch.

Paul Blagburn. Piggsy and his family are a regular Simply Morzine winter guests and knows the chalet vibe. Another rugby guy, this lad is fast and strong and looks after himself. Probably the fittest of the Morzine Spartans.

Dean Duthie. Once a season top try scorer for Melton Rugby Club first team (as he keeps telling us). This pretty boy has shiny white teeth and apparently did ‘no training’ for the Spartan Race in Morzine. Anyone would think muscles grow on trees.

Mike Duthie. Dean’s younger brother and another big rugby playing unit. A fit guy and top lad.

We awarded man of the Spartan Morzine weekend to Bucky, for making us all cry with laughter thanks to this pic:

The Morzine Summer Spartan Race

So now we know who’s who, back to the story. We land in Geneva and are taken to Morzine by private transfer in time for lunch, giving the soon-to-be Spartans a chance to settle in at Chalet des Montagnes before the Spartan Race the next day. We wandered into the centre of Morzine to register, then we went to the Dixie Bar to sink a few beers watching France beat Uruguay. Then, Scots Dean and Mike turned up and we all tucked into a feast at the chalet and drank some nice wine courtesy of Simply Morzine. We watched some more world cup action and laughed at Ally McCoist’s enlightening pearls of football wisdom, winding up the patriotic Duthie brothers. That night, the lads were excited and full of butterflies, like kids on Christmas Eve. We went to bed – stuffed, pretty drunk and absolutely shattered. Piggsy arrived not long after we’d gone to bed. We woke up fresh, enjoyed a sunny breakfast on the terrace and were ready to smash the Spartan Beast.

The Spartan Race in Morzine, France

We got started at about 10am on Saturday 7th July. About 5 minutes in and with the temperature already baking hot, I glanced up towards the imposing Pointe de Nyon mountain high above Morzine and realised we were about to run to the top of it, a steep 1000m climb – it didn’t feel great! All we could do is get on with it. No going back now. But every step hurt, especially with nets to crawl under, ropes to climb and burpees to do along the way. Our group dispersed, with the fitter lads Bucky, Piggsy, Nabby and Dean going on ahead. Myself, Chambers and Mike were together, with poor 100+ kilo Gav stranded way back on his own. It must have been close to 30 degrees by now and we did wonder if Gav would have the mental strength to make it back to Morzine without a nervous breakdown 😂.  It took ages to slug/crawl/drag ourselves to the Nyon mountain summit, but we all did it in true Morzine Spartan style. The course then took us steeply downhill, tricky enough in itself, and only interrupted by monkey bars, walls to heave ourselves over and the rest of the flipping obstacles. We were absolutely knackered and thirsty when we reached the pretty Joux Plane lake at the top of the famous Col de Joux Plane (Tour de France route). Here we had to carry a massive log, walk around a track and then swim through the cold water with it.  I can’t really remember much more after that, apart from some backwards pull up bars and being zapped by an electric cattle fence which knocked me clean off the ground (not even part of the Spartan route).  Maybe that’s what made things a bit fuzzy.

Morzine Spartan Race (for Queen and Country)

The light at the end of our tunnels was to make it back for the England v Sweden world cup quarter final at 4pm, although this seemed a world away right now. Wearily, we arrived at the top of the Fys chairlift just above Morzine town. From here there’s one gentle ski slope leading back home and I thought that was it. I was wrong. Big time. A few hundred metres further (ironically opposite Simply Morzine’s Chalet Madeleine), they swung us left and up an almost vertical mountain path through the dark forest. So off we went again, scrambling on our hands and knees uphill for about half an hour. We cleared the trees and in the meadow in front was a water fountain. We drank like we’d never drank before. Then we glanced up, directly into the blazing summer sun. We could see the top of the famous Morzine landmark, le Pleney, with hundreds of Spartans painfully yomping in convoy like a trail of ants up towards it. This was steeper than anything we’d done yet. “Wow, they look like prisoners of war walking to the concentration camps” said Chambers. I always said he was articulate. The cruel way this brutal climb suddenly came into view after we’d reached the brow was pure torture and it was like the organisers were trying to break us. So off we climbed, sweating, moaning, crying. I think the only thing that got me to the Pleney summit was the encouragement from Primal Fitness boss and personal trainer Adam Chambers, because there was no way I was fit enough for this. At the top we had to pick up a massive metal chain and carry it around a circuit. I’m not ashamed to say I was so knackered I couldn’t even lift it so quit that one. We arrived back in Morzine and the Spartan Race still wasn’t over. We were looped around town with another 10 or so obstacles to do – things like pulling heavy tyres up a rope, balancing along beams, spear throwing, wading through the freezing rapids of the River Dranse and even jumping over a fire pit. All this on a glorious summers day, in front of thousands of spectators cheering us on. It was an amazing atmosphere. There was one massive up and over net outside the tourist office that I was too exhausted to do, but other than that we made it over the finish line and were presented with our medals. We caught up with the other lads and wandered back to the chalet just in time for the second half of the England match. Talk about perfect timing. We soothed weary limbs in the hot tub and laughed at Chambers’ sunburn. He’d worn a vest and forgotten to put cream on. That night we enjoyed another feast in the chalet, with the lads either too tired or too achy to go out. What an absolutely amazing day in Morzine it had been – we’d all completed the Spartan Race!

How to relax in Morzine after the Spartan Race

Sunday was our last day in Morzine before our flights back early on Monday. We were all struggling to even walk but wanted to see some sights. So, after breakfast at the chalet we took a ride up the Pleney bubble which gave us great views over most of the Spartan Race course – including the chain obstacle myself & Mike had epically failed. This meant we were going back to do it or we’d never live it down. We walked over the nursey slopes in awe of the imposing Nyon mountain we’d climbed, enjoying a drink at Le Vaffieu Restaurant in front of Mont Blanc (an amazing spot). We then walked back to the chain obstacle, where everyone laughed their heads off as myself & Mike took it on second time around. We headed back down to Morzine before getting a lift to stunning Lake Montriond, where we spent a top afternoon chilling in the sun, swimming, eating and drinking. Bliss. Back at the chalet we jumped in the hot tub before going out to eat at Morzine’s famous L’Etale restaurant. In true Spartan style, we kept things simple and ordered 8 x meat trees (La Potence), which basically means unlimited beef, chips and salad. All washed down with a few beers and a carafe or three of red wine. It was perfect. Afterwards the lads forced me to do the net obstacle I’d missed outside the tourist office. Maybe not the best idea in the dark at 11pm, but I made it. We hit the trendy Morzine nightlife, supping cocktails at Le Crepu and Cavern before rolling into bed at just before 3 and were up at 06:30 for our transfer. This is what Spartans are made of!

Morzine, you did us proud. This is how to do the Spartan Beast. A cross between a boys weekend in Morzine and a Spartan Race. And what a trip it was.  A holiday in Morzine that’ll we’ll all remember forever. Until next year, we are Spartans! If you’re doing the Spartan Race in Morzine and would like to stay in luxurious accommodation, get in touch with us now.

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