It has been a week since the Vermont Championship Beast. Arguably the hardest Spartan Race this side of the Ultra Beast. We had a chance to catch up with some of the Pro Team to get their feedback on the race. Despite their toughness, training and experience, they suffer the same mental and physical challenges along the course. Here is some of what they shared with us.

Elliott Megquier, who has completed more Spartan Races this year than any other Pro Team athlete, shared his thoughts.

“It was about of mental and physical toughness. It was not about who was the fastest runner (a two time NYC Marathon Champion quit), not about hype. It was about determination and plugging away. I was discourage after doing 30 burpees for the spear and then for the Tarzan swing. But I brushed it aside and ran through cramping.”

Jenny Tobin, finished in 4th place and was the ProTeam’s top placing women.

“I had three goals: goal C was to finish, goal B be in the top 10 and goal A be in the top 5. I felt like I could at least accomplish my C goal but I had thought that in Vegas too and did not finish…Anyway, I lined up a few rows back and started very slowly not knowing how I would feel and knew it would be a long day so no sense in going anaerobic from the get go.” She went on to say, “The obstacles were tough but the mountain seemed like the biggest obstacle. I also felt like there were as not as many obstacles as the year before other than the mountain this year, however, the killer obstacle was the 60 lb sand bag carry straight up hill and down that seemed to go on forever!!! I would have liked to have seen Morgan Arritola carry that thing being that she probably doesn’t even weigh a 100 lbs.”

Ang Reynolds, one of the most experienced Spartan Pro Team women on the course had her own finishing doubts along the way.

“Coming back down that mountain I rolled my ankle on a rock under some grass. I went down, picked myself back up, and made the decision to walk off the course. At this point, I realized my will to finish could not supersede my lack of training. I was completely spent. I limped down the mountain and finally caught sight of my fiancé. I told him I
was going to quit. I told him that it was the smartest thing I could do at that time to avoid further injury. He looked at me and said, “Well, let’s make sure. Why don’t you pick up that sandbag and start climbing while you think?” I grabbed the sandbag and headed back up the mountain. I have since heard that those sandbags were between 65-75 pounds, more than my 7-year-old son, and well over half of my body weight. That wasn’t very fun.

Miguel Medina, who has seen the podium many times this year, most recently at the NorCal Beast had his own personal triumph on the race course.

“Dealing with an injury less than halfway through the race hampered my efforts and shattered any hopes of achieving a top finish, at this point the race was completely mental; finish…adapt or die. I refused to be beaten by this beast, regardless of my placement I was going to finish this race, and I reject the idea of quitting so almost 6 hours later, it was all over…beat up, tired, weak and weary…but not defeated.” and “Adversity tests our will and asks us to do more, so I’m answering the call…next year The Beast won’t know what hit it.

Cody Moat, last years winner and this years 4th place man almost DNF’d. Here is what went through his head at that point and how he came back to finish strong. After a failed attempt at the Tarzan swim

“Half way through my burpees my legs began to cramp. Instead of the burpees taking 2 minutes they took around 3 minutes. I knew at this point that it would be hard to regain the lead but I thought perhaps there was still a chance. So I took off again and only made it 200 meters and my leg really cramped. I sat there on the ground while Matt Murphy ran by. I didn’t know what to do, I’d never had a cramp that bad. So I began hobbling back to a DNF when I decided that I was going to find a way to make my cramped quad bend. So I pushed down on the ground as hard as I could to make my knee bend and it finally bent and released the cramp. By this time Matt had probably gained 5 minutes on me so I knew that it would be tough to catch up with anyone ahead of me. So off I went through the woods but I couldn’t really get going again because I knew any minute my cramp may return. After about 2 more miles of running I had worked out my cramped muscles but there was no catching anyone up ahead so I finished the race in 4th place.”

Christopher Rutz, the Tough Training guy and the oldest man on the Pro Team hit a huge obstacle at the Tyrolean Traverse.

“Coming into the Tyrolean Traverse I was in a good position in the course. So I aggressively decided to traverse under the rope. In hindsight, this was a big mistake for me at this point in the race. I should have been more conservative and used the ‘on the top’ approach. I attempt the traverse 3 times, and each time I failed. Once trying on the top, but without a shirt the impact of rope burn on my chest was unpalatable. Pumping out thirty burpees after each attempt really zapped my strength, but not my spirit. I was determined to finish the race despite the impact this would have on my time and placement. You can be sure I will have revenge on the Traverse and The Beast next year.”

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by Andi Hardy, Spartan Pro Team

One day I woke up and just couldn’t bear it anymore. Somehow I had let life get the best of me and I had tipped the scale to a number that totally disgusted me. It wasn’t just the number that glared at me from that little square thing on the floor beneath my feet, but it was the discomfort of my clothes, the zippers that took an extra jerk to get up, the buttons that pulled a little too far to side of the buttonholes and the tire that wobbled around my middle.

It was April Fool’s Day and I felt like I was the fool. I just couldn’t stand the way I felt in my own skin anymore and I was going to do something about it starting that very moment. Yes, I had tried diets in the past as my weight had crept up in number each year. I tried cutting out certain foods, I tried New Year’s Resolutions, I tried one thing after another. Each attempt ended with a big bowl of ice cream topped with peanut butter and chocolate syrup. Not this time, this was it; I had had it with myself.

In horror I jumped off that blasted scale and into the shower. I hurried to get dressed, fix my hair, and makeup. Then, upstairs I scurried to the deadly kitchen to have breakfast. Or not? Should I try skipping the most important meal of the day again? It worked for some people, but I knew myself. I would be even hungrier by 9:00 AM and then would grab whatever edible thing I could and gorge myself. I decided I had better eat something. So I settled for oatmeal and fresh strawberries, with a bit of sugar. That had to be healthy, right? I ate that down and made myself drink a 16 oz. glass of water. I knew water would help ease the hunger pains. After all, I was used to a big bowl of cereal with my fruit.

I quickly packed a few “healthy” items I found in the fridge for my lunch. I had been a fairly healthy eater up to this point, so chips, candy, and other junk foods were not a staple to my current diet. I had been a vegetarian for several years and fresh vegetables, fruits, and lentils were always on hand, but so were breads, cereals, cheeses, pasta, and potatoes.

I still had ten minutes before having to leave for work. I ran to my computer and googled “online weight loss programs.” I knew that I would not stay committed to Weight Watchers, but thought if I had a program like it that I could easily do at home; I’d do it if I set my mind to it. And my mind was set. I just needed a little help. Many matches were found, oh what to choose in my remaining nine minutes. I clicked on one called “Spark People.” That was it! I quickly entered my name and created a password. This was what was going to save me from obesity!! In those 9 minutes I learned that each day I would have to enter every food that passed through my lips, including chewing gum. I would have to log my glasses of water and every minute of exercise. There were calculators that would help me limit a number of calories, fat grams, carbohydrate grams, and protein grams each day. I would log my weight and body part measurements each week. This would help keep my accountable.

I filled two huge water bottles and took off for work with hope. Finally I was going to do something about this uncomfortable skin I was in. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I was determined. I ate my measly lunch at noon, resisted junk food that was around the office, and threw out emergency snacks stored in my desk. I drank water like I was a camel preparing for a trip across the Sahara. The hour long commute back home seemed forever as I was anxious to enter all of my info into the “Spark People” program.

I started out exercising three days per week for 30 minutes a session. I walked, rode bike, lifted a few weights, each time logging my exercise and time into the program. It was only a few weeks before I increased those days to five and sometimes even to 45-60 minutes. I was super religious about logging my food intake. It didn’t take me long to realize that my favorite food of mashed potatoes was not helping my diet. I learned that squashed cauliflower gave my tongue a similar experience without all of the carbs and starch. Bread and pasta were soon replaced with veggies. Cereal and oatmeal was replaced with Greek yogurt. Ice cream was now being measured to ½ cup even. I bought a little food scale and carefully weighed each portion of veggie chips, cheese, or whatever it was I wanted to eat. Going out to eat at restaurants was difficult. I stuck to salads without cheese, dressing, or croutons.

Not going to lie, it was incredible difficult. The hunger pains were miserable. It was so hard watching others around me eat my favorite things while I chomped on carrot sticks. But the weight was dropping. My confidence in myself was increasing and I started feeling better and better in my skin. Three months into this new me, I decided to step it up and sign up for a triathlon, something I’d always wanted to do. I had been biking and swimming, as well as walking and hiking, so I knew I could complete the event. But knowing myself, and knowing how much of a competitor I am, I wanted to do well. I started training harder, but still accounting for every calorie I took in. Three months later I did that triathalon, and placed in the top ten in my age group, of over a hundred. I wasn’t completely satisfied, but tried to reason with myself; after all I had “bad knees” and hadn’t run for years. That day was the first I had run, and my 5K time wasn’t all that bad for my first time running. I celebrated the success of my goal at IHOP allowing myself to eat anything I wanted. Eggs, pancakes, and hash browns it was. Then home to recover.

Upon returning home I had a lot of energy left, I got online and signed up for a local 5K mud and obstacle run for two weeks later. I got back on my “Spark People” plan and ran 5 kilometers every day until the race. I placed first in my age group of 129 women. I was so excited and felt so good, too! I am so happy to be able to race in spandex shorts and not be too embarrassed by my reflection in the mirror. That day I heard about Spartan Race, supposedly it was the “best of the best of obstacle races.” I just had to find out. I went home and signed up. Training for that first Spartan Race was not easy either. I knew that I had to train hard, but also really had to watch what I put into my body. I kept learning about food and portions.

It has now been over two years from that miserable April Fool’s Day. I no longer count calories on a daily basis. However, I do watch what I put in my mouth very carefully. But I do not deny myself the foods that I still love and thoroughly enjoy. I am comfortable in my skin. I am not the skinniest woman, nor do I have the body of a model, but I wear what I want and race in a skimpy outfit and don’t feel embarrassed by my skin (or what used to jiggle around under it.)

Remember, losing fat is not easy for most people, especially when this thing called the aging process happens. But it is something that can be done naturally. You must give it time, you must be patient, and you must be diligent!!! Don’t give up, even if you have a cheat day here and there.

What’s your excuse?  Find a race for yourself!

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It all comes down to Vermont.

Spartan Racing reaches its pinnacle this weekend in Killington, Vermont. There are many opportunities to race, a Sprint or a Beast on Saturday and a charity Sprint, Beast and Ultra Beast on Sunday. Each course will present a challenge with the professional and Olympic level athletes expected to take about four hours to complete the Saturday Beast course. The weather in Killington on Saturday is expected to be cloudy with a high around 70 and a chance of rain. In other words, like in any Spartan Race, plan for anything. The majority of our racers will be out there most of the day and will need to be self-supported. Killington Mountain is no joke. Top elevation is 4,241ft with a vertical gain of 3,050ft. You can expect Spartan Race will make full use of this mountain.

All eyes will be on the World Championship Race Saturday morning. Top athletes from around the world will be present for what will be the most competitive race in Spartan history. In addition to the podium spots and cash purse available for the Saturday Beast, the US Spartan Elite racers will also be racing for their final placing in the 2013 Points Series.

So who will be racing in the Elite wave at the World Championship Beast on Saturday?
On the men’s side:
Australian Spartan Racers on their way include Matt Murphy, Will Lind and Shaun Phelps. The top 3 ranked racers from down under. From the USA you can count on seeing most if not all of the Spartan Pro Team and other Top 10 ranked racers including Hobie Call, Isaiah Vidal and Brian Hoover. Currently 7 of the Top 10 US Points Spots are occupied by Spartan Pro Team members, Elliott Megquier, David Magida, Brakken Kraker, Alec Blenis, Hunter McInytre, Cody Moat and Alexander Nicholas. Mexico will be represented by New York Marathon winner German Silva and Tavito Oliveros.

On the women’s side:
The Top 10 ranked US women are also dominated by Professionals. Olympic Cross-Country skier and professional mountain runner Morgan Arritola will be tough competition for returning champion Claude Godbout, a Canadian National Team biathlete and Olympic hopeful. Spartan Pro Team members. Top ranked April Luu will be racing to maintain her number one position and a number one spot on the podium. Battling it out on the course with her are expected to be Rose Marie Jarry, Hannah Orders, Leslie St. Louis, Jenny Tobin and TyAnn Clark. Beyond these Spartan Pro Team women other Top 10 to look for include Ameila Boone, Shaun Provost, Karlee Whipple, and Elise Fugowski. Mexico will be represented by Olympian Fabiola Corona.

New for 2013 are awards for the Master’s men and women in the Points Series. While some are also competing for a spot in the Top 20 overall, they will also be recognized for their performance as Master’s athletes. Brian Hoover, Christopher Rutz and Tadd Morris will be racing for the top 3 Spots for the men. Jenny Tobin, Andi Hardy, Jolene Wilkinson and Juliana Sproles will be battling on the women’s side.

Beyond these seasoned Spartan Racers look for some new faces and familiar faces from other sports to show us what they have to conquer Killington and the Spartan Race Sprint, Beast and Ultra Beast. There will be many high powered athletes looking to claim the title of Spartan Beast World Champion.

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I am TyAnn Clark. I’m a member of the Spartan Pro Team.  I’m a Mom, I’m a Runner, I’m a Fitness Trainer, I’m a Zumba Instructor, I am a Spartan Racer.

I look at my life every day and feel so amazingly blessed to be able to do what I love. One year ago, I never imagined that I would be in the position that I am – I race as a competitive athlete at the age of 32. My life is full of all the things that make me happy. I have a wonderfully supportive husband and three beautiful, amazing children. As a fitness trainer and instructor, I get to motivate others to be healthier and happier in their lives.

I’ve always been a runner – It is my life force. It’s as vital as breathing to me most days.
But after adding our third child to the mix, I found myself completely overwhelmed, exhausted, and quite frankly – depressed. Even as a fitness trainer, I found very little time to be able to work out or run. With a husband that worked very long hours, I was lost in the daily grind and forgot to appreciate what I had. The things that usually motivated me to run and stay in shape were races to train for – and not even that was doing the trick.

Hobie Call recruited me to run my first race in January 2013: The Spartan Super in Temecula. I have never been as scared and nervous at the beginning of a race as I was there. Self-Doubt had consumed me, but I decided to just take things as they came. It was a brutal race with mammoth hills, a freezing lake to swim in, and a gauntlet of obstacles all stacked within the last mile. I never found myself counting the miles or glancing at my Garmin to check my pace. It was exciting and brutal. My legs handled the hills, but my upper body failed me on a few obstacles. 90 burpees later I finished the race more exhausted than I ever had been, I had pushed my body harder than ever before, and I had found empowerment from what I had accomplished. I had won my first Spartan Race! The feeling of accomplishment was far greater than I had felt at the end of a race at any other time. It changed me. I knew if I could accomplish this, then I was capable of so much more than I knew.
What I didn’t know at the time was how my life would be changed by the people that were around me racing that day, and in races to come. I’ve raced with the best competitors and proven myself. At the Las Vegas Super Spartan, I remember looking around at the starting line and just being in awe of the amazing Spartan champions that I would be competing against. The most amazing part is that I’ve become friends with many of them and we all know at the end of the day that we have the upmost respect for the other person. We share training secrets, obstacle techniques, and tips on the spear throw. We all want to be able to finish the race and say, “I raced my best today”. These competitors have become family to me in a totally unexpected way. All of the people that I’ve met that run Spartan Races motivate me and inspire me and I’m so honored to know them.

Want to learn more about the Spartan Pro Team? Click HERE.

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Hunter McIntyre, PA Sprint 2013

By Hunter Garrahan McIntyre, Spartan Pro Team

As a Spartan pro team athlete, the great outdoors are a fundamental part of the training and success for any race that I compete in. I see far to many people that associate fitness with a membership at a the local gym. The old school brawny man methods are seemingly long gone and being replaced with group classes and rows of treadmills.  But it doesn’t require any machines or even four walls of a building to get fit, it just takes some creativity.

The truth of the matter is, all you need is a good pair of sneakers and open mind to make the outdoors the answer to all of your health club needs. I am currently writing this article after spending a few days at Spartan HQ where I had a first hand experience with backyard fitness! For starters running outside is a far better than what you would gain from using a treadmill, a more natural stride combined with the constant variation of terrain makes a strong all around runner.

Dumbbells and barbells can quickly be replaced with rocks, stumps and other heavy objects one might be able to find in your garage. Some of the strongest men and women in the world train with real world objects like atlas stones to set world records in more conventional strength training events.

Another great way to experience a good workout is yard work! As a said early I spent a few days at the Spartan “farm club” digging, lifting boulders and chopping wood. A few chores in the back yard done with the right intensity will burn up to or more calories than you could achieve on an elliptical. These movements will also prove build a much more functional and all around better performing athlete than more simple machine movements one might find inside your local gym.

In closing, if you want to get in shape anywhere you look can be a great start whether it be a gym or your back yard. And don’t

Hunter McIntyre, Mexico City 2013

forget the Spartan FREE Workouts of the Day (WOD). Delivered daily to your inbox, they are a great way to stay on top of your training. Sign up HERE.

Don’t be shy of climbing a tree or two in the process because making the world your play ground is what this experience is all about. Make it a goal to take on a new obstacle every day such as lifting a 200 boulder or raking up that stubborn pile of leaves that never seems to blow into the neighbor’s yard. Sure there may be a few cuts and bruises along the way but that’s all in the day of a life true Spartan.

Ready to find your Spartan finish line?  Sign up HERE today.

[Editor's Note: Hunter McIntyre, 24, is a member of the Spartan Pro Team.  This past weekend he took the top spot at the Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint held on July 13, 2013.  No stranger to the podium, it was a fantastic finish with a time of 41:53.  Congratulations, Hunter!]

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My story is constantly changing and has so far, for the most part, been filled with a great deal of struggling. I have grown up with all the reasons to quit and all the excuses to justify doing nothing but sitting on the couch for the rest of my days. However, I cannot and will not settle for that, the thought of not being able to achieve my dreams disgusts me in so many levels. And my dream is to be the best version of myself in every aspect of my life.  Spartan Race is a big part of that.

The first Spartan Race I ever did unexpectedly altered my life in many ways. I had been running seriously for about two and a half months before the race and I stumbled upon the advertisement for it and decided to enter. I had no idea what to expect, as I stood there in the chilly winter morning, with the rain penetrating my face, nervous as could be, but I went out fast.  Before I knew it, I was accomplishing tasks I had never done in my life. I was climbing walls, carrying heavy objects, crawling under barb-wire, and climbing ropes. Throughout the entire course I had one of the biggest, silliest, smiles slapped on my face (especially after I won it). And since then, with every race that I do, I find my face in a constant grin even with all the injuries I accumulate.

From breaking my back in two places while training for a horse race to suffering from a stress fracture in my tibia during the Death Race of 2012, I am way too familiar with being sidelined. But the camaraderie of my fellow competitors has been outstanding, the support I receive has shredded light on some of the darkest moments of my life and it has given me the strength to push aside the pain and reach new limits.

I can recall busting my shin open during the Pennsylvania Sprint in 2012 and just as soon as I finished, I fell to the ground and was immediately surrounded by several athletes giving me their hands. At every race, no matter how intense the competition gets, or hard the course turns out, we all reach our hands out to each other. Spartan Race has given my life something beautiful, it has given me the chance to be able to live my dreams. There was once a time where walking was questionable for me and where I was completely unable to get out of bed, go to school, ride my horse, and more importantly I was unable to smile due to the pain. And with that being said, Spartan Race has given me my smiles back, my life back and it is constantly redefining what it takes to be unbreakable and I love that challenge. I love the sacrifices, the work, the patience you must endure to become the best you can be. And Spartan Race will challenge you to become the best you can be, so make the best of it.

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