In this installment of “How To”, Elite Pro Team athlete Miguel Medina shows us how to get past the Atlas carry without too much worry.

With each person comes different skill, strength and technique levels. Just bear in mind that simple golden rule: lift with your legs, not your back!

Use this technique at your next Spartan Race and we’ll see you at the finish line!

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Guest Blogger Michael Mills celebrates life with Spartan Race

This year, 2013, marked 20 years that I have been paralyzed and I wanted to make it the best year of my life. When you hit the 20-year mark in anything, it is always important, as it marks a large passing of time. Twenty years is a long time, it’s celebrated in a marriage, in a career, and it is essentially a lifetime. That 20-year milestone is always honored. Well for me it was no different. I wanted to celebrate my life by doing things that were a challenge and doing something that no other paralyzed person has done.

It all started with the Spartan Sprint in Conyers, GA.  I decided I would do a Spartan Race. I was not sure how I was going to do it, but I was determined to compete in it. Not long after I made the decision publicly to do the Spartan Sprint several of my friends decided to do it with me.  The entire team was new to Spartan Race except for one athlete, John Hate Sales. John was our veteran and he knew all about the race and the rest of us knew nothing.

We didn’t care; we just wanted to do it so we jumped right in it. We took off and within the first mile I had a blowout. I had no way of repairing the wheelchair but I was not going to quit after just starting. I made the decision to carry on with a flat tire. In true Spartan Fashion I was going to carry on. I was to finish or be carried out on my shield. We started as a team and finished as a team and we were all proud. It’s because of the team and their help that I became the first-ever paralyzed person to earn a Spartan Sprint Medal.

Next was the Spartan Death Race in Pittsfield, VT. Someone on Facebook challenged me with the comment “He really did not do anything, he was simply carried by his team! He really did not earn that medal!” That really upset me because I know what I did and I know the work that we did as a team. This is where my next challenge came about.

Steve-Opie Reid contacted me and said, let’s do the Death Race. I told Steve-O, “YOU HAVE LOST YOUR MIND! There is no way I am going to do the Death Race!” Then I thought to myself, this would prove to everyone that doubted me in the beginning that I am a true Spartan Athlete. So, I agreed to enter the Spartan Death Race. From the start, I knew I was in for an adventure. From cutting grass and small limbs with scissors to building an amazing rock trail with a group of amazing people, the Spartan Death Race was an adventure.  I lasted a little over 24 hours before I was cut due to a time hack. I was the 20th person to go out of the Spartan Death Race but 19 before me quit and my goal was to go as long as I possibly could, and I did it. I never quit and I feel I beat many odds within that 24-hour period.

Last event of the year was my most recent, The South Carolina Spartan Beast. This event truly lived up to its name. “THE BEAST” was by far the hardest event of the year. I joined a new group of OCR crazy’s called “THE DIRTBAGS!” This group of men and women took me in and allowed me to be part of the team and I am sure glad they did. These guys and girls worked hard to help me the entire day. We all worked together as a unit. We had Zackary Paben, Steve-O and countless other volunteers along the way that helped and for those, I am forever thankful. Halfway through the day, my left contact came out and was put in a Ziploc bag so we could carry on. We knew we were on a time limit so we did not slow down. With three hours left in our day, my right contact rolled behind my right eye. I am completely blind by now. I am paralyzed and can’t see. I had to trust my team and the ones around me. We still had obstacles to get over and still finish the course.  As we come to the finish, I could see a blurry finish line and I could see a blurry figure holding the Beast medal. I leaned over and was given the hard-earned medal by Chris Davis. As Chris leaned over and hugged me, he said, “I told you I would wait on you!” To know that I had all the help I did on the course and to know that the rest of my fellow teammates earned their Trifecta that day, I was proud to have fought for 10 hours straight on what I would say, was one of the hardest things I have done to date.

 

For me this year was the year I wanted to prove to anyone who has ever doubted me and that has said that people with disabilities could not be athletes much less Spartans. I am here to tell you, that you are dead wrong. I am a Spartan. I am a Spartan three times over and to be the first to have done each of these in a wheelchair is a dream come true. I will tell anyone if you are disabled or just wanting to live a better and healthier life, DO A SPARTAN RACE. It changed how I see things and how I tackle life now. It will truly do the same for you!!!!!

See you in 2014 Trifecta!

 

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If you missed the Vegas race, you missed one of the most exciting podium finishes is the history of Spartan Race. Cody Moat, the 2012 Points Series winner, and Hunter McIntyre were neck in neck almost the entire race. It came down to a photo finish, with Cody edging out Hunter for second place.

Hunter recalls, “I approached the rope climb thinking that I had lost all hope of my third place ranking I earned in Temecula. As I climbed the rope to the top I had a feeling come over me that it was go time! So I took a leap of faith, literally, and started my way towards the wall and spear throw. I reached the top of the wall and I saw Cody chest down in the dirt repping out burpees.”

He thought that he might have a shot, “I worked my way over the first spear and told myself there isn’t any room to miss, cocking back my arm I chucked a killer throw thinking I had just taken the third place metal and wrapped it tightly round his neck. When I turned to make the run in he popped up and made a move at the same time, I thought it this was an impossible series of events but there was no time for thinking it was time to move!”

Mike Morris, who oversees race production for Spartan, was in the middle of all of this when it went down. Mike was the one counting Cody’s burpees after he missed his spear throw, making sure his form was up to par.

He recounts the action, “I was crouched over next to Cody counting out loud as he did his burpees. At around rep number 20 I look up and see Hunter crest the slip wall. The crowd cheered so Cody looked up and saw him, too. Cody was literally at burpee number 28 when Hunter takes his toss and sticks it.”

By the time Hunter had turned around and closed the 40 foot gap, Cody had bounced up and the two of them were pretty much touching shoulders as they jumped the fire jump and plowed through the gladiators.

McIntyre says, “We met midair while jumping over the fire, my foot landed before his as I took a stride towards the finish line there stood one last obstacle between me and second place. 4 gladiators rose to the occasion of making sure it wasn’t going to be my lucky day, as I took on the first wave of them Cody and I were side by side. Pushing through the my first hit I thought I had it won between us as I took the second hit hard to the chest, at that point I couldn’t tell where Cody was and fear set in quickly. Looking down from the hit I saw him ahead of me by a full body length.”

2nd place finisher, Cody Moat

Mike Morris and the crowd were looking on, Morris says, “The crowd, who knew how tight of a race it was seeing hunter clear the slip wall, had gradually started cheering louder and louder with an tangible step change in celebration when Hunter stuck the spear. By the time the two of them were sprinting down the home stretch, the crowd was the loudest I’d ever heard it at one of our events, underlying how cool of a finish it really was. I’ve been to close to 30 Spartan Races and this was one of the coolest moments yet.”

McIntyre is proud of what he considers the best race of his career. He promises, “I do not hate Cody for winning, I thank him for the challenge and reason to train harder because next time we meet things won’t be the same.”

Well it looks likes Hunter has his sights set on Cody. This should make for an interesting year.

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by David Chandler
I ran my first Reebok Spartan Race in March last year. I was at a low point in my life and was having trouble dealing with things and trying to find myself again. I was lifting weights like crazy and thought that the little bit of biking I did would get me through a race. I thought that I would be competitive in my first Spartan Race, but that race broke me. I am extremely competitive and from that breaking point, I decided I would turn myself into a Spartan. I started running and working more specifically on obstacle course race training instead of just lifting weights.

From March until July I trained like crazy between going to school and work. Training started to become my meditation and the place that I could go to escape everything else in my life. No matter what was going on in life I could get away from it and make myself a better person with each training session. My life consisted of two-a-day trainings; I’d train before and after school or work.

When I learned about the Spartan Ultra Beast, I knew I had to do it. I had to take on the biggest challenge of my life and conquer a race that scared me. Crossing the finish line of the Ultra Beast (and all the other Spartan Races I’ve finished) was the biggest feeling of accomplishment I have ever experienced.
I have become friends with many of the elite Spartan racers that I am in competition with, but I love each and every person that is putting his or her body and heart on the line each and every race. Even though I only see these people during race weekends, the camaraderie that we have makes all of them my good friends. Since I started training for Reebok Spartan Races my life has been more of an adventure than I ever could have imagined. I travel the country to compete with my friends. Each race and every race is a new adventure with all the new things Reebok Spartan Race throws at us each event. Spartan has helped me find myself and helped me to be happier than I have ever been in my life.

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by Jeffrey Bent

Life Changes
Sometimes our lives take abrupt turns. In 2011 I was living in Orlando Florida, a husband of 15 years and a father to two wonderful children. I owned a broadband engineering company and traveled the United States extensively for work. Life was good. The tides can change all too quickly. By the end of that year, I found myself separated from my wife and lacking a purpose in my life.

I began 2012 with a life-changing seminar that motivated me to begin a physical transformation. I set some lofty goals to make 2012 a year not to be forgotten. I had thought about maybe my first marathon or two, maybe even a triathlon? After a June 2nd Warrior Dash in Oklahoma City was cancelled, I knew this was my opportunity to try a Spartan Race. I had heard about Spartan but the opportunity to race had never presented itself. So after a Friday with friends in Charlotte North Carolina, I decided to take the ten plus hour drive to Tuxedo, NY for my first one.

A New Beginning
I arrived late Saturday evening at a college friend’s home. On just a few hours of rest, I headed over to the venue to register for the “elite heat”. I remember before I had even attached my bib a stranger was offering me a pre-race fuel mix; that stranger is now Spartan friend Walter Lyon. I remember wandering to the front of the starting line & hearing the MC talk about the previous day’s women’s winner. That woman, Andi Hardy, is now one of my best friends. She was at the starting line as well and I remember looking over at her and her battered and bruised legs. Thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”

The adrenaline was unlike any I had ever experienced before; the mountain and obstacles were unlike any challenge I had previously undertaken. An hour into the race I was tangled up in the barbed wire and several racers immediately came to my aide. 1:02 was my official time. I was the 7th man to cross the finish, 8th overall, and 2nd in my age group. The sense of accomplishment from this race was amazing. I knew this was the race that had changed my life forever. An epic achievement!

Keeping the Peace
As fun as this race was, I knew that at 40 years old it would be a challenge for me to remain healthy and also injury free. I decided my best chance to remain in good health would be to take up Yoga. When I first began my Yoga practice, I had no idea of the benefits that it would have, both mentally and physically. After almost a year of yoga, I am in the best physical condition of my life. The calm and peace that I have in my everyday life is beyond comparison. As an elite racer, I have many opportunities to share my yoga with the world. Many people have started a Yoga regiment because I passionately share it everywhere I go. The sense I get from sharing has given me a purpose. I found this purpose because of Spartan Race.

I have always been an adrenaline junkie but the competition and camaraderie that exists within Spartan is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I have completed 5 Sprints, 3 Supers, and 2 Beasts. The friends I’ve meet though Spartan share a passion for wellness and a desire to improve, just as I do. These people have become my Spartan family. I look forward to each race weekend as much as anything I have ever anticipated. Each race brings a new challenge, but the only one that I have to compete with is myself.

Namaste.

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by Alec Blenis, Elite Spartan Athlete

My life is Spartan. Every day, I am dedicated to pushing myself both mentally and physically, seeing what I can achieve.

I cycle and run. I do yoga. I also train unconventionally; I flip tires, climb ropes, jump trenches, and throw spears. I eat healthy – no processed foods, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, or gluten. I am a vegan.

I am a college student, working hard to maintain a high GPA to keep my scholarship. I am pursuing an engineering degree at Georgia Tech, a highly competitive university. I am a musician. I play both the piano and drums. Pursuing the highest level of personal growth and learning is the essence of who I am. I live every day to the fullest. I love life.

I believe the only limits are the limits we put on ourselves. I know that the discipline of ‘doing the work’ enables me to achieve all the goals I have set for myself. For Spartan Races, this means that working on my strengths and weaknesses permits me to go into a race fully prepared. Being ready for race day allows to run free, fully present in the experience. Some people may call this being in the zone. For me, it is sheer fun. It is the fun that keeps me going. I love it.

Reebok Spartan Race brings together so many things that matter to me: hard work, discipline, challenge, physical endurance, mental toughness, and most importantly, fun. To excel in this arena, many aspects of commitment are necessary. I enjoy the process. I cannot conceive of my life being any less active or challenging than I have made mine to be.

But back to fun…

The running; the obstacles! The traverse wall, the rope climb, and the monkey bars (all the gymnastic obstacles) are my favorite. But it is the sandbag carry, tractor pull, and the other obstacles requiring
brute force that make me sweat. I will not accept my current performance on these tough obstacles and am working tirelessly to improve.

Part of the fun also comes from the amazing people that I now call friends. The Spartan community continues to grow. These people understand me. They understand the rigors of living a Spartan life. It is notable that the people that identify with Spartan uphold high standards in other areas of their lives. You won’t find a better group of people anywhere. It is true that: “you will know at the finish line.”

My adventure continues. See you at the races.

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by David Magida, Elite Spartan Athlete

“You’re too competitive.”

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve heard that in my life. Growing up I had to win everything I did no matter how obnoxious my desire to be victorious appeared to others. When I discovered running I found an appropriate outlet for that competitive fire.

I won my first cash prize race in fourth grade and never looked back. A conference champion in high school, I abandoned the sport I loved after a brief stint running collegiately. Years of mileage, repeated injuries, poor performances, and numerous clashes with the head coach left me burnt out and with no desire to run. And so I didn’t run for over five years.

I stayed in decent shape, lifting weights and playing pickup basketball and flag football daily, but something in my life was missing. My competitive fire faded. More importantly, running had been my way of clearing my mind, my period of reflection, and I no longer had it. Then I encountered Reebok Spartan Race and everything changed.

It was March 2011 when I heard the race was coming to Florida. After reading the description, I knew I had to run this race and I had to win. I trained for a few weeks, peaking at a run of four miles, and registered. The race was a Super Spartan, 8 miles of brutal intensity. I raced the noon heat, with temperatures peaking at 97 degrees.

At the starting line, I started to get that feeling I had missed the previous five years. That nervous anticipation, the intensity you can pick up off the other athletes, and that competitive fire within myself. As the race began, I nestled myself in with the leaders. About a mile in I saw it: The eight-foot wall. The race leader, a pure runner, had reached the wall about six seconds before me and was just standing, staring up at it, trying to figure out how to conquer that beast.

I didn’t hesitate, I leapt up and over putting myself into the lead. It was at that moment I realized, “I was made for this.” I never relinquished the lead that day, running as if my life depended on it. Upon crossing the finish line I could barely stand and the only thing I could say was, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

That day I was reinvigorated. I immediately doubled my training and began an intense running regimen that led me to two marathons and countless road races over the following eight months. Since then my free time has centered on two-a-days, unconventional workouts, nutrition, and recovery.

My time with Spartan has taught me a great deal. These races test my limits in a way other races haven’t been able to. I learned a lot about myself when I was pushed to the max. I learned how much I really care about winning, not only while I race but while I train as well. And I found out that I can tolerate pain.

I also learned that there are a lot of awesome people with the same mentality as me. I’ve immersed myself in a community of athletes who compete like champions but genuinely care about one another. Once we cross that finish line, we’re a family again. The camaraderie is incredible. We share advice on nutrition, training, injury prevention, and recovery. We often travel together and room together. I have a whole circle of Spartan friends from around the country that I never would have known otherwise, and I’m proud to say they’re just as crazy as I am.

Spartan Race has given me a new training goal. After the Ultra Beast, I realized the need to apply myself specifically to Spartan Race. While last year I focused on endurance, this year will be about speed and power. My training has shifted from pure distance running to a combination of high intensity intervals, hill repeats and unconventional strength work. Passersby may see me carrying a large rock or my bucket full of cement down the sidewalk, running with a weight vest or doing lunges with a large log on my back. I know they think I’m insane. Many of them tell me, as do my friends.

I train like this because I want to be the best. There’s nothing I want more than to raise a Spartan Helmet over my head in victory. I’m chasing some pretty amazing athletes and it’s going to take countless hours of dedication to catch them. I can’t get back the years I didn’t run. But I can devote myself to getting the most out of the rest of my life. Nobody tells me I’m too competitive anymore. They just tell me I’m crazy. I don’t mind it though, because I’m a Spartan. Spartan Race reunited me with running and in doing so it brought me peace.

Where will your Spartan finish line be? Sign up today.

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by Christopher Rutz, Spartan elite athlete

Two years ago, I ran my first Spartan Race, the 2011 Arizona Super. I did not know it at the time but my life would never be the same again. I did not realize how unique Spartan Racing was until I tried out some other events. The competition and sense of accomplishment that comes from running a Spartan Race is unparalleled. Later in 2011, I returned to Spartan Racing at the Malibu Sprint and declared that 2012 would be my “Year of the Spartan”.  2012 was an adventure for me. I ran 24 Spartan Races and hit more than a dozen different race venues.


 

 
Along the way, a group of top athletes developed a camaraderie that is unlike anything I have experienced in my athletic career. We are competitors on the course but we encourage and help one another along the way. This takes on many facets including training advice, racing advice, sharing hotel rooms and/or coordinating travel. Often we refer to one another as our “Spartan Family.”

In my athletic past, I have always been involved in competitive endeavors. My level of success varied from activity to activity. Spartan Race has allowed me to showcase the consistent and dedicated training over my athletic career.

When asked “how has Spartan changed my life?”, I have two thoughts.

One is the external focus. I have been able to build and be a part of the Spartan community as an athlete, a mentor, and a coach. I have helped people accomplish their personal goals.

Second is the internal focus. Spartan Racing has allowed me to truly think of myself as an elite/professional athlete. I have won prize money, I have secured sponsors and I have fans.  I am near the top of a new sport that will grow exponentially over the next few years.

I am excited to be involved in the first chapters of the book that is being written on Obstacle Racing and plan to be involved in the sport as the story evolves.

Are you ready for your shot at Spartan glory?  Sign up HERE.

[Editor's Note: Chris Rutz is a regular on our Spartan Race series.  Follow him @ToughRutz on Twitter and Tough Training on Facebook]

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by Chase Stewart, Spartan Elite Athlete

In the Beginning

Reebok Spartan Race changed my life. Undeniably.  Before Spartan, I was out of shape and I treated my body like crap. Anything negative I could do to my body I did, in excess, daily.  I never exercised.  Deep down I always knew that this wasn’t me, that I was much more than that. I always wanted to be healthy and fit. One day during the summer of 2011, I decided to stop wishing I was better fit and actually get better fit. The only thing holding me back from being who I wanted to be was me.

Starting a New Life

So I gave up everything that wasn’t good for me and never looked back. I took a last minute trip to Hawaii to visit my grandparents, who were house sitting out there. I needed to get away to get my mind right about what I was trying to do. When I came back, I was a new person.  I started running and hiking 4 days a week.


A few months later I heard about Spartan and immediately knew this was what I was looking for. I needed something to train for, something to keep me focused on my goals. I started researching new workouts and signed up for the WOD’s so that I could train specifically for this race. My race was the Arizona Super in 2012, I signed up for the elite heat because for me it was all or nothing. I placed 51st overall, awesome for me. I was hooked.

Going the Distance

I decided to go for the Trifecta, so I signed up for Colorado and Utah. After Colorado I checked out the global point standings and saw that I was ranked a lot higher than I expected, so I decided I had to do a fourth race. When Spartan HQ announced the Ultra Beast, I thought it sounded awesome. I also thought I wasn’t ready, but after the Utah beast I decided it was the next step. I had completed the Trifecta, an accomplishment that seemed so challenging, suddenly realizing I could do anything I put my mind to. So I signed up for the UB and started logging the miles. Every race was an adventure and I knew the UB would be the ultimate adventure.

Completing the UB is one of my proudest accomplishments. Once I got my season pass I started signing up for races left and right. Today, I have completed 13 races with 4 Trifecta medals and a top finish of 6th overall and 1st in my age group.  I am far from finished.  Spartan gives me the competition I need to push myself to be better every day. The athletes in this sport are unlike those in any other sport. They are constantly pushing themselves past their limits to continually be better. They are also some of the greatest people I know, I have made countless new friendships in this last year. This sport has a camaraderie that I have never seen before. I look forward to watching this sport grow and am proud to be a part of it.

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by Hunter McIntyre, Spartan Elite Athete

Hunter McIntyre and Hobie Call

I am a Spartan.  I am not a mountain man born and raised for the tough harsh elements of this Earth.  I was born on the upper east side of Manhattan, raised in Connecticut where the biggest hill around was my in my backyard, which was used for sledding.  Growing up I spent my time in the woods running around with a BB gun and a pocket full of fire crackers looking to stir up a good time.

I began my sports career with wrestling and picked up cross-country along the way in my Junior year of high school (because my dad told me to.)  I never had much love for either sport.  I would have rather spent my time planning an adventure with my friends. As my high school years came and went my sports career became a thing of the past.

Fast forward five years.   I moved across America to live in the star-studded hills of Malibu in a bro mansion with seven of my buddies from school. I decided to put my adventure pants back on and begin exploring my surroundings, quickly falling in love with my new habitat. I began working out in the mountains all day everyday, running, climbing and lifting anything that got in my path. Around September one of my roommates charged into my bedroom screaming something about Spartans.  I was intrigued by the race and signed up myself.  So in November I was lined up at the starting line at Calamigos Ranch in my underpants and bandana, ready to show the world how to win a race in style.  Thirty five minutes later I was covered in mud and filled with an amazing sense of accomplishment.

 

I was hooked.  It was time to test the competition by taking a run for the gold. I did my research and quickly saw that Spartan Race was full of talented athletes.  Especially one man named Hobie Call. Training became more intense, I focused on a CrossFit style and logging the miles in the hills of Malibu. By the time November rolled around, I had raced four times taking first place at each so I decided that I would take my chance against the best in Sacramento.  After running the longest race of my life, I took an honorable third against Hobie but I walked away with much more than a smile from ear to ear and a pocket full of mud.

I was quickly adopted into the world of Spartan warriors that has spread worldwide. I was getting messages daily from people telling me that I was an inspiration and to keep up the good work. I now had a family of people I had never met cheering me on at my races.  Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) is unlike any other sport.  Challenging, ever-changing, and exciting it’s become my sport.  The Reebok Spartan Race provides camaraderie and support provided amongst the racers, like no other sport I’ve seen.  Since I first set foot on a Spartan course in 2011, I knew my life had changed but with this New Year I have decided to take my commitment to another level. I am truly thankful to be a part of a sport that allows me to travel the world while experiencing all of its toughest challenges and amazing people.

It’s time to test yourself.  Get registered.  Find an event near you and join me in a Reebok Spartan Race in 2013.

 

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