Written by Pro Team member Elliot Megquier

Reebok Spartan Race will kick off the first of two race weekends in Tuxedo, NY which is just north of New York City by 45 miles. To say this is going to be a big event is an understatement. Tuxedo is the only race in the USA Spartan circuit that is a double back to back weekend. Last year Spartan Race held 3 races in Tuxedo over the course of 8 days. This year they’ve bumped it up to 4 races in 9 days.

Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center is the venue and you can expect numerous climbs to the summit that has an elevation of 1200 feet. Set in the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, be prepared to see ascents and descents through the woods, challenging obstacles after your legs are destroyed from climbing, one of the hardest uphill barb wire crawls on the circuit and of course lots of mud in and around the finish line.

Hunter and Glenn share a joke in Vegas.

For the men look for points leader and championship contender Hunter “the Sheriff” McIntyre to continue his recent dominance of the series, his top contender looks to be Glenn Racz who beat the Sheriff in Vegas, mountain man Matt “the Bear” Novakovich will look to maul the pretty boy from Malibu. Other Spartan Team men that could contend include David Magida, Isaiah Vidal, Elliott Megquier, Cody Moat, Miguel Medina, Brian Hoover, and Alexander Nicholas. However you can never count out the locals to include 2013 Week 1 Champion Patrick Grevalding, runner up Randy Feeley, and Kevin Donoghue.

On the women’s side look for reigning champion Amelia Boone who is coming off a win in Indiana to be the favorite, however Rose Wetzel-Sinnett has been hot on her heels and is coming off three straight wins in Texas and Montana, and look for TyAnn Clark to return from a recent battle with illness to build on her impressive win in Las Vegas the last time she raced. Other women who will contend include April Dee, Ella Kociuba, Tiffany Novakovich, Karlee Whipple, and Laura Messner.

Amelia Boone will look to assert her authority in NY.

Most of the stars will only be present for the second week of racing, so look for a possible dark horse to shock the field. You can never count anyone out and sometimes it is the person who you do not know that is gunning for you that is most dangerous. Other events to look forward to include the Kid’s Race and all the festival challenges where you can win an entry into an upcoming race. Looking for other ways to get a free race? Volunteer one of the days or even a half day. These wonderful events cannot happen without you help, Spartan Race Staff members are amazing and tireless workers but they cannot do it all without you! This is going to be an amazing two weeks you’ll you kicking yourself if you don’t come and experience at least one of the races…

The 2014 Tristate Tuxedo Sprint marks the start of guest blogger Elliott Megquier’s fourth year doing Spartan Races. Back in 2011 when Spartan Race first hosted a sprint in Tuxedo NY, he toed the line for the very first time, now he’s completed 85 races and is still as hooked as he was during his initial experience. It’s true Elliott’s a junkie.

Sign up for your next race today and you’ll understand what it means to “know at the finish line…”

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Monterrey Beast – Tougher than you

by Spartan News Desk

 You measure yourself by the level of challenges you’ve faced. Run a local 5k? Maybe for a quick warm up before you get serious about your training. Complete a 10k? If there isn’t anything more intense, but maybe you can make do with the added weight of a vest. Weekend events are reserved for the events you take on with your core group of friends. The maniacs you met doing an overnight relay, some crazy boot camp on the beach, or some “tough” mud run. Each time you complete one of these you can’t help but think to yourself “You my friend, are an absolute Beast”. But are you, are you really? One way to prove it, to show yourself and the rest of the world you are truly the Beast you think you are. Get yourself to Monterrey and tackle the Spartan Beast.

We know you have done other events and think you have nothing left to prove. We also know that people who say that are often scared of that one last true test. In this case the Monterrey Spartan Beast is that last test. We understand it’s a little intimidating, its supposed to be that way, if it wasn’t we wouldn’t call it the Beast.

Coming in at 12+ miles and over 25 obstacles taking you through the hills of Monterrey we turn a picturesque landscape into a brutal expanse of a course. It will take you physically and mentally to places you have yet to go to before. This course will test your limits; it will redefine your idea of endurance and obstacle racing.

Yes, this is going to hurt. You’re welcome.

So lets just accept the fact that you are a little nervous about tackling the Monterrey Beast. Are you worried that your fitness level is going to be exposed as not being at the level you originally thought? Is it the idea that you might actually earn yourself the dreaded DNF (did not finish)? Could it be that there is a timing element to this event you haven’t come across before? After all at the Reebok Spartan Beast in Monterrey we will hold you accountable to missing obstacles. Each one you miss will cost you 30 burpees. Spartan fully expects you to earn your medal. We view them as our shields, forged on the fields of battle.

This isn’t a headband or a fuzzy helmet. You can’t coast through our event and the Beast is no joke. You can run this event with friends but there will be no relay element. You are expected to finish this race along with them, side by side. So now you have to ask yourself how tough you really are. You’ve done some events that have tested you, maybe left you feeling tired; the Beat is the ultimate test. You best this and you have bragging rights for the rest of your life. Once you cross that finish line you will know a whole new depth to yourself, your strength, you will see just how far down you can reach in order to get it done during one of the toughest events you’ve ever faced.

So what are you waiting for? Step up, sign up, and see if all those other events you have done have given you what you need to be Spartan strong. Answer for yourself…

…Are you Unbreakable?

Sign up today at Spartanrace.com for the Monterrey Beast June 7th, 2014.

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Littering and….littering and…littering…and stop littering the Spartan Festival Area!

Every Spartan Race is a big event, with nearly 10,000 people showing up throughout the weekend we understand that a lot of trash is going to accumulate. We as Spartans do our best to make sure the course, the festival and everything in between creates a stellar experience for all of our guests. Do you know what makes for a less than desirable experience? Having to pick up the trash of others.

If you’ve ever volunteered at a Spartan Race, then you know that we have people who are out there volunteering their time. These are a select few of the most caring, non-complaining people you will find that will spend their days walking around the festival area picking up YOUR trash. Stop it! Stop littering. You are better than this.

When there are trash receptacles positioned all throughout the festival area there is absolutely no reason why someone should walk around and find a piece of trash lying on the ground not even twenty feet away from the nearest trash bin. You know what we call that. LAZY. Yeah, I said it. You, who dropped your Clif Builder’s Bar wrapper by the merchandise tent, you’re lazy. You, who didn’t take the time to walk an extra thirty feet to throw out your timing chip baggie, you’re lazy. You, who couldn’t afford the extra twenty-five seconds to mosey on over to the nearest garbage to toss away that empty bottle of Core Power, you are LAZY. It doesn’t stop in the festival either, it happens on the course too. We’ve discussed trail etiquette before but with so many new Spartans showing up at every race perhaps it’s time we revisit the topic. Whatever you bring with you onto the course, you clearly had a place to stash it, that means when you’ve finished sucking down that gel packet, or devouring your scrumptious energy chews and all you are left with is an empty wrapper do the right thing and put it back in your pocket, your camelback or where ever it is your were storing it before you ate it. If you can bring it with you on the course, you can take it right back off the course. Stop being lazy and SPARTAN UP!

Remember we are all in this together, we cannot make these events happen without each and every one of you. Take a moment to think about how much extra work you are creating the next time you consider littering at any event. If you’re going to litter you might as well just drop down and do 30 burpees because that’s the penalty if someone catches you from here on out. Don’t litter. We’ll be watching you and we’ll be dishing out the burpees.

Sign up for a race and we’ll see you in the trash free festival!

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And just like that, another powerhouse bursts onto the scene leaving a trail of destruction behind him. Spartan Race is proud to announce the newest addition to the Pro Team – Glenn Racz.

Perhaps more recognizable as the man from American Ninja Warrior and the man that can run a 4:12 mile and a 5K in 15:12, Glenn boasts not just an envious running pedigree, but amazing agility and strength. Despite having only ran 5 Spartan Races so far, he has never placed lower than 5th place and with each race has seen his placing rise each time, including the latest – a victory at the Las Vegas Super Spartan. 

“I’m stoked to be given this opportunity to represent Spartan Race! My first Spartan race was just 4 months ago, so I am enjoying the ride one race at a time! The other Pro Team members have been very welcoming to a newbie such as myself.”

Reflecting on how quickly everything has happened and how his background helped him get to where he is, Glenn smiles at the thought of all the work he has put in.

“Growing up in SoCal, I grew up playing roller hockey, snowboarding, and surfing. Then after graduating from UCSB, I began my career as a Mechanical Engineer – but in order to not weigh too much for surfing, I started running, which was about 10 years ago. The next 9 years I surfed less and ran more and trained hard to be competitive at road races primarily at the 1 mile and 5k distance (4:12 mile/14:59 5k PRs). Then last year, just for fun I applied to American Ninja Warrior (ANW) and to my surprise I was accepted to try out the course in Venice Beach.  After failing an obstacle in the preliminary round, I was determined to try it again this year so I began to do some upper body/gymnastics training and started learning about obstacle training and that was when I started to be interested in the Spartan Race – in order to supplement my obstacle training. But once I did the Malibu Spartan a few months ago, I knew that this was the perfect blend of running/obstacles that best fit my skill-set (plus my wife wasn’t too impressed with the skinny runner’s physique!). Then last month when I didn’t get the call back from ANW, I converted my backyard obstacles from ANW to Spartan obstacles and focused solely on Spartan-specific training.”

“I do a lot of the running with obstacles mixed in, but I also have a garage and backyard full of fun stuff to train on, so I feel like the convenience is key since I am able to work out and play with my 3 kids at the same time. I feel like this type of home-gym arrangement is beneficial for everyone since it is cheaper than a gym and it allows for more family time, which is one of the things that takes priority over my training!”

But don’t let the smiling face of the Californian let you think his kindness is weakness. Behind it all is a determined and focused individual.

“I want to be a part of the Spartan Race because:

1) It offers a challenge in both the running and obstacle aspect of racing; plus I enjoy learning and adapting my training after each race

2) Spartan Race is always progressing & evolving to keep every race exciting and new, unlike your run of the mill road race

3) Compared to running, the Spartan Race exposes weaknesses in my overall fitness, which encourages me to become a better all-around athlete as well as a guard against injury

4) Now I can finally beat my wife at arm wrestling!”

“I am planning to focus my training for the Spartan World Championship Race in September. But during the next few months, I hope to have some good battles with some of the other top Pro Team guys who have set the bar high.”

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Michael Mendoza wasn’t always the rippling torso of sinew and muscles that he is now. One fateful day, only 30 yards into a 10k that he’d signed up for and not trained for at all – despite his lethargic attitude to life – he realized that taking his body for granted was a dangerous thing to do. His life was going to change immediately and it all began with his diet. He explains…

“Going vegan was definitely not an overnight process, which is why it bugs me that so many people think they can guilt someone into going vegan. Look, I knew that we tortured animals, but I could have really cared less. They were our food, so who cared if they were ethically treated before slaughter, right?

Vegans and animal rights activists just have way too much time on their hands! Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely an animal lover, dogs, cats, and anything on the endangered species list, but not our food supply.”

Michael explains that he got to where he is by what he calls his “Matrix Effect”. He decided to take that  pill and see just how far the rabbit hole led him. Having already started an exercise regimen with healthier foods and leaner meats, the thought of giving up meat never crossed his mind.

“I was pretty successful in losing a large amount of weight when a book called “Skinny Bastard,” made its way into my hands. I laughed at the notion of vegetarianism but read it anyways. After reading the book, I was horrified and in disbelief. I didn’t want to buy into the fact that our food supply was really tainted. I didn’t want to believe that the government could allow any of these practices to go on. I did more research and eventually adopted a vegan diet. I lost even more weight but reverted into vegetarianism. Years go by as a vegetarian and I had gained a substantial amount of weight back.”

Michael didn’t know another vegetarian or vegan (or “v*gan”, as they are commonly referred to in text) at all by this time. This eventually changed due to social media and he met many others with the same philosophy online. Noticing that many of the vegans he saw online were athletes, he decided to give it a try and go vegan. He bought the book “Thrive” by Brendain Braizer – a successful vegan triathlete – and took his advice.

“I followed his program and had this energy that I never had before. I was able to go faster and further with this new diet. I was running 10k’s and half marathons for fun! I dropped a lot of weight and was in the best shape of my life. All thanks to social media.”

“Another thing that happened was that I learned compassion for animals. I gave up leather and anything related to animal products. Being vegan does open your eyes to the fact that you really don’t need animal products to survive. Heck, being vegan is why I have all this energy.”

But there wasn’t just one tipping point or moments of clarity that Michael puts this down to. He was around 300+lbs, smoked occasionally and drank all the time. He recalls how what he consumed on a daily basis wasn’t good. “My diet was also pretty horrendous. I never ate a single meal without meat and drank at least three cans of diet cherry coke every day.”

“I was at a party and a few friends were talking about a 10K they entered. I had run a 10K for a college final once before, and I was still confident about it. I jokingly said that I was able to run a race, and everyone just laughed at me. To prove them wrong, I signed up for it.  It was a scorcher and well over 100 degrees outside. I met all my friends and we headed to the starting line. Keep in mind, I had zero training and did not prepare for this run at all. They shot that gun and we all started running like rats abandoning a ship. I had a good stride until about 30 or so yards. My lungs started to hurt, my legs started to ache, and I could barely breathe! I took a look back at the starting line and seriously thought about heading back in shame.

300 pound guy trying to run six miles? What was I thinking? I decided the shame of turning back would be too much to handle, so I pressed forward. I decided that I would finish this God forsaken race even if I had to crawl to the finish line.”

As he was bent over double, gasping for air, he was passed by a lady that was in her 70’s. The full horror of his own physical fitness was now washing over him like a cold shower. The alarms were ringing and life was slapping his face from left to right and back again. Time to wake up, Michael.

“She looked like someone that I should help cross the street and here she was passing this guy in his 20’s?! This was ridiculous! So I gave all that I had and passed her up. It was a back and forth race for miles with this lady who should have been knitting at home, not competing with me in a race that I was obviously losing! I finally gave up! She passed me and I was embarrassed. I started to hyperventilate and seriously thought I might die that day. But Like I said, I decided to finish even if I had to crawl across that damn line!”

He eventually finished the race in what he considers to be the worst shape of his life. Sweaty, drained of energy and feeling utterly humiliated and beaten down, it took Michael 1 hour and 52 minutes to cover the 10k. Feeling so drained, Michael had to rest for a few hours before he considered himself good enough to drive home, such was the level of his exhaustion.

“Ever since that day I knew that I needed to get into shape but never really knew how. I was so lazy and eventually lost the passion to get fit. A few months later I took a trip to Europe. My life forever changed since then.”

Some of Michael’s training would include things like uphill sand dune sprints

“In the States I was huge but there were others that were equally large around me. In Europe however, I was the biggest guy in the Continent! It didn’t take very long to realize why! My first day in Venice Italy, I went to a local shop and ordered a pizza and soda. It was such a tiny slice of pizza and the smallest soda I have ever seen! I laughed and thought I must have ordered in the over-priced tourist area!

Later on for dinner, I went to another restaurant and ordered some ravioli. Oh I was super excited! I mean, I’m in Italy eating Italian. Awesome right? Nope! Here comes the waiter with my bowl full of ravioli, 4 pieces. 4 freaking pieces! It was the Twilight Zone here!”

Reverting to type, Michael resorted to what he knew – American fast food. Going to Burger King and McDonalds, he knew he would be in familiar territory. Sadly for him, he soon found that there wasn’t a “Super Size” option for him to fall back on. He quickly understood that he would “either starve or go broke.”

“Slowly but surely I started realizing that these Europeans didn’t have tiny portion sizes, but we Americans had gigantic portion sizes. I also figured out another thing, my feet were killing me. I was walking everywhere. In California, walking was for people who didn’t have cars, not for everyone else.

I came back with a new outlook on life. There was a Starbucks about a quarter mile from my apartment that I would drive to. I never took my car again and started a portion control diet with exercise.”

In regards to training, Michael was a rudderless ship. Not really knowing what he wanted to do, or even how to do it, he was all over the place.

“I started this popular diet called “Atkins.” It was great! I got to eat tons of bacon and eggs and didn’t have to worry about anything. Well, that didn’t last long. I didn’t lose any weight and I felt horrible. I started researching different programs and eventually found one that I liked. It was superset lifting with 33% protein, 33% carbs, and 33% fats. It told me to stay away from fruits and not to do any cardio. I cheated and ate fruits and started to run.”

His vendetta was consuming him. He had a score to settle with 10K of asphalt. He wanted to be able to run a distance that he considered a man of his age should easily be able to do.

“I calculated a full 3 miles around my whole apartment block. It wasn’t easy at all but I was completely motivated. My first run was similar to that 10K I did months before. After about 30 yards in, I was done, but pushed myself to keep going. Days that I wasn’t attempting to run, I started to lift. I was way too embarrassed to hit up a local gym, so I used my apartment gym instead. Luckily we had a decent amount of weights and exercise equipment. I didn’t know what I was doing so I just followed a workout plan.”

The difference in his body wasn’t something he noticed at first. Not overly concerned with how he looked, moreover how he felt, he eventually saw that, over the months, his body was changing in a positive way.

“After months of running, months of eating healthy, and months of dropping pounds, I ran 6 miles without stopping. I didn’t even really notice that I had reached this level of “athleticism.” It was everyday work for me and I had never taken notice.”

There was a quote that I printed up and went like this, “Unless you’re giving 100% every time, you might as well stay at home. So that’s what I did, gave it my 100% every time I went out! Granted, you’re going to have good days and bad days, but I never limited myself.”

“What really made me realize the difference were the compliments from friends and family at how much weight I had lost. I honestly did not notice much changing, it was only till my friends said something that I was able to really look at old pictures of myself, and notice the change.”

But as every Spartan Racer knows, there is an area that every single person has, regardless of strength, stamina, build, body shape, age or mental fortitude. A common bond that we all share and one that we all have to push past in order to make it worthwhile – the comfort zone.

“Yes! Getting out of your comfort zone!”, Michael laughs, “the hardest thing for me was getting rid of the people who were negatively influencing me and hanging out with those who would positively influence me. You cannot get into shape if you’re hanging out with people who do nothing but drink, smoke, and eat horrible food.”

“I put friendships, nightlife and fast food on hold. I told myself that it was a temporary inconvenience and that it would be worth it in the end. Boy did it pay off. I seriously felt like a whole new person afterwards. Accepting that everything I knew about food was completely wrong was hard but necessary. Admitting being wrong about a lot of stuff was tough but was the first step to recovery. Once I accepted that I had no idea what I was doing, I was then able to move forward and learn about food and fitness.”

Offering advice for those open to what he experienced, Michael is quick to lay out some pointers, should anyone want to follow his example.

“It is hard and boy is it tough! If it were easy, everyone would be in shape! You have to want it bad and be willing to struggle for it. Once you get to that point where you have that, “nothing is going to stop me,” mentality, you’ll be successful! Most people quit at the first sign of a struggle and wonder why their “diet” doesn’t work. If there is a wall, you climb it. If there is a ditch, you jump over it. If there is a lake, you swim across it. That’s it. That’s the secret! For every object that gets in your path, you have to overcome it. And that is how you will succeed.”

Obstacles are not there to prevent your progress. They are opportunities to show what your mind and body can do.

Sign up today and we’ll see you at the finish line.

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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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Robert Mathews of Sahuarita, Arizona was serving his country when he suffered an injury that cut his career short. Happy, but missing that certain something, he discovered Spartan Race. We caught up with him recently and spoke to him about his story.

“Well it ain’t long, but ill share it. Without the gore! 2006 my squad got ambushed. Those who made it, were still hanging on but not by much. I was transported from Iraq to Germany in the process received transfusions and surgeries. They tried to repair the damage, but the bullet ripped out my bicep, tore my tricep, and cut all my nerves. “

In 2007, he was sitting at Walter Reed when a huge wave of doubt and depression hit him. He considered himself “washed up.” “A young one armed handicapped person”. He was resigned to the fact that his military career was over and a hard-to-get civilian job would be on the cards. It was then that he met a man that turned his attitude around. A Delta Force guy with one arm that was in an identical situation.

“This was badass he achieved my ultimate military goal!  He told me, “If your mind is weak, your body is” and we start doing one armed pushups against the wall. My mindset was transformed! Shortly after I did a soldier ride from Phoenix to Las Vegas. I got married, and had kids. I continued to serve until 2010, mostly teaching my craft to young soldiers, when I started to encounter a lot of flax and BS. It was a consent struggle, so I retired.”

From there, we fast-forward to last year. Robert realized his kids and wife deserved the best of him. They were his priority and everything thereafter was secondary.

“Deep down on the most primal level the best of me is an endurance beast, a fighter, someone who pushes the limitations and doesn’t quit. Not doing those things suppressed a lot of me. So I moved to Arizona, where being retired I do a lot of outdoor survival, biking, camping, running and my HOA has a pretty bad ass gym. I’ll admit, I miss having two arms, but in the gym adaptation is key. Keeps me thinking on my feet.”

It was then that the Arizona Sprint came barreling around the corner into view. The first test of his character and will power. All that time spent honing his fitness would now be tested.

“The Sprint was fun, but I’m going to have my revenge on some obstacles. The sand bag hoist for sure, because as adaptive as I am, I couldn’t figure out a one armed way! And for sure the rope climb and that damn spear throw! After knocking out the Sprint, I have wrapped my head around a few ways to accommodate, adapt and overcome, but a sure bet is to master the one armed burpee. I’ve also wrote a four phase beast training guide and it started today actually.”

Was the preparation for something alien to him enough? Where the physical side can be ready, did the idea of the course, covered by a cloak of sinister mystery, worry him or was it something that he thrived upon? Robert explains that the prospect pumped him up and it was something he thrived upon.

“Trust me I trained for the Arizona Sprint like a beast. I aimed for number one.  I stepped up to the starting line feeling hard as woodpecker lips. I could taste it, but you know, winners are everywhere, finishers to me means something different. We all train to win, but only one individuals gets number one spot. Few train to finish. There are billions of people in this world and how many medals have y’all handed out? Exactly! Quitting gets easier over time it’s a hard path to change. You want to witness intestinal fortitude? Watch a person who fight and never gives in. That’s hardcore, that’s the person I want to be. I’ll try and maybe I’ll make it, maybe I won’t, but I’ll try it again and again until I get it right.”

But then, out of his new experience, he found something that excited him even more than the Sprint. Hovering into view was something he could relate to on a military-style level. He had found what he believes could be his “happy place”.

“Then I received word on the Las Vegas Twelve Hour Hurricane Heat. I immediately told my wife to skip getting me anything for Christmas, because if I can get a chance I’ll save up and go to it. Which leads me to today! As soon as the sign up was released, Robert signed up. Actually they should run the course with one arm tied up, I’d kick some ass then!”

Robert is clearly a fighter. Someone who thrives on the challenge and the pressure of a battle and while he will always aim for the top spot, it’s not the winning that is important to him. It’s the fight and the effort that count as a higher value to him.

“In the most cheesiness line ever, I won’t quit. Y’all have to carry me on a shield haha! It’s a wonderful start in the world of endurance racing. This is the me I want to be for my kids and wife. It’s a long road, but my goals are easy. To be an endurance athlete that can show people in their darkest moments that you don’t let a wall stop you, you tuck your head, grit your teeth, speed up and blow through it. Win, lose or draw, there isn’t room for quit. My job in the military showed me time and time again the body can go so much further if your mind acceptance is there.

Pain is weakness leaving the body, and you’ll never be more alive than when you’re cold, wet, hungry, bloody and beaten, both mentally, physically. Once you have felt the worse, and been thru hell, nothing is that bad afterwards.”

Reflecting on the tag line of Spartan Race – “You’ll know at the finish line” – Robert sees a heavy parallel with what he experienced in the military. While perhaps not of the same punishing weight of responsibility, that undefinable “something” was something that he’d already experienced.

“My military started as a grunt and I was told that when you’re standing on Victory Hill and they give you that blue cord, you’ll know. They were right and as cheesy as it sounds, after they hand you that medal you know. I can’t tell you to this day what it is, but you’ll know, when you burst through that finish line, people can be inspired and it’s easy to say, “that’s great the gimp did it, I can do.” I’m glad, but do it. Hell yeah I say do a Spartan, but start today. Lace your shoes up, sling a kettlebell, do a burpee and then tomorrow do two. It isn’t hard, it’s that easy! No excuses.”

Looking forward, Robert now has his battle plans drawn up and knows what he needs to do in order to get to where he wants to be. A personal battle with not just fitness and physical strength, but honing and sharpening his willpower and inner strength. Nothing, it would appear, will stand in his way.

“So in short I’ll attend the Twelve Hour Hurricane Heat. If not that, then maybe a Beast, collect some shiny medals and eventually search out a sponsorship once my race profile fills up. Locally I attend 5k’s and 10k’s. Hopefully adding marathons and century rides in this year! I will get there. It takes time and at 30 I’ve just begun! Long term is to become a hardcore endurance athlete, to continue to push the limits of mind and body! I refuse to let a non-functioning limb keep me from attempting my dreams, or have anyone tell me I don’t belong, or hold me back. I’m going to dominate my life, nothing or no one else. Me!”

Focussing that rage and harnessing the positive aggression he has into what comes next is now second nature for Robert. He knows what is allowed and what he will accept, but one thing is definitely off the menu.

“Quitting. Quitting is the one thing you can’t take back! You don’t get a redo, plain and simple you quit! I’d rather carry you and shoulder some pain and help, then let you quit. My wife and kids deserve the best of me and I have to tell her thanks for letting me pursue my dreams. There’s also the small matter of her putting up with me and these wild, ‘hey I’m going to do a Sprint, a Beast, a whatever’ moments I have. All I can do is my best and never give in.”

“It isn’t in me, it’s not for me. I’ve been shot, blown up, beaten, bloody, and left for death! There isn’t much that can hold me back, and after all that, quitting isn’t an option and it shouldn’t be for anyone. You’ve been through worse, so what’s a little mud? Get out there and STFU!”

Sign up now and we’ll see you at the finish line…

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Growing up as a boy in Germany, I was always fascinated by the endless pine forests that seemed to go on forever. I’d see men with forearms like Popeye and chests like barrels quaffing beers and throwing axes at logs in almost nonchalant disdain. The way the wood would explode into halves as the blade shot through it was almost hypnotic. The action, the smell and of course, that glorious sound made everything so delicious. It remained with me throughout my life and now, finally, not only do I have an excuse to chop, but it contains benefits that I embrace with the same arms that swing those axes.

Why would anyone want to chop wood, though? It’s actually very simple. It’s good for you.

Chopping wood is, simply put, one of the best workouts you can give your body. Let’s think about this. First of all, you need a good solid stance, right? Making sure the feet part at a comfortable distance, usually about shoulder width, in order to have a good solid base, you are prepping for action. Doing this means your hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and gluteal muscles are all in use and are tense and braced. Going on from there, you have the swing itself. This is generated in the latissimus dorsi, the lower and middle trapezius, the deltoids, obliques and the pectorals. Completing the swing, you will use smaller muscles in order to stabilize it. It’s one of the few motions, not unlike swimming, that uses a whole range of motions and muscles in order to complete one action.

Best of all for folks that hate doing floor exercises, but still want to try and work those abs, is that this action is basically like doing crunches, only you’re standing up and aren’t getting bored to tears. Crunches are boring. There, I said it.

But it doesn’t end there. Because wood chopping is considered a low-intensity workout, it can improve cardiovascular endurance when you perform is slowly and steadily for a protracted amount of time. With practice, the constant repetition of the swing of the axe will build precise form. This form will raise your heart rate, burn calories and improve your circulation.

Additionally, the motion of the swing – which should be smooth and fluid-like with practice – will not adversely affect your joints, because this exercise is effectively not a weight-bearing one. If you chop wood, say, twice or perhaps three times a week, it will help build aerobic fitness and as we all know, this is what you need in order to efficiently take in oxygen while you perform not just exercise, but any kind of physical activity.

As with any physical activity that requires certain amounts of exertion, you’ll be releasing both endorphins and adrenaline. These are both feel-good chemicals produced naturally within the body.

So chopping wood is in that bizarre situation of being both creative and destructive at the same time. Chopping wood is so rewarding and from personal experience, way more rewarding than any clinical workout in any gym or Crossfit box. You’ve achieved something and have actually something to show for it. You can feel all the muscles working and best of all, that satisfying ache of a job well done. Not to mention the fact that chopping is a confidence booster. Add that final element of problem solving when you come across that one particularly knotty and stubborn piece of wood that just doesn’t want to be split and you have what could be argued as the perfect workout.

As any Spartan Death Racer will tell you, log chopping is a staple part of the Death Race as it’s the perfect workout. Perhaps going back to basics is sometimes the best approach to go forward. So get chopping and sign up for your next race now.

See you at the finish line…

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Leading up to the Charlotte Spartan Sprint the entire festival and base camp was submerged under water. Rumors began floating around that the Charlotte Sprint would become the first ever Waterworld Spartan Race. Thankfully, as the weekend approached the sun helped dry things up just enough to ensure another excellent Spartan weekend.

We want to thank everyone who came out this weekend. As late as Tuesday, we were questioning amongst ourselves whether or not we would pull this off. At one point our base camp was over two feet under water. As race day approached we had to change our parking plans multiple times. Thank you for Spartan’ing up and helping us play host to another extraordinary event.

The infamous Hurricane Heat commenced the weekend’s events starting bright and early at 6:00AM. Without those extraordinary teamwork of the Hurricane Heaters, the festival would have remained a disaster; together they hoisted several enormous hay bales from the parking lot to registration and the festival area. Per usual an impressive smoke session (ie. lots of burpees, sit-ups, planks, etc) took place before setting out onto sections of the course. During the PT several participants were broken off from the group to assist in constructing a Spartan mudman sculpture. It’s kind of like a snowman but made with mud. To wrap things up, each team had to mummify a randomly selected member from each team with the required cassette tapes they brought. Abiding by the Warrior Ethos, their fallen comrades had to be carried over a half mile through the course from the Spearman obstacle to the finish. In the Hurricane Heat you start mostly as strangers but finish as a single unified team.

From the Spartan Pro Team we saw a return to the Spartan circuit from female World Champion, Amelia Boone. Joining her were fellow Spartan Pro teammates, Matt Novakovich, Juliana Sproles, Hannah Orders, Elliot Mcguier, and David Magida. Also in attendance were Spartan elites, Valerie Smith, John Henderson, Jeffrey Bent, and Spartan SGX Coach Sarah Pozdol.

It was a grueling competition on Saturday that had all the racers fighting through the extra muddy obstacles. Focus, concentration, everything was tested on this course. Our returning Spartan World Champion, Amelia Boone, took the first place spot on the podium for the women. Spartan Pro Team member, Matt Novakovich also clutched another first place finish. Rounding things out for the women, Ashley Keller took second, just five months after having a baby, and Spartan SGX Coach, Sarah Pozdol came in third. In the men’s competition, Yuri Force crossed the finish just over a minute behind Novakovich snagging second, followed closely by Matthew Taverner in third. Spartan Pro Team members Elliot and David came in fourth and fifth, respectively and Juliana Sproles took eighth.

On Sunday, Spartan Pro Team members Matt Novakovich, Juliana Sproles and Elliot Mcguier returned for some more fun in the mud. The course, which was already a muddy mess, took a turn for the worse (or better in our eyes) after almost 8,300 racers conquered the Saturday Charlotte Sprint. The competition was fierce and Matt Novakovich once again came out victorious. Spartan Pro, Elliot Meguier came in second and Dennis Welch snagged third. The top three women were each separated by nearly a two minute gap with Brittany Duckworth leading the pack taking first, Juliana Sproles returning to the podium in second, and Melanie Jones in third.

Throughout the day, warm ups were conducted near the starting line by Spartan SGX Coaches, Sarah Pozdol and Steve Manns. Nearly 13,000 racers discovered the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a Spartan Race. Among those Spartans were a few incredible adaptive athletes that tackled the course. Operation Enduring Warrior, Wounded Warrior and More Hearts than Scars showed us once again that anything is possible especially with the strong support from their amazing community ambassadors.

There was one particularly outstanding moment that represents the embodiment of what it means to be a Spartan. At every Spartan Race there is always a sweeper heat that ensures the entire course is cleared, making certain that everyone out there crosses the finish. Our final racer of the day on Saturday, a young lady by the name of Ana Silva, injured her ankle on the course. She came to the realization that she injured herself near the three mile mark just as she began a hill climb at The Gamble obstacle. Determined to cross that finish line she found herself a walking stick and trudged on. Medical asked her numerous times if she wanted to be taken off the course; she refused. Her response, “I’m finishing this race!” Kudos to her, because that’s just what she did, giving it her all and collapsing to the ground at the finish line. Ana, is a Spartan and we applaud her unrelenting pursuit to finish what she started. Thank you to the sweeper heat and staff who kept her company for the remainder of her race.

We can’t forget about the Spartan Kids Race, offering youngsters ages 4-13 an opportunity to conquer their own obstacles on the course built just for them. The smiles on those little ones faces as they climb the cargo net and tackle the mud are so refreshing. It’s a wonderful sight to see these little people doing what they should be doing, getting out there and playing in some mud. “Don’t worry mom, its okay, I’m a Spartan.” Keep your eyes out for these youngsters over the next few years, there are some next generation Spartan Pro Team members getting a jump start on their journey!

In the festival and at the finish our sponsor Core Power delivered some delicious protein drinks, keeping our participants and spectators properly fueled throughout the day. Our friends at Obstacle Racing Media were on site providing race day coverage of all the day’s activities and SpartanUp! Graphix presented their impressive wall graphics made straight from your favorite race photos. Be sure to check out your race photos and check out SpartanUp! Graphix for extra large prints and life-size cut-outs.

After a very long and exciting weekend here in Charlotte, North Carolina the Spartan Team is packing up and preparing to head west for the Vegas Spartan Super. You won’t want to miss out on the madness in Sin City, where we’ll be launching the first ever Hurricane Heat Twelve Hour!

If you haven’t signed up yet, SpartanUp! and make it happen today! Sign up, show up, and never, ever give up! We’ll see you at the finish line. AROO!!!

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Spartan Race would like to officially announce the newest member of our Spartan Elite Pro Team, Rose Wetzel-Sinnett. Crashing in from Seattle to take the Spartan Race world by storm, Rose has impressed everyone with her fiery tenacity and her impossibly strong running skills. 

Of the announcement, Rose couldn’t hide her delight, saying, “I feel honored to be welcomed onto the Spartan Pro Team, an amazing group of talented athletes and fierce competitors. Spartan offers the support and community environment I desire in order to thrive and excel. The passion for excellence amongst the Spartan Pro Team is contagious and I’m confident it will propel me to reach my full athletic potential.”

Despite being a relative newcomer to the sport – August 2013 was her first race, one she came fourth in – she has taken the sport by the scruff of the neck and announced her arrival in no uncertain terms. Three wins and twice coming second sends out a clear indication that she is to be taken seriously.

Describing what Spartan Race means to her, she smiles, “Spartan means taking on challenges, breaking out of our comfort zones, and overcoming our obstacles. It means digging deep to find out how physically strong and mentally tough we can be. It’s not about being macho; it’s about being brave. I once saw a quote that said something like, “the world needs fewer people that are tough, and more people that are tender.” I say the world needs more of both, and many of us could use more of both in our lives.”

Feeling most at home when she is moving, it’s no surprise that Rose has already done some pretty major events already. Triathlons, marathons, 200-mile bike rides, and team-oriented overnight running relays have all been done, but lately, her focus has switched back to running tracks, road races and now, as she puts it, “the fun, crazy world of obstacle racing.”

But Rose isn’t going to rest on her laurels and hope that what she can do will be enough to keep her place on the podium. Competition is fierce in Spartan Race and Rose knows this. As such, she is already working through a plan that she hopes will keep her duking it out – metaphorically, of course – with the other Pro Team members on the circuit.

“I plan to increase the speed component of Spartan Races so that races cannot be won based on strength and obstacle efficiency alone. The beauty of Spartan Races is that for one to prevail, they must have the best combination of both strength and cardiovascular ability. Amelia and April, for instance, have impressive strength, and knowing that, I feel inspired and motivated to work incredibly hard to get stronger. If they work at getting faster, knowing I’m now in the arena and coming from a speedy background, hopefully it will cause all of us to push each other to become the best, most well-rounded obstacle racers we can be. Our collective competitive drive will make this year’s Spartan World Championship the most intense and entertaining one yet.”

So please welcome Rose “Wonder Woman” Wetzel to the Pro Team and be sure not to blink when she runs past. Chance are you’ll miss her.

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