After three incredible days of Spartan Racing in Tuxedo, NY earlier this month and a week of hosting amazing friends and athletes in my home, I’ve had some time to reflect on how my athletic career has come full circle.

As a child I grew up without the privilege to play on many sports teams so the outdoors became my playground. Running through the woods, climbing trees, building forts, and catching animals with my bare hands is how I began to build my self-esteem and confidence. Unfortunately this wasn’t very popular with my classmates. I ended up taking a lot of grief for it, but I would not let constant ridicule change or deter me. I knew deep down who I was and didn’t want to give up the great feelings my outdoorsy life gave me.

Entering HS, fueled by frustration and anger, I thirsted for contact and to further distinguish myself athletically. I began playing football and I discovered the brotherhood I had always desired. Not only was I able to channel the frustration and pain that had built up from being bullied, but I found true friendships that I still cherish to this day. For the first time in my life I felt truly happy and accepted.
However when HS, College, and Semi-Pro Football came to an end I was left with a void that was difficult to fill. Running and training for Ultra-marathons turned out to be to isolating. Jumping from planes is a quick adrenaline rush but way to expensive and skiing with my pals only lasts a few short months.
Luckily for me I discovered Spartan Race due to a chance in meeting with a local Tuxedo, NY Policeman. Ironically enough, I knew him from the private school where I was bullied.

Now, because of that first Spartan Race I ran in 2011, I have filled a huge part of that void. I was able to rediscover the joy in running, climbing, and chasing things throughout the woods again. I have finally found a sport that gives me the adrenaline rush I was seeking while building friendships with fantastic athletes from all different walks of life.

I’m so grateful to Spartan Race for creating an environment where the athletes have been able to breed a culture of intense competition, built on a platform of respect and camaraderie. It is a culture that has blended the passions of my past into the passion of my present and future.

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Dr. Jeff Godin, Ph.D., CSCS, & Spartan Coach

What if there was a disease that afflicted 36% of the population in the United States of America, roughly about 78 million people? What if this disease was strongly related to other debilitating and life-halting diseases such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes? Which Hollywood celebrity would start a foundation to crush this horrible disease?

The disease is obesity. On June 18th, 2013 the American Medical Association officially declared obesity a disease. This means that it will become a physician’s professional obligation to treat patients with obesity, the same way they would treat other diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. The optimist in me says that this will create a healthy discussion between the patient and physician on the health implications of obesity and physicians will prescribe a healthy diet and exercise as the primary mode of treatment. The cynic in me says that treatment will include prescriptive medications instead of encouraging preventative measures.

Why is it so hard to talk to people about obesity? Every time I teach it in class, I have to walk on egg shells. Even in the professional setting, if you tell someone they are obese they react as if it was a racial slur. I was called by an irate mother that accused me of ruining her daughter’s self-esteem by noting that her BMI and body fat percentage placed her in the obese category. Hopefully, classifying obesity as a disease will eliminate some of the awkwardness that comes with discussing it. It will be seen for what it is… a clinical diagnosis, not a personal attack. No one gets their feelings hurt when the doctor tells them that the hideous mole on their back should be removed and biopsied to see if it is cancerous. I understand that obesity is more than simply a physical problem, but until it can be discussed openly, and attacked vigorously, it will always remain as the elephant in the room and we will never make progress towards finding obesity’s root cause.

The best treatment for obesity is a Spartan Lifestyle, one that is founded on a healthy diet and loaded with physical activity. The Spartan Lifestyle includes a diet that is mostly plant based, that includes an abundance of vegetables and fruits, very moderate in grains and animal food products. It is a diet that eliminates processed foods, added sugars, and trans fats. A Spartan Lifestyle includes meals that are prepared from fresh foods, not ones that come from a box. For fluid, Spartans drink water, not sugary, over caffeinated beverages. You can get access to healthy and nutritious recipes by subscribing to our daily “Food of the Day” emails. They are FREE and provide recipes to help get you started and keep you fueled in a healthy way. Subscribe HERE.

Physical activity doesn’t require a fancy gym, or shiny plates, or cardio equipment. It does require a commitment of 60 minutes a day, which still leaves 1,380 minutes to sleep, work, and relax. It starts with motivation, if a BMI of 30 and all the excess baggage associated with it isn’t enough motivation; there are 1,000,000 trainers and coaches out there that are willing to help the right person find it.  Similar to our Food of the Day (FOD), Spartan Race offers FREE workouts WODs each day to keep you moving and active, and to prepare you for your Spartan Races.  Subscribe HERE

Spartan Race wants to lead the charge in crushing obesity. Do we really need a physician to treat obesity? Why not nip it in the bud before it gets to that point? Let’s rip 78 million people off of their couches and get them to follow the Spartan Lifestyle!

Who wants to join us in this crusade?

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by Jenny Tobin, Spartan Pro Team member

Luzzi as he is known to most Spartan regulars is one of the main guys behind the Spartan race scene. He has been with Spartan since the beginning. He was introduced to Joe De Sena, one of Spartan’s founders through his College Professor Matt Soroka, a mutual friend. Joe De Sena is known as the boss who will try to “break you” and if you survive you’ll end up being a trusted and worthy employee of Spartan. Luzzi and two of his buddies, Matt Murphy (Spartan Marketing) and Ben Killary (Spartan grassroots sales) haven’t been broken, yet, and are still with the company and loving every minute of it!

They started working for Spartan as interns when Spartan only had 500 Facebook fans so their job was to increase that number. He said they did all kinds of things from crazy bar promotions to the usual canvassing of event locations promoting Spartans. They believe wholeheartedly in the mission of Spartan: rip people off the couch and get them moving. That is Luzzi’s favorite part about working for Spartan. He enjoys watching Spartan change lives. He says it’s cool to watch the elites but what really impresses him are those that might be overweight, disabled or have had a tough go at life and they are out there trying to finish a Spartan Race. Luzzi sees the athlete’s physical and mental challenges out there on the course and how they all strive to make it to the finish line. Some athletes get broken and others rise to the challenges put in front of them.

As Operation Manager, Luzzi makes sure all the events run smoothly. The race directors make a plan and Luzzi has to enact it. He designs and builds many of the obstacles and is involved with making sure all the equipment and supplies get from one event to the next. If something isn’t working right during the event, he has to go iron out the kinks. He loves most all of the obstacles, in fact, when I asked what his favorite was he started off with listing the rope climb, tyrolean traverse, and cargo nets because he has to actually rig them for the athletes. However, when pushed to give me one obstacle he said, “the barbed wire crawl”. He likes to see how the athletes go through it, crawl or roll, straight or zig zag to get to deeper sections, how they make it work best for them. I’ve seen him at most all of the races and he is sometimes counting my burpees or making sure athletes are doing the obstacles correctly. Sometimes he has to be the bad guy and tell someone them they have to do an obstacle over again. He doesn’t mind being the bad guy, he feels like it’s part of his job and that athletes should be good sportsman and do the obstacles correctly. All sports have rules and he’s the compliance officer so you’d better do things by the book or face the wrath of Luzzi.

Luzzi went to Castleton State College in Vermont and got a degree in Sports Administration and Management. He did all kinds of jobs before landing in the Spartan world. He did landscaping, restaurant work, snowboard instructing and more but loves working for Spartan. He sees it being part of his life for a long time. He lives in Killington, Vermont when he is not on the road and guess what his favorite Spartan venue is? Surprise, surprise it’s Killington. He says it’s a beautiful mountain and it’s just so dang tough. It’s the Championship event and it will test you to the limit!

Working for Spartan can mean long hard days but it’s also a good time. Luzzi says there are plenty of funny stories to tell. Pretty much every day there is something to laugh about. He says he really enjoys Mike Morris. He is a great boss and people look up to him. Mike also has a great sense of humor and has been known to show up for work with a belly shirt, short shorts and a hard hat. Very entertaining! One of his favorite Spartan stories is when Kevin Donahue crashed his car right before the start of Killington last year and was able to leave the car upside down and go race. Kevin’s passenger Andrew Hoffstetler forgot his shoes at the condo 2 miles away and couldn’t get there in the crashed car so Luzzi took him in the gator/4 wheeler as fast as he could. Spartan life is always interesting!

Luzzi seems like a great guy, he always has a smile on his face (even when he has to be the bad guy) and I haven’t seen too many glitches at any of the Spartans I’ve competed in. The races seem to always run smoothly to me…Nice work Luzzi! So, the next time you’re at an event say “hi” to Luzzi and thank him for making your Spartan experience a good one!

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Corinne Kohlen

by Corinne Kohlen, Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician
Spartan Pro Team Member

The American Medical Association (AMA) voted Tuesday, June 18, to classify obesity as a disease. This decision has come after much controversy and years of debate.

Currently obesity is defined by using Body Mass Index or BMI. BMI is a ratio of one’s weight to height and for most people* correlates with their amount of body fat. A BMI of 18.5 -24.9 is classified as “normal weight” while a BMI above 30 is classified as obese. It is estimated that 1 in 3 Americans has a BMI over 30. That translates to 78 million adults and 12 million children who are obese, and now according to the AMA have a “disease”.

The vote was against the recommendations of the Counsel of Science and Public Health who believes BMI as a measure of obesity is flawed. They feel that a BMI of 30 is a very arbitrary threshold; People with a BMI of 30 can be very healthy and muscular while many people at a “normal” BMI may have multiple metabolic issues. There is also concern that once diagnosed with a “disease” people may become overly reliant on medication and surgery as a solution to obesity and neglect to focus on lifestyle and behavioral changes.
The AMA was joined by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American College of Cardiology to classify obesity as a disease. Supporters of the vote site multiple reasons for their decision. They believe classifying obesity as a disease will reduce the stigma associated with the condition and make it easier for physicians and patients to talk about. It may also help get the attention of insurers and researchers and increase reimbursement and availability of counseling, treatments, surgery, prevention, and drugs to treat obesity.

The AMA denies that obesity is simply the result of overeating and under activity. “The suggestion that obesity is not a disease but rather a consequence of a chosen lifestyle exemplified by overeating and/or inactivity is equivalent to suggestion that lung cancer is not a disease because it was brought about by individual choice to smoke cigarettes.”

As one can imagine this decision and statement has created much controversy. The AMA feels this decision will only better the treatment and care of the obese, and will open up opportunities to more people for care. Currently Medicare does not pay for obesity related drugs, or dietitian counseling regarding obesity.

For many it is difficult to not blame diet and lifestyle for the rise in obesity. With portions being supersized, foods packed with saturated fat, processed sugars, and loaded in calories, and people becoming more and more sedentary it seems a logical correlation. With the addition of just 500 calories a day one will gain a pound a week. For some these calories “sneak” in with their morning blended coffee drink, with their side of fries or potato chips, or with their soda or sweet tea.

On the flipside of things obesity can be prevented and even reversed by focusing on portion control, appropriate daily calories, and an active lifestyle. It seems almost too simple but daily exercise and mindful eating can help maintain healthy body weight and prevent obesity.

What do you think? Should obesity be classified as a disease? Will classifying obesity as a disease help or hurt in our fight against obesity?

Time for you to get fit?  Sign up for our FREE Food of the Day (FOD) to help you get started.

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by Cody Moat, Spartan Pro Team

Cody Moat

Reebok Spartan race is coming to the mountains of Utah for the first Beast of the 2013 season. The venue comes to Soldier Hollow near Midway, Utah, located at the base of the Wasatch mountains. In 2002, Soldier Hollow was home to the Winter Olympics. And now is home to one of the toughest races you’ll find in the United States, The Utah Spartan Beast. Spartan racers be ready for a tough 13 + mile course with 30+ obstacles at an elevation of over 5,000 feet. This course is not for the faint of heart.

On the men’s side we have last years champion Hobie Call returning and looking to repeat as champion. I (Cody Moat) placed 2nd last year behind Hobie and am looking to better last years performance with a 1st place finish. But this is not all on the men’s side. Rumor has it Hunter McIntyre with be in Utah hungry for blood. Also looking for gold are the following Spartan elite athletes- Elliot Meguier, Rob Michaud, Joey Patrolia, Christopher Rutz, Rick Kraics, Paul Buijs, Joseph Kauder, Kevin Donoghue, Larry Jannotti, David Tathum

The women’s field should also be very interesting with favorite April Luu who has looked strong all year.  Also strong women elites who are looking to win gold are Utah’s very own Tyann Clark and Margaret Schlachter. Other elite women coming to this year’s beast are: Ang Young Reynolds and Andi Hardy.

Winter Vinecki

Joining the women is Winter Vinecki, the youngest person to complete a marathon on Antartica and seasoned distance athlete by the age of 13. Also an ambitious young triathlete, Vinecki has been racing since the age of five, and by the age of nine, she found herself competing in an Olympic Distance triathlon; a distance usually reserved for adult triathletes. She runs in support of her foundation, Team Winter, an organization committed to fighting the aggressive prostate cancer that took her father from her when she was just nine.  To date, Team Winter has raised over $400,000 in support of prostate cancer awareness.

If you are looking for some excitement this weekend come and participate or volunteer at the clash of the Spartans Utah Beast. You will not be disappointed.  Who will be standing at the finish line?  Come to Utah and see for yourself!

Not registered yet?  No problem!  Click HERE to find an event near you.
[Editor's Note: Author Cody Moat from Fillmore, Utah, began his Spartan journey here at the Utah Beast in 2012. Some highlights of his 2012 season were World Spartan points winner and Spartan World Champion. He is looking to build upon these performances in 2013 and is excited to complete one full year of Spartan racing.]

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So, I survived the Death Race. I lasted a little over 24 hours before I was cut due to a time hack. I was the 20th person to go out of the race of the 194 who started, but the first person to be cut and not quit.  I said from the beginning that I wasn’t going to quit and I didn’t. I showed everyone out on that course that I was not going to go down without a fight and that they had to either carry me out or cut me.

In regards to the experience, I truly learned a lot. I learned that I had more fight in me than I thought I did. I found myself even more of a man than I thought I was out there on the mountains of Vermont. I found a deeper soul there as well. People might complain about getting cut or quitting or even saying it was not fair but I pushed through every single task and no one time did I complain or want a handout due to my illness/disability.

As to what is next, time will only tell. But I am going to have to take a break from OCR or racing for at least six to eight weeks.  I broke my foot Sunday night when I arrived home from Pittsfield, Vermont and the Death Race. Funny, I have climbed mountains, became the first ever Paralyzed Spartan and now the first ever Spartan Death Race competitor and I cannot even get to my front door without breaking my right foot!

I will use this time to prepare for my goal of having the first ever Adaptive OCR course and I will continue to train hard in the gym for strength and in hopes of getting in even better shape.

Thank you all for the support and thank you all for the thoughts while I prepared for this awesome journey.

- Chasing Michael Mills

To learn more about the 2013 Peak Death Race, please click HERE.

[Editor's Note: Photos courtesy of Marion Abrams, Peak Races.]

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My name is Kristen Schell and I have been doing Spartan Races for about two years now. Although I have been busy as a full time student and working a full time job, I’ve still managed to find tome for some races.  I have a great one from last year’s Palmerton Race!

I arrived at this even with no sneakers. I suppose I forgot to pack them as I was in such a hurry…don’t ask me why I was so stupid!  It was almost a disaster!

Despite the drastic oversight, I decided to suck it up and run the race barefoot.  Yep, barefoot.  I’ve never done that before!  It took me almost two hours to complete, but the amazing people I met along the way made it all possible for me to stumble across the finish line.

One particular girl around my age was passing me until she noticed I was wearing nothing on my feet…and the next thing I know she had her arms around me, helping me stumble down the rocky hill – I never did catch her name.

I have never even ran barefoot in my life (well, maybe in the backyard chasing my dog when I was 8).  Let me tell you, this was not the easiest trail, either. I think half of the course was gravel…ouch.  It was certainly a new experience! But, I finished, I could hardly walk, but I made it…with the help of some hot water and Epsom salts, I was walking like normal (three days later.)

Never say I can’t. Because you will amaze yourself one day. That is my Spartan Story.

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by Elliot Megquier, Spartan Pro Team

Cameron Robert Morris

It takes a village to keep Spartan HQ running and that village has grown! On June 20, Spartan Vice President of Production Mike Morris and Spartan Marketing Manager Shonda Morris welcomed their second child, a healthy baby boy!  Cameron Robert Morris was welcomed into the world this morning and he and the family are doing great!

How is that for a Spartan love story?

We’ll be profiling some of the Spartan HQ staffers and giving you some insight into the men and women behind the Spartan curtain. Who better to lead us off, than Mike Morris himself!

For those who haven’t met Morris, you’ve undoubtedly met one of his courses. He’s the reason why you’ve spent hours swearing about and toiling on the exceedingly difficult and punishing Spartan courses in the US circuit. He may be a diabolical course designer, but he’s actually one of the funniest and coolest guys around.

Morris has been with Spartan since the beginning.  He started out as a race director and course designer and now he has done so

Family Affair – Morris and his son, Logan

well he has been promoted to Vice President of Production. Often sporting a mohawk and a radio, Morris is at nearly every US event. I asked him a few questions to find about what makes him tick and how he comes up with the courses that lead many a Spartan to tears.

Where are you from?
I was born in Costa Rica, live in various places but spent most of my life growing up in Sudbury, MA. I now reside in a Suburb of Boston with my wife (who also works for Spartan) and now two sons.

What did you do before for work? What brought you to Spartan Race?
My degree is in Mechanical Engineering and I had a six year stint working for a consulting firm. Then I jumped into the fitness industry as a Fitness Together studio owner (two units). And now I work for Spartan. Never would have guessed this is where I would be working now!

Funny stories from the inside?
Most of my funny stories “from the inside” are fairly self-deprecating, are not suitable to be published, or both. Let’s just say (among many other things) we’ve gotten a few laughs messing around with digital street signs, not-so-appropriate radio etiquette, and creative use of cameras.

What is your favorite part of Spartan Race?
My favorite part of Spartan Race is watching the competition between the pro team and elite racers, witnessing the heart of the last few racers, and learning about the passion our customers have for our events.

When is Spartan Race coming to Sugarloaf, ME? (Megquier’s hometown)
ME? You mean Maine, the state? Isn’t that up near Alaska? That’s a long way for folks to drive for an event.

If you could pick one venue in the US that hasn’t happened, where would it be?
Lake Tahoe. Or anywhere you (meaning Elliot) won’t get lost at.

What has been your favorite venue/race so far?
We always talk about our favorite events internally. There are so many ways to compare them all including everything from how nice the hotel was to how crazy the course was. From a purely course design standpoint Killington has been epic the last two years. That’s about as crazy as you can get for 13 miles. But, that mountain has its share of operational challenges given how crazy big and technical it is, which adds loads of stress to the execution. If I look at the full experience I would say our Dallas Beast in Glen Rose, TX was a favorite.  A crazy beautiful venue, fairly straightforward operationally, a cool course, mild weather, and ridiculous accommodations and food.

And there you have it. The man behind the myth (and sometimes a mohawk.)

[Editor's Note: Spartan HQ would like to say CONGRATULATIONS to two of our staff on the healthy birth of Cameron Robert Morris!  It was an exciting day for us to welcome a new member to our Spartan family.  We expect him to be doing burpees in no time!]

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Ah yes, it’s that time of year again, the infamous Spartan Death Race is almost here!  Athletes have been arriving in the sleepy town of Pittsfield already and congregating at the Pittsfield General Store to mingle, to speculate, and to prepare last minute items for the unknown trek ahead.  The Death Race begins today, June 21… or does it!?  Only Joe D and Andy know for sure.  The stories of past Death Races are infamous – diving for pennies, eating onions, extracting stumps from the ground, carrying kayaks and tires for an ultra-distance, lifting rocks for six hours, chopping wood for five hours, completing 3,000 burpees… the list goes on. No one can confirm what will be included in this year’s race but that doesn’t keep anyone from trying.

Each year has a theme.  Last year was betrayal, the year before was religion.  This year, we are being introduced to the Year of the Gambler, and that includes precious poker chips for the players, some of which are already being handed out.  No one knows what these chips will be used for or what the competitors could cash them in for.

Tasks for Chips

The gear list is also infamous, among other items, this year the competitors have been instructed to bring a tuxedo, 5 lbs of hay, a Life Jacket, $5.00 in quarters, and a pound of grass seed.  What will the gear be used for?  No one knows, though that doesn’t deter everyone from taking their best guess.

The field is really competitive but it is more of a tight knit community of friends than a community of rivals.  At Spartan HQ we expect a lot of heroics among the unimaginable that lies ahead in the coming days.  Joe D said, “We have to step it up each year!  It doesn’t matter what we throw at them, they keep coming back for more.  They step it up, and we step it up.  This year, we stepped it way up.”

Rumors are running rampant and tasks being leaked with the potential for claiming chips already.  There was even a secret meeting filmed at the General Store…

Who will be left standing when it all ends?  We’ll know soon…

How to stay informed

Follow the hashtag!  #PeakDR will keep you looped in on all things Death Race online – Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and OFFICIAL Spartan Death Race updates can be found HERE.  http://www.vermontsoriginalstore.com/pittsfieldrace.html and daily updates on stats will be provided on the Spartan FB page as well.

Other resources: 

Are you a spectator in Pittsfield?  Find a ton of Spectator Resources HERE.

Official Death Race t-shirts can be found HERE, you have to look the part, right?

Stay tuned for all things #PeakDR to see who can survive the Spartan Death Race!

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Has Spartan Race transformed your life? We want to know! Actually, the world wants to know!  So what is your story?

We are looking for men, women, and even Spartan kids whose lives have been dramatically changed by training and competing in Spartan Races! We’re looking for inspirational, no guts – no glory, you put your heart, sweat and tears into it kind of stories to feature on an upcoming Reebok commercial.

Sound like you? Tell us why! Submit a photo and tell your story in time for the July 13 – 14 Pennsylvania races!  Click HERE to get started.

By the way, there is still time to register!  Click HERE.  See you at the finish line!

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