By Pro Team Member Chris Rutz

“Everything is bigger in Texas” is phrase that Spartan Race was determined to live up to in Austin. The race returned to Reveille Peak Ranch for its third year and drew in excess of 12,000 athletes. New this year was the Super distance. In past year only the Sprint distance race was run. This year the Super was added. All racers on Saturday ran the Super and all runners on Sunday ran the Sprint. This created the opportunity for 2/3 of the Trifecta in one weekend. It also creates the opportunity to earn a Trifecta without leaving the state on Texas. The Dallas Beast will be later this year on 11/1.

The Sprint course was essentially the first 1/3 and last 1/3 of the Super course. The Super course added a number of challenges not seen by those that ran the Sprint. The highlight of the Super course was a hill climb on slick rock that reminded many of the runners of sections of trail near Moab, UT. Much of the added distance of the Super included off trail bushwhacking and stream crossings. In addition the Super racers had an Atlas Stone carry and double the distance on the tractor pull to name a few of the additional challenges.

Both courses had some significant challenges. The climbing ropes seemed to be especially slick. Perhaps it was the Texas mud. The Spear also seemed to have a higher failure rate than normal. In a twist which runners hate and obstacle racers love, most of the “burpee” obstacles were clustered at the end of the course. The Traverse Wall, the Hercules Hoist, the Rope Climb and the Spear were all within the last ¼ mile of the race. Just before entering the festival area where these obstacles were clustered, racers were challenged with a 150 yard swim section. PFD and a bypass were available for non swimmers. This definitely is a favorite venue by most the Spartan faithful.

The Elite heats on each day were won by the same athletes,  John Yatsko of Flagstaff, AZ and Rose Wetzel of the Spartan Pro Team from Seattle, WA.  They each took home $2,500 for their victories, $2,000 on Saturday and $500 on Sunday. Prize money for Saturday’s race was funded by Navy Federal Credit Union. Rounding out the top 3 on Saturday were, Hobie Call (Utah) $1,000 and Chad Trammell (Washington)  $500 and Chikorita De Lego (Mexico) $1,000 and KK Paul (Arizona) $500. On Sunday’s Sprint, home town racer Isaiah Vidal and Elliott Megquier, both on the Spartan Pro Team placed second and third, with Chikorita De Lego and Laura Lunardi taking those same positions for the ladies.

It was a perfect weekend for a race in Texas. The weather was just right, the racers were pumped and the course delivered on the promises of Spartan Race. Next up are the Tri-State Sprints.

See you at the finish line! 

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Written by guest blogger and Pro Team Elite racer Rose Wetzell-Sinnett

Many people have asked, “what is a Founder’s Race?”

Well for those of you that raced in Montana, you now know what it is. It’s a little less formal that a regular Spartan Race. The obstacles are more like they were “back in the day”. They are made out of what is available at the venue. In the case of Montana, this was primarily fallen pine trees. The feel overall is more grassroots and the basic. But that does not mean less challenging. What else makes a Founder’s Race unique? It is designed by one of the Founders. In this case,  Joe De Sena.

Joe De Sena, you did not disappoint. In the Montana Sprint Founder’s Race preview, Spartan Pro Team member Elliot Megquier predicted that the race would be “brutally awesome”, thanks to the Spartan founder designing it himself, Elliot was right. With over 4,000 feet of elevation gain in under 5 miles, if racers weren’t climbing up a hill last Saturday, they were running down one. On the women’s side, talented racers such as Tiffanie Novakovich, Jenny Tobin, Rose Wetzel-Sinnett, Andi Hardy, and Laura Messner stepped up to the challenge after studs like Matt Novakovich, Chad Trammell, Elliot Megquier, Miguel Medina, Joey Patrolia, and Chris Rutz took off to tackle the roughly 20 obstacles strewn throughout the course. The race started off with a quick jaunt through a pond followed by a steep incline to shoot the heart rate up. Many racers found themsleves power hiking within the first few minutes, thinking, “What did I get myself into?” After flying down the hill, racers landed in front of a new obstacle – the biggest, baddest slippery wall Spartan has ever dished out. As racers headed uphill again, they came across a cute sign that read, “1.5 Mile Hill Climb” and then, underneath “Love, Joe.” And who was there within the first minute or so of this brutal hill climb but Joe himself, cheering racers on and probably smiling at the thought of their impending quad burn.

Over the next 2-3 miles, racers carried logs, flipped logs, waded through ponds, crawled under barbed wire with huge hay rolls in the way, climbed rope and numerous walls, carried sandbags, and of course, threw the Spartan spear, all the while making their way through the rocky terrain and occasional waist-high brush. Joe kept everyone on their toes, that’s for sure. Mountain running expert, Matt “The Bear” Novakovich from Alaska, smoked the course and finished in style, lifting a burning log over his head as he hurdled the fire pit. Next came Chad Trammell flying in, despite nursing a hamstring strain after claiming first place at the Colorado Sprint last week, followed by Lucas Zemlicka, a Montana native. The women’s race ended with a very exciting sprint to the finish after Rose Wetzel-Sinnett was directed off course by a fellow racer, only to run up the initial hill again, costing her a few precious minutes. Faye Stenning, who pursued Wetzel-Sinnett by a minute or two the entire race, also went off course, leaving Jenny Tobin a chance to possibly take the top podium spot. Once Wetzel-Sinnett realized she was back on the course’s beginning section, however, she bolted like a madwoman 150 meters to the last wall, which Jenny Tobin was already ascending. Full of determination, Wetzel-Sinnett flew up the wall, spilled ungracefully onto the other side, shot up and sprinted like crazy to clinch the win. Faye crossed the line in third, with the bronchitis-battling Tiffanie Novakovich just missing the podium.

Once racers tackled the course and earned their coveted Spartan medal, the real party began. Joe De Sena personally congratulated racers as upbeat music blasted, beckoning racers to find a second wind for the dance party. Although morning conditions consisted of clouds and coldness, the afternoon brought sun breaks between short rain showers, warming things up for the loony guys in Speedos. Spartan Races always offer challenging courses and an encouraging atmosphere, though all would agree that the Montana Founder’s Race added a special element of brutal awesomeness.

Sign up for your next Spartan Race right here and you’ll know at the finish line!

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Written By Pro Team member Glenn Racz

The Colorado Military Sprint at Fort Carson Army Base delivered another solid race weekend for over 8,000 participants.  This Military Sprint adds various different elements as compared to other Spartan races such as the increased amount of obstacles (25+) packed into the Sprint distance of about 4.5 miles and the nose-bleed elevation of over 6,000 feet.  These two aspects of the race proved to be a challenge to all competitors in the race.  The stakes were high on this race as this was one of the Navy Federal Credit Union $7,500 prize purse races – which helped to pull in some of the most hardcore obstacle racers from around the country.

The race conditions were ideal with moderate temperatures throughout the weekend.  However, the temperature was the only moderate feature in this race as once the racers took to the course, they all very quickly realized that this race would truly test how one could manage the extremely “obstacle dense” course along with the short, yet steep hills scattered throughout the course.

For the elite men on Saturday, Pro Team athletes Brakken Kraker and Glenn Racz took an early lead by mile 1, but Glenn Racz soon fell back behind Matt Novakovich and Chad Trammell after the Atlas Carry.  Half way through the race, recent Boston Marathon finisher, Brian Gowiski joined the lead pack.  Then after the ruck sack carry, Chad Trammell powered by Matt Novakovich to take and hold the lead to emerge the victor and take his first 1st place finish for a Saturday race.  But just 14 seconds behind Chad was Brakken Kraker and Matt Novakovich “The Bear” as they battled it out though the final 7 obstacles all stacked up before the finish line to give the spectators a great show with only 3 seconds separating them.  Athletes Brian Gowiski and Isaiah Vidal came in a noteworthy fourth and fifth place.  Then on Sunday, Matt Novakovich wasn’t allowed an easy victory with Isaiah Vidal just 3 seconds behind him for another exciting finish.  Pro Team athlete Elliott Megquier held off Brian Hoover in the final obstacles to take a 3rd place podium finish.

With so many close finishes happening now, it’s clear that the courses on the circuit are highlighting the need for good, all-round training. While some may blitz obstacles and others build leads with running, regular podium placings and good times are now reflected in the fact that working all aspects of the body are clearly yielding better results. The days in which relying on running would see you through are starting to disappear.

The women’s elite Saturday race proved to be just as much of a nail-biter since race came down to the spear throw – which was missed by front runner and returning champion April Dee which allowed competitors KK Paul and Orla Walsh to overtake her for 1st and 2nd place.  April Dee took 3rd place for the Saturday race but then came back Sunday to take 1st among elite women. These 3 women were the only female competitors to complete the course in under 1 hour – a reflection of just how difficult the course was this year. With each year that passes, it seems Fort Carson ups the ante a little more. Looking forward, it makes for a brutal prospect in 2015.

As ever, Spartan Race would like to thank Reebok, Core PowerClif Builder BarsEco VesselSpartanUP! Graphix and Spartan SGX.

Of course huge thanks go out to all the staff at Fort Carson for their help and support for making the Colorado Sprint as epic as ever.

Sign up for the next Spartan Race here and you’ll understand what it means to “know at the finish line”.

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Three years ago, April 2012, the Spartan Race series descended upon the small town of Laurel, IN playing host to the very first Founders Race. This past weekend, the Spartans returned and with them they brought all of their comrades. What started out three years ago with around 2500 Spartans has now grown to over 10,000 Spartans who embraced the ethic of “knowing at the finish line.”

Starting the weekend off as usual were those seeking that extra bit of challenge via the Spartan Hurricane Heat, this time taking place on the Friday evening before the race. After four hours of brutal team building challenges, Tony Matesi, with the assistance of Andé Wegner, Ian Nichols, Todd Sedlak, and JJ Lipetzky, led 130 Hurricane Heaters from being complete strangers to a proud finish, exemplifying the Warrior Ethos imprinted on the HH dog tags they earned through bumps, bruises and burpees.

The sun rose the next morning welcoming the elite racers with the warmest weather seen in Indiana since that Founders Race three years back. Spartan warm-ups were led by Spartan SGX Coaches, Sarah Pozdol and Steve Manns. Ready to tackle what just might be one of the toughest Sprints of the season were Spartan Pro Team members, Brakken Kraker, Amelia Boone, and Elliot Megquier. Joining them were Spartan elite racers, Joseph Kauder, Tonya Stogsdill, Brakken’s brother McCauley Kraker, Laura Messner, Ben Lehman, Kevin Donoghue, Laura Lunardi, Margaret Anthony, Chris McCorkle, and Andé Wegner.

The course offered an incredible challenge to runners, with obstacles frequently spaced to break things up just enough to prevent the runners from getting into too much of a groove. That wasn’t enough to slow Spartan Pro Amelia Boone from absolutely dominating the course and leaving her competition twelve minutes behind and in doing so, establishing another 1st place podium finish.  Rounding out the women was 2nd place finisher, Amy Pajcic and taking third was Tonya Stogsdill. On the men’s side, Brakken Kraker and his brother McCauley led the pack almost all the way to the end but a fall off the traverse wall prevented the brothers from delivering the one-two punch. Brakken came in first over Spartan Pro teammate Elliot Meqguir and in third was Jordon Buscemi.

Spartans come from all over the country to attend Spartan Races and the same held true for the Indiana Spartan Sprint. With people coming from Chicago, IL, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia, it’s impressive to see how many people will venture out into the “unknown” to conquer their fears and push their limits. This held more true than ever when we met Eddie Ramos who biked 140 miles from Fort Wayne, IN to attend not only the Friday night Hurricane Heat but also the race Saturday morning followed by volunteering throughout the weekend. Eddie demonstrated the spirit of being a Spartan and we look forward to seeing if he’s able to take on the challenge presented of biking from Fort Wayne to Vermont for the World Championship this September.

The Amphibious Medic Team was back on the scene providing their unbelievable abilities to assess any situation and provide the necessary care to all of our racers all weekend long. We cannot express the appreciation we have for their incredible team led by David Gonzales and staffed by Jennifer Dierks.

Not surprising at all were the amount of teams in attendance encapsulating the spirit of the Midwest. From the biggest team who originally brought Spartan Race to Indiana, the Corn Fed Spartans, to the breadth of teams here to conquer the course through pure camaraderie including: Fire, Illuminati, Midwest Vikings, Team Ninja, and the Chicago Spartans. You could see the always helpful hands of all these teams on and off the course helping each other, cheering each other on and making sure everyone crossed that finish line.

Always bringing the biggest smiles to the crowd were the Spartan Kids as they conquered the Spartan Kids Race course and showed us just a taste of what the future of Spartan looks like. Returning to the kids course was the always happy face of Matthias Vescelus who refuses to let his lack of sight prevent him from tackling the obstacles with pure determination. Congrats to all the Junior Spartans who conquered their course.

As always we want to thank our sponsors: Reebok, Core Power, Clif Builder Bars, Eco Vessel, SpartanUP! Graphix and Spartan SGX, for making these events as grand as they are!

It was another incredible weekend of Spartan filled fun and we look forward to the next time the Spartan Race series returns to the welcoming town of Laurel, IN. Thank you for your hospitality. Next up, Spartan Race brings the return of the Military Sprint to Fort Carson, CO. There’s still time to sign up and we’ll see you at the finish line.

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By Pro Team member Miguel Medina

Last weekend over 12,000 Spartans scurried over and under shock cord, flew over walls and ascended an onslaught of stairs at the second Stadium Sprint in Citi Field. The weather was absolutely pristine as wave after wave of participants tested their strength and fortitude to overcome the obstacles in their path. In just over three miles racers were faced with over 20 obstacles at a blistering pace, mixing some old favorites such as the Traverse Wall and Spear throw in addition to the stadium themed obstacles like Farmer Carries and Ball Slams. The Monkey Bars had a challenging twist, as they were widened and elevated in addition the Hawaiian Squats making their debut on the mainland. 

Both the men’s and women’s elite waves were stacked with competition as some of Sparta’s best came out to battle for a spot on the Podium. Among the men Spartan ProTeam members Hunter McIntyre, Miguel Medina, and Elliot Meqcuier lined up with an impressive array of elites such as Dennis Smith, Brandon Dupont, William Ferullo and many others. The women’s elite shared an impressive throng of athletes as well such as Shaun Provost, Karlee Whipple, Laura Messner, and Elise Fugowski to name a few.  On Saturday, Hunter McIntyre held a strong lead throughout the stadium finishing first for a second year in a row. With two spots left on the podium Miguel Medina, Brandon Dupont and William Ferullo battled for the lead until the very end.  Ultimately it came down to who moved down the cargo net fastest and sprinted to the finish. Medina took 2nd place with William Ferullo seconds behind in 3rd and Brandon Dupont finished 4th. Among the women, last year’s winner Shaun Provost finished 1st as well with Karlee Whipple and Laura Messner rounding out the women’s podium.

Sunday the men’s elite went out with break neck speed as Spartan Pro, Miguel Medina finished in 1st , followed by Brandon Dupont in 2nd and Dennis Smith in 3rd. Among the women, Laura Messner set a swift pace, meeting an emotional sprint to the end and finishing in 1st with Elise Fugowski in 2nd and Julia Falamas in 3rd.

Citi Field also hosted the first Special Needs Spartan Race within a stadium for Spartans with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (IDD).  These athletes along with their guardians and volunteers met adversity head on. Blazing a trail for increased awareness and collaboration within the Spartan community and shattering the status quo once again, showing the world that Spartans from all walks of life can overcome obstacles to be more active, fit and healthy. The course was a 1/2 mile long and took into consideration athletes sensory profiles, physical and cognitive restraints associated with IDD. However, they rose to the occasion and overcame the challenges of the race triumphantly. Spartan Race looks forward to holding many more IDD courses in the future.

Sign up for your next Spartan Race and we’ll see you at the finish line… 

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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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