In the Team Burden Run, six members split the work. The Individual athletes—the fittest in the world—did almost the same amount by themselves.
After running 2.1 miles around the StubHub Center, the athletes flipped the Pig, basically an oversized dumbbell moved end over end much like you would flip a tire. With 100 yards of flipping behind them, the athletes had to carry a log 600 yards in a test that would no doubt please any Navy SEALs in the crowd. If that wasn’t enough, the athletes would traverse the final 66 yards in the soccer stadium harnessed into a sled.
Sam Briggs took the lead early on the run and put so much distance between herself and the rest of the women that she was the only one visible in aerial-camera shots. Once she got to the track, she walked to the field, took off her sunglasses and then got to flipping the Pig—all while chewing gum. Briggs was several flips in before Michele Kinney started, followed by Kaleena Ladeairous.
The metal beast was more than some of the women bargained for.
"The Pig was heavier than I thought it would be. But I caught a lot of people on the Pig," said Talayna Fortunato, who finished third overall in 2012. "I started out too fast on the Pig flip, but then I started taking three breaths in between flips."
She said she found a better rhythm once she started taking three deep breaths.
Briggs said the Pig “wasn't too bad,” but she dropped her gloves on the run.
"I was planning on wearing them, but I dropped them and got blood blisters on my hand," she said, showing her wounded mitt.
The Brit was also the first to the 3-foot-long log, but dropped it. She took a few seconds to rest, hoisted it onto her shoulder and eventually ramped up to a slow trot. However, as she headed down the ramp into the tunnel of the StubHub Center, Briggs slowed to a walk. That was enough for Ladeairous to catch up and overtake first place beneath the venue. It was a spot Ladeairous didn’t relinquish.
Once in the soccer stadium, Ladeairous was quick to strap into the Iditarod, with Briggs not far behind. Still, she said it wasn’t an easy pull.
"There was a lot of drag," Ladeairous said.
At that point, Kiwi Ruth Anderson Horrell joined the party, smoothly pulling the sled for several yards at a time. In the end, it was Ladeairous and Horrell who finished first and second, with Briggs still about 20 yards out and Christy Philips gaining ground. Briggs ended the event in third.
Ladeairous’ win came as no surprise.
"I knew this event would be good for me," she said.
After crossing the finish line, all the women collapsed to the grass and ripped off their shoes, having given their feet a workout of nearly 70 yards.
The event was tough on Lindsey Valenzuela, who was visibly in pain.
"I have a bulging L4 in my back," she said. "I felt it during the Pig."
Her plan for the rest of the weekend is to "just manage it."
Meanwhile, veteran Games competitor Heather Gillespie withdrew, citing a bulging disc in her back. The 33-year-old did not finish the Burden Run; she remained on the field, attempting to finish the 100-yard Pig flip when time was called.
Once the men hit the pavement, Clark Kent look-alike Garret Fisher took the lead, putting as much as roughly 50 meters between him and the rest of the pack. Behind him, Josh Bridges and Jordan Troyan alternated from second to third place.
Fisher, the 22-year-old six-year veteran of CrossFit, kept a consistent pace, occasionally shaking out his arms. Once he reached the track, he walked right up to the Pig, set up, gave a tug and then stepped back. Finally able to flip the Pig, he was only two flips in when Troyan, Bridges and a handful of other men caught up.
On the field, Hungary’s Lacee Kovacs led for several flips before 2008 Games champion Jason Khalipa took over. Kovacs, however, was on his heels—behind by about one flip of the Pig.
Khalipa described the Pig as “horrendous.”
“It was really, really heavy,” he said.
Once Khalipa finished his flips, he took a couple of breaths, picked up the log seemingly without much effort, threw it up on his right shoulder and then started down the track. At one point, Khalipa balanced the log in the middle of this back and behind his head, holding it with both gloved hands. The tactic made for sore arms, which Khalipa said he couldn’t extend well after the event.
“The log was pretty tough,” he said. “It was a little awkward, couldn’t really run with it.”
Once in the soccer stadium, Khalipa dropped the log, strapped into the sled and got to pulling. He was nearly halfway down the field when Kovacs dropped his log. But Khalipa never relented, and as he stepped over the finish line for his third consecutive event win, the stadium crowd erupted in a unified roar.
Albert-Dominic Larouche, who finished the event eighth, said the sled pull was the most difficult part of the workout to negotiate.
“I wasn’t thinking the sled would be so heavy,” he said. “It was the hardest, for sure.”
That’s when 2011 third-place finisher Ben Smith strapped into the sled and just kept pulling, taking spectators by surprise and finishing the event second.
Daniel Petro, who finished the event in third, didn’t have a strong start on the run but stuck to his plan despite the quick pace.
"Those guys went all out," he said. "It made me nervous."
Petro added: "But I had to run my race. I just knew I needed to get to the Pig—that's where I'm comfortable. Anytime I can get these guys away from the barbell is good. That was fun."
1. Kaleena Ladeairous (28:03.9)
2. Ruth Anderson Horrell (28:27.3)
3. Samantha Briggs (29:39.6)
Overall leader: Samantha Briggs
1. Jason Khalipa (28:58.2)
2. Ben Smith (29:46.2)
3. Daniel Petro (29:53.0)
Overall leader: Jason Khalipa
For complete standings and all scores from all divisions, visit the Leaderboard.