Spartan Race is pleased to announce the official signing of Isaiah Vidal to the Spartan Race Pro Team. After aiming for this goal for some time, the son of Marble Falls, Texas was clearly elated at having reached what he was aiming for.

“You can’t accomplish goals by doing them half ass. Look to the Lord and you will find the strength he gifted you with. When I first started my road into Spartan I never had the intention to become great at the sport, because I was merely doing it for fun. When I started to realize that I was beating my body from racing, riding across the country, becoming a 2 x Spartan Death Race finisher, I needed to flip the way I viewed OCR into what God wanted me to do it for. April was one of the major reasons why I began competing and started to use my athletic talent to the best of my own ability, together following our coach, Jim Warren, from Center 4 Champions training methodically to beat the best among the OCR community. It has taught me to represent the Lord and to be a model for young adults and children. 

“When I get scrapes, cuts: the answer I get from most people is that I’m crazy. In reality it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks, because I’m being the athlete I was risen to become. There’s a-lot of people that don’t have this view when hitting an obstacle in life, one starts to question the issue by saying ‘why did this happen?’, ‘why-why-why.’ Spartan Race has taught me to not complain about any issues, but to have the wisdom, the courage to overcome the obstacle themselves when presented. It has brought out a unique athlete in me that now I want to share with my family and fellow companions.”

Despite already having established a strong name for himself, Isaiah admits that he believes he hasn’t really got started yet. Training every day, he’s very much in agreement with his mentor Yancy Culp that he’s “barely scratching the surface” of his running ability. An ominous thought, given the powerhouse that he is!

“Being on the Spartan Pro Team is going to impact the way I compete against even the finest OCR athletes in the circuit. Training & living in Colorado, while still focusing on my studies will completely change me overall as an athlete.

Looking forward, Isaiah aims big, but remains humble in what he sees long term.

“Live each day as if it was your last is the mentality of greatness. I don’t plan to back down or become bitter against my competition. I plan to toe every start line and race like it was my last. This continues to be an epic journey and I want to say thank you to my family for all of their support. Thank you to all my sponsors, Spartan Race, Neogenis Sports, Pacific Healths Labs, LIFEAID, Training Mask, ATP Extreme, Leonidas OCR and, a big shout out to my coach, Jim Warren, from Center 4 Champions keeping me from plateauing! Thank you all for believing in me. I pray and thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to live up to my potential through him.”

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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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by Mike Levine, Spartan Staffer

I am Reebok, I am CrossFit, I, am a Spartan.  Going back to the age of seventeen, the first national sponsor that approached me as an athlete was Reebok.  A young Division I athlete, and I was branded head to toe by some really great people at Reebok.  They made sure I had everything I needed and were gracious in every way.  Fast-forward fifteen years…Now, I train at CrossFit Lighthouse in New York with an incredibly committed group of like-minded people and I work for Spartan Race.  I was incredibly exited with our announcement at the Times Square event that I was now coming full circle, and rejoining with Reebok.  With Citi Field nearly upon us, I can’t wait to see how Reebok and Spartan put on the Sprint in my back yard.

Spartan is an amazing brand of empowerment.  We are a dedicated group of professionals who inspire people to reach for the best and demand the absolute best of themselves.  We are not defined by a race.  Rather we are measured by the successes of our followers.  To our fellow Spartans, I tell you from personal experience that Reebok is no different.  They are Spartans.  This partnership brings us incredible opportunities.  There is a tremendous synergy between our two brands.  As gracious partners, Reebok invited us into their world and we will enjoy a tremendous relationship, we will certainly look much better in our new gear, and we will have an amazing brand to grow with.  Reebok stands behind their athletes.  They are a brand that helps their followers fulfill their dreams…sounds like a Spartan if you ask me.  So come out to one of our races this year, meet our Reebok ambassadors, get some new gear, and have some fun.

There’s still time to join us in Citi Field April 13th.  Get signed up HERE!

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Spartan Race HQ is settled in the Green Mountains of Vermont.  The legendary Death Race is held there and the history of the small town is a rich tapestry grounded in good people looking to blaze new trails, get outdoors, and grow local economies for business owners and their families.  In addition to Spartan Races, several ultra events are also held in this area put on by Peak Races, Spartan’s sister company in Vermont.  Here is one story of the Green Mountain Trail system that spreads out from the back steps of Spartan Race HQ told by one of the men who maintains them, Matt Baatz. 

The Green Mountain Trail System

by Matt Baatz

treesignWhen Spartan Race Founder Joe Desena moved to Vermont and bought Riverside Farm his land sprawled well into the hardwood forest in the Green Mountains. By building trails on his land, he saw the opportunity to duplicate the type of gonzo ultra endurance races he’d grown to love. Pittsfield Bike Club president Jason Hayden was eager to help. An extensive trail system would be a major boon to the burgeoning mountain biking scene in the region. The resulting Green Mountain Trail System, and the race series Desena hosted there, would eventually spawn The Spartan Race.

Hayden and Desena marked off twenty miles of trails, and, in trail building terms, cut the trails overnight. Desena hired out an expert operator, a tough old Yank named Charlie Bowen, and a mini excavator. They spent marathon sessions cutting sustainable trails riddled with dozens of switchbacks on the steep hillsides. An equallym_81_picture-6 irrepressible “retiree” Alex, who Desena hired as a summer caretaker on his farm, instead found himself with a new responsibility: He’d contour the excavated trails with a garden rake, and scraped so diligently that he wore the tines down to nubs. He’s known to this day as “Alex the Rake.”

Hayden secured a 20k grant from the state mountain bike association, VMBA, and he brought in the Vermont Youth Conservation Corp to build a series of bridges on the south side of the mountain. Andy Weinberg, co-creator of The Death Race and Race Director for the array of ultra endurance events on Desena’s farm, recruited members of a high school Warman C-1swim team that he coached in the heart of corn pone Illinois to buff the trails for a dollar a day. They came out of the woods that summer just as buff as the trails.

Andy Weinberg and Desena teamed up to develop a series of ultra endurance events, the Peak Races, on the trail system: a snowshoe marathon that was unheard of at the time, but proved surprisingly popular from the start; a six hour mountain bike race with a pig roast called, diabolically, the 666 Race; an ultra endurance trail run that followed fifty miles of the gnarliest terrain they could find, and as if that weren’t enough, they created a “Death Division” of the race involving the type of challenging farm and woodsman type chores common to rural Vermonters.

In fact, the race arose as both an attempt to create one of the toughest races in the pastedGraphicworld and a way to help Desena’s Pittsfield neighbors complete their most drudging chores, interspersed with barbed wire crawls, of course. This quickly evolved into The Death Race. Desena and the other founders created The Spartan Race to bring a comparable level of challenge to the masses.

The Green Mountain Trail System is growing in its own right. MTBVT.COM recognized the trails last June as “the best kept secret” in Vermont with some of the most awesome singletrack in the state for mountain biking. Desena has kept the trails free and always open to the public. Go to www.greenmountaintrails.com for more information and a map.

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by Carrie Adams

SR_ICON_LOGO_186“Never believe that a few people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead

Defining the soul of a race like Spartan took the collected effort of seven extraordinary people.  Inspired by the spirit of the Death Race, expect the unexpected and the brain child of endurance athletes, and mountaineers, the Spartan Race is the toughest series of events on the planet.  These individuals, dubbed the “Founding Few” in the inception of the Spartan Race obstacle racing series, these individuals have blazed new trails in their respective events, broken world records, and traveled the world seeking bigger and better challenges.  They bring that experience, that fire, to each and every Spartan Race around the World.

The people who bring you Spartan Race are the real thing.  They’re tough. They’re daring. They’re bold.  They’ve been out there, pushing themselves physically and mentally further than they thought possible, facing adversity and overcoming it.   Every member of the Spartan Race Team is dedicated and talented, many accomplished athletes, relentlessly pursuing the next level of competition and their own personal best. And each one of them brings this intense enthusiasm to Spartan Race and to its participants.

Here’s your chance to get to know them a little better.  The “Founding Few” who have blazed the trails as epic athletes of their own right, making Spartan Race the toughest obstacle race series in existence and the one and only Spartan Death Race, the World’s Toughest Race, period.   

For the next seven days, we’ll tell their stories and in a follow up series we’ll share the stories of those who hold it down at Spartan Race HQ each and every day. 

Hear their stories, be inspired, come out and race with us… you’ll never be the same. You’ll know at the finish line.

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A Spartan Race White Paper

By Joe Desena, co-founder, Spartan Race, Inc.

Nov. 9, 2011

thebeast-61As the Spartan Race hits the 110,000 competitor mark in 2011, with over 625,000 Facebook likes, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the difference between an obstacle race and its forerunner, adventure racing. The two are often used interchangeably to the detriment of race organizers and competitors alike. And we should know: our founders are former adventure racers themselves. We’ve paddled with gators, walked through swamps in the jungle for hours, and have been lost at night with just tree bark for food.

Technically, when it comes right down to it, the only similarities that obstacle racing has with adventure racing is the running component and the use of obstacles. What might not be as apparent is that both events force you to overcome unpredictable and non-traditional challenges that you would not find in many types of “traditional” endurance events, yielding a greater sense of satisfaction, reward, and much better stories to share for months, if not years after.

For example, in adventure racing you might have to paddle a three-person kayak on thethebeast-20 third day of a race on six hours of total sleep in the pitch dark across a 15-mile lake, battling nausea, literally going in circles (and not knowing it), experiencing poor nutrition and hydration, and challenged team dynamics. In an obstacle race you might have to overcome crawling on your belly uphill under 100 yards of razor-sharp barbed wire in the mud. Both are completely different experiences but the outcome is the same: reward for getting through a challenging moment.

desena_lgHowever, let’s be honest here: certain adventure races involve a lot more hardship and deprivation than a two-hour obstacle race. Adventure races are tough and only feasible for the top 5% of obstacle racers. The requirement to be proficient at navigating, mountain biking, kayaking, running, and operating on very little sleep makes adventure racing not for everyone.

That’s where obstacle racing comes in. Like a steeplechase for humans, obstacle racing, often compared to “mud runs,” forces runners to race a course that mixes road racing, trail running, and cross country running with a variety of obstacles throughout the course to test endurance, strength, speed, and dexterity. Obstacle races vary in distance and challenge level from three mile races to near half marathon distances with race organizers generally traveling the country setting up race venues in large cities and encouraging athletes of all types to participate. 

Runners are often unprepared for impending obstacles that may include going over, under or through various challenges that add additional physical and mental effort. The obstacles run from the traditional – crawling through mud, scaling walls, crawling under walls, and traversing balance beams to the non-traditional: carrying buckets of water, jumping fire, solving puzzles, walking tight ropes, and swimming under wooden planks. 

Obstacle racing is popular among runners and non-runners alike as competitors must adapt to new and differing elements in the race itself and the training regime for preparing for such events. 

Nothing against adventure racing mind you, but a well-designed obstacle race is designed to challenge, to push, to intimidate, to test and even to break those brave enough to try. “Fun run” doesn’t apply here. It’s about being uncomfortable, overcoming obstacles and finding out what’s possible when what you expect of yourself is everything.

Spartan Race, based in Pittsfield, Vermont, plans 35 obstacle races in 2012 in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. For more information: spartanrace.com, spartanrace.tv, Facebook.com/spartanrace.

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We’ve been racing since everyone else has been ‘Dashing’ and ‘Mudding.’  We were born out of the Death Race in 2005 and strive to throw the most wicked race for the baddest athletes on the planet.  And we want YOU to race with us.  So, what do you need to know?

1) Spartan Race was founded by 8 extraordinary individuals: The Founding Few, comprised of seven ultra-athletes. These people participated and competed in ultra-distance, self-supported races and expeditions for fun, for the challenge and for the primal satisfaction of testing physical limitations.

SR-Facebook-11A few examples: Joe DeSena – Multiple Ironman finisher, Ultra-distance runner and cyclist.  Noel Hanna – World Record holder in mountain climbing, has ascended Everest four times.  Andy Weinberg – Ironman, Double and Triple Ironman finisher, ultra-distance runner and cyclist. Richard Lee – Ironman finisher, and endurance athlete

Why is that relevant?

Because we know rad racing and this a rad race.

Read the rest of this entry »

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by Brian Ansley

249434_10150199104756861_251061411860_7594660_1151185_nThere are many proud moments after completing a Spartan Race. Every Spartan will usually celebrate the achievement of the race in his or her own way. Some choose to unwind and have a beer at our exciting Spartan post party, while others mingle with their team and share scrapes and stories with other Spartans about their newly conquered adventure. However, there is one symbol of accomplishment that everyone can share no matter what position or place you finish. It is known as the “Wall of Valor”.

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by Carrie Adams

Limitless Living: Joe DeSena

All too often we spend our waking hours trying to find and stay comfortable in our own lives.  We look for short cuts, gadgets, and processes to make things easier, seeking what we consider personal fulfillment.   We believe that there are things we can do and things that we can’t, and we become conditioned to that distinction.  It creates our everyday reality and it makes us feel secure, because we think we know what to expect of the world and what to expect of ourselves.  Enter Joe DeSena, the man who will turn that world upside down.

Growing up in Queens, Joe’s mother valued healthy eating and living and passed on that value system to Joe.   It’s been well-documented that he worked hard growing up and ultimately got to Wall Street, where he made his mark and made himself a small fortune.  He moved his family to Pittsfield, Vermont and quickly entrenched himself and his family in the local landscape.  Joe moved to Vermont in an attempt to get back to the way things used to be.

It’s also well-documented that Joe turned an interest in endurance racing into a passion.  His racing resume is the stuff of legends – over 50 ultra-events overall and 12 Ironman Events in one year alone.  Most of his races are 100 miles or more with a few traditional marathons in the mix.  (He once told me that my running a 26.2 marathon distance was “adorable.”)

To put it in perspective, he did the Vermont 100, the Lake Placid Ironman and the Badwater Ultra… in one week.  For those that don’t know or just don’t want to hear the gory details, the elevation climb for Badwater is over 8,500 feet up to Mt. Whitney and temperatures soar into the 120’s.   Joe also rode cross-country to the Furnace Creek 508 which has been coined “The Toughest 48 hours in sport.”  It’s no wonder his favorite quote is, “Death is the price we pay for life, so make it worth it.”

In 2005, Joe decided that the world needed a new race, something that had never beendone. And so, together with Peak Races, he created The Death Race, a 24-hour mental and physical test filled with unknown obstacles.  Racers couldn’t and wouldn’t know what to expect.  The fear of the unknown would either break or motivate, and all they could do was try to survive.  The race waiver consists of three words: “I may die.” It doesn’t get any more real than that.  No way to train, no way to prepare, just show up and make it to the end.  And don’t expect any love from Joe or the volunteers.  They want to break these people, make them quit.  Joe’s been quoted as saying, “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re basically holding your hand to help you quit. The same way life does, right?”

The winner of the fourth installment of the Death Race was Richard Lee.  Richard, Joe, and the other members of the “Founding Few” wanted to create another event, something that captured the extreme spirit of the legendary Death Race, but was modified and accessible to a much wider racing audience.  And so the Spartan Race was born.  Spartan intends to wake up the world up and save humanity, one racer at a time if need be.  It’s a race meant to challenge, to push, to intimidate, to test and even to break those brave enough to try, and it was designed by seven people who know what that feels like.  “Fun run” doesn’t apply here.  It’s about being uncomfortable, overcoming obstacles and finding out what’s possible when what you expect of yourself is everything.   In the words of Joe himself: “The phrase ‘I can’t’ doesn’t mean anything to me anymore, not because of my ego but because I know anything is possible.”

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by Beth Connolly

What would you do if you were alone in the middle of the densest woods in Maine and the battery on your headlamp died? In the midst of a competitive adventure race (involving paddling across lakes and towing canoes through the woods), you bushwhacked off-trail to find the next checkpoint, which had eluded your team.  You left your teammates behind on the trail, with a heavy cargo of canoes—and your spare batteries.

It happened to Brian Duncanson, Spartan Race CEO.  During one memorable adventure race, he and his teammates paddled across seven lakes, carrying their canoes with them as they walked through the woods that separated each lake from the next.  They searched unsuccessfully for the next checkpoint, until they were too burdened by the canoes to go further.  So Duncanson set out on his own to find it.

He was alone in the woods without a light or a friend or hope of contacting his team, who were out of earshot–when a member of an opposing team stepped in to help out. Using the light of his opponent’s headlamp, the two men managed to locate the next checkpoint and make it back to the trail, where Duncanson replaced his batteries.

Adventure races, like Spartan Races, are all about cooperation–not only between team members, but also between opposing teams. “There are many times during a race when it becomes advantageous to temporarily cooperate with another team,” Duncanson says.  ”Whenever we’ve found things and not told other teams, it always came back to bite us, because we may need their help down the road.”

Despite close calls like these, Duncanson stays passionate about adventure racing.  “I really like doing different things, and I love being outdoors,” he says.  But “the most interesting thing is the fact that there’s navigation involved.  It’s a mental challenge as well as a physical one, like solving a puzzle.” Adventure racers use only a map and compass to determine their path through wilderness and swampland.  In this way, adventure races are quite similar to Spartan Races: competitors’ creativity and ingenuity are tested, as well as their physical strength and endurance.

For Duncanson, life and career are no different from the extreme challenges and team mentality of adventure races.  He’s been competing in adventure races for the past ten years, and his team was even sponsored by Guinness.  Adventure racing led him to his job at Spartan Race, since he met co-founder Joe DeSena at a race event.  Duncanson’s chosen career, athletic event organization, reflects his commitment to adventure racing as well.

“You’re on a team, and working together,” Duncanson says, whether it’s out in the woods or in the office.  “Different people have different personalities and different strengths.  I see my job as not only organizing race events, but also blending different personalities together.”

Do Spartan Races have anything in common with adventure races?
Duncanson says yes.  ”Number one, it’s about having a new experience and doing something out of the ordinary.  I think that’s what attracts a lot of people to come out and do the events.  You sign up for a 10K and you know what you’re getting into.  Spartan races are something totally different and a little mysterious.”


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