While America still wrestles with the idea of universal health care and many still groan at the idea of having to remortgage the house because little Billy needs an in-growing toenail removed, think yourselves lucky we live in an age where buttock cupping isn’t considered normal practice. Well, perhaps it is where you live, but let’s all agree it’s not considered normal, yes?

The Wellcome Library – one of the world’s leading collections of medical history – has made over 100,000 images freely available of etchings and drawings of a bygone era where medicine wasn’t perhaps quite as advanced as it is today.

With a few teasing glimpses already having been shown on the BBC, many sketches by none other than Goya and Van Gogh are available for downloading via the Wellcome website.

No talk of Paleo this or vegan that. Just health practices that are equal parts humorous and sometimes just a touch horrifying. Click here if your curiosity is getting the better of you.

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“Individually, we are one drop. Together we are an ocean.” -Ryunosuke Satoro

When Spartans were attacked in battle, they formed a tight group, using their shields to protect themselves and their fellow warriors.  This was called the Phalanx Formation. If one Spartan broke formation and tried to flee, his comrades lost the protection of  his shield and would likely be killed. Spartan soldiers depended on each other completely, entrusting each other’s lives in their fellow soldiers’ hands in each battle they fought.  A Spartan standing alone on a battle field may not have been much of an opponent, but a group of Spartans in tight formation was a formidable foe.

To work in a group, people must learn to trust each other. To be effective together, each member must know how the others will think and will act, especially during times of stress. Spartan warriors lived together, ate together, trained together and fought together. Their entire lives were spent together, to the point that Spartan soldiers were as close as brothers.

In our modern world, it may seem impossible to know another person to the same degree that classical Spartans came to know their fellow soldiers.  We rarely have the opportunity to really get to know the people we work with and depend on.

With time so short in our society,  how can you get to know the people around you? How can you learn to be part of an army that works and functions together, instead of just a soldier standing alone?

Getting out of the office, away from emails and pressing deadlines affords people a perfect opportunity to actually learn about their coworkers.

Competing in a Spartan Race together is a great opportunity to discover your coworkers’ hidden talents.  Crawling through the mud break downs the barriers coworkers feel between each other in the office.  Aspects of people that would usually never be seen come right up to the surface.

Learning new things about your coworkers can be really enlightening when you’re back at the office. Someone you never thought was brave before may show a lot of courage under pressure by crawling under barbed wire and hurling themselves over obstacles. Next time there’s a big presentation, you will know the perfect person who can be confident on a stressful day. Under stress we learn how other people really think and act. It’s much easier to work with other people when you know what they’re made of.

If a group of people can run a Spartan race together, I guarantee you that they will be able to run the rat race together, no sweat.

In short, work together. Strength in unity is universal.

You see how that works next time you’re at a Spartan Race. See you at the finish line…

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How about a history lesson on this holiday? The Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the 13 American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead, they formed a union that would become a new nation—the United States of America. John Adams was a leader in pushing for independence, which was unanimously approved on July 2. A committee had already drafted the formal declaration, to be ready when congress voted on independence.

Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which congress would edit to produce the final version. The Declaration was ultimately a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The national birthday, the Independence Day is celebrated on July 4, (although Adams wanted July 2).

The immortal words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” are considered some of the most recognizable in the English language and still serve as the backbone for many human rights activists and were used in Lincoln’s historical “Gettysburg Address” he delivered on the battlefield after the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the United States of America has committed to protecting the words signed by the forefather’s of the American colonies who signed the paper with the intent on creating a new nation.

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

And so it continues today, on a day where we celebrate with picnics, beaches and BBQ… recall that it was the vision and bravery of a handful of men that set the foundation for what has been built and carried through by hundreds of thousands of Americans.  A simple declaration that fit on one page, demanding their freedom, and giving birth to a new nation.  A nation still committed to the words and protecting them daily, with great sacrifice.

Let freedom ring.

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by Carrie Adams

Not that you need 500,000 reasons to love Spartan Races  but they sure help!  In 2012, one of our most popular blog posts outlined our cash and prizes on the year.  Far and away, Spartan was the leader in the Obstacle Racing pack with our payouts for Champions and competitors.

Spartan Race was living large in 2012.  So large, we finally quantified it! Spartan Race HQ was proud to have given away $500,000 in cash and prizes!   Born out of the Death Race and growing rapidly since 2010 Spartan has continually worked hard to make our mark in the growing sport of Obstacle Racing.  With 34 global events in the season of 2012, and recognized as Outside Magazine’s “Best Obstacle Race” for the same year, Spartan Race, is building the sport of obstacle racing as the competition for the complete athlete – fast, strong, agile, with endless endurance, and strong of mind, body and character.  There is no doubt that Spartan is cutting edge with the world’s first and only global ranking system, an escalating race series from 5K to the first ever marathon(plus) distance race with the introduction of the Ultra Beast we worked hard to reward our Spartan community – handsomely!

When the season ended, the leader board had Cody Moat, who also won the  Trail National Marathon in Moab, UT on November 3rd, 2012, solidifying his position as an all-around athlete.  It came down to a fraction of points with the final tally for the men, Moat beating resident Spartan Champion Hobie Call by an extremely narrow margin.  On the women’s side, positioned at the top spot on the was former professional X-Terra athlete Jenny Tobin, with a first place point’s finish.  With 2013 already in full swing, check out the current points standings HERE.  To read the full details on the cash and prizes given away in 2012, click on the link HERE. 

We’ll be giving you even more reasons in 2013!  Our good friends at Navy Federal Credit Union have graciously agreed to sponsor the prize money at six Spartan Events in 2013.  The breakdown will be:

$2,000 1st Place

$1,000 2nd Place

$750 3rd Place

These prizes will be awarded in Arizona on February 9th, Las Vegas on April 6th, Burnet, Texas May 18, Washington, August 3rd, and the Mid-Atlantic August 24th.

More cash and prize updates coming soon!  You could win BIG with Spartan Race.  Don’t wait.  Register today.

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by Carrie Adams

With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the entirety of the East Coast and already effecting 50 million people, at Spartan Race HQ, we’re paying attention.  In New York, Sandy is flooding Battery Park, leading to mass evacuations, and excessive storm surge threatening to run rampant in lower Manhattan at high tide tonight.  As New Yorkers are preparing for power outages and possible food shortages Spartan Race is preparing to put on our first public demonstration of Spartan Race in Times Square Thursday, November 1st from 11AM – 2PM.

With billions of dollars of damage possible, markets closed, and schools and businesses on hold,  Hurricane Sandy, a Category 1 Hurricane being dubbed a “Super Storm” is proving to be a formidable weather event for the heart of the East Coast.  And Spartan is no stranger to Hurricanes.  It’s how our infamous Hurricane Heat was born and it nearly destroyed our Headquarters and town of Pittsfield, VT, not to mention the home of our new HQ presence in Boston, MA.

Amesbury 2011 Hurricane Heat

Our experience with hurricanes is storied.  When news of the impending landfall of Hurricane Irene began to circulate in the summer of 2011, Spartan HQ worked diligently to keep race doors open for the weekend of our first ever two-day event at that time in Amesbury, MA.  When the State of Massachusetts shut down the site and the venue for Sunday’s August 28, 2011 day of racing, and declared a state of emergency we were forced to cancel the heats.  Amidst the disappointed racers and staffers, no one was more upset than our own owner, Joe DeSena and the crews, course designers, and builders ready to race in Amesbury.

Plans for possible Sunday heats evaporated when we were notified that streets would be shut down and the Sunday permit would no longer be valid.  A new plan was necessary.  Phone calls, site visits, and last minute adjustments were made and SR staffers managed to negotiate an alternative for a few Spartan athletes brave enough to take on the challenge.  By noon on Friday, an invitation went out to all Sunday racers giving them the chance to try Spartan’s course with a unique twist.  An early morning run through the course led by some of the Founders of Spartan Race.  And just like that, Running with the Founders: The Hurricane Heat was born and has thrived ever since.

Hurricane Irene then descended on the East coast and ravaged Spartan HQ in Pittsfield, VT and nearby Killington, VT where the Spartan Race World Championship Beast and Ultra Beast race was held in September 2012.  The towns became islands, stranding the people who ultimately were helped by the Air National Guard, (one of Spartan’s partner sponsors) who assisted 14 other towns in the same stranded circumstances that were they were airlifted supplies and supplied necessities as the roads were being repaired to allow access into the battered towns.

K-1 Baselodge In Killington 2011, Post Hurricane Irene
It has since been repaired

As you can see, the lodge at K1, where a thousand Spartans earned their green medal, collapsed due to the effects of Hurricane Irene.  The Pickel Barrel, where hundreds of athletes gathered with their turkey legs and celebrated their completion of the BEAST, has suffered flooding. The bridges up and down Route 100 have collapsed, making it impossible to travel through the heart of the Green Mountains, by car or by foot. In fact, Pittsfield has become an island because of the destroyed bridges, entering and exiting the town line.  The destruction of the bridges in Pittsfield has made the town unreachable, for there is absolutely no way to get in or out, except by helicopter!  In fact, one of these collapsed bridges was located just outside of our office.

Vermont and our HQ hunkered down and rebuilt, though effects from the storm were still visible at our 2012 Beast and Ultra Beast event.

The New York Times had some good news early Monday morning about Times Square, saying: “…even an impending monster storm like Hurricane Sandy has not kept the tourists away from Times Square. In a post, one of its reporters says, “The approach of Hurricane Sandy may have shut down Broadway theaters on Sunday night, but it did not blow all of the tourists out of Times Square.

Late into the evening, hundreds of people milled about in the cool, fresh air, bathed in the glow of electronic signs and giant TV screens.”

It will be a rough few days for the East Coast and Spartan Race wishes all residents and visitors to the East Coast a safe week with the impending storm and storm surge.  We are vigilantly watching the “Super storm” at HQ for all those in the path and hope to be out en mass in Times Square on Thursday as scheduled to bring some Spartan spirit to the people of New York.  Our entire organization has been trained in Hurricane event management over the last two years, Sandy will be no different

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by Carrie Adams

While in Miami, Spartan event staff purchased some rope from a local fisherman told only that it had a colorful past and had been all around the world and seen thousands of nautical miles.  We were told the rope was lucky – that’s why the fishermen would always touch this particular rope for luck before setting out to sea.

The rope has been kicking it in the Spartan Trailer for a few weeks now biding its time while we thought of something constructive (or destructive) to do with it.

It’s time has come…

Meet Leonidas.

Leonidas will debut in New York City, positioned near the start before, to allow competitors the chance to rub off some good luck.  Racer’s better get to know Leonidas because he will be the centerpiece to a tug-of-war festival for the battered survivors.

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Leonidas

There are two rules:

1. Leonidas will be at every U.S. Spartan Race and before the race Leonidas will remain coiled up near the starting line. Runners can come touch the rope just before their heat to attain some of his legendary lucky power.

2. Leonidas will not be washed. All mud and blood earned on the tug-of-war battlefield will remain.

Get some, Spartans!

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by Carrie Adams

Creating an international obstacle racing series is not an easy task.  Logistics alone are enough to make it a dizzying headache of epic proportions.  The race venues crisscross the globe and span such long distances that there is a need for constant traveling, scouting, and having teams spread out over wide expanses of the world trying to find the best and baddest places to have the events.

You need course designers who are visionaries that look at the landscape and not only design but set up a course only to have it deconstructed days later. There’s the task of finding sponsors, determining and procuring materials to build the obstacles, finding volunteers to put them up, take them down, assist before, on, and after race day, and runners for the event itself.  There’s parking to manage, racers to get bibbed and chipped, to get fed post-race, and to keep entertained.  Before an event, you have to manage registrations, a constant barrage of questions, accounting paperwork, all just to get one event in the books.  The marketing, advertising, and pounding pavement to tell people your story and get people to show up on race day is an effort of epic proportions in and of itself!

But there is a whole other side to creating an international obstacle racing series.  It’s defining the spirit of the event, the very soul of what it will represent to the runners themselves who will struggle, fight, and claw their way through the miles and the tests that are put in front of them.  It isn’t about getting dirty, but you’ll get dirty.  It isn’t about having fun, but you will have fun. It isn’t about the costumes, the beer, and the after-party.  It’s about who you are when you run, and what is brought out of you when you falter, what you do when you want to give up, and how you feel when you finish.  It’s about what you have inside you to get you across that line.  How do you create something that changes a person so that they are better when they cross the finish line?

The Spartan Race was created by eight ultra-athletes.  It was created by people who have spent their lives redefining what’s realistic and finding out what’s possible by living lives without limits.

The Spartan Race was built on a code:

  • A Spartan pushes their mind and body to their limits
  • A Spartan masters their emotions.
  • A Spartan learns continuously.
  • A Spartan gives generously.
  • A Spartan leads.
  • A Spartan stands up for what they believe in, no matter the cost.
  • A Spartan knows their flaws as well as they know their strengths.
  • A Spartan proves themselves through actions, not words.
  • A Spartan lives every day as if it were their last.

Recently, we told the story of Richard and Selica, two of the initial founders of the Spartan Race.   You’ll be hearing all the stories of the founding few.  The originators of the Spartan Race who gave life to an idea but more importantly gave soul to a movement: living a life without limits.  You have one life to live, strive for greatness!

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image credit sikyon.com

by Harmony Heffron

I’ve seen the Spartan influence in a lot of places lately: movies, books, video games, even Spartan wetsuits.  Our obsession with Spartan culture is so prominent that now there’s a word for it: laconophilia.  Though I’m motivated by the images I see on TV of brave Spartans fighting battles against all odds, I find my true inspiration in the actual history of the Spartans.

Sparta was a state in classical Greece best known for its military prowess and disciplined, physically tough population, a reputation they certainly deserved. At one point they even managed to defeat the Athenian Empire.

From birth, Spartans were judged on their physical strength.  At age seven, the boys entered the Agoge, where they spent the next thirteen years of their lives training to become citizens and warriors of Sparta. Self-discipline, endurance, and physical strength were all goals of the training they received in preparation for lives constructed around war.  Every day was spent training their bodies and minds for the rigors of battle. Life was tough and demanding. Indulgences were few and far between.

According to Plutarch, a Greek historian (circa 50 CE), a Spartan only got the luxury of a bath a few special days a year.

The historian Helen Schrader stresses that Spartans were also trained intellectually as well as physically. In fact, boys would receive extra punishment if they did not respond quickly and concisely enough to questions. To be good soldiers, Spartans had to learn to think quickly, as well as just move quickly. A little strategy can go a long way in the field.

Spartans left the Agoge to become part of the military reserve at 18. Promising Spartans, at this time, were sent into the woods with only a knife in order to test their military skills and stealth.  After passing this test, at 20 years old, a Spartan became a true soldier, although he still had many more years of hard work ahead of him in order to become a full citizen.  The reality is that a Spartan’s training was never done.  In order to stay in peak physical and mental condition, a Spartan soldier could never relax.

There was no such thing as a day off in Ancient Sparta.