When Jason Hood talks about his son Micheil, you can see how the pride in him makes him feel. His eyes sparkle and his chest swells. He beams with joy when he talks about him.

“Let me start by saying how proud as parents my wife and I both were for the choice he made. As a kid around age 7 he always wanted to be in the military. After graduating high school he enrolled in college, was doing good but felt he wanted to do more with his life so he came to my wife and I and said “I want to join the Army“.

When Jason spoke to Spartan Race about him, a genuine father’s love shone through each word he spoke. When he graduated as an Infantryman in August with the 3rd Combat Brigade, (“The Spartans”), 10th Mountain Division, it took less than a month for him to be deployed to Afghanistan. 

Jason continues, “This deployment is a big deal for the brigade, due to budget cuts, this will most likely be the last for them as the brigade will be deactivated. How honorable is it that his deployment may be of historic nature?”

Such is his pride for his son, Jason decided to honor his son by undertaking one of the most arduous, toughest events in the world. Later this year, Jason will be taking part in the summer Death Race as a tribute to Micheil.

“It’s as a show of respect to him and others alike. I am going to enter the Spartan Death Race this summer as a tribute to all they have done to become Spartans in hopes that I may become one in my own way.”

When asked about the Death Race, the preparation for it and how he thinks he’ll do, Jason remains bluntly honest.

“First of all I must be crazy to even consider attempting something with a title like that I feel the need to see if I can endure it and I want to be pushed to the edge. How will I approach it? Head first! I will not stop! What do I expect will happen? That’s a good question and I have no answer for it! Does anyone really know? How do I think I will fare? Failure is not an option for me at this point in my life!”

Spartan Race would like to thank and salute Micheil and all those in the military for their service.

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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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“I like a challenge,” says Mike Simons matter-of-factly. The Army Airborne Ranger veteran, with deployments of Iraq and Afghanistan behind him, talks about his Ranger School in the middle of winter up in the Appalachian Mountains and other “top secret stuff,” like it’s really no big deal. He’s a man that is given a problem and deals with it head on. No frills, just problem solving and getting the job done.

But for a man of action as he was, he was used to pushing that little bit harder than usual. “I was lucky enough, despite a few close calls, to leave the military without a scratch. Normal life outside of the military was too easy so I signed up for my first Spartan, the one at Blue Mountain. It was just the type of thing I was looking for.”

Sadly, six months after the race, Mike suffered quite a large setback, one that really would be a test of his mettle.

“I got into a motorcycle accident and had my right leg removed just above the knee. You want to talk about a challenge, this was it. I was coaching a high school crew team at the time and had mentioned to one of the rowers that was complaining of an injury the week before that a straw would help him to recover faster so he could “suck it up”.

“After the accident the team all made cards with straws in them to help motivate me. I had a broken femur, and an amputated right leg, and I was back at practice in 2 weeks. I had no doubt that with the help of my team, friends, and family, I was going to not only embrace this challenge, I was going to conquer it.”

Mike may have had military training, existing fitness, and core strength already, but as is always the case,it was the mental challenge he had to face. The hunger and drive to push, to reach further. The actual wanting to reach out and grab those few extra miles, weights, whatever the case may be to progress and improve. That’s the difference. That’s what he points out that was important.

“If there’s anything I learned from my first Spartan race it’s this: It doesn’t matter how fast you go, or how strong you think you are. You just need to keep pushing yourself until the end, and if you run into an obstacle that’s causing you problems, your friends will be there to help you over it. Never quit, and you’ll know at the finish line! AROOOO!”

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SPARTAN RACE PARTNERS WITH GOVX TO OFFER DISCOUNTED RACE REGISTRATION FOR MILITARY AND FIRST RESPONDERS

Reebok Spartan Race and GovX are proud to announce the formation of one of the largest race registration discount programs for U.S. Military service members and government first responders through the GovX.com network. Proud of our military and first responder community, Spartan and GovX wanted to bring something special to those groups as a way to say thank you and provide support and acknowledgement.

GovX is the leading website devoted exclusively to serving verified U.S. Military personnel and federal, state and local first responders by offering secured access to exclusive pricing on events, tickets and premium products. Through GovX, Spartan Race will offer a special $30 discount off all U.S. race registrations to verified active, reserve and veteran U.S. Military service members along with active first responders. This is the first time Spartan Race will be offering this level of discount, as well as including first responders in such a special offer!

Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography

“Our events, some of which are designed by various branches of the U.S. Military and top Special Operations units, are extremely popular with servicemen and women,” said Spartan Race Founder Joe DeSena. “Through its qualified and verified network, GovX provides a simple solution to meet our desire to provide discounted ticketing to those who serve and protect.”

This another first that Spartan Race is bringing to the table with the Govx partnership. Spartan Race is the only race of its kind to have ever held a competition on a military base. And as a company, is dedicated to providing unique experiences and opportunities to those who serve, including a recent satellite race that connected troops in Afghanistan via live stream with their families who concurrently ran the race. Spartan Race is able to offer this discount by using GovX’s proprietary online verification technology that ensures controlled access to GovX.com exclusively for military personnel or first responders. This authorization process ensures accurate and quick registrations to only those who protect and serve. To date, more than three million users have access to the GovX e-commerce network.

To access discounts for Spartan Race and the entire GovX network, eligible members can register for free at www.GovX.com.

About GovX

GovX is the largest e-commerce destination dedicated to providing those who protect and serve our country and communities with exclusive, significant savings on hundreds of premium brands. Verified U.S. Military service members, first responders and related government personnel receive exclusive access and discounts of 20% to 50% off retail on offerings at GovX.com. Through its partnerships with MLB Advanced Media, select NFL, NBA and NHL teams, among many others, GovX offers everything from discounted sporting and event tickets to race registrations in addition to 20,000+ fitness, sporting, electronics, tactical and lifestyle products, all available only to this very deserving group. Eligible members register for free on GovX.com and are confirmed through GovX’s proprietary online verification system. GovX members include active, reserve, veteran, dependent and retired U.S. Armed Forces personnel, along with federal, state and local government first responders, including police, fire, EMS, FBI, DEA, Secret Service, Border Patrol and related government agency employees and their families. Founded with the mission to thank and honor those who serve, GovX also donates a portion of its proceeds in further support of those in uniform. For more information, visit www.GovX.com.

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by Steffen Cook

Spartan Race first met Zack Askins at the Colorado Sprint in May 2013. Nonchalantly strolling across the finish line after having the gladiators bounce off of him, he finished like the race was no big deal. Cheerfully accepting a cup of water and proudly accepting his finisher’s medal like all the others, he paused only to so that we could take his photo, then he left in order to take of the full bomb disposal suit he’d been wearing for the previous couple of hours.  We saw him come back for a full serving of the Beast in Utah where he finished the race again in the full bomb disposal suit.

“Originally I got the idea off of a fellow EOD tech namds Eric Johnson. He holds the record for the bomb suit mile at 8:05. He did it as charity, I was looking at it and my thought was I’m not faster than him, but I bet I could out last him. So I came up with the idea of running the Spartan in the suit.”

He continued, “Eric at the same time was thinking of one upping himself and was training to run the a race in Philly in the suit. Rather than compete against each other we just piggy backed I went first to try and get some attention for him and more money for the EOD wounded warrior charity.”

And he was pleased with the attention he got in Colorado.  ”Y’all did great considering I surprised a lot of people by coming out that day and gave me more headlines than Eric got.”

It’s well documented how strongly Spartan Race feels about the military and the ties that there are between the two, evident by our races at Colorado Fort Carson and in Tampa Bay, Florida. So when Zack goes on to explain where the drive comes from, it makes perfect sense; “Our purpose was simple, the military as a whole makes up a small portion of the population, and of the whole Army the EOD community makes up less than .01%. We have endured a larger portion of the wounded and killed than our numbers tell but we’re a very close community. We take care of our own, and we wanted to help take care of those who remain behind.”

“For where Eric and myself are trying to go is push ourselves and get some headlines and more money flowing into the EOD wounded warrior to help all those who made it back broke and missing pieces. We want to make sure that we help get all of our wounded taken care of, and this is the best way we can think of to do it.”

For more information about their team, please contact: https://www.facebook.com/bombsuitmudder.org?fref=ts

See you at the finish line…  Sign up today!

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Riley Stephens

On such a somber day, Memorial Day, we are honoring Spartan heroes.  Two men who gave their lives to maintain the freedom that we enjoy in the United States.

Team Riley

On September 28, 2012, SFC Riley Stephens was killed in action serving his country in Wardak, Afghanistan with the 1/3 Special Forces Group (Airborne) as a senior Medic.  One of the last things Riley did before his deployment was run a Spartan Race in South Carolina.

As a tribute, friends and family took on the Spartan Beast in Glen Rose at the end of 2012 as “Team Riley” to honor him and to reconnect.  It was a cathartic experience for family and friends and they came together to remember a brother, a son, and a best friend.

At the 2013 Socal Super Spartan, we proudly supported the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation in honor of Spartan

Glen Doherty, photo courtesy of http://www.glendohertyfoundation.org/

Glen Doherty, who was one of the four Americans killed in a terror attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 12, 2012. According to the Foundation website, The Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation is our way to honor Glen’s life and his beliefs. Doherty took part in the Socal Super in 2011 before his tragic death in Benghazi.

In 2012, over 350,000 Spartans crossed our finish line we expect over half a million in 2013.  Many of our participants are military or first responders and we are always thankful to have so many experience a Spartan Race.  The loss of these two men and so many others are deeply felt.

Men of honor, conviction, and courage, we mourn their passing and are thankful for their service and sacrifice.  As you spend your time at BBQ’s and out enjoying this holiday, do not lose its significance.  Please spend this Memorial Day remembering the bravery of these and so many others that are no longer here to enjoy the freedom they’ve ensured.

We will never forget.

To learn more about the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation, click HERE.

 

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by Stephen Reid aka Steve-o Bones

Memorial Day is a holiday that takes on a special meaning for me. It is a day that is meant to honor and remember those who served our country with military service. Some lost lives. Others lost limbs. Many others lost their youth and innocence to the horrors of war. This is a debt that can never be repaid. Yet their sacrifice can be remembered and our gratitude and respect can be displayed even through small gestures like putting out the flag or attending a parade.

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. At that time my mom was a year old and my uncle was a newborn. Here is a summary of his military achievement:

REILLY, WALTER J. (KIA) The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Walter J. Reilly (0-400672), Captain (Infantry), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company K, 71st Infantry Regiment, in action against enemy forces on 18 November 1944. Captain Reilly’s outstanding leadership, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

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. A few years later, on September 11, 2001, our country was attacked right in front of my eyes and my life was changed forever. Since this 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 have a very strong bond with the Men and Women of Operation Enduring Warrior, formerly Team X-T.R.E.M.E., a non-profit organization whose mission is to honor, empower and motivate America’s wounded military service members. These warriors took the time to bring me to Ground Zero after the NYC Spartan Demo. Many enlisted post 9/11 and these are the ties that bind us. I have forged a great relationship and have a lifelong bond with many of them.

This Memorial Day, I implore you to take the time out from your barbecues, your pool parties, and your trips to the beach to reflect on the gravity of this day.  Thank a Veteran.  But please, remember the reason for this day.  Take a moment to think of all those who didn’t come back when they left home for hostile battles in foreign lands, those brave men and women who made it possible for you to have your freedom; it has been paid for through their blood, sweat, and tears.

[Editor's Note: Spartan Race wishes to say a collective thank you to all those who have served and who serve still.  Thank you.   And this Memorial Day we honor those who have given everything and paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can all breathe free.   Flag Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography.]

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Pro’s vs. GI Joe’s, Punishment Training  Center and Spartan Race are bringing you a special Spartan WOD for May 20, 2013!   MMA Superstar, Tito Ortiz, former five times Light-Heavyweight UFC champion takes us through a brutal WOD Punishment Training Style with this special video filmed in Huntington Beach, CA.

Ortiz does a countdown style workout with troops in Okinawa, Japan on a live feed with this special edition Spartan WOD. Do you have what it takes to finish?

by Tito Ortiz

10 Rounds of push-ups, burpees, sit-ups, jumping jacks and sprawls.

#  of reps per round

1st – 10
2nd – 9
3rd – 8
4th – 7
5th – 6
6th – 5
7th – 4
8th – 3
9th – 2
10th – 10

Advanced: Start with 20 reps each and go down to 1 (20 sets total)

Get it done!

What is PRO VS. GI JOE?

PRO VS. GI JOE is a 501(c)(3) support-the-troops non-profit that sets up real-time video-game competitions, online and in-person, between professional athletes and celebrities, and troops stationed all over the world. PRO VS. GI JOE connects the two through online gaming and webcam chats, made possible with the help of long-term partner the USO, who facilitates the events for the soldiers overseas.
Since it’s inception in July 2008, they’ve connected troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Dubai, Korea, Japan, Germany, and Cuba as well as those here at home with professional athletes in the NFL, NBA, MMA, WNBA, PGA, NASCAR and IRL. Pro vs. GI Joe facilitates gaming competitions with the world’s most popular and attends the biggest sporting events throughout the year.

About Tito - Jacob “Tito” Ortiz (born January 23, 1975) is a Mexican American participant of the sport of mixed martial arts, or ‘MMA’. Ortiz’s career has been mostly within the UFC organization. A former Light-Heavyweight UFC champion, Ortiz has become one of the sport’s most shining stars, headlining several Pay Per View championship undercards, and appearing on the covers of various magazines, such as Black Belt Magazine. He is a native of Huntington Beach, California. Tito Ortiz is recognized as a charismatic, if controversial and highly-criticized fighter. Whatever the opinions of Ortiz, he undeniably is both a showman and a talented fighter.  He is currently a trainer at Punishment Training Center.

Want to get signed up for the daily Spartan WOD?  Sign up HERE!

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by Elliot Megquier, Spartan Elite Athlete

As I prep for this weekend’s Reebok Spartan Race Military Sprint in Fort Carson, CO, I like to think I have an advantage. I am a Soldier in the 10th Mountain Light Infantry Division at Fort Drum, NY. There are obstacle courses all over Fort Drum. Although I don’t take advantage of them as much as I should, I practice on military obstacles regularly. In fact, today at work we had to do buddy and litter carries which we complete in full gear. I’ll tell you what, carrying a 230 lb guy with gear when you weigh around 175 lbs is surely a great workout. There are ropes, ladders, and cargo nets within a quarter mile of each other. Then the pull up bars, they are everywhere. There are dip bars, tires to flip, Humvees to push, and millions of dollars of gyms and equipment at our disposable.

Not only am I representing myself, my family, friends, and fans, but I represent the 10th Mountain Division. I would like more than anything to get my first Saturday win this weekend at the home of the 4th Infantry Division, one of our rival division in terms of friendly completion. They are the Ivy/Iron Horse, while we are the Light Fighters who Climb to Glory, and that is what I plan to do. I anticipate my main competition will come from LeEarl Rugland and Miguel Medina, but there is always the unknown racer that always seems to show up.

Will you be there?

Find a Spartan Race near you.  Click HERE for a calendar of events.

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by  Jose Ortiz, guest blogger

Where it Began

In 2000, I made a decision to serve my country in the most honorable manner I knew possible; I joined the United States Marine Corp.  After serving honorably in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, my commitment to the Marines came to an end in 2004.  Returning to my home of Long Island, I settled with my wife in Wantagh, New York, a suburb about 35 miles away from New York City and I became a corrections officer.

 

Needing a Change

Once I was home I was looking for something to take the place of the daily PT routine I had in the Marines.  A friend of mine introduced me to two of the best things I have discovered since my wife, Spartan Race and CrossFit Lighthouse.  As soon as I listened to my friend’s story about Spartan Race I started to track down pictures and watch videos…I was hooked.  I signed up right away for the Spartan Sprint in Tuxedo, NY and started doing the Workout of the Day (WOD).  Soon after, I wanted to workout with some great people who could push me and I met Dan Luffman and Jack Sandhaas, owners of Crossfit Lighthouse.  These two guys are HUGE fans of Spartan Race and they took me on as their pet project immediately.  They showed me how the integration of movements in the gym would translate into a healthy lifestyle and top performance in a Spartan Race.

A New Life

Once this journey began, I set my sights on the Spartan Race and my CrossFit coaches did the rest.  I am proud to say that I dropped 30 pounds of unwanted body weight.  I was inspired by the Chris Davis story and followed his journey as I embarked on my own.  I found that once my body became acclimated to the workouts, nutrition also became a huge focus.  Now, everything was part of my Spartan Race/CrossFit lifestyle.  It was something that I lived and breathed every day.  It wasn’t just a workout or a healthy meal; it was a commitment to my wife, my family, and myself to say that I was taking control of everything that was good and productive for me.

The First Spartan Experience

After months of lifting, stretching, running, and healthy living, my first Spartan Race arrived.  The cannon sounded and before I knew it and I was at the starting line staring at my goal that I set months prior.  I was finally here.  One obstacle after the next, training and muscle memory took over, rope climbs and wall climbs and hurdles were second nature.  I am proud to say that I did not have to do one penalty burpee, but if I did, I was ready.  The motto is true, “You’ll know at the finish line.”

Now, with that race under my belt, I have become a permanent staple at CrossFit Lighthouse and Spartan Race.  I am training every day towards my new goal, the Trifecta Medal.

Semper Fi.

Are you ready to test your Spartan mettle?  Find an event near you and get signed up today.

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