by Carrie Adams

Rounding down the hill to the Super Spartan Mid-Atlantic sandbag carry with the Team X-T.R.E.M.E. crew, eleven year old Junior Marine Luke Sliwinski was offered the option to take one of the the lighter 20lb bags in lieu of the men’s 40lb bags that were stacked in piles at the base of a quarter mile loop over halfway through the 10.5 mile course.  He immediately declined the offer with a polite, “No, thank you.” And without another word stooped down, his slim build struggling slightly under the weight, hoisted the bag up to his shoulder, and kept moving forward.

When Luke Sliwinski was five years old, he drew a picture of the twin

photo courtesy of Heather Sliwinski

towers ablaze, an image all too painful and familiar from the morning of September 11, 2001.  Too young to remember it in person, he’d grown up seeing the images and as he drew in the details, he knew that all he wanted was to be a Marine.  At that same tender age of five, he saw an air show demonstration from Marines at a nearby airfield, and was even more determined to join the service.  His mother, Heather, had to explain to the young Sliwinski that he’d have to wait until age eight before he could join the next closest thing – the Junior Marines Program.

According to their website, “The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character building, leadership, and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.”

Luke, the youngest of six waited, however impatiently, until he could enlist and the now eleven year old who is about to enter sixth grade holds the rank of Sergeant and calls the Young Marines in his unit brothers. “I am the person I am today because of them.”   And that person is the youngest Spartans to take on our VA Super Spartan course alongside Team X-T.R.E.M.E. last Saturday, August 25th at Morven Park.  He toiled with the team for the 5.5 hours it took to complete finishing every obstacle and taking every step of the 10.5 miles course.  Says his mother Heather, “The accomplishment on Saturday blew me away.”  But her pride extends far beyond the Spartan course.  She goes on to say, “I am most proud of him humbleness through all of this.  He’s the kind of kid that stands up for what is right, even if he’s the only one standing.”

Luke was first introduced to Team X-T.R.E.M.E. and their mission in 2010 when he met USMC Cpl. Todd Love at Walter Reed Medical Center in Ward 57.  Cpl. Love, who also completed the Spartan Race on Saturday, was newly injured having lost both his legs above the knee and his left arm below the elbow in a violent IED explosion in Afghanistan.

Photo courtesy of Heather Sliwinski

Heather Sliwinski recounts the moment that Luke first saw Todd, “Even as a case worker for injured soldiers for six years, to see him that soon after injury took my breath away.  Luke didn’t see it, he just saw a hero. He climbed right up onto the bed with him and started talking.”  That first meeting was an encounter that would turn into a lasting friendship.  ”They call each other brothers,” says Heather.  And what kind of Marine does Sliwinski want to become?  ”A Recon, just like Todd.”

And Luke has not only spent the last seven years visiting wounded veterans at Walter Reed, he’s been raising money for them – nearly $10,000 worth.  And he’s not done.  ”I just want to do more.”  His appearance at the Spartan Race he hopes can draw attention to not only the team he loves, Team X-T.R.E.M.E. but to the work of Operation Ward 57 an organization he is closely connected to personally.  Known as “the amputee ward”, the orthopedic Ward 57 at WRAMC houses some of the most severely injured patients for weeks or even months and is a place that Sliwinski and his family have spent a great deal of time.   His plan until he’s old enough to join is to keep educating kids, raising money, and ultimately joining the Marines when he graduates high school.

Team X-T.R.E.M.E. member Todd Love says of Luke, “Luke has been with me since the beginning of my recovery. He is one of heroes, and we stay in touch with each other. I see him as a little brother but he full of what this country needs more of.”

When asked about how he feels about his heroes of Team X he said, “They are the most amazing people.  What they do, how they treat people.  They just keep fighting, even injured… Freedom isn’t free.”  And of his sandbag carry in Virginia he admits it was his biggest test of the day, the toughest obstacle for him to complete.  ”If they could do it, I didn’t want to let them down.  I didn’t want to take the easy way out.”

Spartan Race offers Kid’s Heats at every US Domestic Event.  Find one near you by clicking HERE and get you and your kids ages 4 – 13 signed up!  Proceeds to to benefit the Kids Fit Foundation

Find Luke Sliwinski on FB HERE.  To find out more about Team X-T.R.E.M.E. click HERE.

To find out more about the Young Marines Program, click HERE.

To find out more about Operation Ward 57, click HERE.

 

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by Carrie Adams

When Team X-T.R.E.M.E. approached the start line, dramatically proceeded by a bagpiper, and followed by members of their community, the crowd couldn’t help but be captivated by the scene.   They moved as a unit almost indecipherable in identity when donning their masks and kits.  With the rest of the festival spectators I watched them silently, and as they filed past me I glanced down and noticed arm patches with a single word on each, a “call sign” derived from the 14 leadership traits that designate the embodiment and symbolism of the mission to that indoctrinated team member.  They are worn by each athlete during the events.  As they passed I saw Endurance, Sacrifice, Vigilance, Honor, and Courage and then, Justice...  I paused when I saw the word.  Powerful and dignified, I was curious to know who had chosen that designation and for what purpose.

Earlier in the week I asked Team X founder Jeremy Soles about the patches.  He explained, “We each wear a name tape indicating our “call sign” on the shoulder of our uniforms.”  He went on to describe how the wounded athletes and the rest of the team are identified.  “In the mask, our Warriors Athletes are always identified as “Sacrifice”.  Out of the mask they are the only ones that we allow to reveal their identity publicly.”

The athletes that support the mission are always kept secret, staging and donning their masks and also de-masking in a private location.  Soles says, “This is keeping with the intent of the focus being on the wounded warrior and their empowerment instead of us as able body athletes.  In the mask we are all a collective, living, and breathing representation of each of these leadership traits.”

When the masks came off and the team entered the festival grounds I was finally able to see the faces of the team members.  Who we’d only known as “Justice” was at the back of the group, the 31 year old veteran of two deployments to OIF in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps was not only physically capable, mentally tough, and committed to the mission, but, I saw for the first time that Team X-T.R.E.M.E. member “Justice” also happens to be female.  The only female that ran with the Team in Virginia.

“Justice”
Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography

Justice, whose real name will be withheld out of respect for the anonymity of the team and the commitment to their focus on their wounded comrades, has been a member of Team X since January when she went through the INDOC process.  She was asked to join after 48 grueling hours of physical and psychological testing.  The INDOC testing phase was the third and final stage of Team X-T.R.E.M.E.’s intense indoctrination process.  The first step Justice underwent was the submission of a two minute video.  Upon acceptance of the initial video submission there is an invitation to join the athlete community to show a candidate’s dedication to the organization by raising money and awareness.  If proven in the community, the candidates are invited to participate in the Richmond, VA 48 hour test.  The most recent INDOC with seven candidates actually resulted in no new team member invitations, a nod to the difficulty and exclusivity of the process.

Justice not only succeeded, she excelled, and has been a remarkable addition to the team.  For her first Team X event and weighing in at just over 120 pounds she carried 45% of her body weight for 26.2 miles through the New Mexico high desert while wearing a gas mask at the 2012 Bataan Death March.  At the Spartan Race in Leesburg she carried almost 90% of her body weight with wounded warrior athlete USMC Cpl. Todd Love on her back throughout the course rotating with the rest of the male-based team every half mile.  Not once did she miss her turn to carry the weight, not once did she falter or complain.

Justice isn’t a stranger to hard work.  After seeing part of an OCS exercise while interning for a government official, the South Carolina native knew that the Marines was the place for her.  And after joining the summer after 9/11 she ultimately would serve two deployments as a marine officer.  Her first deployment in 2004 was as an Air Support Control Officer near Ramadi, Iraq (Al Anbar province). Her job was to coordinate and direct fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft for troops in contact (air support) and MEDEVACs/CASEVACs.  Her second deployment was in 2006 to Al Qa’im, Iraq, near the Syrian border where she served as an Air Support Element Officer-in-Charge in support of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines.

“It does not make physiological sense how she does it, how she endures…  that is why she is perfect for the Team X-T.R.E.M.E. mission,” says Soles.  “Her actions defy conscious logic and her power source is passion for her wounded brethren.”

When asked about the Spartan Race in Leesburg, VA and the incredible performance of the collective team she said, “You don’t think about it you just do it.  We had the equipment and we had each other.  There was never a point where we couldn’t get it done.  Time wasn’t a consideration, it was completion.  We completed our mission.”

In choosing her call sign, Justice stood out in her mind because of the veterans from past and current generations who haven’t seen the justice she believes they have deserved.  “So many wounded Veterans from so many generations haven’t seen justice to the extent we wish we could have provided them when they came home.”  She goes on to say, “That one we need to keep in the front of our minds; getting them the support that they deserve and are taken care of by a grateful nation.”

She says she was aware of the impact the team had on the crowds as they passed, but that it was emotional on many levels. “There were points where I was more aware of it than other times.” She paused, “When Todd climbed up the hill… and with everyone around the start and finish.  Hearing the cheering, the kids waving at us, people watching us pass by…  that by itself was exciting and motivating.  I wish I could take it all in, but it was almost sensory overload.”

Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography

Justice will be back in the mask in a couple weeks at the Heartbreak Ridge half marathon at Camp Pendleton.   Her day job keeps her on the move as well so she strives for balance as she supports the team and the wounded warrior athletes.  Married to a former Naval officer, she stays active in her off time and is humble about what she’s done and will continue to do with her dedication to the mission of the Team.

Soles sums it up best when speaking of Justice, “Like the rest of the team, when pain veils itself over her, it is then that she finds the core of our mission and endures with one intent:  To honor the sacrifice of wounded warriors and to set a precedent that will be contagious to all who bear witness. ”

Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography

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by Carrie Adams

The plane in the sky was hardly visible in the clouds, but circling overhead was 30 year old double amputee Sgt. Noah Galloway and he was less than 60 seconds away from a tandem parachute landing in the Spartan Festival grounds to kick off the first ever Spartan Heroes Heat.

The jumpers came in hot, just past a small tree line in an open field, a dramatic beginning to what would be an inspired day of racing.  Galloway immediately left an impression on the eager crowd.  Galloway was introduced to the Spartan community in a prior blog post , you can read more about his story HERE.

The 30 year old Alabama native is missing two limbs, his left arm above the elbow and his leg above the knee.  He would be the first ever Spartan Racer to parachute his way into the race but when he landed, in the open field in Leesburg, VA he wasn’t alone.  A team was waiting, Team X-T.R.E.M.E., a group of incredible individuals that includes Sgt. Jonathan Mozingo, amputee of the left leg below the knee and United States Marine, Cpl. Todd Love, trimembral amputee of both legs above the knee and left arm below the elbow.  In addition to the three wounded warrior athletes, the team had an additional five members including Team X-T.R.E.M.E. founder, Jeremy Soles who had a bagpiper usher them over to the start line for their heat.

No loud music blasted for the start, and the normal speech to pump up the athletes was a replaced by a simple quote about service, dedication, and gratitude and an acknowledgement of what was about to take place.  Over the course of the next 10.5 miles and nearly 5 and a half hours, Galloway, Love, Mozingo, Soles and the others would battle the course alongside  warrior athletes, community members, volunteers, and other Spartans who took part in the historic heat.

USMC Cpl. Todd Love

Team X-T.R.E.M.E. is not stranger to endurance challenges.  The team is actually a non-profit organization with an ongoing mission to Honor, Empower and Motivate our nation’s wounded heroes and it was started by Jeremy Soles, a United States Marine Corps and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.  Known for donning blacked out gas masks for endurance events that restrict 25 – 30% of oxygen intake, Team X-T.R.E.M.E. completed the brutalizing 10.5 mile course and all the obstacles on Saturday.  With over 75 obstacles to speak of, it was no small task.  The gas masks are worn as a symbol of encouragement and inspiration for their fellow wounded brethren and to honor the sacrifice of our nation’s wounded veterans.  The venue in Leesburg, VA is a unique location, normally reserved for horse racing, but it wasn’t horses that were unleashed on the landscape this weekend, it was people who would ultimately hurdle, climb, crawl and run their way to the finish line.

The course was rugged and muddy, each obstacle posing a unique challenge to the team who took turns carrying Team X-T.R.E.M.E. member, USMC Cpl. Todd Love who weighs in around 100 pounds.  Love was carried throughout the course but regularly completed obstacles solo including a heroic hill climb near the halfway point of the race, the cargo nets and rope climbs.  Love is a 22 year old Marine who in August of 2010 nearly lost his life and all but one of his limbs in a devastating explosion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  He would not only battle back from his injuries on the battlefield, but set out to push himself in all things physical, proving that overcoming obstacles isn’t just something you attempt, it’s something that you embrace.

From hoisting cinder blocks, to wall climbs, cargo nets, spear throwing and taking on the infamous finish line gladiators wielding pugil sticks, the team ensured that each member of the team completed the obstacle before moving forward, always together.  Another notable addition to the group was Junior Marine, Luke Slowinsky.  Soft spoken and polite at his eleven years of age, Slowinsky will one day join the Marine Corps, but currently raises money and awareness for wounded warriors as a sign of respect and admiration.  He also completed the 10.5 miles alongside his heroes and earned his Super Spartan finisher medal.

Spectators, racers, staff, and volunteers gathered to watch the team work their way through the course and the images of the athletes completing the obstacles was inspired, humbling, and a reminder of all the reasons why so many of us run; for reasons that are bigger than ourselves.  When the team was nearly finished, a crowd had gathered and more would come and congregate near the finish line where they would ultimately cross the same way they began, as a team.  As the team rushed the finish line and medals were placed around their necks, there was a roar of cheers and clapping from the festival grounds.  Many faces were lined with tears.

Leading the final charge at the finish was Galloway, Love, and Mozingo, now soaked and dirty, their gas masks speckled with mud earned on the course.  After rinsing off and demasking, the team entered the festival grounds and thanked the crowd who had remained to shake their hands, offer encouragement, and thank them for their service.   In an unexpected twist, Jeremy Soles, alongside Team X-T.R.E.M.E. presented Spartan HQ with a hand carved log with the names or their wounded warrior athletes in the side, a physical reminder that will reside in Spartan HQ in Vermont, and will undoubtedly make rounds up and down the training mountain with our founders and staff.  Our way of honoring the such a gift.

Mike Morris graciously accepted the gift saying, “You have all honored us with your presence here today.  There isn’t much we can say that you guys didn’t show out there on the course.  There wasn’t a dry eye out there when you guys went by.  Thank you for all you do.”

Masks removed, the men (and one woman) are revealed to be mortal, not the superheroes that seems far more likely.  Humble and gracious, they spent the remainder of the day with the people who were so touched by what they accomplished.  And at the end of the race we all were moved and inspired by what we saw, and what they accomplished.  And the words that were uttered just before they began seemed even more true now, “This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, not matter the odds or consequences.  When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself lie a tree besides the river of truth, and tell the whole world – no, you move.”

What are you waiting for?  Find an event and get signed up TODAY.  If you want to learn more about Team X-T.R.E.M.E., their mission, and support their cause, visit their FB page or websitehttp://www.team-x-treme.org/.  For information about Warrior Athlete Noah Galloway, visit his FB page or his website, www.noahgalloway.com.  To learn more about Todd Love, visit his FB page.  Find more photos of the Heroes Heat HERE on the Spartan Race Facebook page.

[Editor’s Note: Rarely does a story resonate so deeply and touch so many as the story of Team X-T.R.E.M.E.’s involvement in Saturday’s Leesburg, VA Super Spartan Race.  Personally, I was so thankful to bear witness to such a heroic feat by such remarkable men and women.  Weeks of preparation came together in an open field in a non-descript part of our racing venue in front of thousands of waiting spectators.  From start to finish, the feats of heroism demonstrated by the team and their community were monumental.  Spartan Race was honored to host Team X-T.R.E.M.E. and their warrior athletes and community for the first ever Heroes Heat where warrior athletes ran alongside Spartan runners.  Spartan Race has long been dedicated to the armed forces and the men and women who serve and protect.  We look forward to the inclusion of more Heroes Heats in upcoming Spartan Races and we wish to thank Team X-T.R.E.M.E. for gracing our event with their presence, for their positive message of support, inspiration, and courage and for joining our community of athletes and our Spartan Race family.  We will never be the same for what we witnessed on the course in Leesburg, and we will also never forget.]

 

 

 

 

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by Carrie Adams

Jim Goeke-Morey was given news that most would consider a death sentence.  In 2009, he was told he had cancer and the tumor that couldn’t completely be removed surgically was going to force him to undergo a series of additional treatments with uncertain results. Not one to take the news lying down, Jim, with his wife Marcie by his side, decided to fight the cancer and he still fights today.  With a new approach to health and a quest for bigger and badder challenges, Goeke-Morey is marking the three year battle with a Spartan Race in Leesburg, VA.  And while he isn’t cured, he’s stable and optimistic about his future.  Here is his story….

The Mid-Atlantic Super Spartan race is coming up this weekend. I am entering this race because it looks like an awesomely fun challenge. More importantly, this race is a gift to my family and me. It will continue to prove that I am not just a brain cancer fighter, but also a brain cancer warrior.

In August 2009, at 39 years old, an MRI revealed that I had a brain tumor that needed to be removed. Following the surgery the news got worse: the tumor was brain cancer. I sat speechless with my wife, Marcie, in the doctor’s office. The surgeon was not able to remove the entire tumor, which meant I would need radiation and chemotherapy. The prognosis was grim. After a few days of shock and soul searching, we gained clarity. We would fight this cancer with a vengeance!

I knew that I needed to be in better physical shape to fight through the radiation and chemo. I was not horribly out of shape, but I was overweight and exercised infrequently. That had to change. As soon as the neurosurgeon gave me the official clearance, I began to exercise slowly. Ironically, I had ruptured my Achilles tendon a week before the brain tumor discovery. I may be the only person to have had Achilles surgery and brain surgery in the space of a week. The Achilles rehab actually became a focus that took my mind off my brain cancer.

Throughout, my incredible wife and wonderful daughters gave me the support and space and patience I needed. I continued working out through the three months of daily radiation and chemotherapy.

As the calendar moved to the summer of 2010, still taking monthly chemotherapy, I was back on my bike again and doing laps in the pool. We decided to mark the first anniversary in a meaningful way. So, my wife and I teamed up to complete a half-iron triathlon. I swam and biked while she did the half-marathon. (Her first!).  It was powerful to have come so far in a year and to have done it together.

I continued exercising and added a new sport in 2011: I raced in several cyclocross races. Despite finishing close to the back in the race, I had a ball in the mud and the cold!

Now this year, I am feeling even stronger and in better shape. I have completed two years of chemotherapy–the maximum the doctors will allow. I still have cancer, but the tumor is stable. This Spartan Race is a fitting way to mark the third anniversary of my battle against brain cancer. I have been a fighter from the start, but now it’s time to be a warrior.  My wife will be right beside me in this race with our girls cheering us before they do their own Spartan Kids Race.

So you may see me on Sunday at the race. I will not be near the front of the race but I will be fighting through until the end. Aroo!

Jim Goeke-Morey
Cheverly, MD
http://golfballinmybrain.blogspot.com/

Want to join Jim and his family in Virginia?  There is still time to register! Get signed up HERE.

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How a Spartan Champion Uses the Spartan WOD:  Part 1 of a WOD Series by Andi Hardy

We recently got to catch up with Andi Hardy, an elite obstacle racer whose has won three Spartan Events (Indiana & New York Sprint Saturday and Sunday), and has been a podium regular.  Chatting with her, it turned out that the Spartan WOD was at the root a personal transformation in her life that engendered a transition from a sedentary, uninspired existence into becoming a Spartan Champion.

So, of course, we asked her to write up her favorite WOD for you.  We also asked her to explain how to utilize the WOD to meet your needs as a specific athlete with your unique goals and aims.  When Andi started training she had to adjust the workouts OFTEN.  It’s a privilege to introduce her and her favorite WOD in which she will also help explain how this WOD can best be utilized by all, regardless of your fitness or goals. 

All Spartans are different, but the WOD can act as one grounding point to structure consistent fitness gains.  Do what you can, or do more.  Just get up and go, that’s what counts.

Hill Repeats!

by Andy Hardy

My favorite Spartan WOD has been hill repeats.  Get after them!

Warm-up: 15 minute jog

Main Set:  6-8 hill repeats on steepest gradient you can find.  Run 30-90 seconds HARD.  You can do a set time for interval or set distance.  Recover 2 – 3 minutes between sets.  If you are doing this right you should be exhausted after 2-3.  Stay strong to the end.

Cool down:  Walk then stretch

This workout was from April 28. Yes, I save all of them. You never know when you might need to repeat a workout, or need an extra, or even a replacement. I had just returned from a Spartan Sprint in Indiana and felt my hill running was weak. I knew the upcoming Sprint in New York, Tuxedo Park, would be quite hilly, so I was anxious to train on hills. Granted the hills of Georgia are not New York’s, but this workout would help my endurance throughout a race’s inclines.

 How I made it mine

I grabbed my cheap watch, an old towel, and a bottle of water and headed for a hilly running trail. I set down my towel and stretched, or was it procrastination? I dreaded the hill running, but looked forward to the burn I’d feel and the sense of accomplishment I’d have when I finished.  Getting started was more than half the battle.

I picked a goal; 3 sets of 8 hill repeats. I set the timer on my watch to zero, drew a starting line in the soil, stretched one last time, and gave myself the gun to go. “Push, push, push,” I’d tell myself, “dig in, go after it.” I listened to my own commands and reached the top in 58 seconds. I ran back down just as quickly, took a deep breath and turned up the hill for more punishment.

Finally, set one complete. I took a two minute rest, gulped some water and went back for more. I timed each hill interval keeping them consistent, around 60 seconds. What a great feeling after hill repeat number 24! My body was spent, my legs and gluts burned, my water gone, but I reached my goal, kept my intervals consistent, and felt a huge sense of accomplishment.

Did I really enjoy the actual running? Well, my legs hurt, but as athletes know, this hurt was a good hurt. A hurt that comes with knowing you are pushing your body in a healthy, seeking-improvements kind of way.

How this WOD benefited me

This WOD (and the ones similar with hill repeats) really help me when it comes to races with steep hills. I have found that Spartan Race is able to find steep inclines on even the flattest of terrain. When my body is prepared for hills, I feel I have an advantage over other racers who have not had the practice or experience; I know my body can push through. My mind is at ease as I approach even the steepest of hills during a race, I have the confidence to conquer.

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Jen Snook and Cody Lynn Gomez are two of the most normal young ladies you’ll ever meet.  They go to nursing school, hang out with their friends, and work a part-time job.

Oh, and they’re Search and Extraction Medics in the Air Guard Homeland Response Force, trained to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive attacks or extreme natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires.

SSgt Cody Lynn Gomez of the Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing in Ohio, gives us a sneak peak at the Spartan side of her life:

“We do missions that help during a natural disaster or any kind of an explosion that happens, whether chemical, biochemical or natural.  We can come and set up a fully functional area to help people.  I am a Search and Extraction Medic, so I can go into a rubble pile, find a victim, package them up and do necessary emergency life-saving duties and then get them to decontamination to then get them more medical attention.”

What’s a typical mission like on the Homeland Response Force?

“Our latest mission was a tornado that leveled a whole college and we had 40+ people missing.  Our mission was to go into the wreckage and find as many people as we could and pull them out and extract them. We had to jackhammer through…I found a couple of people – when I do that I yell, ‘I have one, two, I need a CAT or a SCAD,’ which is a device that we use to package them in. I found somebody whose hips were broken, so he could not help me whatsoever.  I got him packaged up, then slid him through as much as I could to my guys who pulled him out.

“I also had somebody that had fallen from a 30-foot scaffold down into what looked like a tubing.  We set up a 3-point harness system and I got lowered into this tubing to package up this victim, which was pretty interesting considering it was a 300 lbs victim and I’m 100 lbs soaking wet.  It ended up working out really good – I got him out.  We got him into the medical unit.”

What’s it like serving in the Air Guard and going to school at the same time?

“I use the Air National Guard scholarship along with my GI Bill, so I get 100% tuition paid for at a private nursing school. And I get checks every month depending on how many credit hours I take to help pay for supplies and books. I couldn’t ask for anything better. It helps take away some of the debt stress so I can concentrate on my schooling.”

Airman First Class Jen Snook of the Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Squadron in Oregon offers insight into her Air Guard mission:

“In a CERFP unit, we have our RNs that are triaging patients through each zone. We’re used a lot for HazMat situations, building collapses, and natural disaster recovery.  We’re a Search and Rescue and Extraction Team as well, so we actually work hand in hand with the Army National Guard; they do a lot of our extracting and then we, of course, are their medics.

“We set up hot zones and cold zones and triage our patients on the way out.  If they need to be decontaminated, we have decontamination zones as well and then they’re brought to the tents where we have our doctors waiting to be able to take them and then we’ll set them up to evacuate them out to the hospitals from there.”

CERFP? What is that?

“’CERFP’ stands for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package.  The military is full of acronyms!”

What’s training like?

“My training for the CERFP unit started with 8 ½ weeks of basic training. From there I went to tech school that started with EMT licensing, which is a 5 ½ week course.  In the civilian world it’s actually 6-9 months long.  After that we go to a nursing program, which is another 8 weeks.  That’s more of your hands-on studying…then we go through some real hands-on training with real patients in a hospital.  I was able to be stationed in the ER, and that was an incredible experience…from there I was able to run my side of the ER with just a little bit of guidance and really get confident in my skills.”

How has serving in the Air Guard changed your civilian life?

“It doesn’t really affect my civilian world a whole lot. It’s just a couple weeks of the year and one weekend a month.  As far as affecting my civilian life it really has done nothing but advance my career opportunities down the road.”

 

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by Mary Donohue, Spartan Race Guest Blogger

About two years ago, my son Ryan missed most of fifth grade due to Post-Concussion Syndrome and we didn’t know if he would ever be able to go back to school or participate in any sports again. It was a very long road to recovery for him and even though his concussion symptoms finally went away and his grades went back up to where they should be, he was eventually told that he wouldn’t be able to participate in any contact sports. He’s always been athletic and this was a huge disappointment for him. We needed to find an athletic outlet for him. We signed him up for a kids boot camp at our local YMCA and he loved it, so when he found out he could do a kids Spartan race after his dad and I finished ours, he was thrilled!

As his mother, I was a little nervous when I saw that the kids race was going to run twice up that Amesbury hill. I had just finished my first sprint and that hill was so tough for me. He started in the back of the pack, but all of a sudden I saw him passing some of the kids. Little did I know until after the race, but he hurt his foot at the beginning of the hill. This didn’t stop him. He seemed to fly over the walls and even dove through the hole in one of them and landed in a somersault. He was catching up to the kid out in front and I knew the crab walk down some of the hill would be easy for him. The competition during the kids race was really tough…and I thought the adult race was intense. It was great to see all of the adults (even those that didn’t have any kids racing) cheering on the kids as they came running by.

On his second time coming down the hill, he lost a shoe at some point coming over or through one of the walls. This didn’t stop him either. He continued on. This was one of the first competitive events that Ryan has been able to do since the concussions. It was almost like he needed to prove to himself that he was “back to himself” and able to be athletic again. Although he ended up being the first kid to the finish line, it really didn’t matter where he finished. I could see that his competitive spirit was back!

In the end, we found out that he actually broke his foot at the beginning of the race, but he persevered and never gave up the fight. He truly showed he was Spartan tough that day. When I asked him if he wished that he didn’t do the race and thus not have a broken foot, he said, “no mom, like the shirt says “Spartans either return with their shields or on it”. I might have an injury, but I returned with my shield.”  Now he can’t wait until he can run a full Spartan Sprint with me and his dad. I was so proud of my 12 year old boy that day.  I think he found his new sport.

[Editor's Note: Spartan Race offers a Kids Race, for kids ages 4-13 who can participate in their very own Jr. Spartan race. They will enjoy the thrill of the run, a variety of scaled down obstacles and their own mini festival area filled with games and children's challenges! Our mission is to inspire children to develop a love for fitness at an early age.

 The course is about a 1⁄2 mile filled with junior obstacles for Jr. Spartans and 1 mile for Varsity Spartans. Each child will receive a T-shirt and Finisher's Medal with 100% of the Jr. Spartan Adventure proceeds benefiting the Kids Fit Foundation.  Check out the event page to get your little Spartan registered for an upcoming race and check out the Kids Page for details!]

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by Carrie Adams

What does a Pineapple, Medusa’s Challenge, and Cheesy Fries have in common?   They’ll all get you in shape if you do them the Spartan Group Exercise way.  They are aptly named workouts, just three of many that are included in the Spartan Coaching program and Spartan Group Exercise (SGX) being offered to fitness professionals who wish to teach Spartan style  in their clubs and facilities.  In the emerging sport of obstacle racing, Spartan Race HQ is often inundated with questions on how to prepare and also from those who want to become a part of our movement and our way of coaching athletes for Spartan glory at one of our races.  According to Spartan Coaches, “Trainers work at the circus.  Coaches build better humans.”

Want to hear more?

Dr. G, the creator of Spartan Coaching and SGX who has competed in the Death Race four times, by the way, developed the program and has been using it with our own Chris Davis on his weight loss journey and his movement towards completing the Spartan Ultra Beast.  He explains this new concept of SGX and how you can get involved in the movement.

What is SGX?

Spartan Group Exercise (SGX) is the most unique group exercise program in the world. For the first time in group exercise history, an individual’s true purpose and motivation is at the forefront of design for a large scale fitness program. SGX is designed to create an exhilarating and community driven group atmosphere of fitness, nutrition, and performance that optimizes individual performance in Spartan Races, as well as daily life.

SGX utilizes a unique, independently developed strategy of periodization that allows specific aspects of training, fitness, and nutrition to be targeted at various times throughout the year, while never sacrificing a shred of the well-rounded physical preparedness you demand each day.

SGX is about changing your mind, body, and life from the inside out. SGX prepares you for life! It is not about curling, running or biking, it is about pushing, pulling, jumping, stretching, breathing and sweating. Superficial motivations need not investigate further, intrigued minds are cautiously welcomed.

For the Fitness Pro:

SGX begins with a two-day instructional workshop where you will gain the foundational knowledge necessary to successfully run SGX at your health club or business. Included in this two day seminar are:

  • An in depth interpretation of The Seven Pillars of Spartan Training.
  • Complete needs analysis for the Spartan Race competitor.
  • Introduction to SGX program design for optimal performance in Spartan Races.
  • Nutritional guidelines including how to periodize nutritional strategies based on the current training.
  • Hands-on application and lecture
  • Written and practical examination to prove that you possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities to carry out the SGX mission.
  • 16 hrs. of continuing education credit.
  • The rest and likely the most valuable take home lessons cannot be itemized by a bullet point.

Prerequisites:

  • Current CPR Certification
  • Current  Accredited Fitness Certification

To find out more about teaching SGX, go to www.spartancoaches.com.  In the meantime, check out our daily WODs to get ripped for Spartan Race day.

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Spartan WOD Archive

by Jason Jaksetic

You can now access the entire WOD Archive with this link:

http://blog.spartanrace.com/tag/master-wod-archive/

Strength comes from struggle.  Adaptation is at the root of all development – there is no growth without demands on the body that necessitate change.  There are no secret pills or magic gizmos that will get your ripped – only the inner determination to throw yourself into and through situations beyond your normative routine will result in increases in fitness..  We hope that these WODs spark your imagination as to how far and in what ways you can push.  Diversity in training will result in diversity as an athlete.  Creativity in training will result in the creation of a dynamic and unstoppable racer.  An ability to successfully respond to a panoply of adverse conditions is requisite in Spartan Races – never get comfortable, always keep pushing.

This is why we want to equip your with the tools to get the job done.  Whenever you are stuck for a new workout, just swing on by here.  Enjoy Spartans!


REGISTER FOR A RACE NOW

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The Chris Davis Project:  Week 14 – Race Day

by Chris Davis

Race Day

I woke up and the fear started to settle in.  I got another text message from Margaret (from Dirt in Your Skirt), “Ready to go today?”.

Trying to hide the fear I am feeling inside I reply with “Yeah, this is going to be great”!  While inside, all I can think is, ‘my God, what am I doing?’

All of the feelings I had from my first Spartan Sprint in Atlanta started to race through my head.  I remembered how hard that race was, and it was only 4 miles on relatively level ground, compared to this 5 mile, ski resort course I had ahead of me.  I decided that it was time for me to test and see where I was and what I needed to work on for the Ultra Beast.  Besides, I was going to be accompanied by one of Spartan Race’s best female racers, so I knew that I was going to be in good hands.  That helped to calm my nerves and helped me to focus on the task ahead.

Once we got to the race site I picked up my timing chip.  There was no turning back now.   I was in the race, but not only was I in the race, I was in the competitive heat.   As the 9am heat got closer I met up with Margaret and we headed up to the stage to fill the rest of the runners in on what were we doing.   It was incredible, the amount of support I got from the racers, which was just what I needed before the start.   After talking to everyone we got off the stage and headed down to the end of the coral getting ready for the race to start.

When the race started we were accompanied by Tom McCormick (the leader of the Spartan Hurricane Heats).  We started out kinda slow because we knew what was ahead of us.   When we got to the first set of walls I knew this was going to set the pace for the day, so I tried to stay positive as I approached the walls.  But it was what I had feared, I did not have the upper body strength or the coordination to get myself up the simple 4 foot walls without multiple attempts.  With some coaching and encouragement from Margaret and Tom, I made it over them.    I had the grace of a brick falling off a building, but I made it over.   I think this is when Tom and Margaret both realized what was in store for the rest of the day.

When I finished the first obstacle I was totally exhausted.  I had worked 12+ hours on the course the day before, and I had only eaten a couple of apples, bananas, and a salad the day before, and a couple of apples earlier that morning.   But I knew that if I just slowed down for a bit my body would start to recover and I would be ok.  And that is exactly what happened.  So we kept going up the mountain.   It was slow going, but Margaret kept having me set small goals. When we hit an obstacle I could not do or failed, Margaret split the burpees with me.  This helped me so much, not just physically but mentally as well.

Throughout the race there were a few other obstacles that really stick out in my memory.   The next one being the vertical cargo net.  This one killed me for a couple of reasons. First being that  since coming to Spartan Camp, we have really focused on only lower body workouts.  The vertical cargo net requires both lower body and upper body strength to complete.  I was able move up the net, but I could not keep my body close to the net, so I was in a constant fear of falling backwards due to my hands failing.   I made it to the top but I could not climb over it.

When we made it to the pancake challenge, I was surprised to see Hobbie Call from Conquer Any Course, and Chris Irving (Hurricane heat racer).  Norm Koch stopped by to help keep me motivated though the challenge.  Even though I knew what I was in for, I was still shocked at how badly my body started to fail me at this point.  It took everything I had to make it up the hill, and along the way, I started to get sick.

Looking back on it, it was funny.  You could almost see the joy on Margaret’s face when I started to loose the water I had in my stomach.   Especially when I told her that this was the first time I had pushed so hard since getting to Spartan Camp that I lost it.    The next thing I know Norm is it calling out over the radios that I was puking, and you could hear everyone celebrating on the radios, especially when they found out that this was the first time I had puked in a race/workout.  It was a surreal experience.

The Huckly pull completely caught me off guard.  This was one of the obstacles that I did with little problems in Atlanta, but when I got to it here, I had a lot of problems.

The rope climb was another one that sticks out in my memory because I wanted to at least make it high enough up the rope to completely get out of the water, but no matter how hard I tried I just could not get my feet onto the first knot.  I kept trying until my arms just gave out and I fell back into the water.  But the important thing is I tried my best, and that is what matters.

The obstacle that I feared the most was the log hop.  Out of all the obstacles you may be asking yourself why would this one scare me the most?   It comes from being so overweight for so long.  For several years, I had a hard time clearing any obstacle over about 6 inches.  Anything more than that meant I had a good chance of spraining an ankle or knee or something worse.   This is an obstacle where you have no choice but to jump at least 2 or 3 feet in the air, and you have no control of how you land at all.  I was so happy when Andi Jory and Chris offered to help me to get up and keep an eye on me as I went across.

There is no way I would have made this obstacle if I had not spend some time over at Dirt in Your Skirt HQ practicing on Margaret’s balance blocks.   But since I had, I knew once I got up I could make it across.  What scared me was getting off of them. The first time I attempted to get up I fell back down scraping my leg, but since I did not touch the second peg, I was allowed to try again.  On the second attempt I was able to get up, and that was huge for me.   I took a deep breath and started across.  I about half way thought I started to lose it but I was able to re-center myself and before I knew it I was on the last log.   Now the scary part, trying to get down. I took a deep breath and tried as low as I could and just jumped.   When I hit the ground my knees just bucked, and on to the ground I went.   Andi and Chris helped to make sure that I didn’t hit too hard but it still did shake me up a little.   I can not tell you how important it was to me to complete this obstacle.   I still have a long way to go before I am comfortable jumping, but I am sure it will come with practice and experience.

The barbed wire crawl is always one that sticks in your mind, but the once at this race was incredibly painful by the time we got to it because it was late in the afternoon, and they had been washing it down for 2 days, so all the dirt had washed away, and all that was left were rocks.   It is funny, when I was heavier the rocks did not hurt nearly as much as they do now, because the fat acted as a pad between my skin and muscle.  But this time it felt like every rock was splitting the muscle in half or were hitting bones.   It is so funny how you start to notice these things as you lose weight.

The best was as we neared the finish line you could hear the thunder in the background. I  was so happy that we made it across the finish line. It was great because it was like the skies were just waiting for me to finish before they ripped open and let the rain started to fall. This race was so much harder that the Atlanta Sprint Race in my opinion.   I know that even with all the training I have been doing, I would not have made it across without the support of Margaret, Hobbie, Chris, Tom  and Andi.  I will always be grateful for their help in completing my second Spartan Race.

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