For the fourth time, Spartan Race brought the Spartans to the sunny, hot, ever scenic Oleta River State Park for the Miami Super Spartan.

It wasn’t just about surviving the heat in Miami. Competitors were thrown for a loop, encountering our newest iteration of the Monkey Bars obstacle, or should we say “Monkey Net”? That’s right – Miami introduced a version of the monkey bars obstacle which fashioned cargo webbing that began with an incline and ended with a decline traverse. The rule of the obstacle was no feet, just hands, and was meant to be performed in the same manner as you would the traditional Monkey Bars. All this, but over three feet of water. Fall off, and you know the drill. Burpees.

As per usual, the Hurricane Heat launched the weekend’s activities. Tony Matesi and John Ziegler took over 100 participants through demanding and sometimes seemingly impossible challenges that were developed to build camaraderie and teamwork. From team carries through the obstacles to being the first to test the new obstacle, this group of early morning Hurricane Heaters came together to figure out what it means to be a Spartan.

At first glance, the course may have appeared to be simple and flat given the nature of the Florida region. Assuming the lack of hills equated to an easier course would have been a massive faux pas. The course had unique terrain that acted as the ultimate obstacle in itself. Hard rocks, switchbacks and open waters delivered an exciting and exhilarating course which amplified the difficulty and created a course that was not to be taken for granted.

On Saturday the intense heat made for a very interesting day – never forget that hydration is key in these conditions. Drinking plenty of water the night before, the morning of and during a race with over eight miles and more than 20 obstacles, it is crucial to preventing yourself from cramping while out on the course.

Spartan SGX Coaches were on site leading warm-ups and cool downs. These highly educated coaches are there to assist racers in race prep and recovery of the taxing course. Joe Di Stefano, Co-Founder of the SGX lead the charge along with Coaches Sarah Pozdol and Casey Eischen. The Spartan SGX team will be traveling the Spartan Race circuit, so be on the lookout for the warm-up and cool down area near the start line.

In our elite heat, Spartan Pro Team members, April Dee, Isaiah Vidal, Brakken Kraker, also Founding Pro Team members Chris Rutz, Shawn Feiock and Hannah Orders were all in attendance. Other elite competitors included Arizona native and 2nd Male at the Vegas Super, John Yatsko, Chris McCorkle, Debbie Moreau, Valerie Smith, Sue Luck, Amanda Ricciardi and Sarah Pozdol.

Saturday’s men’s elite heat came down to the difference between making the Spearman Toss and having to complete a set of 30 burpees. Brakken Krakker successfully nailed the spear throw taking the top spot over John Yatsko. Coming in third for the men was recent Spartan Pro Team addition, Isaiah Vidal. April Dee of the Spartan Pro Team dominated the women’s division taking first place over Debbie Moreau and Founding Pro Team member, Hannah Orders.

On Sunday April Dee returned to once again take the top spot on the podium with a demanding lead over Debbie Moreau taking the number two spot and Geishel Valverde grasping a third place finish. In the men’s division, John Yatsko returned with determination after practicing his spear toss and captured a first place finish. An extremely friendly second and third place finish was taken by Isaiah Vidal who showed a tremendous amount of sportsmanship as he waited to cross the line with Joey Patriola after running a majority of the Sunday Super Spartan together.

Close to 10,000 Spartans came and conquered the course this weekend at the Super Spartan in Miami, but there was one very special set of finishing scenes that played out under the relentless Florida sun. Remembering that being a Spartan is about overcoming adversity, finishing what you start, and never giving up no matter the circumstance, it was a joy to behold the newest member of the Spartan family – a young man called Sean. His “Best Buddy”, Tripp Prevatt, has been running races for some time now, making sure to always do one lap for himself and one additional one so that he can give that medal to Sean. You see, Sean has Cerebral Palsy. After telling Sean countless stories about the races he conquered, he wanted to find a way to give Sean the opportunity to join him on the course so they could both earn Spartan Finisher medals, together.

Naturally, the Spartan Kids course again showed that same fighting resilience. Climbing over walls, crawling under neon green “barbed wire” and zig-zagging through a web of bungee cord providing a glimpse of the future Spartans of the world. Be on the lookout; one day these young ones will be standing atop the podium. Just you wait and see!

All of these incredible experiences are made possible with the support of our incredible sponsors, Reebok, ZICO Coconut Water, CorePower, Clif Bar Builders Bars, the U.S. Navy, Eco Vessel, Air Force Reserves, Nestle Water, and DeliverLean. With their support Spartan Race showed Miami once again what we mean by “you’ll know at the finish line.”

Congrats to everyone who Spartan’d UP in Miami. Next up, Spartan Race is headed to the Midwest for the Indiana Sprint. What started as a Founders Race has become a staple of the Spartan tour, it you’re not signed up yet, what are you waiting for?

Go ahead, sign up. We’ll be waiting for you at the finish line.

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By: Casey Eischen

This past weekend we took part in the first ever Spartan Race 12 Hour Hurricane Heat. Honestly, had Joe Di Stefano not invited me I would not have considered it but who am I to pass up that opportunity? I had never done a Hurricane Heat so I had no expectations, but being a SGX Coach and finding out this was a Death Race qualifier I knew one thing, they would do everything they could to try to break us.

The nerves set in a week before when we get this ominous email from Tony Matesi saying they have been watching us and then proceeded to name a bizarre mandatory supply list each athlete must take. The list included a golf ball, flotation device, and Hooters poker chip to keep in our backpack that would carry enough food and hydration for 12 hours. Oh, and we will be in the desert so why not make us wear all black while we are at it!

Morning of, 32 of us HH12HR athletes met at 5:15am with the rest of the regular HH crew of 60, but we we’re distinguished by our reflective vests. We didn’t actually start til 6am and of course we kicked it all off with burpees. We did them together counting as a team until told to stop at 103. Next came the first of what would be MANY dunks in the ice bath. At first we were told to just sit in there and recite the Spartan Warrior Ethos and then we all had to cross over the other side by submerging our heads under a wall. This would be my biggest Achilles heel of the day.

After that, we had to duck walk up a mountain to where there start line was and of course, do more burpees. From there, we had to lay on the ground and roll about 100 yards to where we would build a “tunnel of love”. First person to arrives goes to plank, next person army crawls under to plank, and so on. I was third to fall in line which meant I had to hold a downward dog/plank for about 10 minutes while 90 people crawl under. Not so bad but your pack is on your head crunching your neck. Then we proceeded to some obstacles. First was the under/over where I was chosen as the person to not touch the ground. I would bear hug the hurdle and swing under which was most affective while I saw other groups lay down and pass someone on top. After climbing another hill we then proceeded to some more obstacles: cargo net, wall, and then to the rope climb where we all had to wait til every athlete hit the bell at the top. I hopped right to it nailing it and then watched as a bunch of men tried to get a larger fellow up without success. Finally someone grabbed the bell from the top and brought it down to him to ring.

By this time, athletes and spectators were filling in so why not parade us in front of them? So we had to do about 30 minutes of different exercises which included more burpees, push ups, lateral gorilla, planks, and kid n play. At this point, 3 hours was up and we went back to the dunk tank to chant the ethos, ran out jumping the fire that just kicked off near the finish line, and said goodbye to the HH crew. 3 hours was already up?! Easy, peasy I thought!

Then the tone of the game changed and things got real. Tony shows us a map and says, “you are no longer a team, it’s individual challenges”. So, our first mission was to run to a destination in the desert that’s off course, grab a tire, and meet back at the start line in x amount of time. I was the first girl to the tire graveyard picking what seemed smaller than others, little did I know the smallest ones were buried under to be revealed to the slower runners.

It’s about 10am and Tony says, “now do the whole 9+ mile obstacle race with the tire”. I was more than happy to oblige and excited to do all the obstacles in a 4 hour window. “Piece of cake”, I thought! Although time was on my side, it quickly became apparent we had entered the suck. Maneuvering up and down gravel hills was quite dangerous! Sometimes I chose to bear crawl because I couldn’t keep my footing with the weight of the tire. The whole time I kept thanking God I was not racing this at full speed. It would be all too easy to miss a step and injure yourself.

So through cargo nets, walls, the Hercules hoist, multiple carries, tire flips, crawls, and many other obstacles, I made it through with ease of my tire. I was lucky to be small enough to fit inside my tire where I could position it to rest on top of my pack so it actually helped in the gravel carry because I was able to use the tire to place the weight vs using strength.  But still, holding anything for that long burns your shoulders. If we missed an obstacle it was a 50 burpee penalty vs the usual 30. Rope climb and monkey bars with a tire? Not a chance!

So me and my new buddy Kristine stayed together through the entire course helping each other and laughing while we would nonchalantly take a pee break while chatting to people passing by. I really want to thank everyone who passed us that day. Everyone was so encouraging shouting words of praise. That’s the best part of the Spartan events, we all want to see the other succeed and hearing cheers from fellow racers made our will that much stronger that day.

I do feel I was well prepared for this event. I had all kinds of electrolytes, salt packets, and snacks to help carry me through such a long day in the desert. I even helped a few of the other athletes including some that were not in HH12HR but were desperately seeking salt for cramps. Not once did I have a physical limitation. Despite only being back in the game for 6 months after a year off from total knee recon and 4 surgeries to replace toxic breasts, I never experienced a twinge of pain or cramp. For me, it was the mental part of dealing with the environment. As previously mentioned, the terrain was incredibly wicked with multiple climbs on gravel and rock. And of course, it was blazing hot and I was surprised I was one of few to wear sunglasses (mine are prescription) to help block the sun. Another tool that helped me greatly that day was the dry fit handkerchief I tied around my neck. I used it to cool myself, pick dust globs out of my nose, to cover my mouth when crawling, to wipe things off, and to occasionally cover my whole face while some wicked sand storm would blast through. The weirdest thing about the desert is how quick the temp changes. You would be incredibly hot with dry mouth and burnt skin but then a cloud would come in creating a rapid chill, especially after you enter those dang ice baths!

So after another dunk in the ice bath, Kristine and I crossed the finish line just in time for the cut off. While waiting for everyone else to finish and trying to get warm, we were awarded a break to refuel and collect our finisher medals and shirts. All of us were delighted about having something warm to put on. However, only 19 of us successfully completed that mission. While the others were able to rejoin us, they were not eligible to receive the HH12HR patch.

Only 4 more hours to go and feeling great at this point! They decided to parade us again in front of everyone with our hands interlocked to each other between our legs and then back into the damn ice bath!!!! Really?!! Get us warm and then make us crawl under barb wire while freezing water sprays us only to fully submerge us in the ice bath again?! At this point, I was pissed! We get out and they say go make sand angels. My head was angry as I stared up at the sky flailing around arms and legs. The clouds rolled in and even though I cloud see the sun I was shivering so badly all I could do was pray the clouds would move. Just to mess with us a little more, they had us flip over face down to make sand angels while they kicked up dirt.

After another series of torturous exercises that included group sit ups, more rolling, fire man carries, reverse bear crawl down hill and crab walks back up hill, we were sent on another mission….after another trip to the ice bath of course. We partnered up and were told to retrieve our poker chips from the tunnel under the freeway off course. Lucky I’m only 5’1 because the first tunnel we had to cross was tiny, dark, and laced with spider webs. Then we met one of our slave drivers under the freeway where he demanded 100 push ups for the chip. We did them together in sets of 10 because our shoulders were absolutely destroyed at this point. After running back to hand in the chip, we were greeted with yet another damn ice bath!

Only 2 hours left and we were dragged to a car where we had to retrieve logs to carry. Once we reached our next destination it was exercise roulette drawing from a deck of cards that would determine what and how many of each exercise we would do together as a team. Finally, the golf ball and sharpie came into play writing our names on them only to have them chucked into the desert. After all, Easter is coming so why not celebrate with a hunt? Still not sure why we had to bring a floatation device to the desert, perhaps to slow us down as we crossed under water in the ice bath….?

Back to the logs and on to another destination of freezing water where we did more burpees. At this point I was so cold and the sand storms were so bad that I began coughing uncontrollably feeling like I had pneumonia. One more hour!!  Well, the sand storms got so incredibly dangerous that parts of the Spartan festival started flying around so they put us to work helping break down set ups and grab sand bags to reinforce tents. Thank god because I was praying for no more ice baths. I honestly could not wait to run out of there and get dry clothes after one last task, Indian run the festival while carrying a heavy ass tractor tire.

Finally, our day was done. We earned our shirts, and while only half of us earned the badge, we all earned honor! Some people must have quit along the way as well because the group pic does not have 33 athletes in it. Either way, it was a complete head trip and I totally cried at the end knowing that I can do anything as long as I keep a strong will. I would definitely do this event again, any day. As far as the Death Race goes, I think I may have to pass on that for now so that I can take on the Ultra Beast later this year.

Thank you to all my teammates, slave drivers, and everyone who encouraged our journey. Every bit of the suck was worth it. AROO!!!!

 

Do you think you have what it takes to do the HH12HR? Sign up today! 

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A lesson learned for those that took the race lightly – make sure you hydrate!

Spartan Race’s second visit to the glitzy atmosphere of Las Vegas delivered more surprises that you could shake a roulette wheel at. Under the relentless Nevada sun that was as unforgiving as the rocky terrain, over 8000 Spartans – veterans and newbies alike – earned their medals and the right to call themselves Spartans.

Heat, rocks, dry and sandy landscapes that seemed to go on forever, even sudden and violent sandstorms – it didn’t matter. The people were here to be tested and to thumb their noses at whatever stood in their way. A move to a different venue didn’t change the attitude or the desire of staff or racer and the relentless terrain certainly did its job, but what it didn’t know was that it was dealing with a different breed of person – The Spartan Racer.

The elite waves threw up some surprises, as new boy Glenn Racz powered his way through a field of established elite veterans to grab number one spot. John Yatsko’s background in running helped him to grab second place, while the familiar sight of Hunter McIntyre on the podium, albeit in third place, made up for the lack of familiarity. Tyann Clark breezed to a comfortable first place, with Amelia Boone in second and the always-smiling face of Rose Wetzel-Sinnett taking third spot. With so much talent, skill and power now bristling within the elite Pro Team, it’s becoming harder and harder to predict podium placements, let alone winners. With this competition being so fierce, races are only going to become faster and tighter.

The winner’s podium at Las Vegas 2014

As ever, the day started with the Hurricane Heat, but it was a special one as it would morph into the first ever class of the new 12 Hour Hurricane Heat. Under the usual guidance – abuse? – of Tony Matesi and a back-up of three extra Spartan Race staff, the competitors were treated to dips in cold water as early as 6am, crawls, squats and endless burpees.

As the regular Hurricane Heaters broke away after around 3.5 hours, the HH12HR – as it is now known – were bombarded with all manner of horrific crimes against the body, one of which being the punishing ordeal of finding, rescuing and returning to the start line with a tire that they would then learn they would cover the course with the whole time. From this, one of the highlights of the event was born. Despite understanding that there was a strict time cut off for the lap with the tire, Kyoul Cha of Arizona (and Weeple Army/Team SISU member who again won the biggest team title) chose to forego his official finisher title and instead stay behind in order to help another competitor that was struggling with his run.

Those unaware of Kyoul’s background will not know that his profession is that of a Hotshot firefighter. Covering long distances with the added pressure of time constraints and intense heat is his normal day. Any other day he would happily have been able to complete the distance in well under the time allowed, but remembering the Warrior Ethos that is taught during the Hurricane Heat, he adhered to the last line which states that, “you will never leave a fallen comrade”. Kyoul sacrificed his official finisher title and patch in order to help his colleague – unwittingly embodying everything about Spartan Race in one selfless gesture.

Kyoul Cha sacrificed his own qualification of the 12 Hour Hurricane Heat to help a fellow competitor finish their race.

In the event village, Spartans were treated to the sight of not one, but two weddings. Well, it wouldn’t be Spartan Race without one, especially given that it was Las Vegas. Amongst deafening cheers and a volley of “Aroo!”’s, Spartan Race and thousands of racers applauded those starting a new chapter in their respective lives. As with the famous phalanx, the coming together of a couple showing that a unit can be stronger than the sum of its parts.

Those with marriage furthest from their minds of course, were the Spartan Kids. As ever, the tremendous and vibrant energy that could be felt from the aura that followed them was magnificent. Caring not that the heat was climbing higher with every minute that passed, they ran through mud pits, over hills and crawled over the ground with reckless abandon. In an age where technology suggests that a good time could and perhaps should be had indoors and beckoning a finger of a blander, more sedentary lifestyle, to see thousands upon thousands of children climbing, running and ultimately, playing their way to a healthier way of life, one would believe that perhaps that there is still an ever increasing pocket of resistance to the malevolent shadow of an unhealthy lifestyle.

With the always supportive Reebok, Eco Vessel, Core Power, National Air Guard and the Navy Credit Union helping bring Spartan Race to the fore time after time, Spartan Race showed not just Las Vegas, but everyone associated that yet again Spartan Race delivered.

There’s a time when you realize what it means to wear that medal and feel that pride and we say it often.

You’ll know at the finish line.

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By Brakken Kraker

Spartan Race returned to Hawaii this past weekend, arriving for the Aloha Stadium Sprint in Honolulu. As advertised, the weather was beautiful and the course was excellent! Navy Federal Credit Union continued to show their unbelievably generous support for our sport, providing a $7,500  purse for the top 3 men and women. They also had a wonderful tent set up with lots of free gifts and smiling employees! It was a great experience to have such a committed, supportive partner for Spartan Race. 

The big cash prizes, combined with sunny beaches, brought out some great competitors, both local and mainlanders. We even had some athletes from across the pond show up and compete. On the men’s side Brakken Kraker, Alexander Nicholas, Joey Patrolia, and Christopher Rutz made the trip, while Miguel Medina left his dungeon for a few hours to throw his hat into the ring.  Newcomer McCauley Kraker also showed up, ready to test his running and athleticism against the Spartan veterans on this exciting three mile course.  Several new obstacles made their appearance on this course, including a tire hoist and a bleacher squat series.

The relatively new but already universally despised football throw returned. Preliminary reports indicate that more than two people actually completed the obstacle this time. On the women’s side the pre-race favorites of KK Paul, Oahu’s own Lauren Ho and Karlee Whipple lived up to their hype, as all three finished within 21 seconds of each other. The battle for first came down to the final obstacle, where KK Paul edged out Lauren Ho for a two second victory. The men’s race stayed packed together for the first half of the race, until burpees ultimately broke it open. The Kraker brothers finished 1-2, with Joey Patrolia claiming the 3rd podium spot. 

We’d like to thank all of the sponsors, volunteers, and workers at Spartan Race Hawaii, as well as the people of Oahu! Every single person we met was so unbelievably kind and supportive. It made our trip and race fantastic. We can’t wait to head back for the next race!

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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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By: Tony Matesi

Welcome to Atlanta where the Spartans play, and we hang on them traverse walls like every day. Big Heats, fit Elites, see Spartans roamin’ and the festival starts at eight in the mornin’.

Kicking off another extraordinary Spartan weekend for the 2014 season we saw another grueling Hurricane Heat that pushed participants beyond their limits. Wasting no time getting down to business the event started with a 100+ burpee penalty in response to a collection of late arrivals.

This weekend we saw some familiar faces from the Spartan Pro Team ready to tackle the Spartan Sprint. In attendance for the men we saw David Magida, Christopher Rutz, Elliot Megquier and Georgia Native Alec Blenis. Alexander Nicholas was also in attendance but did not race competitively this weekend. For the women we saw TyAnn Clark, Juliana Sproles, and the Barbwire Queen Andi Hardy. Other Spartan Elites who made their way out for this incredible event included Cody Wright, John Henderson, Tony Matesi, Margaret Schlachter, Amanda Ricciardi, Kristine Iotte, Amie Meyer, Valerie Smith, and Sarah Pozdol.

Johnny Colt of Black Crowes and Lynyrd Skynyrd takes a moment with race director Mike Morrris

The men’s Elite saw tough competition for the top three spots resulting in podium finishes for David Magida, Alec Blenis, and Elliot Megquier (finishing first, second, and third respectively). As if that wasn’t enough for the trio they suited up for battle again on Sunday crossing the finish line once again in the same order as the day before.

The women’s Elite however saw both familiar, and new faces, take the podiums. On Saturday Pro-Team member TyAnn Clark came in first with close to a seven minute lead over second place SGX Coach Sarah Pozdol while Emily Fowler took third. Unlike the men the women’s Sunday podium looked different than Saturday. New comer Kristine Iotte took the lead in the first minute of the race on Sunday and never looked back. Like TyAnn the day before, Kristine held nearly a seven minute lead over second place finisher Amanda Ricciardi. The third place women’s Elite finisher went to Valerie Smith who on Saturday participated in the grueling and mentally tough Hurricane Heat.

Alicia Keys evaluates the next obstacle

Taking care of our racers with post race fuel was the Core Power Team with their delicious Core Power Protein drinks awaiting finishers after they battled the Gladiators. Mellow Mushroom kept everyone fed with exceptional discounts for all Spartan Racers. Eco Vessel was on site with their eco-friendly water bottles. Our friends from Obstacle Racing Media were on site providing coverage of the day’s events and SpartanUp! Graphix offered up their impressive wall graphics made straight from your favorite race photos.

Not only did we see familiar faces but there was even a celebrity on site as well. Alicia Keys came with a group of friends and tackled the course. Crossing the finish line in true Spartan fashion covered in Georgia clay, Ms. Keys was all smiles over becoming a true Spartan. Another music guest included Johnny Colt of Black Crowes and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

After a long and exciting weekend of Spartan-filled, fun, mud, sweat and maybe a little blood, we’re signing off. We’ll see you at the next one. The Spartan Team will be invading Charlotte, North Carolina in a couple weeks. If you haven’t signed up yet, what the heck are you waiting for? Sign up, show up, and never, ever give up! We’ll see you at the finish line. AROO!!!!

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By Isaiah Vidal & April Luu

Nestled in the mountains of Santa Ana Jilotzingo, 5,000 plus participants were anxiously waiting to conquer the first International Spartan race of the year in Mexico.

Surrounded by a spectacular view of the valley as the sun hit the horizon the day promised to be a day for the ages. Racers came from all over to take on this amazing course cut through some of the most rugged, and amazing, terrain the area has to offer.

The Elite heats promised to be truly entertaining as Spartan Race Pro Team member April Luu traveled to Mexico for the race. Ready to face off once again Spartan Pro Team member April Luu & the Spartan chicks of Mexico, Chickorita de Lego and Olympian Tri-athlete, Fabiola Corona. Its a friendly rival match and last time these ladies raced against one another, Fabiola took first as April Luu placed 2nd, followed by Chickorita in 3rd in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

On the men’s side was Spartan Pro Team member Isaiah Vidal making the trip down from the US, the Spartan Mexican Junior Olympian steeplechase competitor Angel Quintero and Junior Olympian Tri-athlete Octavio Oliveros. The rest of the field was packed with competitors looking to podium and find Spartan glory.

As the race got under way little did the participants know how obstacle heavy this event would end up being. To top it off the elevation was 2400 feet, which promised to play a factor in the 5 mile, 25+obstacle event. Starting the race off was a brutal 100 meter maze barb-wire crawl, followed by a run through water, climb over a cargo net and immediately faced with another barb-wire crawl. It was interesting to see some participants succeed while others struggled in overcoming these back-to-back obstacles in the first quarter of the race. The start of this race was merely the beginning as the competitors started to descend into the valley of Santa Ana.

There were many elevation changes along the narrow paths through tall grassy terrain and wooded areas. Around every corner stood another obstacle yet to be faced. Over – under- throughs, walls of varied heights, moats with mud & water, balance beams, inverted walls, hurc hoist, monkey bars, tractor pull, rope climb, and a 400 meter sand bag that was absolutely punishing.

Leading the race Isaiah fought Angel for the lead after descending into the woods followed by the sand bag carry with Octavio was closing in. Angel maintained his lead by making the spear throw. Octavio in second missed, followed by another miss from

Isaiah, giving Octavio a thirty second lead. With a mile left and 5+staggered obstacles the top podium spot went to Angel, followed by Octavio in second and Isaiah in third.

The battle between the women was settled as April paved the way with a 2 minute lead over the Olympian Fabiola. Missing the spear, caused her to take the thirty burpee penalty, but was still able to maintain her lead. Just when Fabiola thought she had closed the gap, missing her spear throw pushed Fabiola back to third as Chickorita over took the Olympian by dominating the spear. In the end the top spot went to April, followed by Chickorita and Fabiola in third.

After the elite men & woman the 9:30am race participants took over in packs of 100+ every 15 minutes until 2:30pm, many fighting to earn a part of their Spartan trifecta medals. The Spartan Kids race took 4 – 13 year olds on their very own course, earning their unique Spartan medal.

The first Mexico Spartan Race of the year was an outstanding course designed by the Spartan Race Mexico team. They will be taking a similar design approach for the next event, the Spartan Super in Puebla, Mexico on April 5th & 6th where the venue will sit at 9,400 feet and allow the people of Mexico to continue their quest for the Spartan Trifecta.

Sign up for your next Spartan Race today! 

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By Christopher Rutz

Palm trees, cool breezes, and sunshine are not what most of the rest of the country are experiencing this time of year. With winter storm after winter storm blasting the Midwest, East, and West coasts most people are bundled up tight trying to stay warm. It was a welcome change this weekend for those that traveled to Florida for the Spartan Tampa SpecOps Sprint, the first ever run in Tampa. While the weather was a little wetter than most were expecting it was still much warmer than the rest of the country, and made even more so by the sweat, mud, obstacles and fire participants would soon be subjected to as they descended on Raymond James Stadium. 

The Tampa Special Ops Stadium Sprint race took place this past Saturday in beautifully tropical Florida. While most of the country was experiencing more snow and cold temperatures Florida’s Spartans, and many snowbird Spartans, were out in force to take on the course. Registration topped 6000 racers and Raymond James Stadium was transformed from a Buccaneer Den to Spartan battle ground. Unique obstacles in this Special Ops race included and ammo can farmers carry, a football toss into a barrel, a sand barbed wire crawl the length of the field, and a cammo net crawl. There was also a “gamble” in this race, which forces the racers to choose harder and shorter or longer and faster course options.  In addition, finishers were awarded a unique Special Ops finishers medal.

The mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn, was in attendance to help kick off the day along with many distinguished military service men from MacDill Air Force Base.  The day started out with the Elite heats under tropical winds and a quick rain shower.  The men’s race included six members of the Spartan Race Pro Team, Hunter McIntyre, Brakken Kraker, Elliott Megquier, Christopher Rutz, David Magida and Alexander Nicholas. Other top competitors included Isaiah Vidal, Brandon Dupont and Dennis Smith. Due to some misdirection on the course the men’s field split with some taking alternate courses to finish the race. Fortunately there was timing mat at the point of the misdirection so mid race results can be used for scoring. At this point in the race Brakken, Hunter and Isaiah were in the top three spots. When the elite men finished up their heat and it was realized that many did different routes it was decided to run again for the prize money. So with that 30 or so of the top Elite racers went back up in the Stadium to complete the course from the misstep. In the end the top placing went to Isaiah, followed by Hunter and then Brakken.

On the women’s side, they were able to stay on course and ran the race as intended. First place went to Cassidy Watton, followed by Spartan Pro Ameila Boone and then Kailee Whipple.  $7,000 in Prize money was awarded to the Top 3 men and women courtesy of Navy Federal Credit Union.

After the elite heats concluded the open waves took to the course. The weather was cool, for Florida, with sunshine and a breeze for most of the day. This was the first Spartan Race in Tampa and first one  ever run in a football stadium. For those thinking they would stay dry, they were wrong.  Spartan took advantage of the outside and created rolling mud. The challenge intensified with the Herculean Hoist, Atlas Carry (a concrete ball – 100lbs for men and 60lbs for women – carried a distance, a required 5 burpees, and then carried back), an inverted wall climb, an ammunition box carry, the ever-daunting spear throw (a challenge that dished out burpee penalties for many throughout the day), and the dreaded rope climb. Finally, with a triumphant leap over fire, racers victoriously crossed the finish line to receive their one-of-a-kind Special Ops medal and Spartan Sprint trifecta piece.

Not only were adults able to claim their Spartan victory, but a ½ and full mile kids race was also available for children aged 4 through 13. Small Spartans were sent out at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm, giving them the opportunity to take on a course designed just for them, and to earn a medal all their own.

While we are sure you are more than a little jealous of your fellow Spartans run in the (kind of) sunny state of Florida don’t worry. To join in on the next race go to spartanrace.com and sign up for a race in your area (or someplace warmer than your area…it’s your choice).

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By Anthony Matesi

Just outside of Phoenix, AZ there was a disturbance in the normally desolate lands near Fort McDowell. The Spartans had arrived. Marking the second Spartan Race of 2014 the obstacles were erected all throughout the week to bring to this cactus filled paradise an event that would challenge all walks of life.

To kick things off, Hurricane Heat leaders devised a relatively creative plan for the brave souls looking to participate in the event which began in the early hours of the morning before the sun had a chance to rise up over the mountains off in the distance. Teamwork is essential in finishing one of Spartan’s challenging HH events. New Hurricane Heaters were put through everything from learning animal movements and body weight exercises that are the foundation of the Spartan SGX training program to having them dig up a treasure chest filled with zip ties only to be zipped together right arm to the next person’s left ankle and forced to inchworm as a one unit through a tunnel that went under the highway. The suffering these participants endure together takes a group of strangers and creates a bond like no other.

While those crazy Hurricane Heaters were suffering together in the festival area the Elite racers began to storm the grounds. Some of the top racers from the Spartan Pro Team were in attendance. For the men, Matt Novakovich from Alaska, mountain man Miguel Medina left his cabin in Vermont, with Christopher Rutz, Shawn Feiock and Elliot Meguier also in attendance. On the women’s side there was TyAnn Clark, Juliana Sproles, Jenny Tobin, and Ang Reynolds. Outside of the pro team there was an impressive showing from Sarah Pozdol, Laura Messner, and Rose Wetzel as well as the local newcomer to Spartan Race, John Yatsko. The early hours of the morning were a bit brisk but things heated up very quickly as the race day began. The course was fast and hilly with all the usual obstacles to test the strength, endurance and agility of the racers. As the temperatures rose the cramps began to set into racers who didn’t take the time to properly hydrate. The Amphibious Medics team led by, David Gonzalez, was on site helping the Spartan Staff to help those who were injured on course back to safety or fixed them up to continue their journey.

The Elite wave took off early Saturday morning fighting for the prize money offered by Navy Federal Credit Union with a total of $7500 up for grabs. The competition was incredibly fierce. In the men’s division there was a grueling battle that brought had the top 3 finishers all finishing within a minute and 30 seconds of each other. At the end of the day it was John Yatsko, Glenn Racz, and Chad Trammel taking the first three spots and Matt Novakovich coming in fourth.  The elite women’s field was equally grueling with Kk Paul, Rose Wetzel and TyAnn Clark battling it out for the top 3 spots coming into the finish in that order with Rose and TyAnn finishing within seventeen seconds of each other. The Sunday Elite crowd was stacked once again with some of the top elites and Spartan Pro Team members. It was another tight battle with Matt Novakovich taking the first place on the podium followed by fellow Spartan Pros Miguel Medina in second and Elliot Meguier in third. For the women we saw the importance of counting your burpees out loud when Sarah Pozdol was bumped from what could have been a second place finish to fifth place. Kk Paul took first again on Sunday, Jenny Tobin came in second and Sue Luck saw her way back to the podium taking third. Spartan Pro Team member Shawn Feiock saw a top ten finish taking 7th and Christopher Rutz in 9th.

Spartan Weekends are about more than just the elites of course. There were a lot of families, Spartan Singles, and couples alike mingling, racing, and enjoying the warm touch of the Arizona sun. In the festival area the Spartan SGX tent was providing warm-ups and cool down exercises as well as stretching by the crew from Power in Motion CrossFit. Our sponsors Core Power Protein delivered some excellent post race recovery drinks, E-Boost kept everyone energized, Clif Bars took care of feeding the taxed muscles of everyone who crossed that finish line, and Zico covered the much needed hydration to keep up with the desert sun.

In addition to all the first timers and those looking to begin their quest for the coveted Trifecta there were some inspiring people out on course defining what it means to push beyond your limits. We saw the ever glowing smile from Misty Diaz, who conquers her Spina Bifida by traveling the country running half marathons and Spartan Races chasing after that double trifecta. On Sunday a racer by the name of Joel Brown was spotted on course making it happen. At only 54 years young Joel is a former Para-Rescue and has been a Krav Maga instructor since 1978 receiving all his training in Israel. In 1981, he lost his right leg in a motor vehicle accident. Regardless of this accident Joel has continued to train, instruct, and push himself. His journey to the Trifecta began here in Arizona will continue at the Super in Vegas and conclude with the Beast in Monterey.

As always the Spartan Kids were out in force to light up everyone’s day with their beaming smiles and mud covered bodies. Many of the elites including Miguel Medina, Matt Novakovich, Sarah Pozdol and Rose Wetzel came out and helped play the role of the rabbit that the kids try to catch on the course.

Another incredibly successful Spartan weekend filled with fun, smiles, mud, and even a little blood has come to an end. Next up Spartan Race will be invading Tampa with the first Special Ops event of the year taking place at Raymond James Stadium. This Special Ops Race will offer a combination of the traditional outdoor obstacles alongside some of the signature Spartan Stadium obstacles.  Sign up to earn your very own unique Special Ops Spartan Sprint medal andwe’ll see you at the finish line!

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Before the 2014 Spartan Race season kicked off with the Spartan Sprint and Super in Temecula, CA there was a storm brewing in the early hours of the morning. At 5:30AM the Hurricane Heaters descended upon Veil Lake Resort reporting to the parking for their warm-up. Anyone who did not show up on time subjected their fellow comrades to non-stop burpees until they were directed to stop. The Hurricane Heaters are always provided with a mandatory gear list which this time included bringing their own signed waivers as well as a questionable item, toilet paper. On top of late arrivals there were a few individuals who neglected to follow the instructions in their email which of course resulted in more burpees.

The event officially kicked off at 6:00AM with 50 participants. To start these brave individuals were to complete 30 burpees, a few more stragglers showed up on top of five who neglected to bring their toilet paper rolls, which brought the total burpee count up to over 100 before continuing on to the first challenge of the event, stacking all the logs for the fire jump obstacle. What might seem like a tedious task actually doubled as a chance for the large group to begin learning what it means to be a team, during this time their minds were activated by teaching them to recite The Warrior Ethos together. To ensure the Hurricane Heaters were challenged they were given a time limit of fifteen minutes to complete the challenge. Just as the racers finished the sun began to rise and the use of their headlamps was no longer needed. At this time the entire group descended on the beach and entered the water, there were still some individuals that hadn’t figured out the need to communicate and work together as a team. This caused their fellow comrades to be subjected to…you guessed it, more burpees… in the lake. The Hurricane Heat strives to teach valuable lessons, one of which is how to effectively communicate and work together as a team. When that doesn’t happen, there are consequences, however when the group does finally figure it out, that’s when the magic happens.

After “playing in the sand” and rolling along the shoreline the Hurricane Heaters were sent to the rope climb obstacle back on the Sprint and Super course. Everyone had the task of reaching the top to ring the bell. What transpired next was the turning point for this group of friends and strangers. They worked together to ensure the success of all their teammates by building a human pyramid while another participant climbed along side their teammate motivating them to keep climbing all the way to the top. Ding, just like that all the racers succeeded in smacking that bell. It was a very rewarding moment for the group and everyone cheered and celebrated their success.

Anthony Matesi – your Hurricane Heat leader

The HH-044 Class had discovered the power of communication and teamwork, so to shake things up they were divided into four teams and sent out backwards on a section of the Super course. At the base of one the steepest inclines the teams were stopped and one person from each team was informed that one of their comrades had been severely wounded. Their mission was to be the first team to reach the top of this climb carrying their wounded comrade the entire way. At the very top each team had to help their wounded person up and over the seven foot wall. Once completed everyone was miraculously healed; after a quick group photo the teams set out on a run along the mountain ridge looking over the festival area to the left and Highway 79 to the right. The view was breathtaking. The first team to reach the bottom was subjected to 30 burpees. Each team that came in after also had to do burpees but as soon as the first team hit 30, everyone was instructed to come to a halt and the entire Hurricane Heat made a quick hustle to the next challenge they would face. As they approached the grassy area leading to the Inverted Wall obstacle the group was taught the proper bear crawl technique in accordance with the Spartan SGX training program and immediately began crawling their way to their next obstacle.

As the Hurricane Heaters approached the festival area they were greeted with a lot of strange stares and loud cheers. For those that don’t know about the Hurricane Heat it’s quite the spectacle to see such a large group of people already being pushed beyond their limits before the race has even begun. A quick stop over to the Spartan SGX booth resulted in a series of body weight exercises including fireman-carry squats, burpees, reverse burpees and the infamous super burpee. Once all the Elite Men and Women took off for the Spartan Super the Hurricane Heat made their way back onto the course from the Start and went through a series of obstacles until reaching a strangely placed throne-like chair that was found on the course. Here the challenge they were presented involved hoisting the one and only Johnny Waite from Spartan HQ into the air and carrying him for over an 1/8th of a mile through a very swampy section of the course. The teamwork here was top notch, all the participants worked together to swap out as needed and to make sure Johnny was sitting pretty.

Next up the four teams combined into two teams at the Gamble obstacle, here you had to choose which direction to go, more difficult terrain but shorter distance or easy terrain over a slightly longer distance. The two teams were sent in different directions, Johnny Waite and John Ziegler from HQ led the team on the easy course, as I led the difficult. The final destination was the monkey bars. The harder section proved to be the faster route arriving a few minutes ahead of the other team. When the team that took the shorter route arrived, a female on the team was cramping up quite horribly. Together everyone helped, providing her with water, salt tabs and a granola bar to boost her nutrition. In this moment the Hurricane Heaters had a new mission, never leave a fallen comrade.

With less than a mile to go the Hurricane Heaters once again made their way into the now booming festival area and made their way toward the center of it all. They gathered around in a large circle and at the top of their lungs shouted out the 7 Pillars of Spartan and the Warrior Ethos followed by a set of 30 burpees. Thinking it was all over, Johnny Waite presented them with one last challenge, everyone was to hold up their toilet paper rolls to show they had protected it from the elements, if everyone succeeded in keeping the rolls clean and dry they were done if not another 30 burpees. At least three people failed to protect their toilet paper rolls. More Burpees!!!

This group of strangers came together in the early hours of the morning, failed to read instructions, arrived late, and appeared to be a complete mess. By the end they had learned to work together making sure every single person who started finished together as a team. When you suffer together there are many lessons to be learned. Either you can overcome the obstacles or you can fail to. The choice is yours. Remember, “I will always place the mission first, I will never accept defeat, I will never quit, and I will never leave a fallen comrade.” This is your Ethos.

See you at the next race!

For more information about the Hurricane Heat, click here.

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