By Holly Joy Berkey

After much of the country endured a very long and bitter winter, the cold has finally subsided and we now find ourselves eagerly anticipating the warmth of the summer months.  But along with the excitement of balmy summer days and the promise of sunshine and plenty of time spent outdoors, this time of year can also bring with it the jarring realization of forgotten New Year’s Resolutions, a sudden awareness of an overabundance of holiday indulging, and the overwhelming dread of “bikini season”.

Women are constantly bombarded with the pressure to fit a specific body type, especially as the warmest months of the year arrive.  It seems as though a wave of disappointment begins to wash over us as we are forced to peer back at the women on fashion magazines, smiling happily at us as they pose confidently in their tiny bikinis.  The headlines enticing us with their perfect “quick fix” to help us magically drop 10-15 pounds in just a matter of days.  And just like that our brains convince us that we are inferior, telling us that because we have not achieved the body we see before us that we have failed, and a sudden drop in self-confidence leaves us spiraling into a self-loathing depression.

Each year we repeat this cycle, and each year the pressure is on to achieve the perfect bikini body.  Unfortunately it seems that our society teaches us that little to no actual effort is required to attain long lasting results, and instead we are bombarded with ads promising that we can drop a copious amount of weight within just a few days by completing a quick workout and sticking to their prescribed diet.  This is not realistic, nor is it a healthy way to lose weight.

How many women do you know (or perhaps are you one of them?) who suddenly hit the panic button when summer suddenly arrives? Thus begins a manic flurry of massive calorie restrictions, diet pills and workout overkill guaranteed to burn out even the most determined of women.  Even though a few pounds may be initially lost, this weight reduction is fleeting, as sooner or later our bodies need proper nutrition, realistic fitness goals and a healthy approach to maintain lasting results.  The yo-yo effect can wreak havoc not only on your body, but on your self-confidence as well, as you swing back and forth between self-hatred and frantic desperation while trying to maintain a lifestyle based around deprivation.

So how do we overcome this vicious cycle and instead find ourselves approaching summer with confidence?  You may even wonder if this is even possible.  To begin with, committing to a lifestyle which combines healthy eating with a workout plan which is consistent and realistic is key.  Our bodies aren’t meant to gain and lose excessive amounts within a short period of time, but a pound or two lost a week by means of a healthy diet and exercise is much more likely to stay off in the long run.  We also need to realize that these goals take time.  Just as it takes time to gain weight (which is why we generally don’t realize the vast impact that we’ve made on our bodies until more pounds than we care to admit have crept onto our bodies), it also takes time to lose weight.  I’ve met countless women who have begun a journey towards better health, who become frustrated when results do not instantly happen, and then they give up, convinced that the desired weight loss will never occur.  It’s then that they then tend to revert to the “quick fix diets” which unfortunately will never truly deliver the results that are so desired.

But not only do women need to focus on committing to a lifestyle focused on healthy diet and exercise that is a long term investment, but also (and this is much easier said than done), we need to stop being so hard on ourselves.

I recently saw an incredibly inspiration video that had been shared in the Spartan Chicked Facebook group, and it moved me to think about how hard we as women are on ourselves, and a lot of times on each other as well.  The video hosted Tarynn Brumfitt, a woman who has struggled with body image issues for years, much like the majority of women in our society today.  As a former body builder, she realized that even with the “perfect body” she still found herself lacking confidence as to how she felt about herself.  She then went on to become a mother, which produced curves that left her feeling much less than perfect.  Upon taking on a project to ask 100 women to describe themselves in one word, she was horrified as each woman she asked replied with a self-loathing description; “Lumpy, Fat, Ugly, Average, Stumpy..” these are just a few of the replies she heard, and she began to wonder if her own daughter would someday feel the same way about her own body, refusing the see the beauty that she too possesses.  This changed something in Tarynn, and she has now committed to loving her body, no matter her shape, and began the “Embrace” movement, which is raising money for a documentary that will be centered on teaching women to learn to love their bodies.

Tarynn’s story is just one of many in which women are choosing to fight against the urge to fall into a pattern of self-hatred, fad dieting, and unrealistic workout goals.  What we as women need to do is band together to support one another in our individual objectives.  We need to encourage, love, and advocate for each other, and we need to commit to loving ourselves as well.  This isn’t easy, but it’s possible, and surrounding ourselves with other women who are devoted to this same mindset will help us be that much more successful in our own personal fitness and health goals.

I recently saw a great meme online that said, “How do you get a bikini body? Simple.  Put a bikini on your body.”  Several drawings of women of all shapes and sizes in bikinis were then displayed.  What a great message!  Yes, I do believe we should all strive to be as healthy as we can, but we also must realize that we are all at different stages of that journey.  Just because you may not look like a model on a magazine, does not mean that the great things that you are working toward achieving shouldn’t be celebrated!  Just don’t give up; you can do what you set out to do!

So should you rock that bikini?  Yes!  Wear it confidently!  Love the body you have, and keep working steadily toward your goals, I know you’ve got this! Spartan Chicked women are strong, confident, and dedicated, and as long as you don’t forget how beautiful you truly are, you’ll live with confidence as you continue on your journey of healthy, happy living.

~Holly Joy Berkey

www.muddymommy.com

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By Holly Joy Berkey

When I was a young girl growing up in suburban west Michigan, I distinctly recall some of my fondest memories being endless summer days spent outdoors.  From dawn till dusk, each day was spent running and playing tirelessly with my neighborhood friends.  Hours of Kick the Can, Capture the Flag, and Kick Ball were played, trees were climbed, hills rolled down, and grass stains earned on the knees of all who traversed the soft grassy yards of my neighborhood.  The street I grew up on was home to more boys than girls, and I melded in as the tomboy of the crowd, simply happy to play outdoors and enjoy the fresh summer air with other kids my age who enjoyed to do the same.

As I grew up, my interests changed, and the joy of running free in the wide open spaces became simply a memory.  There were boys to chase, malls to cruise, and social groups to befriend.  Grass stained knees were traded for awkward heels and thick makeup. I no longer had the desire to be that tomboy, because I thought that for a boy to take notice of me, and for the girls to want to be my friend, I had to fit a specific mold.  I needed to be pretty and thin, I needed to laugh at the right jokes and act cool.  And as I progressed through my teenage and college years, instead of taking the time to figure out who I was, I did my best to become the girl who I thought everyone would want me to be.  Never once did the idea that I could be feminine, I could feel pretty, and I could also hold onto the tomboy in me that truly brought out the happiest part of me.

Thankfully, after years of trying to be someone I wasn’t, I stubbled upon my love of running quite by accident, and this eventually lead me to my love of obstacle racing.  And as I fell more deeply in love with living a healthier lifestyle, something in me reignited.  For the first time in years, I felt passion, I felt excitement, and I finally felt alive!  With each race that I ran, with each pound I lost, and with each milestone I acheived, I realized that I had found my true identity, one that I am not only incredibly proud of, but feel blessed to have discovered.

Today I am honored to feel as though I can consider myself a tomboy.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love that I am able to wear makeup, jewelry, and heels, and through that I am able to feel feminine and beautiful, but it’s great to know that this is not all that defines me.   I can also wash off the makeup, throw my hair in a ponytail, trade the heels in for a pair of trail shoes, and feel just a beautiful getting muddy, sweaty, and tackling a tough race.  Being able to meld into these two roles as a woman also makes me feel incredibly empowered.

I am not an object, I am a force to be reackoned with.  I am a strong woman who can acheive great things not just by how I look, but by the things that I can do.  I am not a trophy, I seek to earn a trophy.  I am a beautiful tomboy.

My hope is that women from all walks of life can feel this way as well.  There is no shame in being feminine, but there is no reason you cannot be both feminine and incredibly fierce.  With this same idea in mind, Spartan Race recently began their “Beauty and the BeastMode” photo albums, which displays side-by-side photos of women who have submitted a photo of them dressed their best along with their favorite photo being covered head to toe in mud at a Spartan Race.  You can see by the genuine smiles of the women in these photos that they have discovered their true ability to live life to the fullest, and to let their beauty shine in every facet of their lives.  So many women are discovering the fulfillment of being free to live a healthy, active life while not feeling pressured to give up their girly side.  I’m so happy that I did, and I hope that you can as well.

If you have yet to try an obstacle race for fear that it may be too masculine a sport, I urge you to please try one.  Grab a group of friends, dress in all pink or wear a tutu if you’d like, then get out there, get muddy, and celebrate the wonderful, amazing things that we, as women, can do!  I promise you that it will be a life changing experience!

For all of you who have already joined the Spartan Chicked ranks, you are amazing, I respect you, and keep up the good work!  I hope to see you out on the course someday!

~Holly Joy Berkey

www.muddymommy.com

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Jo Pearson doesn’t recall very much of her life before she turned 27. It’s not that she suffered a terrible accident or violent traumatic experience, it’s simply her coping mechanism.

“All the days I spent before that life-changing year are cloudy memories that I have stored in the recesses of my mind.  I’ve locked them away from others and myself because they are just too painful to remember and they do not bring any light or love to the life that I lead now”, she explains.

Deciding to change her life has not just made Jo a new person on the outside, the one within shines a thousand time brighter, illuminating her outlook and focus.

“The life I have now is one worth fighting for – it is one filled with joy, success, love, energy, zeal, and passion.  However, it also one that forces to me to suffer at times, to feel the pain of defeat and the frustration of setbacks, and to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.  The old me would have cowered at these type of tribulations and hid among the darkness.”

That new found radiance has permeated her attitude and zest for life, but also her mentality of how she approaches life.

“That woman that cowered is gone.  I have evolved into a warrior – a woman who will fight for what is right, just, healthy, and good in this world and who believes in her ability to make a difference in her own life and the lives of others.  I am proud of my journey for the small steps I have taken along the way are the ones that help me stand strong at the foot of mountains and keep me poised to carry on with strength, courage, grace, and honor.”

There was a point in her life when Jo weighed around 415lbs and wore a size 28. Despite being a young woman in her prime, she felt that she hadn’t even begun to live and experience life. Travelling anywhere by flight wasn’t an option because she couldn’t fit into an airplane seat. Amusement rides provided the same difficulty. This meant she rarely went out to enjoy happy times with her family or friends. This led to a vicious circle of staying indoors. Accusatory and mocking looks, pointed fingers and stares led her to feel isolated, with only family and a tight, small circle of friends being around her.

“Physically, I can remember not being able to walk up the 16 stairs at my parents’ house without feeling like I had just ran a marathon.  And, I never ever contemplated setting foot into a gym because it would have been too embarrassing.  I had become a person that wasn’t truly alive and that was sad and depressed.  I knew that I ate poorly and that I didn’t get any exercise, but for years I wasn’t ready to make any changes. I chose instead to eat huge amounts of fast food, sodas, sweets, and processed foods and then not exert any type of physical activity.  I had fallen into a black hole lifestyle that kept me shackled underneath hundreds of pounds of weight – taking a toll on my body and my soul.”

Her epiphany came one day as she looked back at the woman that greeted her in her mirror. Tired of feeling so sad all the time and craving something better, the blanket of doubt that had stifled her for so long was beginning to lift. Jo began to move. Slowly at first, but it was a start.

“I began walking late at night around my parents’ neighborhood so that no one would see me walking.  I was too afraid of being made fun of to actually do my exercise in the light of day.  I was still hiding in the shadows, but I was making my way out – slowly, but surely.  I cut out sodas and fast food entirely and began researching ways to eat healthy.  There wasn’t one magical diet or workout plan that I followed in the beginning.  I was just taking baby steps to becoming healthier.  But, changing the way I ate and incorporating moderate physical exercise, helped me shed pounds over the first couple of months.  I kept up my walking and healthy eating for about 6 months and I ended up losing about 60 pounds.  Once that initial weight came off and I could begin to see a different face and body in the mirror, my whole attitude changed. I knew I could do it. I knew I could make even more progress.”

Home workouts were the next phase. Scheduling set exercises to work out to gave her something to work with. Still fearing what she believed to be the glare and audience that was a gym, she avoided the gym. This was one fear she wasn’t ready to face – yet. Not before long, she’d shed 100lbs. She took this as the signal to employ a trainer to help her push further.

“I found a local trainer, Jonathan Smith, to help me continue on my journey.  He incorporated muscle confusion, strength training, cardio, boxing, and outdoor exercise.  I lost nearly 115 pounds by combining training like this, along with another BeachBody program, P90X, in about a year.”

By the end of her turnaround, Jo had lost around 215lbs and dropped from a size 28 to a 10. The confidence this journey gave her then shifted to another aspect of her life. The classroom. Harnessing the willpower she’d shown throughout her weight loss journey, obstacles were no longer things to fear, but opportunities to conquer. While she attended law school, she knew that the stresses and strains she experienced in an academic sense could be alleviated with a good diet and continued physical exercise.

“So, in my last year of law school, back in 2013, I decided to get another trainer.  I was able to find Jason Johnson, through Independence Gym in Scottsdale.  Jason has helped keep me in shape and believe that I am more than just a woman who has lost weight.  I am an athlete that has been hidden for so many years.  He incorporates high intensity interval training with both boxing and heavy strength training.  I have defined muscles now that I never knew even existed! Through his training I felt poised to take on a challenge that I never thought I would ever have a chance to even think about. The Spartan Race.  I decided that my law school graduation present and the best way to celebrate passing the Arizona bar exam and becoming an attorney was to finally compete in the Spartan Race!”

Training for it with the same precision and determination she had shown throughout her weight loss victory and graduating from law school, she prepared herself for what lay ahead. She was ready.

“On February 8, 2014 I approached the starting line of the Arizona Spartan Sprint ready to face my biggest physical challenge ever.  My fiancé, Jules Demetrius, who is battling Stage 3 colon and liver cancer, had hoped to be in those spectator bleachers cheering me on, but due to his diminished physical capacities, he was unable to do so.  But, he voiced his support all over social media, touting his love and admiration for what I have accomplished.  Every day he endures horrible pain as he fights against cancer and his strength and courage only spur me to continue to face my fears and give 100% to everything in my life.”

“As I crossed the finish line I began to cry.  It had been the biggest physical challenge I had ever faced and subsequently conquered.  Years of hard work, determination, and struggles had culminated in the completion of this 4.5 mile race.  And as Arisotle penned, ‘We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.’ I have truly embraced the Spartan code of never quitting and never accepting defeat.  I will carry those virtues with me for the rest of my days, for I am, and always have been a fighter.  AROO!”

Jo knows now what it means to know at the finish line. Do you?

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The sun rose slowly over the hills of Southern California Saturday morning. Blue shirts swarmed the hills of Vail Lake in order to bring the Spartan Race to life. Saturday marked the first time that Spartan Race had done both a Super and a Sprint in the same day and the weekend promised to be epic.

Tony Matesi launched the days activities off with the morning Hurricane Heat. The HH is a different kind of event. Not so much a race as a challenge to be taken on. It forces people to work together as a team to overcome obstacles together. Tony took the participants that signed up through his various tortures starting at 6am for a full four hours. For a complete rundown on the HH look for Tony’s report coming later in the week.

Cars filled the parking lot as the Elites began warming up for what promised to be an epic battle. The men’s elite had high-octane racers in Spartan Pro Team members Hunter McIntyre, Matt Novakovich, Miguel Medina, and Chistopher Rutz. The women’s Pro Team showed up in the likes of April Luu, TyAnn Clark, Juliana Sproles, Jenny Tobin and Tiffany Novakovich. The rest of the field outside of the Pro Team was stacked. Rose Wetzel who stormed through Malibu was in attendance as was Laura Messner, and as was expected the legendary Hobie Call came to push the men to their limits and beyond.

The weather on Saturday was sunny, warm, and not a cloud in the sky. It promised to make the course fast, but dangerous as was seen through the day where people cramped up from a lack of sufficient hydration. The Amphib Medics crew, as well as Spartan Race Staff, was there to help those injured on course to safety or to help get them back into the fray.

The Elites took off early for the Super where money was on the line for that event. With the men first out of the gate it was a tight bunch until coming to the first gamble where racers could choose to either take the shorter harder route or the longer faster half of the course. Hobie and Matt “The Bear” Novakovich veered to the right while Hunter took the left shorter route. As Hobie and The Bear came out of their gamble they caught sight of Hunter and the group that went left far up ahead.

Ever the fierce competitor Hobie caught Hunter making it another epic showdown between the two friends. Newcomer John Yatsko form Arizona was right on the heels of the two titans for the men. At the end of the day it was Hobie first, Hunter tacking second, and John in third.

It was universally considered to be one of the toughest women’s fields people had seen in awhile. It seemed to be that only reigning World Champion Amelia Boone, still recovering from a hamstring injury, wasn’t on course. Rose Wetzel and April Luu promised to make this women’s race one to remember trading back and forth on the course until April missed the spear thrown and Rose stuck hers resulting in just the break she needed to take the win. April cruised into the finish line in second place with TyAnn Clark placing third. 

The Saturday Sprint was not a money heat but still saw Laura Messner dominate as she warmed up for the Sunday Elite Sprint. Saturday also introduced the first time Spartan Race recognized the top age group finishers from the open heats. 14 year old Josh Novakovich dominated the Under 20 open taking first place overall while placing fourth overall on Saturday in the open.

Sunday the money heats for the Sprint were run and the podiums didn’t look too different. Hunter took first for the men with newcomer John Yatsko in second and Glen Racz in third. For the women it was a tight race. Kk Paul came through the finish line ahead of Rose Wetzel to take first place. A battle between April Luu and TyAnn Clark decided third place. The epic finish came down to the wire as April barely edged out TyAnn for the last podium spot.

The weekend wasn’t just about the Elite’s however. Families spread out on Saturday to cheer on their loved ones as well as soak up some of the beautiful weather that graced the event. New sponsors Core Power Protein delivered much needed post-race beverages to racers at the finish line. 

Spartan Race began the year trying some new things with team results and rankings. Each team that signed up were ranked according to the average time of the top 4 finishers on their team. P4L Fitness took top in the team standings with an average time of 53:05 with the mighty Weeple Army (who had 269 racers in attendance) in second and Warrior Showdown placing third. Looks like it’s time to get serious about team racing.

Lastly the great medal question of 2014 came to an end with Spartans receiving the new medal and being told they would need to perform an additional round of burpees for their second medal. The second medal being of course the one everyone had come to expect from previous events. No one walked away disappointed, and the beach by the lake was a swarming mass of muddy bodies flying through burpees in order to collect not one, but two medals. Some even wandered around with four.

As mentioned earlier the 2014 SoCal Spartan was the first time racers could take part in not just one race but had the option to run two distances in one weekend. There were those brave souls taking up the gauntlet thrown down by Spartan Race and running both courses in the same day while others chose to run the Super on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday. Either way these brave Spartans are two thirds to their Trifecta with only one weekend of racing under their belt in 2014. As we talked to some that had done both they made it abundantly clear that they would be finishing out their Trifecta before the year is out.

The kids races were amazing to behold, especially the Special Needs kids race. Seeing the families going around the course together made it hard to not feel that pull on your heartstrings. Spectators dried their eyes as these amazing families came rolling through the mud together with smiles a mile wide.

All in all the weekend was a huge success with tons of muddy smiling faces, a few cuts, some bruises, but a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction by those who raced. Next sop on the Spartan Race calendar, Arizona. Will we see John Yatsko make another appearance and if so will Hunter and Hobie be there to take him to the limit? The best way to find out is to be there. Sign up for the Arizona Sprint and we will see you at the finish line.

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Recently, Spartan Race posted a picture of 74 year old Linda Barber taking part in the Malibu Sprint.

Many suggested that the picture was photoshopped and indeed faked. “No lady of that age could look as good as she did, complete with beautiful scarf looking fabulous and not at all fazed by what she had gone through up until that point”, could they?

Spartan Race caught up with her and put this allegation to bed.

“I guess that for many people the Spartan Race would be too difficult, but they will never know for sure unless they give it a try”, she shrugs nonchalantly. Cool and collected, Linda points out she’s not new to the idea of pushing herself physically.

Linda ran with her son and grandson

“I volunteer at Operation Gratitude. We send care packages to the troops who are deployed to the middle east and all around the world,( we just sent the 1 millionth box on Dec.7. 2013.)      In 2011 the Merrill down and dirty mud run at Castaic Lake, Ca, donated a large portion of the proceeds to Operation Gratitude. That was the first time I had ever heard of a mud run, I wasn’t quite sure what it would entail, so I declined the opportunity. But soon after seeing what it was all about and the fun everyone was having I was disappointed I didn’t do it. A few months later, my son Kevin Kierce told me about the Spartan Race coming to Malibu and we decided to do it together with the Angry Bird Droppings. We have since participated in 2 other OCR’s the 2012 and 2013 Malibu Spartan Races.”

When asked why she keeps returning, she answers very matter-of-factly, “I keep returning because it is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with my son and in this last Spartan my grandson as well. When I was on the trails in Malibu I was very focused on the task at hand and of course enjoying the camaraderie of the other participants. And of course being with my son and grandson. ”

I am very blessed to have good health with no medical problems.”

Linda doesn’t understand the commotion over her picture. On the course, she bumped into OCR veterans James O’Brien, aka, “The Muddy Suitman” and his running partner Stephen Hulsey, between them racking up in excess of 200 years, but still every bit as lively and as spritely as any other weekend warrior.

“I am a Puppy Raiser for Guide Dogs of America and to keep myself and the dogs in good shape we walk 3 miles every morning 6 days a week. I also work out with 10 and 15 pound weights 3 times a week. I also enjoy geocaching, that gets me out of the house and onto some local trials.  I spend many hours each week working at Operation Gratitude. I am very blessed to have good health with no medical problems”, she points out.

The confident, but modest grandmother points out that we shouldn’t be so surprised.

“I do not think it is any big deal for someone my age to join in the fun and do what I can do. I work with ladies older that I and they don’t seem to have any problems getting the job done.”

Old school thinking. No whining. No excuses.
“Getting the job done.”
If ever there was a phrase that encapsulates all of this, there it is.

See you at the finish line….

Three years in a row.

 

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by Carrie Adams

At Spartan Race HQ we are lucky enough to receive inspiring stories from all over the world of athletes who have faced adversity only to come back stronger and more determined than ever.  I recently received this story about eighteen-year-old Ella Anne Kociuba and I knew her story would inspire.  After a horrific injury she has battled back and her story of triumph and success is one you won’t soon forget.  Here is her story in her own words. 

ella2My names Ella Anne Kociuba, I am eighteen years old and currently attending a community college in Austin, Texas. I have big plans for the future (I hope to one day be the image of Spartan Racing and become a professional athlete/writer).  I would like to explain my story to you so that those who are struggling can see the light in even the darkest of times.

Throughout my young life I have been faced with chronic pain that caused me to have a new outlook on everything.  It quickly challenged me with the worst, but slowly developed me into my best. For years doctors could not tell me what was wrong with me or why my body was failing me. I can not stress to you in a few words the pain I felt, the nights I did not rest, and the moments I missed out on due to an injury that nearly ended my athletic pursuits.

I’ve been a competitive horse-back rider since a little one, and when I was thirteenella1 years old I was seriously involved with endurance riding (25-50 Mile cross country horse races).  I trained hard but one day I suffered a horrible accident.  My horse spooked and threw me off its back and Ianded hard on the sharp rocks below knocking me unconscious.   I was broken and crippled.  Doctor’s informed me that I had broken the L4 and L5 vertebrae.  I was monumentally depressed at the bleak outlook.

It became an endless cycle of doctors, treatments, back braces, and medications.  Everything seemed hopeless. Nothing was helping and I knew I was progressively getting worse.  The pain was unbearable.  I couldn’t function.  But, finally, after six doctor’s a specialist informed me that it was possible I’d never walk again.  Performing an experimental surgery and nine hours later, six rods and four screws aligned in my spine I awoke a new person.

The journey from that wasn’t an easy one.  It took me a year to recover the precious strength I’d lost and be ready to think about competing in sports again; something I was told I’d never do.  This was a mere five years ago. 

Since that day, I’ve pushed hard always keeping my head forward, eyes up, and overcoming any challenge in front of me. Because I truly believe that you can do anything if you give it your everything.

ellaI recently did my first Super Spartan race in Glenn Rose, Texas.  I performed well and managed to come out as first female in my heat.  It was one of the happiest moments ever for me.  Not only had I completed the Super Spartan obstacle race, and won my heat, but I had fallen in love with the sport and proved myself worthy. I welcome all challenges and I will perform to the best of my ability to each and everyone of them.

The Spartan Race series has brought such happiness to my life, it’s such a demanding sport that I have become so passionate about spreading the joy it gives you at the finish line. I hope to one day have a sponsorship and compete state to state in obstacle racing and help inspire others to never give up. If I had given up, I wouldn’t be walking. If I had given up, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. If I had given up, I wouldn’t of found what I truly love to do. And that is, Spartan Races! AROO!

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by Carrie Adams

carrie_kenn1This story is special to me, because as a female endurance athlete, single mother to two daughters, AND a Spartan employee, promoting the women who come to our races and encouraging more to take part means a lot to me!  Spartan Race is one of the fastest growing active racing organizations in the world. We are more than just your average “mud” run we are an international obstacle racing organization that promotes athleticism, an active lifestyle and bringing together a community of people across the globe. A community of people comprised of some pretty amazing women and girls. 

Spartan Chicked is a movement I began last summer to educate, motivate, and empower women and girls to begin and continue active, competitive, supportive, and fitness driven lifestyles. 

BD2_7586Currently, 32% of Spartan Race competitors are female and we are looking to increase those numbers in 2012 with efforts focused on our female demographic and encouraging participation in our 32 global events. With Spartan Chicked gear and some big ideas for 2012, expect to hear a lot about the Spartan women!  30,000 women raced with Spartan in 2011 and that number is expected to double in 2012!

Spartan Chicked is a movement open to women of all athletic backgrounds from competitive to just beginning a journey of health and well-being. Competitive female athletes like Xterra racer Jennifer Tobin, 2011 Spartan first place female, professional adventure racer Danelle Balangee, Olympic hopeful Lindsey Scherf Georgia Spartan Sprint winner, and Canadian National team member Claude Godbout, Spartan Beast second place finisher have all graced Spartan courses with their feats of athleticism and performance. Check out the special edition Spartan Chicked video that details the movement and some of the amazing women.

Our nearly 700,000 FB fans are represented by 30% female fans and Spartan Race TV and Radio Show regularly feature female Spartan stories and special interests and every Tuesday is dedicated to Spartan Chicks on all our digital platforms highlighting our amazing community. Spartan Chicked has a dedicated blog that is regularly updated by Spartan Chicks!

clip_image013The Spartan Chicked campaign targets young women and girls to show them that being strong, capable, and pushing ourselves is fun and fulfilling. We are here to inspire a nation to get off the couch, take care of their bodies, and ultimately challenge themselves to push through obstacles and overcome adversity.

Our Spartan tagline is “You’ll Know at the Finish Line” and we want as many women as possible to get to experience that feeling of achievement through one of our races!

We will be featuring the amazing Spartan women on our blog and telling their stories.  So look forward to more from our Spartan Chicked community!

Are you a Spartan Chick?  Two things. 

1. Become a part of our closed network on FB: Click HERE and request to join.  No boys allowed!  We share fitness tips, nutrition information, motivation, support and everything in between. 

2. If you want to share your own Chicked story, email carrie@spartanrace.com

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I hadn’t worked out in 20 years.  This spring, I decided I was tired of it all!  So, I begged a friend to let me lift weights and workout with him.  Between our schedules, we were sporadically working out once a week or so.  When I started, I couldn’t lift the bench press bar alone off the rack.  I couldn’t run one town block.

This sporadic workout regime kept me going through the summer, and even though I didn’t do enough I did see some small results.

I planned to do a few Warrior Dashes, and those dates passed me by, obligations got in the way.  Then along came Month of Denise (what I call the celebration of my birthday month). It’s the month when I focus on doing things FOR ME, and focus on what makes me happy each day.  Kind of finding the good in each day…  Anyway, I decided that this should be the month that I do my warrior dash!  Then I looked again and realized it was 4 and a half hours away. A friend told me about the Midwest Spartan Sprint, and said, “It’s just like the warrior dash, only it’s an hour away, same day!”  We signed up about 10 days before the race, maybe 12.

SO, I signed up, and coaxed my friend into doing it with me by telling her it’s just like a warrior dash!!  Oops, was I wrong.  I did a little more research, and wondered what in the world I’d gotten myself into!  I still wasn’t working out more than once a week; I was hardly running, and I sure couldn’t climb a rope or do a burpee!  But we signed up, we showed up, and we did not give up!  The more I looked at Spartan Race, the more I realized I’d stumbled upon an awesome group: people who weren’t in this for the business, but were in it to improve people’s lives!

I still don’t run much; I do workout more, but I am a Spartan! I am strong.  I will never quit. I will always continue to try to make myself a better person.

My knees no longer ache.  I don’t get winded playing with my kid, and I can wave to someone without the back of my arm waving back.  Small steps perhaps, but definitely steps in the right direction.

~ Denise Hall

By Maurya Scanlon

Historically, Spartan women were quite possibly the toughest women on the planet.  After all, it takes a warrior to raise one.  Today, that tough, fighting spirit still drives women to achieve amazing feats.  Rose Marie Jarry has used the strength and courage characteristic of a Spartan woman not only on our courses but also in her business-life.  I recently had the pleasure of conversing with this amazing woman: the founder of Kronobar.

Jarry has been an athlete almost her entire life.  “For many years I competed nationally in Track and Field running the 400m and 800m. Competition also gives me an excuse to take care of my body; I only eat healthy… It keeps me feeling young!” she shared.  That competitive spirit and passion for health and fitness carried over into her adult life and are what inspired her to train for and race Spartan Races.  She has “[run] about 11 Spartan Races to date! And [she’s] completed the Spartan trifecta: the sprint, the super and the beast.”  It’s no surprise that someone so active and dedicated to racing and being fit would create a product geared towards athletes.

Jarry, an artistic woman with a passion for flavor, studied “gastronomy at a well-known school in Montreal.”  It’s no surprise, then, that Kronobar started out in her own kitchen.  “At first I just wanted to make a nutritious snack for my own training…I needed something tasty and healthy, but couldn’t find anything on the market that satisfied me.” At that, Jarry decided to make her own recovery snacks.  “I made a few flavors and gave some to my friends, who asked if I could make more. It was once several gyms and sports shops in the area started asking for bars that I realized I had something special.”  Kronobar took off from there!  I asked her if she noticed any similarities in her attitudes towards business and racing.  She replied, “What I love about racing is that you keep pushing your limits and realizing that you’re capable of way more than you expected. When I apply that same mentality to my company, good things tend to happen.”  Good things like awesome partnerships!

Kronobar became a partner with Spartan Race when it sponsored the second ever race in Mont-Tremblant.  Jarry explained, “It was a total success, so we’ve been partners ever since! ..But to be honest, it wasn’t a business decision to partner-up. It was mostly that I wanted to run (and win) the race; which I did. And then I caught Spartan fever!”  We can’t blame her!  The partnership continues providing opportunities for racers such as the “Krono challenge” for all the Canadian Spartan Races.”  This challenge, she explained, is another way for her to race.  “Any female competitor who beats me will get free Kronobars and a bunch of other prizes. We also have a guy running on the Krono team, so if any male competitor beats him, they’re also eligible for the prizes.”  She added with a little laugh, “Last year no one beat me, so I’m hoping for more competition this year!”

That sounds like a challenge to me, Spartans!  I encourage each of you to take the opportunity to be a part of the Krono Challenge in the Canadian 2012 season.  Jarry and her team will challenge you to have the race of your life, after which you can indulge on a delicious Kronobar!

By Michelle Fielder

As a child I was always told to shoot for the Moon, because even if you miss, you’ll be among the stars. I never realized where those words could possibly take me until today.

Fast forward 30+ years……….

I’m an average person: no elite athlete by any means. Not even an athlete if you want to be exact. I was the one who needed the jar of peanut butter opened for her and the groceries carried in from the car.  Every morning, you’d find me walking or jogging 1- 2 miles. At least that was something, right? I always thought I was in “shape,” not knowing what those words actually meant. “In shape” meant being thin, something I have discovered is not true.

So one day, while watching an infomercial…..Yes an infomercial! (I hope your reading this Tony Horton!) I heard the words of a 50 year old: “I’m in the best shape of MY life, better shape then I was when I was in my 20′s” What??? Could that be true? Could I, at the age of 44 be in the best shape of my life?  Well, I was determined to find out, and so began my journey with p90x. After finishing round 1, I knew I was stronger, mentally and physically, but what to do with this new found strength and determination?

Enter…SPARTAN RACE.

I first heard of Spartan race back in April of 2011. I headed to their website to see what they were all about. At first, I was intimidated by pictures of all the athletes.  They looked hardcore, and I was no where near being hardcore. My first thought was, “Are these people nuts?” Watching these people jump over fire, climbing ropes and, my all time favorite, crawling under barbed wire through MUD! Yuck!  My first thought was, “there is no way I can do this!” My husband’s first words were, “You’ll get hurt,” but as I read more and more about the organization, I was more and more intrigued. As I read more about “Getting people off the couch” (the people on the video never looked like they were on the couch in the first place!), “the ability to laugh in the face of adversity”(I have lots of adversity in my life, I want to laugh!)  and “understanding at the finish line…”(What will I understand at the finish line?? PAIN??), I found that I had something to prove…not to anyone else, but to myself.  I KNEW this was the race I needed to conquer.

I will admit, I was hit with some resistance about doing this race. People my age are so ready to except their ages.  I truly believe that, as we get older, society brainwashes us into thinking that we cannot test our strengths and limits, and that if we do, we must be going through a mid-life crisis. So Yes! I am going through a Mid-life crisis. A crisis to better health!

I won’t lie. As I am getting closer to the Texas Super Spartan, I am scared. I think, “You are too old for this!  What if I get hurt?  Did I train enough?  What if I have to take that dignified exit option at mile 3?!”

The thing that sets Spartan Race apart from other races is how they warmly invite you into the “Spartan Family.”  They have not only created a unique, warm, welcoming family atmosphere but have also created one of life long friendships.  The Spartan Chicked group has given me the enthusiasm and encouragement to know I CAN do this.  All of us have the same goal: finishing what we start.  Some people ask why I want to do this race, and my answer is, “Because I can!” T here is nothing stopping me but myself.  I may not finish in first place, and it may not be pretty, but at least I had the courage to sign up. And signing up is the first step in this daring adventure.

So how will this daring adventure end? An average person, doing a not so average Race. Will I finish strong, taking down a Gladiator or two, rr will I be carried across the finish line?  Will I chicken out at the start line or will I take the not-so-dignified exit? December 3rd, 2011, I will be shooting for the moon and hoping to land at the finish line.  To be continued……….