Today Spartan Race hit a landmark of 4million Facebook fans! YOU made that happen and because of you we are going to celebrate being Spartans by cranking out 30 burpees all across the globe. Grab your friends, grab a camera, and get some video footage of yourselves doing 30 burpees! Spartan Citizen Cody Allen got us started today from far away Afghanistan. Thanks Cody!

 

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Discussion came up recently around everyone’s favorite Spartan Race venues. We’ve *ALL* had this conversation, no doubt. But when you sit down and think about it, it’s really not that easy to keep it to a list of just five. Everyone around the office has their own favorites for various reasons, just as racers do. So, in no particular order, here is what we came up with. Our Top 13 Spartan Race venues with some commentary thrown in for fun;

1) Temecula, Southern CaliforniaVail Lake Temecula SoCal Spartan Race

 

Cookie – “It has so many nooks, crannies, little hidden away trails that don’t present themselves unless you go looking for them. It has a lake. A glorious, shimmering, beautifully cold lake that beckons you with a mischievous grin carved across its face. Hills as far as you can see. Terrain? You name it, they’ve got it. So good that it’s the home of an HH12HR, Sprint, Super, and Beast in 2014.”

John – “This is one of my favorites as well. The location of my first Super ever. It was amazing. I remember coming around the hill at mile 7 or so in 2013 thinking I was close to the end only to be greeted by what was essentially a scramble hand over foot to climb up further. I couldn’t believe when Hobie Call finished that race in something like an hour and 13 minutes.”

Tony - “One of the most gorgeous venues I’ve ever seen to date. The hills, the lake, the beautiful weather, the luscious green grass that covers the festival floor. If you are looking for a venue to really soak it all in, this is the one. Not only is the race demanding of all you’ve got but the rest of the venue gives you that reason to stay, hang out and enjoy the most important aspect of it all, the people.”

Jason – My first Spartan Race in 2011. I had just signed on as digital marketer and found myself with a fucking hammer trying to finish obstacles before race time, and breaking down stuff and loading a trailer with Matt M at end. Great hills – my first vision of rugged ridgelines lined with Spartans making their way across the landscape. This was our first Super. It was so brand new. People were like, what the fuck is going on.

2) Palmerton, Pennsylvania

Palmerton PA Spartan Race Sprint Blue Ridge Mountains
Cookie – “For anyone that knows it, let me just say this. The sandbag carry. If you’ve experienced it, then your body will have just sent psychosomatic shivers down your spine. Ever seen grown men in tears because an obstacle has beaten them down so harshly? I have. It was at Palmerton, PA.”

3) Midway, Utah

Midway UT Spartan Race Beast Utah Festival Mountains
John – “Utah is stunning. I had never really been before the Beast there last year. The hills were my favorite, and most hated, aspect of that race. Going up I couldn’t stand them. Once at the top and pausing to take in the view I didn’t want to head back down. It was really hard to leave Utah and I look forward to it now.”

Holly – “This race is awesome! The location provides captivating views to all racers while they trek up and down the mountains.  This helps create a welcome a distraction while the steep inclines seek to wear you out.  This event embodies what a Beast is all about, and dishes out an intense challenge.  I’d have to say this specifica venue boasts one of the most beautiful locations in the US.  It’s truly breathtaking!”

4) Malibu, California

Spartan Race Sprint Malibu California Calamigos Ranch
Cookie – “How about that barbed wire crawl the goes up and around? And when that mist rolls in over the hills and the monkey bars become so wet that gripping them is a challenge in itself? Yeah, Malibu is everything you want it to be. It’s beautiful, but ugly. It’s a great course, but it’ll punish you. The air may be warm, but the water is oh-so cold. Malibu is a total contradiction which, on paper, shouldn’t work, but it does and it’s a superb race.”

John – “Whoever thinks they are going to show up for a ‘fun in the sun’ run is way off base. I don’t think I have seen the sun once in Malibu at a Spartan Race…and I loved every minute of it. The mud on the trails stole a guys shoe off his foot right in front me. The water was cold as hell, and the finish left you feeling like you accomplished something big.”

Tony - “When you think Malibu you think palm trees and sunshine. Someway somehow year after year, the weather has been anything but. However this venue is one of the most challenging and riveting ones you can encounter. The endless climbs will leave you breathless, especially when you get to the top of that cargo climb and look out at all the beauty that Malibu has to offer.”

5) Bigfork, Montana

Spartan Race Bigfork Montana Spartan Sprint Founders Race
Cookie – “You could argue that Montana is the most beautiful race in America today. You could also argue that it’s the hardest Sprint, too. I believe it’s both. There’s something about running through acres and acres of mountains and dense forest that soothes the soul. You might see an osprey, eagle, deer or some other furry or feathered friend. This is the hidden x factor of the Montana Sprint. It’s a little bit special.”

John – “The Founders race was there this year and over 5,000 people showed up to race in Montana. If you’ve been you know why. It’s picturesque on every level. The course is a butt kicker too so if you want a solid challenge Montana is a can’t miss experience. Nicest people EVER.”

6) Washougal Park, Washington – Pacific Northwest

Spartan Race Washington Pacific Northwest Sprint


Cookie – “It will generally take around three or four hours for the barbed wire crawl to reach the point where it becomes like a sheet of glass. The barbed wire crawl – one of the most infamous ones on the circuit – goes upwards at a steep angle. Conquering this crawl is immensely satisfying and a joy that should be shared by everyone. Set in the hills just outside Portland dancing along the Oregon/Washington border, this is another course that boasts beautiful scenery, nature and more trees that you can shake a lumberjack’s axe at.”

John – “Home sweet home. I grew up out here. My family is all still in the PNW. The tall green trees, fresh clean air, and terrain that will keep you honest. Its surprising how many of our female Elites are from this area at first, then you run the course, realize how technical the terrain out in the Northwest is and you gain an understanding of why they are such talented athletes.”

Tony – “What an incredible venue this is. One of my favorites of all time. You arrive and everywhere you looks it’s just green, you’re surrounded by it. When you arrive you realize quickly that there will be a lot of ups and downs on this course, it is built partly on a motocross track of course. The wooded areas are what make this place come to life, birds chirping, wild life running all about. As you drive to the location you can even pull over on the side of the road and pick the freshest blackberries to eat. It’s a gorgeous location that will test you physically and treat you mentally.”

8) Burnet, Texas

Super Spartan Race Texas Sprint Burnet Austin TX
Cookie – “Arguably one of the flatter, ‘easier’ courses on the circuit, but don’t let that fool you into believing it’s one you’ll just waltz through without difficulty. The rocks and tree roots making running very technical and while the surroundings are very easy on the eye, it order to run safely, you spend a lot of time looking at your feet! The jewel in the crown of this site is the river that flows through part of it and water in any course is a surefire winner with any Spartan fan, especially when the course is actually navigating the river. “

John – “There is a reason we have been to this venue for 3 years in a row. Its EPIC. This last year we expanded to both a Sprint and a Super in the same weekend to the tune of 12,500 racers and over 5,000 spectators. The hill top with the cross that over looks the valley provides one of the most amazing views ever. I’m definitely looking forward to going back to Texas.”

Tony - “Texas has become my new home and with that this location has become one I truly cherish. The venue is incredible, held on a ranch that provides you with all types of terrain, from rocks, to grass, to wooded areas, single track trails and sand-filled stretches. Here you can find out what you’re really made of as the terrain will always keep you guessing.”

9) Fort Carson, Colorado

Spartan Race Sprint CO
Cookie – “The thing about Colorado is that the weather is a bit of a crap shoot and that makes for a great race. One day can be gloriously warm and the next the temperature drops 30 degrees and racers will find they’ve suddenly lost the ability to grip and the cold water in the rope climb obstacle steals your breath. If you manage to steal a second and let your eyes drink in the mountains in the distance, you’ll find that the view is very agreeable, too. “

John – “The place of my only DNF race in my life ever. The elevation of the race is 6000 ft. Think about that for a moment. The Rocky Mountains in the distance are incredible. The BBQ joints in the area are really damn good. I owe that place something. I’m going back.”

Tony - “Few things here, the venue is located on a military base, right from the get-go you know you’ll be in for a one-of-a-kind Spartan treat. You’ll be racing at altitude which means you’ll be testing yourself under some of the most demanding circumstances. Though you won’t be running up any mountains just being at 6,000 ft. of elevation will beat you down. My advice, come a few days early, get your body acclimated and prepare for one hell of a race. Be sure to visit the Garden of the Gods after the race is over, what a sight!”

10) Killington, Vermont

VT Killington Beast Spartan Race Sprint WC
Jason – Killington is called the Beast of the East for a reason. One of the best views in New England – one of few places untarnished wilderness surrounds you in a 360 panorama. I love seeing all the Tri state folks – thinking this is a regular type of event – laying down and crying on the side of the trail. All sorts of people suddenly leaving the ‘fun run’ world and facing sheer freezing survival on the side of an inhospitable and uncaring mountain. This is where people come to hear the call of the wild.

Cookie – “Killington is Mecca. There’s a reason why it is the home of Spartan and there’s a reason why it’s considered the hardest Beast and why the Ultra Beast is set there. It’s hard. It’s painfully, frustratingly, will-this-never-end hard. You will swear, in much the same way I did, that you feel that the course spends more time than is geographically possible going up. Why does it feel like you are always climbing? The laws of physics go out of the window in Killington. Just suck it up and enjoy inclines that will make your legs scream for mercy, your lungs burn, but the whole time, nourish your soul.
The densely wooded areas are a delight for nature enthusiasts, so keep an eye out for critters and birds. Famously, there’s THAT lake that you’ll be expected to grapple with in one form or another, too.
Make no mistake, if you like what Spartan is doing and you want to experience the race of all races on the schedule, no list is complete until you’ve done the Vermont Beast at least once.”

Tony - “There’s a reason we use Killington, VT for the World Championship race, not only is it set in the backyard of the original Spartan HQ but it’s also one of the most beautiful mountains in all of Vermont. Do not under estimate the Vermont Beast, it is unforgiving, it will laugh at you as you try to crawl up it’s Black Diamond slopes. Oh, you thought you’d be running this race? Think again, you’re more likely to be crawling on your hands and knees with a 75lb sandbag on your back so long as Norm Koch has anything to do with it. Come prepared. Come hydrated. Hopefully, we’ll see you at the finish line.”

11) Wintergreen Resort, Virginia 

Wintergreen Resort Spartan Race Super VA

 Tony – “Wintergreen Resort is set on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the resort rises from approximately 600 feet above sea level in the valley at Stoney Creek to an elevation of close to 4,000 feet on the mountain. You may have heard murmurs throughout Spartan Nation that the Spartan Super crafted by Race Director Norm Koch is one of the most difficult races in the circuit. If you’re looking to prepare for the World Championship in Vermont, there is no better location than the VA Super to test your mettle. “

12) Marseilles, Illinois  - Chicago

Chicago IL Spartan Race Super Spartan Sprint

Tony – “Arguably one of the most unique Spartan Supers out there, set on an all terrain park where typically there are Jeeps and ATVs tackling the relentless hills this location has recently become home to a permanent obstacle training facility that features many unique obstacles not found anywhere else. When you think Illinois, flat typically comes to mind but that is not the case here. Some way some how this location has some of the most varied terrain of any Spartan Race out there.”

13) Miami, Florida

Spartan Race Miami FL Florida Super

John – “Florida is one of my favorite states. I love the weather there. Miami is as beautiful as they come. It’s a flat course but don’t think for a minute that means it will be easy. The technical aspect of the trails requires some real work. Nice thing is that you get to jump in the water while on course…a few times.”

Holly – “This is the perfect event for the urban Spartan who loves to remain close to the city while still escaping into nature for a challenging event.  With skyscrapers looming in the distance, this course tackles technical root and shale filled trails.  The Florida heat mixed with an onslaught of staple Spartan obstacles makes this course a great challenge!  The best part?  It’s hosted in the perfect vacation destination.”

 14) Atlanta, Georgia 

Spartan Race Sprint Georgia Atlanta GA

Holly – “The Georgia Sprint is the perfect race to give your endurance and elevation skills a test.  While not a flat course, the hills are much more conservative than many of its counterparts, and this combined with the Sprint distance makes this event is a great way to gain confidence towards tackling the longer events which boast greater elevation gains.  The venue is absolutely gorgeous, and although it can be rather cold since this event is held early in the year, it just adds to the overall awesomeness and challenge of this race.”

15) Tuxedo, New York

Spartan Race Sprint Tri-State NY Tuxedo

John – “This was my first year in Tuxedo. It was incredible. The ski hill is no joke either. The soft ground is hiding boulder after boulder waiting to roll your ankle if you get careless. Still it’s a great test of your endurance and honestly the Spartans that showed up there were top notch. I cleared every spider-web on that course with my face Friday night pre-running it. Everyone is welcome.”

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Spartan Race Logo Spartan.com Spartanrace.com Reebok Spartan If you’re from Pennsylvania, chances are you are already Spartan tough, just have a look at these eight signs that you’re a Pennsylvanian Spartan.

1. If there’s someone at the gym in a Redskins or Cowboys shirt, you WILL out-lift, out-jump and out-swim anything he or she does. And joggers wearing a Redskins or Cowboys shirt are just ASKING for a race.
Philadelphia Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint

2. You only carry cheesesteaks in your pack/ruck, usually at night close to 0300 as that is the optimum cheesesteak time of day.
3. When you see a staircase you absolutely must sprint to the top with your arms in a V, while humming the Eye of the Tiger.
Philadelphia Spartan Race Sprint4. Every single one of your runs passes at least 3 Wawa’s.Philadelphia Sparan Race Sprint Teamwork5. Your favorite workout song of all time is “High Hopes.”
6. You know precisely how many burpees a Tastykake requires.
Pennsylvania Spartan Race Palmerton Blue Ridge Mountains7. You only want Yuengling as your free beer. If that’s not available, you ask for Wooder Ice.
Pennsylvania Spartan Race Sprint Palmerton PA Finish
8. Even when it seems to be gloomy, it’s always sunny in Philadelphia.
So whether or not you are from Pennsylvania sign up for Spartan Sprint coming to Pennsylvania July 12th and we’ll see you at the finish line!

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If you’re from the PacNW then being a Spartan comes quite naturally, just have a look at these eight ways that you know you’re a PacNW Spartan:

1. Rain makes it better.

2. You have seen possible sightings of Sasquatch while training.

3. Chopping wood has always been a normal exercise activity.

PacNW Spartans fill hydration bladder with coffee

4. You have coffee in your hydration bladder.

5. Rocky beaches are preferred over the ones covered in sand.

6. You get anxious if you are not within two hours of a mountain.

7. It’s not a family vacation if you are not hiking or camping.

8. Regardless of the weather, the prettiest day of the year is when Spartan Race comes to town.

So whether or not you are from the PacNW sign up for Spartan Sprint coming to the PacNW August 2nd and we’ll see you at the finish line!

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40 Reasons Why You SHOULDN’T Run a Spartan Race
1. You hate adventure.
2. You dislike the feeling of excitement you get when you try something new.Women Spartan Race Tuxedo New York
3. You don’t enjoy challenging yourself.
4.Fitness is not important to you.
5. You don’t enjoy getting together with friends.
6. You want nothing to do with camaraderie or teamwork.
7. You despise the idea of being outside.
8. Seeing people having fun makes you angry.
9. You don’t appreciate or enjoy exhilarating scenery.
10. You would rather see a pre-installed computer desktop background of a mountain or forest than witness it in real life.
11. The idea of strengthening your social network makes you cringe.
12. Developing the trust and loyalty of another human is absurd to you.
13. You don’t like free beer.
14. You hate seeing chiseled men and fit women in tight clothing.
15. Free stuff like bananas, Clif Builder’s Bars, and Core Power Protein Drinks are not your thing.Reebok Spartan Race New York Tuxedo Rope Climb
16. You hate having memories to tell your children and grandchildren about.
17. You have no interest in seeing the view from the tops of mountains and hills.
18. You hate earning medals and accomplishing tasks.
19. The idea of satisfaction makes you feel ill.
20. The idea of setting goals and seeing them through is stupid to you.
21. You have no desire to turn exercise into something fun and enjoyable.
22. Traveling and seeing the country/world is of no interest to you.
23. Experiencing life, culture and the sort is just not on your to-do list.
24. You prefer to have bathroom selfies over epic professional photos of yourself.
25. Free t-shirt is not in your vocabulary.
26. You don’t like helping others accomplish their goals.
27. You have no faith in mankind or the kindness of strangers.
28. You have no interest in learning new skills.
29. Party atmospheres with fun challenges is something you find boring
30. You don’t see anything inspiring in watching veterans with missing limbs conquer courses.
31. Watching folk with Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy and MS do the same thing is something that makes you yawn.Tuxedo New York Spartan Race Reebok Cargo Climb Obstacle 32. Watching the joy in children’s faces doing a kids race is something you find repulsive.
33. …and seeing their eyes light up when they receive a medal is just plain stupid.
34. You have no interest in helping charities.
35. You hate cheering strangers on. What is the point of that?
36. You’d rather not witness nature up close and see animals you’d never otherwise see.
37. You are allergic to all of or some of the following; mud, wind, sand, water, grass, fun.
38. You hate the sound of laughter and cheering.
39. Bumping into the occasional celebrity and grabbing a photo opportunity is boring.
40. You have nothing left to learn, as you know everything, so learning something new about yourself when your body is pushed is a complete waste of time.

If this is not the case, then we’ll see you at the finish line!

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“What should I pack for race day?” I’ve seen this question asked a million times by curious women as they anxiously consider how to prepare for their upcoming race. Some meticulously over pack, while others don’t realize until after passing over the starting line how much more they should have brought along. In order to ease the minds of the many women who find themselves aimlessly staring at their closet in hopeless confusion, here’s an easy go-to list that will help even the most novice racer show up to her race with every essential in tow, thus creating an ideal environment to aid in making race day a success from beginning to end.

1 – Sunscreen: Completing an obstacle race will typically consume several hours of your day, not to mention the additional time you’ll want to spend hanging out in the festival area celebrating your accomplishment afterwards. This means your skin will get plenty of sun exposure! Be sure to pack a sport SPF (as well as face lotion and chap stick with SPF) to apply generously before your wave is sent across that starting line.

2 – Extra Hair Tie: Long hair can get extremely tangled in the mud and dirt, and a broken hair tie could make an already hairy situation even worse. Trust me from experience, it helps to have an extra hair tie along just in case the one you arrive in gets lost in the mud! I also highly recommend wearing your hair in a braid instead of ponytail to reduce the post-race knots that can be nearly impossible to comb through.

3 – Flip Flops: Once you cross that finish line, your feet will be screaming for some fresh air! Make sure to toss a cheap pair of flip flops or sandals in your bag to throw on for the post-race celebration and drive home.

Carrying your own water is useful!

4 – Deodorant: While you may not realize it mid-race when in the thick of tackling wicked terrain and overcoming challenging obstacles, the lovely mixture of mud and sweat will create a unique and rather pungent post-race perfume. A travel size deodorant will help tame the tang, so you can focus on celebrating instead of obsessing over any sort of feminine-funk.

5 – Plastic Bags: Everyone has a stash of plastic grocery bags somewhere in their house. Be sure to pack a few to stash your dirty shoes, socks, sports bra, shorts, and any other dirty apparel that you don’t necessarily want touching the interior of your car.

6 – Sunglasses: Although not a practical accessory for during the race, you’ll definitely want to throw on a pair once you’ve crossed the finish line and collected your hard earned medal. This is one of the easiest items to forget, since many times you’ll need to leave home before the sun rises to get to the race venue on time.

7 – Wallet & Cash: You’ll need your ID and cash for packet pickup, parking, food, and merchandise. While your brain is whirling about everything from what to wear, to what to eat, to the last minute stress over if you’re truly ready to take on your race (stop worrying so much, you are!), your wallet may end up in the back of your mind as you consider all of the other items that you need to bring. I’ve seen it happen at every race, and have even realized it myself while driving out of my neighborhood with my wallet tucked comfortably in my purse back at home, they do get forgotten! I recommend you pack this first, since no wallet equals no race!

8 – Change of Clothes: Although this may seem like a no-brainer, there are a couple of items that I recommend as the top needs for post-race comfort. To begin with you’ll want to bring a pair of comfortable shorts or pants (yoga pants work great!). Of course the post-race hose off doesn’t always completely take care of the dirt, but a fresh pair of comfortable pants will, at minimum, take away the issue of crunchy running pants from dried on mud (quite uncomfortable for a drive home!).  Another accessory you may appreciate is a fresh sports bra. A dirty, soggy post-race sports bra can end up getting itchy and uncomfortable, so bringing a clean bra to throw on under your race shirt will help keep your skin dry and itch-free.

Tie back long hair. It’ll help you!

9 – Hydration: Most events will offer water stations throughout the course, as well as water and a protein or sports drink at the finish line. While this is great, you may still want to bring your own source of hydration for before and after the race, and possibly even for during the race as well! Water or sports drinks are great to bring along to make sure you are properly hydrated before you approach the starting line, and post-race you may find that you need more than what’s provided to properly re-hydrate your body from the nutrients that you’ve lost while racing. Depending on the length of the event, you may also want to invest in a hydration pack to carry through the race. Dehydration can greatly affect your ability to complete your race comfortably and confidently, so be sure that you drink lots of water on race day as well as over the week prior to your event.

10 – Nutrition: Not only is hydration a key component to effective racing, but nutrition plays a huge roll in your ability to complete your race without bonking. Everyone is very different when it comes to what works pre-race as a quality meal (ideally something that won’t sit in your stomach like a rock!). Use the weeks prior to your event to find what works best for you, and stick with that the morning of.  For pre and post-race, be sure to pack healthy snacks to replenish your depleted energy stores. I find that snacks which contain a combination of protein and carbs make a huge difference in helping maintain energy once you’ve finished racing.

I hope this list helps you be able to more effectively plan how to pack for your big race! But now that I’ve told you the items that you’ll want to make sure you bring with you on race day, there are two things that I recommend you leave at home.

1 – Jewelry: As much as you may hate taking off your favorite ring, bracelet, or necklace, it’s a good rule of thumb to leave anything shiny safely at home. Don’t risk losing your bling in the mud, or damaging a precious stone on an obstacle, it’s just not worth the potential stress should your treasure go missing. Married or engaged? For those who feel uncomfortable going completely without their rings, there are some great companies who sell inexpensive rubber wedding bands (check out saferingz.com) that are perfect for race day! (I rock a hot pink rubber wedding band to all of my events, and I love it!)

2 – Makeup: I know that some women feel uncomfortable foregoing the security blanket of wearing makeup while in public, but I’m here to encourage you to embrace your natural beauty and rock your fresh face at your race! Why? No makeup also means no mascara running down your face, no foundation smudging, and no melting makeup mixing in with the sweat and mud that you will inevitably be wearing instead. You are beautiful without it, so leave the makeup at home and rock the glorious glow that water, mud, and fresh air will provide instead!

So there you have it! Your go-to list of the essentials you’ll want for your next Spartan Race! Now instead of stressing over what to pack, you can focus on your training and arrive on race day ready to take on the course with confidence.

I can’t wait to see you there!  AROO!

Holly Joy Berkey

www.muddymommy.com

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How long does it take to walk your dog? Fifteen, twenty, maybe even thirty minutes? That’s more than enough time to squeeze a small work out in. Walk your dog more than once a day? Even better! You may have never thought about it but walking a dog is already great exercise. You’re outside. You’re moving. Enjoying the scenery. On it’s own it’s not a strenuous workout out by any means, it’s simply a walk. What if you could change that. Do something that turns said workout into something more. Guess, what? You can! Just follow these steps and turn your typical dog walk into a Spartan inspired dog walk! As we reported once before, dog walking is actually very good for you!

sandbag carry dog walk spartan race workout

Handsfree Leash and Sandbag Carry

Step 1: Purchase a hands free leash, there are many out there that allow you to fasten the leash to your waist as opposed to holding it in your hand. Here’s a few “Best Seller” options on Amazon.com (If you don’t want to purchase a hands free leash, another option is to wear a weight vest in Step 4).

Step 2: Fasten the leash to yourself and your dog.

Step 3 (Optional): If you can, find a partner, friend, or someone else to tag along to make it more fun.

Step 4: Grab a sandbag, log, kettlebell, or any other heavy/awkward object. Fill milk jugs with concrete or grab a bucket or two filled with gravel or sand. You’ll figure something out. You’re a Spartan!

weight vest spartan race dog walk workout

Weight Vest Dog Walking

Step 5: Take your dog for a long walk around your favorite neighborhood, park, or wherever you’d like to go. Make sure you and your dog are well hydrated and go for as long as you both can handle.

Step 6: When the going gets tough use teamwork to pass the sandbag (or whatever you brought with you) to your partner. If you don’t have a partner…suck it up buttercup.

Step 7: Make this part of your dog walking routine. Whenever it’s time to walk the dog, grab an object and get moving. You’ll be amazed at how much your core is getting worked. As things get easier, up the weight.

It’s that simple to turn your typical dog walk into a Spartan style dog walk! Now what are you waiting for get out there and give your pooch some exercise! As always, we’ll see you at the finish line.

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It was the Virginia Super of 2013. Hobie was in his prime and the Spartan Pro Team were a very recognizable who’s-who line up of OCR. From nowhere, an unknown racer named Matt Novakovich appeared on the scene by not just winning the race, but establishing a crushing margin of over six minutes.

A flash-in-the-pan, one-hit wonder? 14 podium finishes since that race would beg to differ. The man from Alaska runs up hills at the same speed most people run across a football field. His almost inhuman ability to ignore pain married with his incredible muscle memory means that not only should his appearance at a starting line be respected, but feared. Add to this the way he breezes through, over and under any obstacles put before him, he is the complete racer. There is nothing, it seems, that is capable of slowing him down.

A heavy hitter within the elite ranks he is someone to be taken seriously, and with the additional training he is doing courtesy of Joe Desena – in the same way Hunter McIntyre did before him – only time will tell if Matt’s experience will defeat the youthful exuberance of those a little younger than him. The Vermont World Championship weekend is shaping up to be even tighter than last year.

But for all his firepower and strength, his cheeky sense of humor and trademark grin are the first things you notice about him. Just don’t mistake his friendliness for weakness…after all they do call him, “The Bear.” 

Matt “The Bear” Novakovich
DOB: 3/27/74
Weight: 148 height: 5’9”
Hometown:  Anchorage, AK

Current residence/location:  Anchorage, AK
Pro Team member since: August 2013
Podium finishes (up to end Dec 2013): 14
Best strength: Climbing and Heavy Grinding

 

1) What is your background?
I ran the steeple chase for Brigham Young University. I graduated with a degree in business and information systems. In 2000, I started Novakovich Roofing and have been carrying heavy roofing materials for 25 years of my life. From 2000 to 2009 I competed as a category 1 cyclist and then switched to sky running steep mountains from 2009 to 2013. In 2012, I set a record for climbing 24,000 vertical feet in 9 hours and then won Mt. Marathon in the same year. I switched to Spartan after beating Hobie by six minutes in the climbing focused Virginia Super.

2) What does Spartan mean to you personally?
Spartan racing is a new challenge to me. I’m enthralled by the premise that the skinniest of runners can be beat by the 200 pound juggernauts and vise versa. I also love how the Spartan experience challenges everyone in a very special way. Everyone has a weakness at the Spartan venues and we all have to try to overcome them without giving up what our original strengths are.

3) How do you prepare?
I believe that there is no substitute for volume. I train my aerobic system twice as much as the 20 year olds and I am willing to grind out 3 hour sessions on the treadmill unlike the younger athletes. I believe in the concept of experienced muscles getting better with age. I believe that years of endurance training and racing cannot be substituted with short cuts and I take pride in crushing younger, cocky athletes ☺

4) What is your favorite WOD?
My favorite WOD is to climb 3000 vertical feet. Then do active stretching, drills and strides and begin 5×5 intervals on the incline trainer at 40% at 3 plus miles per hour. I believe that this is my gold standard and the 40% is equivalent to sub 5 minute mile pace without the pounding.

5) What is your favorite single exercise and what is you least favorite exercise?
My favorite exercise is climbing mountains fast and light. I love the scenery, fresh air and being away from people. I love taking routes that typically get me lost or at least delayed by hours from my original “plan.”

My least favorite workout is running. I used to enjoy it obviously as that was my background, however as I’m older I find that the cons of running for me include, stomach distress, knee surgeries and repetitive boredom.

6) What is your favorite FOD?
My favorite food is anything I don’t have to cook. I never have followed a recipe and I don’t plan to start. My breakfast is typically 2 packets of instant oatmeal, yogurt and diet coke.  Lunch is a sandwich that includes lots of veggies and hopefully egg whites for the protein.  Dinner is whatever we are doing for dinner. My wife, Tiffanie, is a really good cook so this is my weakness:  Pushing the plate away before I’ve had 2nds, 3rds, and 4ths.

After 7PM is the curse of the athlete trying to lean up for major events. If I can avoid the gram-crackers and milk, Coke, cereal and yogurt in the late hours I can generally be lean and mean going into important events.

7) Advice for newbies going forward that have no idea where or how to start.
It is never too late to start.  If you have become overweight through years of poor eating be patient and realize time and consistency are your friends. It is okay to “feel hungry” when cutting calories and starting a new training plan. “Feeling hungry” is our bodies way of saying “it’s working.” If you are not overweight, but just a little out of shape, realize this:  Trained properly most of us are a mere six months away from our best fitness ever.  

8) What is your favorite Spartan Race to date?
Vermont World Championships.

I had a lot of pressure to win and I fell flat on my face. Google “Vermont World Championships” and watch the footage of me shivering and cramping and considering quitting. I did not quit. However, through pushing to my 16th place finish I learned a lot about my will power, my desire to succeed and what it takes to be a champion.

9) If someone was on the edge about doing a Spartan Race, what would you say to them?

I’ve never been to an athletic event in my life where 1st place looks like they are having as much fun as the person finishing last out of 20,000 people. The Spartan experience makes everyone feel like a champ because everyone is.  Until completing a Spartan Race one will never understand the fulfillment that comes from completing one. After finishing one your friends will unfriend you on Facebook because that will be all you ever talk about anymore.

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Being strong physically is one thing, but when you bear the weight of some emotional or spiritual to yourself to keep harm away from a loved one – especially a son or daughter – you know that parent is as strong as they come. Iram is no stranger to battling demons. But his greatest battle is making sure that his daughter Kiana flourishes and grows, hopefully following in his footsteps.

“As I try to do the most important task the universe has ever assigned me, raising a little girl, I try to balance the let’s have fun, let’s push our limits and let’s share what we do. Kiana and I had ran together, bear crawled together, done the monkey bars together as I trained for Vermont last year.

As anyone that follows Iram via social media, reads his blog or has the very good fortune to know him personally, there is nothing more important to him than his daughter. Post after post he shares follows Kiana’s progress and even “humble-bragging” about her scoring a part in the school play. She is the center of his universe. Everything else is secondary. Even his training incorporates her, as he recalls, “the point of life, at least mine, is relationships and Kiana is above all others in that pecking order. So when I trained for the biking century, it didn’t feel right to be learning how to learn to cycle unless I was teaching Kiana how to ride a bicycle. With the Spartan events, they felt incomplete because Kiana had never been to one. So, when one came back in to Texas, it was time to take Kiana to do the kids Spartan. Because the point of my therapy is to keep going because of those relationships, but sometimes that therapy and that relationship happen simultaneously.

“I don’t know if Kiana will focus on being a girl who likes to workout or a girl who likes to do her make up but like the Spartan women of old and the Spartan athletes of now, I want her to know that her gender is not pre-destiny. That may mean big things or it may mean little things like when her and I paint our toenails together. I was raised by a great woman. If there’s ever any question of how I have any capacity to raise a princess, it’s because I was raised by a Queen.

“There’s a saying of a Spartan woman whose son was complaining that his sword was too short and she responded with “add a step to it.” Some of the arsenal since cancer isn’t what it used to be, finances, medical things, literally a piece of my brain. But you know what, that Spartan women’s spirit lived into my mother and I hope to pass it on to my daughter and we’re going to add a lot more than one step to it.”

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I asked my ten year old son Michael what he thought a Spartan dad was. He responded that it’s coming home from races on the weekend with barbed wire scratches across your back and bruises all over your body. While that is definitely part of being a Spartan dad, there is certainly a lot more to it than that. In the Krueger family we have a passion for health and fitness. It wasn’t always like that – there was a period of time for about 7 to 8 years where I did not exercise and ate everything from pizza to Chinese food on a daily basis. I woke up about 5 years ago 30lbs overweight and looking pretty chubby. I am now 40 years old and through clean eating, exercise and the support of my family, I dropped 30lbs and I am now in the best shape of my life.

It is not easy. We have lacrosse practice, wrestling practice, violin, saxophone, piano, chorus – my wife Gretchen coaches’ middle school soccer in the fall and lacrosse in the spring. Gretchen and I do CrossFit as well as run and work out. Then there are the races…The key that we’ve found is making time for the family. Our “selfish” activities (training, races, and competitions) are all worked around our children’s activities. It is not easy but we make the time. In the winter, I get up at 4:40am to train so I can be back home by 6:15 for Gretchen to be out the door by 6:30am to go teach while I get the kids ready for school. If the children do not have any activities in the evening, they train with us. Michael and Mya have both been doing CrossFit for the past year and love it. Gretchen and I do not always get to train together but we all go to races together.

Our front and backyard have become an obstacle training playground for both adults and kids. We have a 20’ rope climb in our front tree. Our backyard has a spear throw, pull up bar, box jump and rings from our back tree. Our children are engaged in healthy activities, root for us at races (and race themselves) and are included in our passions. It is difficult but doable.

I am incredibly lucky to be a Spartan dad because I truly have a Spartan wife and Spartan children.

Dan Krueger

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