What’s in Spartan Race DNA?

SR_HURRICANE_BadgeWe are a different kind of competitive event. Why do I say that? The Spartan Race series was born from the Death Race and as such, it is meant to emulate life and help us, “the founders“, find extraordinary people that inspire us as well others. Therefore, our job has evolved into one where we constantly push people beyond their limits. This is not only done through physical challenges, but also mental challenges, many of which are not so obvious.

The Hurricane Heat is a perfect example. When Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast inphoto (8)2011, it was a natural disaster that shut many of us down and in doing so, frustrated the shix out of people. It’s quite obvious that Spartan Race aims to do just that at every event… frustrate and attempt to “break” people. Why? Because the survivors and people that push on, no matter what is being asked of them… inspire themselves, people around them, and the rest of the world. That is what we are about.

bamfThe gear list, whether it is extensive or “old school”, is not intended to prepare you for every scenario. It’s intended to get you thinking. As in real life, we can never truly be ready for every situation, but we can train ourselves on how to react when faced with adversity. It’s how you respond in these situations that determines whether or not you are a true Spartan. Annoying co-workers, relationship troubles, financial problems, and disease can only be conquered if you have the right attitude.

Assess the situation.

Remain calm.

Make a decision.

Keep charging forward.

That’s what Spartans do.

The Hurricane Heat takes Spartan Race to the next level, and we are thrilled that we have the opportunity to spend time with a bunch of like minded individuals willing to get outside, get dirty, and sweat doing things that are so unorthodox.

Can’t wait to see you out there again!

To register for an upcoming Hurricane Heat, visit our event pages and get signed up for your event!  

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by Carrie Adams 

“This too shall pass.”  – King Solomon

Let’s go back to basics.  Let’s plank. 

1 – 3 minutes of plank every hour on the hour of your waking hours for 24 hours

Example:

If you wake up at 8 AM and go to sleep at 10PM and plank for two minutes every hour, you’ll end up with 28 minutes of planking on the day!

The Spartan Race WODs have become known for their difficulty but we’ve never made gyms mandatory for getting your workout in for the day.  Remember that your body and anything that surrounds you can be your gym. Use body weight, roads, natural terrain, trees…. use what you see!

Make today your “Drop Everything and Plank” day.  Find out what happened the last time we did this with the ladies of Spartan Chicked.  The photo album is HERE.

So get your plank on, Sparta. 

Want to see your training translate on the course?  Find an event HERE near you and get signed up!  We’ll see you on the battlefield!  Need more training tips?  Get signed up for our daily WODs and have them delivered straight to your inbox!  Click HERE for more details!

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by Carrie Adams

When Spartan launched the stadium series in Fenway Park, we knew we were onto something special.  We added new locations and dates and with Citizen’s Bank Park, Miller Park, and Fenway fast approaching again, we can’t wait to get our ballpark on!

One of the women who inspired us was Marina Gentile.  She is an inspiring woman who, for the first time, at the age of 45 calls herself an athlete, she’s telling her Spartan story of how training for the Fenway Sprint helped her lose over 125 pounds.  She’s raced many a Spartan since, but here is her recounting that fateful day in 2012 where it all began.

by “The Phoenix” Marina Gentile

I will never forget the day I lost my “Sparkle” – over, under, and through the bleachers at Fenway Park – to become a true “Spartan Chick.” It was last Sunday,November 18, 2012, starting at 11:30 a.m. and lasting for an amazing 1 hour, 36 minutes. I even managed to chick three guys in my path… My special shout out to the one by the rowers, he gave me perspective. I was so mad at myself for just missing the 500 meters in two minutes rowing challenge, when I got up from my 30 burpee penalty to see his face in a trash barrel… and thought, “forget this one and move on to the next, at least you are not tossing your pancakes right now like that guy!”

So, here’s what I knew at the finish line…

I knew that “Highway to Hell” blasting from the stadium speakers in my final run past those gladiators and across the finish line was truly awesome!! I don’t know what song was playing when other racers crossed that line but can’t be more metaphorically awesome than that one.

I knew at the Hercules Hoist that there was no way I would have let go of that rope, no way. I was exhausted from pulling that heavy block of weight up but I just kept hanging on until I got the job done. I’ve been swinging and pulling far too many ropes for far too long in training to be done in by that one.

I knew that I truly focused only on the obstacle currently in my way, not behind or ahead. So that let me move from past defeats quickly without them messing with my mojo, as well as eliminate future fears before they start.

I knew that if I kept smiling and laughing through those 180ish burpees, they would not suck so much, they would not break me. Not one of them that I did that race as penalty for missing the rowing, rope climb, spear throw, traverse wall, and ball throw obstacles – or for Burpeeville (where we did just for kicks) wiped that smile off my face.

I knew I brought the right friend along to share this milestone. Mat Villamil raced on Marina time instead of his peak, redeeming himself for that sneaky eleventh hour NY Yankees tattoo he got on his face.

I knew my fearless trainer Robbie Sherwood (aka Robbie Superman from my home away from home, NYSC in Stamford, CT) delivered again on his early promise to me that he was “all in” for this wild ride of transformation I’m on. Hanging back at my pace, he guided me through my toughest challenges by yelling out key advice (“get low” – “distribute your body weight” – “you got this” – “come on, fire it out” – “breathe”), by positioning that 60 lb sandbag onto my shoulders for our extended trek through the stadium seats, by letting me trample him fully to help get my short body up and over some 10 and 12 foot high walls, and by taking a burpee or two hit for me. Sure he got a little distracted at times – by a volunteer’s bag of Doritos at those sick jump ropes, by a free beer ticket he found while jumping off a high wall (you would have thought he found a winning lottery ticket), or by his own “awesomeness at the spear throw” – but the rest of the time he was laser focused on guiding me through so we could check this milestone off our goals list.

I knew that I had earned the right to call myself an athlete for the first time in my life at age 45. At least my own personal definition of an athlete – someone who shows up for life, brings her relentless determination and drive to move her body, to challenge herself, to push her body as far as it can go, then beyond that still. Someone that sets goals, then crushes them and sets more goals, because she is driven to move forward, to keep active. Her drivers are internal, she wants to be her personal best. I am an athlete for the first time in my life at 45 – maybe a little late to the game by societies standards but I have no doubt that is how I define myself – I think like one, I move like one, I train like one, I eat like one. And what I may lack in skill right now and possibly innate ability always, I make up for in enthusiasm every time… Bring on my next Spartan!!

I knew that I did not over analyze everything like I usually do. That I just let my body lead me through the race and trusted that it would know what to do, that I had trained hard for this, that my body would perform for me at Spartan. This is unbelievable from a girl with a long history of being disconnected to my body, or hating it, or feeling like it was so limited from being 125 lbs heavier for so many years. To learn to trust it in this way, to feel it leading me through, staying strong to the finish, feeling limitless… A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!

I knew that 3 of my 4 predictions printed on our Team Relentless shirts came true … Spartan Fenway was my reward, my challenge, and most definitely my bitch… but it was NOT my punishment.

And I knew that I showed up to Spartan Fenway and brought my relentless determination when my trainer somehow managed to immediately post this FB photo and shout out as I was standing right in front of him. “So incredibly proud of Marina Gentile who just beasted her first Spartan Race!!!! 125 pounds down and counting. She just made Fenway her bitch!!!”

And here’s what I realize in the days after crossing that finish line…

I realize that following my strategy/technique – the same one I’ve brought to my training and my Phoenix-like transformation this year – helped me to cross that finish line feeling super proud of my performance and accomplishments at Spartan. It is always the same math for success in all areas of my life: Great Attitude + Positive Energy + Relentless Determination + Showing Up + Keeping Things New and Fresh + Leaving My Comfort Zone + Connecting Mind to Body + Staying Rooted in the Moment = Living Every Day of My Life.

I realize my young boys are so proud of me, yet so concerned about my swelling ego, so they took it upon themselves to (try to stick) a “kick me” post-it on my back as I was walking out the door to go to my office proudly wearing my new Spartan bling around my neck.

I realize I’ve never felt my body so fully and thoroughly sore, that every last muscle, in every corner of my being got used that day in one way or another to get over those obstacles. Amazing feeling, makes me feel alive and like my life has a purpose, need to be there again.

I realize the meaning of “sometimes you’ve just got to stretch” – using  everyday objects in an airport the next day as I was traveling to do just that, regardless of the weird looks.

I realize that I view the world as one big obstacle course now, wondering how I will get under/over/through the various objects in my path.

I realize that I was so wildly happy when my first bruise appeared, that I kept showing it to people as some kind of badge of honor. And that I was disappointed that I did not have any scrapes on my body. Kind of crazy, but I’m hearing it a lot from career OCR’s so I know it’s not just me.

I realize that as the body aches subside and the bruises fade away, there is a sadness setting in. I trained so hard and for so long to get to Spartan, it was a huge milestone moment for me, and I loved it so much, that I’m a little bit lost right now. I know that just means I need to set and break more activity goals in the very near future, and most definitely that I need to sign on for another Spartan Race very soon… Hmmm, wondering if 2013 or 2014 will be my trifecta year?

I realize it’s such an honor that Carrie Adams referred to me as The Phoenix, that kick ass female mythical creature that – in my case – is burning down old behaviors, habits, negative body images and limitations on her life – and rising from the ashes transformed into a kick ass active mom/woman/Spartan Warrior with limitless potential.

What’s your excuse?  Get out to the ballpark!  Find an event HERE. 

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by Carrie Adams

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

ground-zero-by-photosthatchangedtheworlddotcom

Today is September 11, 2013.  So many of us can remember where we were 12 years ago, what we felt when the towers crumbled and smoke rose in the sky darkening the landscape and leaving the world stunned in the shadow.  We recall the images as the Pentagon shook and we heard the final calls home from the brave passengers who fought back on United Flight 93 and crashed in a quiet field in Pennsylvania rather than let another building or target succumb.  The skyline of New York will never be the same, we will never be the same, yet the statue of liberty still rises proudly from her home on Ellis Island, the fortitude of a country etched proudly in her arms, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

We battled on.

Stephen Reid, right

After September 11, 2001 and as a country we mourned those lost, we shed tears of sorrow for the public service men and women who risked and lost their lives trying to protect the innocent, and for all those lost on that day in the violence unleashed on our unsuspecting nation.

One of our own Spartans, Stephen Reid was a detective in the New York City Police Department on 9/11. In Chinatown at the time of the first plane crash, he called his department, telling them he was there to suit up.

The losses were severe. Reid lost 23 police brothers and sisters that day. A heavy loss for the seasoned detective, “I joined the NYPD at age 21. I felt it was my calling and enjoyed police work. By the time I was 28, I was promoted to Detective. September 11… my life was changed forever.”

Reid ran his first Spartan last year in Boston. Following that experience, he began to run every day carrying the American Flag and a piece of steel from the Trade Center, they accompany him at every race. Known for his long beard, quick wit, and infectious smile, Reid draws inspiration from those he runs alongside, just as they are inspired by him.

Reid has finished several Spartan Races since Boston, including the Tri-State Spartan Super, the Virginia Spartan Super with Operation Enduring Warrior’s Community Athletes, the Tuxedo Spartan Sprint, and the CitiField Spartan Sprint. He also has a connection to the military in his family, “I hail from a family of veterans. My father served in the US Navy on the USS Croaker during Vietnam. His father was a decorated MP in the US Army during WWII who saw action in Germany. My mother’s father was an Army Captain who was killed in action in Germany during WWII.”

Stephen Reid

That left an impression on Reid, “Since that day our military has ceaselessly fought a War on Terror. So many young men and women have since gone off to fight this war and defend our country from those that do not appreciate our way of life. Many have come back forever changed. They have given so much of themselves. I honor them all.”

The flag and the steel are just a reminder, something to carry as he runs. Says Reid, “We carry the burdens for them that day,” Stephen explains, “because after the race, we can get rid of our burdens, and they can’t.”

We remember this day from 12 years ago with somber reflection and a commitment to looking forward to what lies ahead. In life there are obstacles to overcome, some seem insurmountable. Stephen Reid is a reminder of how to move forward again day after day with grace, kindness, humility, generosity, and most of all, with hope.

We salute him. We thank him.  He is a Spartan.

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Happy Mother’s Day, Sparta!  For all the mothers out there, we honor you and are proud to share the story of  Leyla Di Cori, a Spartan regular, and her inspirational mother, Johanne Di Cori, age 72 years young, who took on her first Spartan race daughter by her side.

Here is their story, told by Leyla herself.

When we finally arrived at the race site in Mont Tremblant, I was ecstatic to see some familiar faces from the Spartan Staff. They came from Vermont to help out with the races in Montreal.

I took part in the competitive heat at 10:00am. Finishing in the top 8, I was pleased with myself and my mom was pretty proud of me. As we posed together at the picture booth, my mother looked at me and said: “I want to race with you tomorrow.” I looked at her in dismay. I had tried to convince her in the past to try a Spartan Sprint but she refused. And there she was, my 72 year-old mother saying she wanted to race! I was thrilled with the idea. That evening I wrote an email to Steve Halstead to explain my mom wanted to race. We started preparing that same night. I decked out my mom in my thigh high socks, my race shorts, my trusty Salomon Speedcross 3s and a Spartan Tech T-shirt. If she was going to race, she was going to look the part too!

Sunday morning arrived. Believe it or not, my mother only told my father that very morning she would race. He was stunned and by the look on his face and a bit worried. You have to understand, my mother was not training for a Spartan Race. Despite her age (and trust me, you’d never think she is 72 when you look at her!) she is quite active. She bikes, walks in the neighbourhood and is used to going to the grocery store and walking back with bags. Add to that the fact that she gardens and doesn’t mind getting dirty! My concern was yes, she was active, but clearly she had not been getting ready for the challenges a Spartan Race presents. My biggest concern remained that my mother, Johanne, also suffers from asthma! I vowed to not leave her side. I was going to stand by my mother no matter how long it took. We were in this together!

Once we arrived at the race site, I decide I would go ahead and race the competitive heat at 9:00am. Originally, we were both going straight into the 10:00am but I wanted a lay of the land in order to be the best guide possible for my mother.

At 10:15, arm-in-arm with my mother, I led her to the front of the start line. I explained the shoving that would occur, the smoke, the fire that was at the beginning and how she should expect hilly terrain for the most part. The siren went off, and off we ran! The smoke affected my mom’s breathing from the very beginning but she managed to run the first kilometer.  Racers were not noticing a 72 year-old was racing with them.  As the hills grew higher, we slowed down and power walked through the mountain. The forest was hilly and muddy. It certainly was tough terrain for her but she was doing awesome. Funny enough, two other men, probably in their late 40s were walking the trail as well. I am glad to say we Chicked them!

Never leaving my mom’s side, we made it through the woods. The course made us go in and out of the woods several times. We did all the obstacles from the sandbag carry, to the rope ladder and so many others. My mom was amazing, strong, and determined.  She was not giving up. Despite the thirst and the fatigue she was committed to finishing. The only thing that worried her was the 220 yard barbed wire crawl. The mud was incredibly deep and she even got stuck in it. The suction was so strong she was knee high and couldn’t get out. Her legs cramped up and she couldn’t move for a good minute. Fellow Spartans helped her out of the crazy mud pit. With every crawl, I would say, “You got this, mom! You can do it! Don’t give up!!!” Other racers couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw my mom. Imagine this white haired woman racing next to them. So many racers encouraged her and were in awe. With every step we took, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly proud.  I kept telling her how remarkable she was for doing this. She is a grandmother after all!!!

My mom was determined to finish and kept a smile the entire time. She even joked with me that giving birth was easier than a Spartan Race.

Less than a mile away from the finish line, there were a series of obstacles. The only one my mother missed was the spear throw. I did the burpees for her. I knew she was getting exhausted but with every step she took I pushed her, saying we were almost there. If we got this far, we were not giving up now!!! I could see how tired and dehydrated she was. It was about 104F that day. She climbed up theat 8 foot wall like a cat! She went through the tunnels. She made her way to the electric barbed wire. She went up the cargo nets with great agility and she conquered the inclined platforms. Then came the final obstacle before facing the gladiators: the inclined slippery wall with rope. I guided my mother telling her how to position her body. We were side by side. She barely had any strength left in her arms. She said she couldn’t take another step.

I said to her, “Mom! This is the last one!!! Now give it all that you’ve got! And I know you have it! Now pull!!! PULL!!!! YOU CAN DO IT! Take baby steps and pull yourself up there!!!” Another Spartan Chick was at the bottom and helped me by guiding my mother as I was extending my hand from the top of the ramp. The crowd was going wild seeing my mom. She was near the top and said she couldn’t get over. I remember yelling “ YOU GOT THIS MOM!  Do it!” And she did! The crowd soared!  It was a magical moment. I think my heart stopped when I saw her legs make it over. We made our way down cautiously. I looked at her, hugged her saying how proud I was to be at her side, and how incredible I believed her to be.  As we turned around, a few yards ahead of us the gladiators were waiting. I had promised my mother I wouldn’t let any gladiator tackle her.  She was going to stay at my side and I was going to shove them if someone dared to approach her. As we made our way towards them, I eyed them cautiously. All four of them bowed down in front of us.  They looked at my mother and applauded her. Everyone around the finishing area was applauding and cheering. Arm in arm, mother and daughter crossed the finish line with tears in our eyes. We had made it! My mom Johanne made it!

My father was waiting for us at the finish line. His face said it all. He hugged both of us and then held my mom in his arms. Clearly you could tell how emotional he was to see his muddy wife, that against all odds finished a Spartan Race, despite not having trained for it and suffering from asthma.

I can tell you my mom was a Spartan Super Star! She was being stopped left and right and everyone wanted their pictures taken with her. The MC even made an announcement about Johanne Di Cori, the 72 year-old Spartan Chick/grandmother  that just finished the course. I was tearing up for the most part after the race. Words couldn’t and still can’t express how proud I am of my mother. She is the reason why I am strong and determined. I just can’t stress that enough.

My mother is such a down to earth person. She doesn’t realize her achievement. For her it was a race she completed, a challenge she wanted to try.  I told her she was an inspiration for many after completing this race.

That’s a Spartan mom, if we’ve ever heard of one!?

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by Carrie Adams

With an epic year of racing in the books, we are recounting some of the biggest stories of the year.  Let’s start with post #10!  How about a story about a guy who lost over 400 pounds and reclaimed his life, conquered a beast, and earned his membership into the Trifecta Tribe?   We are talking about the one and only Chris Davis.  His story inspired thousands.  To see his journey, watch this video. 

From the original post:

Every day Spartan Race HQ gets emails and phone calls with success stories of our athletes getting off their couches and getting healthy preparing for a Spartan Race.  Untold pounds have been lost, new levels of health and well-being found by those who embrace a healthy Spartan lifestyle.  Every so often one of those stories strikes a chord so deep, we are compelled to tell it completely.  One of those stories is in motion now, and we are going to keep sharing updates of a man who has turned to Spartan to change his life forever.

We met Chris Davis in Georgia where he finished the race in 3:04, and at 390 pounds.  Struggling across the finish line and exhausted, Spartan staffers helped him to his car and he headed home.  But that is not where this journey begins and it’s nowhere near over.

Chris started his Journey at 696 pounds. in 2010, he heard of the Spartan Race and started losing weight.   We got in touch with him and moved him to Spartan HQ. He is currently down 300 pounds from his starting weight with the help of the Spartan Race motivation.

Spartan Race staff, including founder Joe Desena are attempting to get him to 180 pounds by September a loss of an additional 200 pounds over the next 5 months.  In his own words, he’ll share his journey on the Spartan blog.  Here is his first entry.

To read the blog in it’s entirety, click HERE.  And stay tuned for another top blog post from 2012!

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Tales from the Chicked: Carrie Adams, Chicked Founder

by Beth Shields, Spartan Chicked member

Two and-a-half years ago, no one would have expected Carrie Adams to spark a revolution for women in the sport of obstacle racing.  Working in the corporate grind and raising her family she couldn’t fathom how much her life would change and how many lives she’d change in the process.

In November 2010, Adams finalized her divorce and was unexpectedly laid off from her consulting job within a two-week time span.  Then 28, and suddenly a single, unemployed Mom of two young girls, “I was in a very dark place at the time,” she says.  Never one to be down long, she quickly secured another job as a medical consultant in Omaha, Nebraska, and settled in to her new position.

Around the same time, good friend, and ultra-endurance athlete, Spartan’s own Jason Jaksetic, convinced her to try a Spartan Race,

SoCal Super Spartan 2011

the Super in Temecula in February 2011.  An avid runner, Adams was an endurance athlete, but had never participated in an obstacle course race.  “Just come try this Spartan event in California,” Jaksetic told her.  “There’s fire, barbed wire and walls.  You’re going to love it.”  Adams was far from smitten. “The more he’s telling me, the more I’m like, ‘that sounds horrible.’”

Jaksetic’s urging prevailed, and Adams was convinced to come out and race on what turned out to be the coldest day in Southern California in 200 years.  She was also featured in a race video that was made that day about overcoming obstacles.  Notably, the video also features Hobie Call – it was the first Spartan Race (he won) of his career.  Adams ran the course next to Joe Desena, who carried an axe the entire distance.  Desena is one of the founding members of Spartan Race.

“It was one of the most beautiful and exhilarating races I’d ever done,” says Adams.  “I was looking around, and thinking that there should be more people there.  It blew my mind that more people weren’t doing it.  I said to Joe, ‘How are you going to get more people here?’”  His response was, “You tell me.” She laughs.

“That is how it all started.  I’ll always be grateful to Jason,” says Adams.  “He’s still one of my favorite people, we are co-editors of the SR blog, but more than that he’s a very good friend.”

The Spartan Race series was developed by eight “Founding Few” members, including endurance athletes, and mountaineers.  Inspired by the Spartan Death Race (the liability waiver consists of three words:  “You may die,” and only 10% of competitors finish), these obstacle courses are meant to be a more accessible version open to more than just elite athletes.  There are four race lengths: the sprint, 3+ miles with 15+ obstacles; the super, 8+ miles with 20+ obstacles; and the beast, 13+ miles with 25+ obstacles and now the Ultra Beast that is a marathonish distance with more than 50 obstacles.  Unlike traditional endurance events, it’s almost impossible to know what to train for.   It’s the only chipped, timed obstacle organization in the world with world rankings and a points system.

After that seminal race in California, Desena contracted Adams as a part-time blogger and marketer, while she continued her full-time job of medical consulting and raising her daughters.  The part-time work for Spartan quickly became unmanageable in tandem with her full time gig.   At the point when it seemed she was in an untenable position, Adams met with her medical consulting services boss and was told they had lost funding on her project.  She felt it was perfect timing and accepted a full-time contract with Spartan Race.

Passionate, upbeat, and charismatic, Adams set out to promote Spartan Races across the globe, and decided to focus on women, an as-yet unrealized demographic in the sport.  To that end, Spartan Chicked, the female-only offshoot of Spartan Races, her brainchild, began.  With very little fanfare, it was initiated at the first ever Spartan Beast with Adams and about a dozen other women.  It’s now a phenomenon promoted through a closed Facebook group that has grown to about 10,000 members in the last nine months.  Adams regularly joins in, recently posting a “WOD” – workout of the day – challenging the Chicks to do planks every hour on the hour, take pictures and post them to the group, and sharing her love of all things fitness, life with her two small girls, and her love of bacon, CrossFit and Pilates.  ”These women mean the world to me.” She says.  ”They are remarkable.”

While promoting the Spartan brand, she continues to race approximately six Spartan events a year among other events – she just did a marathon on Saturday.  She ran the Beast in Vermont with three of her girlfriends, cartwheeling over the finish line.  “I was so proud of that medal,” she says.  “We didn’t run fast or anything, but we laughed and shared food and crawled through mud side-by-side, collectively suffering and coming out the other side.  That’s pretty rad.”  Two of the girls, Alyssa Tokorcheck and Monica Mondin, she had just met that morning, corresponding only on Facebook previously.  After finishing, Tokorcheck turned to her and said, “It seems kind of silly to tell you now, it was nice to meet you.”  That Spartan Race series has been an epiphany for Adams on many levels.  “I don’t know how to explain the magnitude of what I experience working for this company.  I am forever changed by the incredible people I get to work with, the athletes who I meet, and what I see on race day.”  That sentiment is encompassed by Spartan Race’s tagline which Adams coined, “You’ll know at the finish line.”

“It made complete sense,” says Adams of the tagline, “You can’t explain it to people who haven’t done it.  You just have to get out there and do one to understand.”  The recent Team X-T.R.E.M.E. Heroes Heat in Virginia is one example.  “That team blew my mind,” says Adams, who becomes serious for a moment, “I am so honored to have gotten to witness their race and I’ll never view the world the same again.  There is no such thing as impossible.  Life gets more beautiful every day.  Who gets to say that about their job?” she asks.  “I’m extraordinarily blessed.”

About the growth of Spartan Chicked, Adams says simply, “It’s a movement; it’s not a team, it’s a movement, a community, a network.  These women have changed their lives.  I am just thankful to have a front row seat to their accomplishments.”

The online Spartan Chicked Facebook group includes women of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities who share not only training and nutrition tips, but also swap stories of motherhood and overcoming personal adversity.  The group is also free to discuss other non-Spartan races, a decision that was made early on in order to promote the easy atmosphere that Spartan Chicked maintains.  When Adams started, Spartan Races had 20,000 facebook fans; she’s helped grow that to nearly two million.

Adams sees these races as serving to challenge women in a way that traditional endurance events don’t.  “If you’re a racer in any capacity, finish lines can become anticlimactic.  As much fun as [racing] is, [Spartan races] are a gift; because when you finish, you finish something that you couldn’t prepare for.  The level of challenge starts to escalate . . . .  You find out what you’re capable of achieving is far greater than what you thought because you were living in a very constructed space of your own making.”

Adams sees women as having an edge in ultra-endurance sports. To her, “That’s a very cool thing.  Many women can go farther, go more, and endure longer.  It’s fun to show women, who are predominantly caretakers by nature, that doing for yourself from time to time will make you a better sister, daughter, wife, friend, because you’re more complete and more self-actualized.”

The Spartan Race series is something Adams promotes with a passion, “We’ve come to this place that we’ve forgotten how to be human beings, and we’ve forgotten what it means to live.  We’ve lost that connection that we have with the most primal parts of ourselves.  That’s why these events are so strongly resonating now more than ever, because people long for it.  We miss being human beings.”

Seeing women transformed and how her own daughters are impacted by being around ultra-fit women are huge inspirations for her.  “My girls are active.  Always have been.  They’ve grown up around that kind of atmosphere.”  She’s excited about an upcoming opportunity for them as well, “My Cross Fit Gym, CrossFit Omaha is starting up a kids’ program.  What a gift to give my girls,” she explains, “how to be powerful and strong and to understand and appreciate what that means.  You can’t put a price on that.  That will infiltrate everything that they do as decision makers, even into adulthood.  It’s something that is born out of ‘I can run that far,’ and ‘I lift this barbell,’ and ‘I can climb this wall.” It’s all part of the equation.”

For women who have never attempted this before, Adams has some advice:  “You have to just decide.  You can literally be a different person right now than you were 10 seconds ago.  You just have to choose it.  Tomorrow’s coming, whether you live healthy or not.  Imagine what one day on top of one day on top of one day starts to look like when you are living a healthier life.  Just embrace, whatever it is, registering for a race, joining a new gym, making healthier food choices . . . don’t wonder what your life could be, go out and make it what you know it can be.”

Let the revolution begin.

[Editor's Note: Carrie has been a full time Spartan employee since March 2011 and started the Spartan Chicked movement in August 2011.  To join the closed network (women only) go HERE and request to join.  You can find Adams' personal blog at www.leavingapath.com.]

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by Michael Mills

The Power of Change.

I was introduced to Sparta and my quest to take on the Conyer’s Georgia Race on March 9, 2013. Notably, I’ll be taking on the majority of the course on my hands and knees. As a T-12 paraplegic, that is my best option for completing what I have been told is a grueling course. It all started with seeing a picture of Todd Love and Team X-T.R.E.M.E.’s efforts in Lessburg that made me want to take on this epic challenge. That means I have to get prepared.  I write a weekly blog recounting my training as I get ready to become a Spartan!

I wanted to first of all thank my lovely wife Tiffany Mills for the birth of our son, Michael Elijah Mills. Elijah was born on November 28th, 2012 at 9:26 A.M. He weighed in at 8lbs and 19 ½ inches long. Next, I would like to thank everyone who sent encouraging messages and posts on my Chasing Spartan Facebook page last week as well. We read every single one of them.

Change is a part of life. Whether that change is good or bad, we all experience it, we all live it, and we all have to deal with it in one way or another. Some of us deal with change better than others, but at the end, it is how we react toward change is what makes us who we are.

When I was paralyzed on May 2nd 1993, it changed my life in a way I never thought I could handle. I lost the use of my legs. I lost everything that I knew in an instant. I lost the ability to ride a skateboard, walk down a sidewalk, run a mile, and everything else that a typical 16 year old did. Well, at least I thought I did. I took that change and made it a positive. I looked at what most others saw as a tragedy and decided to see it as a blessing. I have been paralyzed now for 20 years and I will say that change on May 2nd 1993 changed my life for the better. I do more than the average person without any limits.

My most recent change was on November 28th, 2012 when my son was born. Now for those of you who are parents, you know what sleepless nights and staring at the crib to make sure your child is still breathing feels like. The schedule you had prior to the birth has gone out the door. You are now on your child’s schedule. You eat when you can and you sleep when your child is asleep. Everything revolves around your newborn baby. Needless to say, your training will take a back seat to what is most important, your family. Your family should always be the highest number on the priority list

When change happens in life, we tend to move around it and hide from it. Sometimes, we have no choice but to face it. For me it has been my diet and my training. I knew when Tiffany I found out that we were going to be parents again that our training schedules would change. For her, she has been used to going to the gym, walking and even teaching a class or two during the week. Now she is restricted for weeks as she just gave birth to our son. For me, I am restricted because I work fulltime and I have the cutest little responsibility ever to take care of now back at home.

Tiffany and I talked about my training the other day and she knows the importance of my training for several reasons. My health is the most important and she knows that. Being paralyzed, if you don’t take care of yourself, you could get sick easily and then well, it could all go downhill from there. Many people with disabilities die at a young age and the most common factor is their health and not taking care of themselves. Me, I want to be around for a long time and see my children grow up. I want to be healthy and I want to live that life I have always dreamed of. So, Tiffany pushed me Saturday afternoon to go and train. I started thinking about ways to train as a Spartan when times got tough. I tried to figure out a little WOD during the SEC Championship game where Alabama and Georgia would play their hearts out. I decided I would WOD out this game. I decided that every time Alabama would score I would do pushups. Georgia scored, I would do dips. For every field goal, I would do abs for Alabama and for Georgia, I would do plank for one minute. Now for my pushups, dips, and abs, I did 100 each time someone scored. It was a workout in itself. The final score was 32 Alabama, 28 Georgia. I was beat. Not only did I get to watch a great football game, I got to work out at the same time. I was able to spend time with my wife and my son and get it all in at the same time. This goes back to last week’s blog “I CAN’T!” You CAN if you just find a way. There should be never a reason why you can’t do something.

Sunday was my first day back of training after Elijah was born and I have to say, it felt great to get back and chase those goals I have set. I feel my most recent change has motivated me to the next level. Instead of finding an excuse to skip training, I am coming up with new ways to train when the opportunity strikes. I think Change can be a good thing if used properly. Change can be bad or change can be good, it is all how you see it and learn from it.

What will Change do for you?

[Editor's Note: Michael Mills is a T12 paraplegic, the victim of a head on collision with a drunk driver in 1993 and though he’s been tackling wheelchair racing since 1996, competing in over 160 road and track races in the twelve years since, even representing the United States three separate times, he saw the Spartan Race series and realized it was the next challenge he wanted. He'll be doing the Georgia Spartan Sprint on 3/9/13. Want to stay tuned in to Michael’s journey? He’ll be regularly posting his story and training on our blog in a series we’ll be calling “Chasing Michael Mills.” Follow his Facebook page. Want to support his cause? Check out Spartan Sprint for Bert’s Big Adventure | Michael Mills’ Fundraiser on CrowdRise. ]

 

 

 

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by Aja Varney, Guest Blogger

It isn’t the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it. ~Eileen Elias Freeman

When Carrie Adams, and the other founding members of the Spartan Chicks, created a FaceBook group (sorry guys, it’s for ladies only!), it was for the purposes of connecting women across the country who were all interested in Obstacle Course Racing. It was intended to give them a safe space to discuss training issues, racing tactics, share concerns, while supporting and motivating each other. In a short period of time, this group has grown from a tiny group of 100 ladies, to an 8000+ crowd of Chicks. More importantly, the group has identified itself as a real community of united women, running with each other at races, keeping tabs on each other via email, connecting via phone for workouts – a community of Chicks, always ready to chat and lend a hand at a moment’s notice, and show Obstacle Racing that women are a force to be reckoned with.  The Chicked logo seen all over the race course on the tank tops and other “Spartan Chicked” gear.

In that vein, we’re launching our Second Annual Spartan Chicked Holiday Gift Swap! It is open to women across the globe (yes, no matter where you do your Chicking, you can participate!) to sign up. You will be provided with the name and address of one other Chick, with whom you’ll get to share some Holiday Season cheer. Gifts range from simple cards and baked goods, to fun and functional fitness gear, to handmade scarves, blankets or ornaments. The only limit is your creativity! We’re not looking for you to spend billions, but help continue to unite our community of awesome ladies, by connecting with one specific Chick around the holidays.  To date, we have women from all over the globe from London to Australia, Malibu to Manhattan!

To join in on the fun, fill out this form with your information. In a few days, you will be contacted with the name and address of your Giftee. From there, take matters into your own hands; friend your Giftee on FaceBook, check out what she’s been posting about in the Chicks group, get to know her and let your creative juices flow!

Submissions will be accepted until MIDNIGHT (EST), DECEMBER 7th.

Aja Varney

For your privacy, your name and address will only be shared with the one Chick who will be sending you a gift. If you do have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me: aja.varney@gmail.com (Even just to say Hi!)

[Editor's Note: Aja Varney is a Spartan Chick many times over.  You can follow her adventures on her blog, What a Beautiful Wreck, where this post was originally published.

The Chicked Movement began in 2011 at the Vermont Beast, the brain child of Spartan staffer Carrie Adams, with about a dozen women wanting to run together  (Adams included) for support, and has grown drastically since the humble beginnings.  With over 130,000 women passing across a Spartan finish line and a closed network numbering over 8,300 at press time, it shows no sign of slowing down.  The Chicked movement is even featured in the soon-to-be released book Ultimate Obstacle Race Training by Brett Stewart.  Are you a Spartan Chick who wants to join the movement?  Click HERE. ]

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by Chris Rutz

Money, money, money Part II.  We talked about expenses for Spartan travel in Part I.  Here is more information on how to get to your Spartan destination cost effectively.

There are a lot of different means to go about saving money on travel. Of course the best way to travel on the cheap is bum a ride off of someone, stay with someone you know nearby, or campout at the race. I have done all of these. Some people chose Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz etc… to make their travel plans. For me I have very good success with directly booking with my favorite travel partners. I like to be able to change my mind. You never know when you might get injured, sick, or just cannot make it. I am always looking for the best deals without having to fully commit and make a nonrefundable deposit.  So for those of you that have to buy a plane ticket, rent a car, and stay at a hotel, here are some tips that work for me. My number one tip is to join AAA. For about $55 you get great discounts on top of their other benefits. Second big tip is networking. When I dove into Spartan Racing for 2012 I knew no one at the races. Today, every race I go to I am able to share a hotel room and sometimes a car. I am trying to figure out how to share an airplane seat, lap child anyone?

I do not work for, nor am I sponsored by any of these companies. But we really do need a few official travel partners of Spartan Racing. Is anyone listening?

Airplane –

Southwest Airlines is my carrier of choice. Phoenix is one of their major airports so I can usually find great fares on Southwest. The best part is that there is never a change fee with them. If I rebook, cancel, or change a flight, there is no fee to do so. I book my flights early and typically over the course of time the airfare goes down. I check the flight periodically and if the price has dropped I rebook the flight the same flight, and get credit for the difference. I have had fares drop over 50%. I fly enough with them to be on their A-List so I can get in the express security lanes and board the place first. This makes the travel a little less tiring, which helps come race day.

Rental Car –

It seems I am always able to get great rates with Hertz by going directly to their website. Much of this year they have had a special for $14.99 ($13.49 for AAA) per weekend day for an economy car. I always reserve the least expensive option. Rental companies hardly ever have an ‘economy’ car and you will likely end up with something a little nicer. I typically get a Focus, Cruze, Jetta, or Mazda3. Small cars equal great gas mileage, so this saves money on gas too. I can cancel at any time, or even just not show up, and there is no charge. As a bonus I get points on Southwest.

Hotel –

No favorites here. I have an online resource through my employer that I typically use. I punch in the city I am traveling to and a radius and then it pulls up what is available by price. Similar tools are available via AAA and other travel websites. The key here is similar to what happens with Southwest. Rates change. Book early and check back frequently to see if the rates have dropped. If they have, rebook, no penalty. You will have to decide how much time and effort it is worth to you to keep checking. Always book a double bed room. This gives you the flexibility to share the room as the race date approaches as people look for a room on Facebook. I also know a bunch of people that are willing to sleep on the floor. So you should likely never have a problem filling your room up. Most of the Spartan Races have event pages. You can usually find someone to share a room with, depending on your sense of adventure.

Okay, now that you have framework to help you save some money on your trip, next up we will talk about how to make the most of your trip to the race.

Who is Christopher Rutz?

Christopher is a member of the juwi Solar Obstacle Racing, has 6 top three finishes in Spartan Races this year and is the current leader of 2012 Spartan Race Points Series. He manages a health and fitness blog, www.livethetoughlife.com and a Facebook page, Tough Training.  We’ll be featuring his blogs about how to travel Spartan style over the next few months.

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