by Michael Levine

GRIT: Noun-Firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck

GRIT.  A word that has come to embody the sprit of a true warrior.  Today, during a time in society when quitting has become the norm, people need to learn how to “fail well” to gain resiliency.  Angela Duckworth, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, created a metric system that demonstrates how grit can overcome intelligence through effort.  As a leading expert in the field, she demonstrates the standard capacity of people while explaining how GRIT can bridge the gap of inherent skill or knowledge.

Spartan Race is a company that was created at the forefront of the concept of GRIT.  We constantly place people in a state of unfamiliarity in an effort to make them quit.  We strongly believe that our racers are seeking a challenge outside of their traditional lifestyle because they want for something more.  To that end, our esteemed professors of pain and suffering created our own GRIT test.  Burpees, Sandbags, and Burpees.  Racers are signing up knowing that we are going to make you think about quitting, while wanting every person to finish.  The more pain you feel, the more suffering you endure, the more you learn just what your mind and body can tolerate.

How many times in your life have you reached what you considered was your breaking point?  Now how many times were you able to press on beyond that point?  Spartan Race empowers people to reach, mentally, physically, and emotionally.  We hold you accountable for all actions.  If you are unable to complete an obstacle, you incur an immediate penalty.  There are no shortcuts, there are no end-arounds, there is only you and your fellow racers encouraging you as you go.  You arrive at the race uninhibited, and leave as a Spartan.  Aroo!

[Editor's Note: Michael Levine is the newest blogger on the Spartan Race team.  His voice will enrich the story that our blog strives to tell.  We welcome him and look forward to sharing his words.]

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by Rose-Marie Jarry

Meal on the go! The words “easy, healthy and refreshing” best describes this salad. Low in calories, this homemade dressing will encourage you to eat more salad on a daily basis. Full of vitamin C and Iron from the parsley and pumpkin seeds, these are the nutrients that your body needs. Did you know that parsley is more than just decoration; it’s a really good source of calcium as well! Believe it or not, there is more calcium in parsley than you would find in milk.


Cut all the fruits, veggies, and herbs. Mix in a bowl.

Squeeze the lemon then mix the juice with the strawberry purée and the spices. Pour the dressing over your fresh salad and enjoy.

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by Carrie Adams

Our community of athletes has grown substantially since we first took off from the start line of our Vermont Sprint in 2010.  From a sport that was virtually unknown and mostly coined “mud runs” and “fun runs” we’ve gone into a whole new stratosphere where familiar faces are more and more often seen on the course and their racking up some major mileage, and mud, to follow us across country.  The bruises, bumps, and breaks on the course become badges of honor, the friendships forged on the course become immediate and life long, we’re kindred after all.

One of our repeat Spartans, Rayn Boncie, created this incredible top ten… and we knew it needed to be shared.  We saw her in Leesburg and in Vermont just this last weekend taking on the Beast, but she knows Spartan better than just about anyone.  And if you’ve raced with us, you’ll get it, and find yourself nodding along and even shouting out, “Right?  YES!” as you read through the list.  Thanks for sharing, Rayn.  We’ll see you on the course  again real soon.

You are officially a Spartan Athlete when…

1. You have the uncontrollable urge to show everyone you come into contact with, the bruises and cuts you obtained from a race.

2. You are completely comfortable taking off your clothing in a parking lot, despite how many people are around.
3. You plan your work, dates, family time, etc., around races.

4. You could be sick or injured and will whine about such, but when someone advises you to skip an upcoming race; you look at them as though they just admitted to killing baby animals.

5. People who mention they also do Spartan Races, instantly become your best friends, and are invited to your home, despite the fact that you have never even met.

6. Mud has become sexy, and barbed wire excites you.

7. Despite how much difficulty you may have had with a run, you have the uncontrollable urge to sign up for more.

8. Your finisher’s medal becomes your most prized piece of jewelry.

9. You and burpees have a love hate relationship, mostly hate, but you do them anyway.

10. You are constantly added to groups, and invited to challenges with the words death and pain in the title, on the other side of the country, and at least momentarily consider going.

How do YOU officially know you’re a Spartan athlete?  Email with your story.  And if haven’t signed up yet, what’s keeping you?  Register today.

Editor’s Note: Spartan’s give generously and Rayn Boncie more than proves that.  Boncie is a mother, a Spartan many times over, and the Executive Director of a very special charity – Things of My Very Own.  Things of My Very Own, Inc. (TOMVO) is a 501(c)3 Non-profit Corporation that provides innovative programs and services to children that have endured the most extensive abuse and/or neglect within New York State.

Feel free to contact them at (518) 630-6137 or by email at

To donate:

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Spartan WOD for Sunday, 9.23.12:  Street Team WOD – Corey Peterson

 Simply put, the Spartan Race Street Team has been consistently delivering ultra-efficient WODs that will get you race ready.  This is a long one – so beginners, be sure to check the end of this post for an easier variation.

Join the Spartan Race Street Team now and belong to a community that is dedicated to helping rip people off couch and into a fitness lifestyle. 

Street Team Members:  Submit your WOD here.

Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.
- Christian D. Larson


Warm up:

1-mile jog.

Then, stretch, your in for a long one.

​Main Set:

30-50 burpees

Run 1-2 miles

30-50 Lunge Jumps

Run 1-2 Miles

30-50 weighted squats

Run 1-2 Miles

30-50 burpees


Repeat two or three times depending on what you’re training for. The purpose for this one is to prep you for those long runs and the “burpee break” between each mile is to prep you for the individual obstacles that you’ll see on race day!


Name: Corey Peterson

​​Locations: Vernal, Utah

Spartan Bio:  Corey is currently in school to become a personal trainer.  He working to gain his NASM and ACSM certifications, and is looking into becoming a Spartan Coach upon graduation.  His first Spartan Race was the Utah Beast, which he did with three of his friends.  He’s currently looking forward to motivating and getting a group together to go after our Spartan Trifecta Badge in 2013.


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By Jason Rita

Talk about a Spartan Race power couple… Tommy and Bobbie Jo Hackenbruck are the owners of Ute CrossFit, whose Team Hacks Pack UTE won the 2012 Affiliate Cup Championship at the recent CrossFit Games.  Tommy is also Spartan Race’s Utah race manager where Bobbie Jo was 1st place female in 2011 and 2nd place female in 2012.  Bobbie Jo is coming to Vermont to challenge the top women for the championship at the Killington Beast on Saturday.  We’re putting the race favorites on notice: the Utes are coming…


If you are looking for answers, it is usually a good bet to start with the right questions. As an athlete, Tommy Hackenbruck asks those questions in the form of what he will endure in his training.  The answers have been on display throughout an impressive athletic career, from the highest level of college football to CrossFit Games championships.


I’d spent my whole life challenging myself with everything from doing back flips in my football pads, to climbing every tree in my backyard to jumping off 50 ft. cliffs.  Random athletic pursuits led me to being a multi-sport athlete through high school and eventually a starting middle linebacker on the University of Utah Fiesta Bowl team in 2004.”


Most athletes, he says, don’t know what all out is, and never truly redline, always keeping something in reserve in competition and in training, backing off when they start to feel they might be close to their maximum.  He recommends picking selected workouts in your training plan and attacking them 100%.  “If you want to be champion, you have to be prepared to give full effort.  To do that, requires you move beyond the fear of failure.    There is a difference between failure because you backed off a full effort, and your body “failing” because you try to push it to a level of performance you haven’t yet reached.  Training with this mindset resets the potential of what is possible, like waking to fresh morning dawn after an epic thunderstorm.  Things look different.


CrossFit Games Competition Record:

2009- 2nd Place in world

2010- 9th place in world

2010- Coached affiliate team to games

2011- 23rd place in world, coached Taylor Richards-Lindsay 24th place in world and coached affiliate team 9th place in world

2012- Affiliate Cup Champion, team member and coach


Rather than always do workouts that he knows he can do, he designs selected workouts where he doesn’t know if he will be able to finish them.  The interesting part is not whether or not he crosses the threshold of the specific workout, but how he reacts, certainly physically, but more importantly, mentally, not shying away from how much it will hurt, or that he might not be able to complete it, but whether he is strong enough mentally to give the challenge everything in his being without fear of falling short.


“I have re-defined my perception of fitness, completely changed my eating habits, and passionately pursued a well-rounded, more inclusive kind of fitness. At 29 years old I am stronger than when I was playing college football, yet my endurance is the best it’s ever been and my overall fitness is the best it’s ever been.”


Tommy warns not to do this type of effort every day, he thinks of it as something special, something you do once in a while to seek out the suffering.   “People don’t know what they are truly capable of, and the fear you must get past in a workout of this kind carries over into your life, your relationships, your work.  It is about breaking through the ceiling of your current level, smashing the picture you have of yourself, and seeing a new athlete in the mirror, one that is fearless, powerful, PROVEN.”


“Results are earned.  Spartan Race and obstacle racing are a fitness revolution. People are finally realizing what true fitness is.  My whole team ran Spartan Race together.  It was perfect training, unknown obstacles, taking us out of our element a little bit.”  Interview “Box Built, Field Tested, Spartan Proven”


Tommy will be competing in the Killington Beast, but it’s Bobbie Jo Hackenbruck who is threatening to upset the favorites we previewed yesterday.  Bobbie Jo also was a high level collegiate student-athlete, a 4 year starter and captain of Utah Utes women’s soccer team.


“My athletic career began when I was born; I have always been wild and full of energy.  Not the talking kind but the moving kind.  I grew up wishing to be the first “girl” in the NFL.


Channeling that energy into action, Bobbie Jo today focuses a lot of her training and coaching on fundamentals of movement and posture, informed by Paul Chek’s “Primal Movement patterns” of gait, squatting, bending, lunging, pushing, pulling and twisting, as well Nicholas Romanov’s Pose Method of Running.

According to Bobbie Jo, the initial movement should always be corrective.  The goal of movement is achieved by transition from ideal position, i.e., posture, to next ideal position to achieve a specific goal or satisfy a desire.

This philosophy helped Bobbie Jo go from an often injured athlete to one who is never injured.  During her college soccer career, she was sidelined by a range of injuries such as pulled quadriceps, strained hamstring muscles and multiple disc herniations.   Her training now is built on this postural approach where the progression is not just to do harder and harder WODs, rather doing workouts that are more corrective to the body, and consider the functionality behind the workout, asking what will create a well-balanced body. She credits this for saving her back and comes to Vermont as agile as she is strong, a perfect recipe for success in the Killington Beast race.


Like husband Tommy, Bobbie Jo emphasizes the mental side of elite performance:  “Many athletes are not training their mind to fully find their potential, and are not asked to do that.  In competition, there are many contests that that could be won with a stronger mental game.  Success doesn’t happen because you are lucky, it comes when you train to that level, where you are willing to sacrifice body and soul.” 


Commenting on the amazing comebacks of the US Women’s National Soccer Team at past World Cups and at the Olympics, Bobbie Jo recognizes that the seemingly impossible comebacks were predicted by and predicated upon the mental discipline and energy of the players, channeling their preparedness and intense will to win.  The “lucky” comebacks were not luck at all.  Expect to see this sort of intensity from a driven competitor.

And so if Bobbie Jo upends the status quo in Vermont and leaps up the Spartan Points rankings with a win in Killington, it won’t be “luck” when Team Hackenbruck attack on the Beast.  Game is officially ON.

by Carrie Adams

I received an email from Jen Rosant, the team captain of Gaspari’s Team Braveheart, and I wanted to share it with the Spartan Race community for a few reasons.  First, I know Jen personally and she is one of the most remarkable women I’ve ever met.  A survivor in every sense of the word, a motivator of the masses, and a living embodiment of the best of what Spartan is about.  Not new to Spartan Races, Jen has brought a team with her, her beloved Bravehearts, in bigger and bigger droves race to race.  When the weather was falling apart in New Jersey, when the hills were breaking the toughest of Spartan competitors, and when the miles weighed long and hard on the competitors last weekend, Jen was still powering forward, still motivating, still inspiring her team, many of whom were racing for the first time that day.

Jen Rosant

Jen Rosant, team leader of the Bravehearts is a 35 year old from Cliffwood Beach, NJ was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis ten years ago while in college and received the devastating news that her colon was in danger of rupturing or she would develop cancer that would ultimately kill her.  She suffered from kidney stones, received blood transfusions and had major surgery that showed she had developed PSC or Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis.  She had a colostomy bag and a promise of a liver transplant for over three months until they could finally reverse the process.  She took painstaking visits to the hematologist for over two years every week spending hours in a chair getting IVs of chemotherapy and injections for cancer-related anemia. She ultimately faced a new diagnosis of Chrohn’s disease and despite the trauma, she’s been lucky enough to NOT need a liver transplant.

Jen, a member of Team Gaspari alongside her Bravehearts, has been taking Gaspari Nutrition products herself and has never felt better or been in better shape.  She’s able to do upwards of 35 events in one year – that’s pretty impressive for someone who weighed in at 100 pounds a few short years ago.  It’s just one of the many reasons why we love our partnership with Gaspari Nutrition.

They conquered the Spartan Race course that day, led by Jen, committed to one another and committed to finishing the course they’d been training for and they found their Spartan finish line.  We honor them, their accomplishment on race day, their dedication to training and to one another and we thank them for being an integral part of the fabric that makes up the tapestry of our Spartan community.

Here is her email:

Hello Carrie.

I cannot even begin to explain the impact that Spartan Race has created for Team Braveheart.  I have been contacted by each individual. They laughed, they cried, they shared their stories of triumph.  More importantly, we changed their lives.  They are making new goals, registering for more Spartans and they are begging me for more workouts in my Braveyard. The energy is high, the smiles are large and right now Team Braveheart feels like they can accomplish anything. Really, your team put together a challenge I couldn’t even imagine. Even with a few handfuls of events under my belt, this was one of the most difficult challenges to date. Yes, pinch me, I’m living a dream. I feel fantastic and so does my team. It’s contagious. Our posts, pictures and videos have not only inspired all of us but the people around us are ready to make changes too. Today, 4 people asked me about Spartan Race.  The words on the street, the fire is in their eyes, people are ready, and they are ready for real results and happiness.  The amount of letters, calls and texts are unbelievable.  I promise you this, you will see Team Braveheart again, you will see them at many of your events, but next year’s Tri-State you better get us a bigger tent, I plan on bringing 100+ Bravehearts with a larger drive than this year.  “If you don’t believe us, try and beat us” 

Jen Rosant.  

Jen’s Motivational Speech

Read Jen’s post about their experience HERE: Team Braveheart comes LOUD.


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by Carrie Adams

“For those of us who lived through these events, the only marker we’ll ever need is the tick of the clock at the 46th minute of the eighth hour of the 11th day.” – President George W. Bush

Roughly fifteen minutes before 9 AM on September 11, 2001 Spartan Race founder Joe Desena glanced up from his desk on the 59th floor of an office building across the street from the World Trade Towers and then immediately dropped his phone to the floor.   “I didn’t even feel myself let go of it.” He remembers.  “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

What he was seeing was the final seconds of Flight 11 as it careened towards WTC 1 and then violently slammed into the North side of the building.   “I couldn’t speak,” says Desena.  “I could hear my buddy Bobby yelling for me from the phone on the floor, but it was like my brain couldn’t process what I had just seen.”

The horror would repeat itself shortly after 9 AM when, alongside the rest of the world, Desena watched Flight 175 enter the landscape and strike the south tower (WTC 2) as the North Tower continued to burn.  “I pressed my hands up against the glass, everyone screamed… and then it was just…silent.”

Desena and his coworkers watched, stunned, as the buildings lay ablaze and ultimately collapsed; each one sending a billowing cloud of dust and debris all that could be seen through the glass, “Everything went gray… and the rumbling of the collapse was like a train roaring through the building.”  And even though the collapse(s) took only 12 seconds Desena says, “It felt like eternity.”

New York City wasn’t the only target, Flight 77 struck the Pentagon that day, and United Flight 93 crashed into an empty field in Somerset County, PA, when the passengers defied their hijackers.  It was a dark day with victims from 115 countries.

And Desena left the office that afternoon with some co-workers and was met by debris and an eerie sight.  “We were walking in ankle deep soot,” he recalls.  “The coffee vendors cart was sitting there, coffee still percolating on the pot, money on the counter, but there were no people.  It was like a gray ghost town.”  Desena slowly made his way to his Midtown apartment where his motorcycle was waiting.  He was lucky to get out of the city and head to his dad’s house in Queens.  “That day changed everything, “says Desena.  “But there were other changes that came from it.  People were looking one another in the eye again.  People were remembering how it felt to be human.  And we can never forget what happened that day.”

Lower Manhattan would burn for 99 days after that, 20% of the US population would know someone who was killed of the nearly 3,000, and it would cost nearly $600 million just to clean up the wreckage from the Twin Towers devastation.   And the United States mobilized swiftly to the threat.  Less than one month later, the United States was on the ground in Afghanistan and we haven’t left.  “Our military has been putting their lives on the line because of that day, and it hasn’t stopped,” says Desena.  “That isn’t lost on us at HQ.”

And in building Spartan Race, Desena kept that day in mind.  “We were in a new place as a country.  We needed hope and we needed to believe we could have a new life and embrace healthy, hopeful things,” says Desena.  “And even though life was moving forward and we needed to move forward, there are still men and women in harm’s way.”

Spartan Military Series
Fort Carson, CO

Since our inception, Spartan Race has been committed to the Armed forces.   In 2012, a portion of all Spartan USA revenue has been donated to Homes for Our Troops, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that assists severely injured servicemen and servicewomen and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and to coordinate the process of building a home that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently.

Spartan also launched a Military series in Fort Carson, Colorado in May of 2012.  The Military series was a huge success and it was coordinated through the Army Department of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR), a comprehensive network of support and leisure services designed to enhance the lives of soldiers (active, reserve and guard), their families, civilian employees, military retirees and other eligible participants.

In keeping with the longstanding Spartan Race tradition of giving back, a portion of the proceeds from the Spartan Fort Carson event was donated to direct military nonprofits including the Green Beret Foundation.  Future military series events will do the same and will donate to other organizations to help address the unique needs of each respective host installation.

In Leesburg, VA Spartan Race was joined by Team X-T.R.E.M.E.   Team X parachuted in Wounded Warrior athlete  Sgt. Noah Galloway

Team X-T.R.E.M.E.
Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography

and then their eight person team that included two other Wounded Warrior athletes Todd Love and Jonathan Mozingo, took part in the first every Heroes Heat in one of the most memorable appearances in our history.  They are set to be a part of the upcoming Spartan Beast in the Carolinas October 13th and 14th.  The team is 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.

There is always more we can do, because the fight continues every day.  The fight to preserve liberty, to honor the fallen, to move forward with grace and deliberation; all the while never forgetting where we’ve been and what’s been given to get here.  And at Spartan Race HQ we’re remember September 11th and recommitting to changing lives for the better with our race series and giving back where we can.  So, today, on a day that we all remember so well, we want to say, “thank you” to all who have paid a price for our precious freedom, and we assure our community that we’ll never forget.  And to Desena it’s a simple idea, moving forward from such a tragedy, “We can’t let it break us.  Never quit.  Never surrender.”

Team X-T.R.E.M.E.
Photo courtesy of Nuvision Action Image

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