What’s in Spartan Race DNA?

SR_HURRICANE_BadgeWe are a different kind of competitive event. Why do I say that? The Spartan Race series was born from the Death Race and as such, it is meant to emulate life and help us, “the founders“, find extraordinary people that inspire us as well others. Therefore, our job has evolved into one where we constantly push people beyond their limits. This is not only done through physical challenges, but also mental challenges, many of which are not so obvious.

The Hurricane Heat is a perfect example. When Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast inphoto (8)2011, it was a natural disaster that shut many of us down and in doing so, frustrated the shix out of people. It’s quite obvious that Spartan Race aims to do just that at every event… frustrate and attempt to “break” people. Why? Because the survivors and people that push on, no matter what is being asked of them… inspire themselves, people around them, and the rest of the world. That is what we are about.

bamfThe gear list, whether it is extensive or “old school”, is not intended to prepare you for every scenario. It’s intended to get you thinking. As in real life, we can never truly be ready for every situation, but we can train ourselves on how to react when faced with adversity. It’s how you respond in these situations that determines whether or not you are a true Spartan. Annoying co-workers, relationship troubles, financial problems, and disease can only be conquered if you have the right attitude.

Assess the situation.

Remain calm.

Make a decision.

Keep charging forward.

That’s what Spartans do.

The Hurricane Heat takes Spartan Race to the next level, and we are thrilled that we have the opportunity to spend time with a bunch of like minded individuals willing to get outside, get dirty, and sweat doing things that are so unorthodox.

Can’t wait to see you out there again!

To register for an upcoming Hurricane Heat, visit our event pages and get signed up for your event!  

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Joe De Sena

Dear Spartan Community, 

When I started Spartan Race along with six other extreme athletes, we had a simple goal: rip people off their couches to do what humans were made to do; run, jump, climb and sweat.  We knew how outdoor sports and adventure changed our lives so, based on the discipline and strength of the ancient Spartans, we set out to create a challenge and inspire performance. Above all, we knew we could take what we learned and change other people’s lives for the better. 

We’ve had quite a journey since those early days. And now we’re stepping it up in a big way as we embark on an incredible new partnership. Reebok is now the title sponsor for Spartan Race, which kicked off today at The Reebok Spartan Race Times Square Challenge.  

Why Reebok?  We both share the same ideals about the future of fitness and how it can transform people and communities forever. Back in 2010, we started with a small race of a few thousand people in Vermont. Even then we aimed to create a sport. In 2013, we’ll see half a million Spartans cross our finish line.  We are the leader in obstacle course racing with timing standards, global rankings, escalating distances, and cash purses. This is a sport for everyone, for all levels and all ages, from the elite athlete, to the first time participant.

Reebok shares our vision; they recognize that Spartan Race is more than just a race, it’s a lifestyle.  We both believe that through fitness, ordinary people can realize their full potential and reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

We now have the platform we have been looking for. The DNA of Spartan Race won’t change. We’ve just found a partner to help us continue the journey we started at that very first race in 2010.  

Thanks to everyone at Spartan Race and Reebok. It’s time to take this to the next level… together.  

Sincerely,

Joe De Sena 

Spartan Race Founder and CEO

 

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by Carrie Adams

The rain hadn’t let up in hours.  Mike Morris checked his watch again as darkness started to fall.  He and the three other members of his team were two days into a three day Adventure Race in Maine, had paddled nearly 75 miles that day, and they had a five mile portage to the next checkpoint looming ahead.  As if that weren’t enough, their canoe cart had broken so that meant their heavy canoes and gear would be carried the five miles to their next checkpoint (CP) .  It was a bad omen for Morris and his team, who was new to the sport at the time.  All he could think was, “Cold, raining, cold, raining.”

Team GearJunkie

When they finally got to the next checkpoint, Morris and his team threw their boats in the water, paddled to inlet to what they believed was the next CP, the rain still fell heavy and cold. Something was wrong.  They scanned the area but saw no checkpoint.  So, they began the “go in circles and cross your fingers” approach in hopes that they would stumble upon the CP.

Then they retraced their steps, attempting to confirm their position on the map they’d spent all night before the race plotting.  By midnight they were colder, wetter, frustrated, and a bit delirious for not sleeping for two nights prior.  Their only option was to lie down under their canoes, wrap up in tarps, and sleep.  When they awoke it was nearly 5 AM and they were all shivering uncontrollably they needed to move.  Lucky for them they had daylight on their side for the checkpoint search.  But they still had no luck.

Morris and his team got in the water and paddled to all the inlets in the area for the next five hours double checking their location.  They took breaks only to eat, pee in their wetsuits, and finally call the Race Director (RD) on the satellite phone to make sure that the race organizers didn’t get worried and send out the rescue team.

But when it was noon and they had made no progress, they had no option but to go back to the map to confirm the checkpoint they had plotted earlier (in most Adventure Races, or AR’s you have to plot the checkpoints yourself on your map).  Stunned and frustrated, they realized they were one grid off and had been searching for the CP in the wrong spot.  After plotting it correctly, they were on their way, hours wasted being lost.

Morris and his team, were “short coursed”, meaning they were allowed to continue racing despite having missed mandatory cut-off times.  They ultimately finished on a shorter length course earning a finish time but were ineligible for prizes and they earned no ranking for all their trouble.  They did learn a valuable lesson about course plotting.  As Morris puts it, “We spent the entire winter/spring training for this race and had wasted it (and hundreds of dollars) because we were morons.”

Getting lost is something that all racers fear but is always a risk, even on the well-marked Spartan courses.  How can you minimize your risk of getting lost?

Pay Attention to Course Markings

Spartan Courses are marked well, but you can still miss arrows and tape if you aren’t vigilant or if you become distracted during the longer running segments. Our recent Vermont Beast (and Ultra Beast) course was marked with over 10,000 feet of marking tape and there were over 400 course arrows placed by our crew, but folks still got lost, most notably when they took an existing mountain bike trail up the mountain that wasn’t part of the course instead of following the arrow down the mountain.

“It was  a well-worn path so my brain told me to follow it,” said one Ultra Beast racer who ended up doing an extra six miles.  “I saw the marker on the second loop after I figured out where I’d gone off track.  Whoops.”

Morris, Race Director for Spartan Race and experienced Adventure Racer is no stranger to being lost. “I’ve been lost too many times.  Not including the races where I had to navigate with a map and compass.  Most of the times I got off course though were my fault,” says Morris.  “Once I was trying to adjust my music player and blew right by a turn.  I was pretty green at racing and just kept running thinking the course markings would resume.  Well… they didn’t.  I went a few extra miles during that race.”

Don’t Just Follow the Herd

 

Never assume that the person in front of you knows where they are going – “herd mentality” or a momentary distraction can lead a racer off track easily.  Just because a whole group is moving one direction it doesn’t mean it is the right direction.

“I’ve been lost and just followed the people in front of me,” explains Morris.  “I figured if the entire pack was running this way then I was OK.  All of a sudden the entire group was turning around. “I quickly learned that during off-road races it’s my responsibility to watch out for my own well-being on the course… nobody else. “

What if you DO get lost?

Don’t Panic.  If you’ve gone a ways and are not seeing any trail markings, you could be lost, but the reality is that you may not be as far off or out as you think you are.  Stop moving and use your senses to get oriented.  Look for trail markings in all directions, listen for familiar sounds, and if that doesn’t give you a direction to follow then attempt to backtrack to your original location where you may have gone off-course.  With 350,000 racers and counting, we haven’t lost a racer yet!   We have course sweepers, full medical, and rescue crews on site for every race as well.  We won’t leave a Spartan behind.

So don’t sweat it or try to over plan on our courses on race day.  Have fun, pay attention and you’ll finish as you intended without any extra FREE miles.

 

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by Carrie Adams

555556_10150665851861861_251061411860_9829389_460044765_nFor the first time ever, Spartan Race offered a primal version of our race in Indiana coined the Founder’s Race and featuring a stripped down, raw encounter with Spartan elements.  Kicked off with a cannon blast, it was anything but typical even by Spartan standards.  Designed by Spartan Founders and engaging the athlete’s in the primal terrain, it proved to be one of our toughest courses to date.  70% of the participants can call themselves finishers.  Here is what people are saying about the Founder’s Race Indiana.

It was my 3rd Spartan Sprint. Will be doing more!!! This was by far the most “Raw”580295_10150665851906861_251061411860_9829390_417070038_n course out there. No fancy obstacles mainly what was already out there in nature or modified with a tractor/backhoe etc……AROO!!!!

Second Spartan Race and Third Obstacle Course race.  This made all others seem like the teacup ride at Disney.

After this, I can’t wait to see what waits in Colorado! 

This was my first race of any type and I am so glad I did it. Butterflies in my stomach leading up to this race almost made me back out. So very glad I didn’t. I will definitely be doing more of these types of races and every SR that comes to the area! 

First race. Will do more. Race was a blast but all the people involved made it. All around friendliness and support was amazing.

538561_10150665851966861_251061411860_9829392_1575634716_nAtmosphere was great, the staff was extremely supportive, hilarious, and downright insane at times. I liked how a lot of obstacles forced you to work as a team, the cannon for a starting gun was a plus, and I liked how their were not a huge amount of bottlenecks during the race.

My third this year by far the hardest you guys did great!

First race, the feeling of family, helping, cheering made the race, of course I hated the barb wire part I now know I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was, doing the Chicago super now!

This is what I say when I encourage people to come to Spartan Race: You train and578929_10150665854986861_251061411860_9829469_1617895391_n run and lift and put yourself through workouts that no couch potato would ever attempt. Now what have you done to set YOUR STANDARD? What is your benchmark of your achievement? Mine is Spartan Race. Those of you posting above, the rookies, newbs, whatever you call yourselves, have set your mark HIGH. As I shouted out to the Spartans in my heat when I went through the first barbed wire crawl, a paraphrase quote from 300 “To this challenge, give NOTHING, but take from it EVERYTHING!”

My first of any sort also, and not only am I doing another (Palmerton in July) I’m taking the better half along with me for her very first also.

My 16-year old ran her first race yesterday and by the time we were headed to the car she had changed from “I don’t think I will ever do one again” to “I will do another one, but will wear something different.” It’s contagious!

My daughter can’t wait to be old enough to do the “real” race. She ran her first junior and did the entire mile, but most of it was with one shoe! She said she could do without it and the course could keep it.

536398_10150665855526861_251061411860_9829480_1612557632_nThroughout the entire race (and I was on the course more than 4 hours) everyone worked together and encouraged each other and I do mean EVERYONE. I can’t tell you the number of times that other Spartan racers made the difference in whether or not I got through an obstacle. I am simply in awe of how great this race was!

I know that my group sacrificed our finish time in order to spend time holding the nets for people and to chat along the way. I don’t care how long I was out there. I was just happy to be doing it with my family and friends!

My husband and four of our friends were with me too and we helped others out along the way but there were a couple obstacles that I needed additional assistance. Example: the 2nd cargo net, a woman stayed at the top encouraging me until I crossed over. Another was on a steep hill climb, I was near the top but struggling and two young Spartans each took a hand and basically pulled me to the top. This was just way too cool and a great lesson for me in learning to accept help too! This is why I will do another Spartan and believe me there were times I asked myself, “What the hell am I doing our here?” I knew when I crossed the finish line!

148918_10150665856461861_251061411860_9829499_859343158_nIt was my first, had a great time and not in too much pain today. I’m already signed up for the Midwest in Oct. Can’t wait!

So many people have mentioned the teamwork and the willingness of so many to sacrifice individual times to help others…I spent my fair share of time holding nets and pulling people up hills or out of the mud pits too and I think that was my absolute favorite part. It was awesome to see how people who were otherwise complete strangers in most cases were so ready and willing to extend that hand and help someone out. I’m already signed up for next years and so are a couple of my friends with more planning to do so tonight or tomorrow. We’re hooked!

This was my first OCR / mud run ever, plus I did the HH the night before, and I thought it was totally bad ass. Signing up for Midwest Super and Indiana 2013 tonight!

564319_10150665855991861_251061411860_9829491_1102842321_nI’m signed up for the Midwest Super on October 27th!

Yesterday was my first. June 2, 2007 my platoon was ambushed in Afghanistan and my legs were severally mangled. I have never had them tested in this capacity since that day. I absolutely loved it. I couldn’t have been tested any better and I’ll be back!

It was my first and far from last! Already signed up for next years with my girlfriend. Also going to sign up for the mid west super sprint. It was a great event well put on and run. The HH was a blast they did a great job pushing us. If this was a “bare bones” Spartan, I can’t wait to see the full on event! Maybe then they will have the spear throw and the gauntlet to run through.

Well, I’ve ran a couple of Spartan Races in my days, and I have got to say that this was a great race, especially considering the lack of some of the more traditional obstacles. The terrain was absolutely awesome, and you did a great job of putting it to use. I liked how there were two rope climbs and log carries. Kept it challenging, but don’t think it felt the least bit redundant. The barbed wire crawl was awesome. Breaking it up like you did made it much more challenging mentally and physically than it would have been if you would have just made it one long stretch. Personally, I think the race had all it needed to be a great event, and would rank it in the top three of hardest “Sprints” to date.

My first and it was awesome. I loved the barbed wire. I need to perfect my rope climb. I533446_10150665856981861_251061411860_9829511_894262425_n think the terrain was the best character in this obstacle course. Some of those ravines and gullies were brutal. I feel like there was a really important mental part of it to, just when you thought you were thinking you were in the last leg, there was another hill to climb stepper than the last. Aroo!

If you made it from start to finish, I don’t care how long it took you, if you stayed in the game and came out the other side. There is not any Spartan Race you can not do! I know I’ve done sprints, supers and the Beast. If you got through the founders race you can do them all!

For the distance…one of the toughest.

This was my first Spartan Race but not my first Obstacle Course Race I have done 2 Warrior Dash’s and a Farmathalon and this was by far harder than the 3 of those put together. One of those was on a ski resort so it was literally on the side of a mountain. The total distance was about 10.1 miles for all 3 and total time of about 127 minutes. My time Saturday was 123 minutes for the 4.3 miles!!! That’s pretty crazy. Definitely feel a little pride for completing this one.

This was my 3rd Spartan Sprint and by far the hardest! It didn’t have all the staple obstacles but I liked the change up. It was challenging and ultimately that’s what most people want, no matter what the challenge is. I LOVED the extra three feet of barbed wire around the corner, it was such a mind screw lol. And the team spirit was everywhere!! great to see strangers working together. And will I do another??? I’m doing 5 more this year AROOOOOOO!!!

The barbed wire was great! My group was fortunately narrow enough in the hips and shoulders to roll through parts of it – work smarter not harder, right? I loved all of the mud pits but my favorite was the pond swim because it caught people off guard.

I was going to hold back my two cents but I’ll toss it in. This course was a monster! I really love Spartan Race and can comfortably say I have an idea of what obstacles I will encounter. This course destroyed any other I have been to! You may not have climbed a wall, balanced a board, moved over the ninja wall or even thrown a spear, and I hear that. Let me tell you, no one but you who showed on Saturday will ever do what you did. Anybody can do the standard Spartan obstacles anywhere, some people have them in you back yard to train. No you guys had the most grueling, spirit draining, ego deflating, humility building course I have ever done or even seen. And on top of it all it was freezing! I personally say to each and every one of you who completed the course to register for the Beast in VT! If you did this four miles you can do the Beast. If this course didn’t break your spirit right in the beginning at the Devil’s Backbone, or that barbed wire, or those damn hay bails that just seemed to keep coming with water on either side. If you dragged your self out of those mud pits and climbed those cargo nets. Nothing can stop you!

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by Carrie Adams

Noel-HannaOn a Monday morning, most people are settling into work behind a desk, looking forward to weekend plans and just trying to make it through the day. Noel Hanna, 44, isn’t most people. I received this email from him this one Monday morning last year:

“At present I am sitting at Everest Base camp in Tibet with 4 clients who are hoping to reach the summit. I have already been to the summit 3 times from both sides of the mountain.”

He then politely offered me a phone number where I could reach him between “2000hrs until 2300hrs my time, if I needed anything. Noel’s days often begin this way, and that’s nothing new to the Northern Ireland native.

Recently, Noel Hanna had an ambitious goal. He set out to climb the highest peak on all seven continents. On December 22, 2009, at the summit of Mt. Vinson in Antarctica, he reached his goal and earned himself a World Record for the effort. In addition to his Mt. Vinson assent, Noel scaled Everest, Denali, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro and the Carstensz Pyramid. He’s seen the world from the highest peaks on all seven continents, but he never stayed to admire the view. Instead, he raced down to sea level by running, skiing, biking, or kayaking over hostile terrain at top speeds. In the process of completing his goal, these peaks, he and his wife Lynne Hanna, an accomplished mountaineer in her own right, raised over 130,000 euro for UCF, the Ulster Cancer Foundation – Northern Ireland’s leading local cancer charity. You can read about his amazing, record-breaking journey on his website7Summits2Sea Level.  He attempted and completed another ascent just this past year. 

Noel’s no stranger to danger or challenge. We’re talking about a guy who’s been chased by headhunters in Papua New Guinea and survived being on the anti-terrorist squad of the RUC police force. His experience on the police squad gave Noel the thrill of challenge that he craved.

That craving for adrenaline led him to adventure races like the Eco Challenge along with endurance running like the Bad Water 135 and the marathon Des Sables. It was during that time of adventure and endurance racing when Joe Desena approached Noel about creating a new kind of challenge. “Make it a race that would break all who took part. That was a given,” he recalls.

Alongside eight other ultra-athletes, he helped design Spartan Race.  The race that would challenge anyone who took part, that would push the runners into new territories of endurance and strength, and would set the race apart from any other event on the planet. And Noel should know, since he’s had a pretty lofty view.

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by Carrie Adams

Growing up in Peoria, IL, Andy Weinberg, 41, always loved the water.  He swam competitively in high school and college, and when he did his first triathlon in high school, he fell in love.  At the time there weren’t many people doing them, and after college Andy spent a couple years really hitting the triathlon circuit.  He burnt out with swimming after a few years and decided to focus on running instead.  Admittedly never “super-fast,” he trained consistently and did 11 marathons in one year alone.

Then, after running into a hometown acquaintance at an event who told him about ultra-marathons, Andy caught the bug.  He has now completed over 40 ultras, mostly 50-mile and 100-mile distances.  Through the challenge of running extreme distances, Andy learned what it felt like to push himself and succeed.  Of course it wasn’t long until he had to try an Ironman, a double Ironman, even a triple.

andy1Weinberg met Joe DeSena through mutual friends in 2005 where they completed the Vermont 100.  When Andy came back to Vermont for an all-night snowshoe, the two soon found themselves talking about how racers can become “soft” because they always know what to expect.  “An ultra isn’t an easy race, but when you know it’s 100 miles, you can train for that.  You can prepare for that,” Andy said.  He and Joe spent the night talking about a new kind of race.  A race in which participants wouldn’t know when it would start or finish, or even what the race would consist of.  In other words, a race that no one can train for.  Racers would simply need to summon the courage and show up.  So the Death Race was born.  Andy began putting on races in Vermont with Joe and three years later he moved his family to Vermont to teach and race direct full time.  (By the way, he biked the 1200 miles from Peoria to VT in seven days, mainly because his friends said he couldn’t.)

The Spartan Race is born out of the same spirit.  The Death Race is the most extreme and designed for only the most extreme athletes but Spartan isn’t a walk in the park.  It’s there to attract serious athletes who want to compete.   Andy says, “Spartan Race is unique because the team involved, the whole company is athletes.  They run races, they’ve traveled the world, they know racing and they know athletes.  Most of the other obstacle races can’t say that.  And Spartan events are races… not parties.  It’s about going as hard as you can.”  On a personal level, Weinberg feels that Spartan Races play a role in preventing illness by inspiring people to get off the couch and get active. “Our nation is at its absolute worst place.  Childhood obesity and diabetes are both preventable as long as you make good choices.  You just have to get out there and exercise a bit.  Why not let Spartan help you get there?”

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by Carrie Adams

What would you do if you were alone in the middle of the densest woods in Maine and the battery on your headlamp died? In the midst of a competitive adventure race (involving paddling across lakes and towing canoes through the woods), you bushwhacked off-trail to find the next checkpoint, which had eluded your team.  You left your teammates behind on the trail, with a heavy cargo of canoes—and your spare batteries.

It happened to Brian Duncanson, Spartan Race CEO.  During one memorable adventure race, he and his teammates paddled across seven lakes, carrying their canoes with them as they walked through the woods that separated each lake from the next.  They searched unsuccessfully for the next checkpoint, until they were too burdened by the canoes to go further.  So Duncanson set out on his own to find it.

He was alone in the woods without a light or a friend or hope of contacting his team, who were out of earshot–when a member of an opposing team stepped in to help out. Using the light of his opponent’s headlamp, the two men managed to locate the next checkpoint and make it back to the trail, where Duncanson replaced his batteries.

Adventure races, like Spartan Races, are all about cooperation–not only between team members, but also between opposing teams. “There are many times during a race when it becomes advantageous to temporarily cooperate with another team,” Duncanson says.  ”Whenever we’ve found things and not told other teams, it always came back to bite us, because we may need their help down the road.”

Despite close calls like these, Duncanson stays passionate about adventure racing.  “I really like doing different things, and I love being outdoors,” he says.  But “the most interesting thing is the fact that there’s navigation involved.  It’s a mental challenge as well as a physical one, like solving a puzzle.” Adventure racers use only a map and compass to determine their path through wilderness and swampland.  In this way, adventure races are quite similar to Spartan Races: competitors’ creativity and ingenuity are tested, as well as their physical strength and endurance.

For Duncanson, life and career are no different from the extreme challenges and team mentality of adventure races.  He’s been competing in adventure races for the past ten years, and his team was even sponsored by Guinness.  Adventure racing led him to his job at Spartan Race, since he met co-founder Joe DeSena at a race event.  Duncanson’s chosen career, athletic event organization, reflects his commitment to adventure racing as well.

“You’re on a team, and working together,” Duncanson says, whether it’s out in the woods or in the office.  “Different people have different personalities and different strengths.  I see my job as not only organizing race events, but also blending different personalities together.”

Do Spartan Races have anything in common with adventure races?
Duncanson says yes.  ”Number one, it’s about having a new experience and doing something out of the ordinary.  I think that’s what attracts a lot of people to come out and do the events.  You sign up for a 10K and you know what you’re getting into.  Spartan races are something totally different and a little mysterious.”

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[Editor’s Note: Selica is director of Quebec and Ontario Spartan Race Markets. Richard is the director of the UK Markets.]

If you want to know how exactly Spartan Races came into existence, you have to look to the story of Selica Sevigny and Richard Lee, the British-Canadian couple that literally stumbled into Pittsfield, VT in spring 2009.

Montreal native Sevigny, 26, was working for Global television in Montreal in 2008 when she met the Iron Man finisher, and endurance athlete Richard Lee, 29.  He was on vacation and it was love at first sight.

In spring 2009, the pair was hiking south on the Appalachian trail to help Richard recover from a broken leg.  After 2000 miles, they hit Pittsfield, VT only a few days before the start of the Death Race, Joe De Sena’s brutal 48+ hour test of mental and physical endurance.  Richard was confident he was up to the challenge of the Death Race, and he dared Selica to do it with him.  She agreed, although she had never competed in an endurance race before.  But, she said in a recent interview, “I’m just a very determined individual.  When I set a goal, I try to stick with it and get through.”

Remarkably, despite his lack of preparation, Richard finished first in the race.  He said though he found the Death Race psychologically more difficult than the military training he received before sustaining military career-ending injuries.  Selica, who said the race was “by far the hardest challenge I’ve ever experienced in my life,” developed hypothermia during the race and was unable to finish.  She said, “Many times during the race, I could only put one foot in front of the other, but I thought, as long as I’m moving, I’m still in the game.”  Her determination and persistence led her to return for the winter Death Race  in December 2009, where she placed third.

Needless to say, the race made an impression on both.  “It’s so unpredictable that you can’t really train for it, and we really liked the idea of not knowing what’s coming,” Selica said.  “In a marathon or triathlon, you know exactly what’s coming.  In the Death Race, you don’t know the obstacles and you don’t know how to react.”

The day after the Death Race in 2009, Richard broke his foot, effectively stranding the couple in Pittsfield for a month.  In that month, they spent some time hanging out with Joe, and the idea for Spartan Races was born.  Selica and Richard, both inspired by the sense of accomplishment and confidence they felt after competing in the Death Race, wanted to offer that feeling to a much wider audience.  Due to its extreme nature, the Death Race is open only to the most elite athletes—those who have the time to train extensively.  “We wanted to invite just anybody, regardless of fitness level, to give it a try,” said Selica.

Why Spartan?  “We brainstormed to come up with iconic images of strength, bravery, and ingenuity.  Spartans were a small group, but they overcame so much adversity.”  Plus, the fact that the Spartans were an ancient people offers an appealing alternative to the questionable values of our modern society.  “The essence of what we’re doing is encouraging people to return to their ancient roots,” said Selica.  “Our ancestors lived in the woods, hunting and gathering as a daily lifestyle.  Now we depend so much on technology that people use a GPS system just to go for a walk.  Not only are we living a pampered life—we live a life where people get stressed by little things like having to wait for an elevator or being stuck in traffic.  We want to encourage people to return to the days of running in the woods, getting lost, challenging themselves, getting dirty.  Even just getting in contact with that for a day is fantastic.

“If the race inspires people to just get out of their comfort zone for a day, or if it inspires lasting change, then we’ve done our job.”

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by Carrie Adams

mike-morris“Anyone can get off the couch tomorrow and do a Spartan race,” says Spartan Race Director Mike Morris. “Sure, you might suffer, but the feeling you get when you cross the finish line is going to bring you back again and again.”

Morris, who selects venues and designs Spartan Race’s unique courses, knows what it feels like to cross the finish line after an arduous race. He’s a competitive adventure racer who has competed in multi-day races around the world. Adventure racing, for those who don’t know, is a sport in which teams of two to four people hike, run, mountain bike, and paddle for upwards of nine days across hundreds of miles. They navigate their own way through forest and wilderness, from checkpoint to checkpoint, eating and sleeping when necessary.

Since 2003, Morris has competed in Adventure Races in Vermont, Florida, Missouri, California, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Canada, Georgia, and Costa Rica, and has raced in the yearly United States Adventure Racing Championships three times. He’s no stranger to adversity on the trail. In one memorable instance, he developed knee tendonitis eight hours into a three-day race through the mountainous terrain of Vermont and New Hampshire. Every time he bent his leg, pain shot through his body.

Did he consider quitting?

“Of course,” he says. “The pain was really bad. But I knew I couldn’t let my team down, even though we had to go a lot slower because of my injury.”

Adventure racing can involve getting soaked in 40-degree pouring rainstorms, meeting up with alligators while paddling through Florida swamps, and at times even falling asleep while hiking or biking due to sheer exhaustion. You rely utterly on your teammates for support and guidance, which is why it’s important to compete with people you know well, according to Morris.

Morris knows that not everyone can afford the commitment of thousands of dollars it takes to buy a mountain bike and travel to compete in adventure races. He sees Spartan Race as an alternative that is accessible to everyone. “Spartan Races are an opportunity for people to experience something different that might intimidate them, but ultimately will be that much more rewarding if they finish,” he says.

Morris believes that absolutely everyone can benefit from racing. “I enjoy the challenges of endurance racing,” he says. “It all comes down to mindset, which in more challenging and longer races is equally, if not more important than physical abilities. I always say, ‘If I can do it, anyone can do it.’”

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by Carrie Adams

All too often we spend our waking hours trying to find and stay comfortable in our own lives. We look for short cuts, gadgets, and processes to make things easier, seeking what we consider personal fulfillment. We believe that there are things we can do and things that we can’t, and we become conditioned to that distinction. It creates our everyday reality and it makes us feel secure, because we think we know what to expect of the world and what to expect of ourselves. Enter Joe DeSena, the man who will turn that world upside down.

Growing up in Queens, Joe’s mother valued healthy eating and living and passed on that value system to Joe.   It’s been well-documented that he worked hard growing up and ultimately got to Wall Street, where he made his mark and made himself a small fortune.  He moved his family to Pittsfield, Vermont and quickly entrenched himself and his family in the local landscape.  Joe moved to Vermont in an attempt to get back to the way things used to be.

It’s also well-documented that Joe turned an interest in endurance racing into a passion.  His racing resume is the stuff of legends – over 50 ultra-events overall and 12 Ironman Events in one year alone.  Most of his races are 100 miles or more with a few traditional marathons in the mix.  (He once told me that my running a 26.2 marathon distance was “adorable.”)

To put it in perspective, he did the Vermont 100, the Lake Placid Ironman and the Badwater Ultra… in one week.  For those that don’t know or just don’t want to hear the gory details, the elevation climb for Badwater is over 8,500 feet up to Mt. Whitney and temperatures soar into the 120’s.   Joe also rode cross-country to the Furnace Creek 508 which has been coined “The Toughest 48 hours in sport.”  It’s no wonder his favorite quote is, “Death is the price we pay for life, so make it worth it.”

Montage of Joe racing

In 2005, Joe decided that the world needed a new race, something that had never been done. And so, together with Peak Races, he created The Death Race, a 24-hour mental and physical test filled with unknown obstacles.  Racers couldn’t and wouldn’t

know what to expect.  The fear of the unknown would either break or motivate, and all they could do was try to survive.  The race waiver consists of three words: “I may die.” It doesn’t get any more real than that.  No way to train, no way to prepare, just show up and make it to the end.  And don’t expect any love from

Joe or the volunteers.  They want to break these people, make them quit.  Joe’s been quoted as saying, “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re basically holding your hand to help you quit. The same way life does, right?”

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