by Jason Rita
CODY MOAT IS THE REAL DEAL: If anyone had any doubts at all about Cody Moat being an absolute Spartan assassin, an obstacle course killer, a mud race monster, his performance at the Spartan South Carolina Beast on Saturday not only laid those doubts to rest, it said last rites over them, sent them condolences and then lit them aflame in an effigy of efficiency, endurance and excellence.
The only asterisk that could cloud Cody’s dominance was the absence from the start line of a certain Mr. Hobie Call, the winningest Spartan obstacle racer over the last 2 years. Billed as the biggest showdown since Mohammad Ali and Joe Frazier’s “Thrilla in Manila,” the tiebreaker race in SC between the two Spartan heavyweights (combined weight of Hobie and Cody is the same as one boxing heavyweight) did not materialize as disappointed fans learned that Hobie was forced to scratch on the morning of the race due to the same hamstring injury which had derailed his quest to win back-to-back Spartan Championships three weeks ago. Hamstrung by his hamstring in the late stages of the Killington Beast, Hobie had to settle for 2nd place that day behind Cody whom he had beaten at the Utah Beast race in June. Now Hobie’s complete 2012 campaign lies in doubt as it is open question whether he will be ready to mount a comeback and challenge Cody in the two remaining Beast races, Sacramento and Texas, to keep at or near the top of the Spartan Point Series competition.
Racers arrived on a chilly Saturday morning happy to find a course devoid of dramatic ski mountains but if they felt relief or any sense of security, then they didn’t know Spartan Race Director Mike Morris and Course Designer Rusell Cohen who took full advantage of Carolina Adventure World’s technical terrain to create a course full of intense inclines and boggy bushwacks. With many racers still recovering from the Killington Beast beat-down three weeks ago, it was hard going from the start.
Despite the tough course, Cody outclassed a strong field of Spartans including Brakken Kraker, Junyong Pak, LeEarl Rugland, Chris Rutz and Alec Blenis, leading from the start and finishing in 1:48, more than 10 minutes ahead of Brakken, taking home the first prize of $1,500 generously offered by sponsor Navy Federal Credit Union. Like Cody, Brakken used his strong running background as a collegiate athlete to place 2nd and win $750 thanks to NFCU. The battle for the third podium spot provided one of the closest Spartan race finishes in memory, as Alec Blenis edged out Junyong Pak by a mere 16 seconds. Junyong had held a lead over Alec and LeEarl Rugland for the whole race, and only had to hit his spearthrow to claim third place. But when his spear attempt sailed just wide, it was 30 burpees, and Alec caught up to him at Burpee number 27. They raced onto the slick wall where Alec couldn’t find traction and it looked like Junyong might reclaim the lead, but finally Alec managed to get up and over the top of the slippery wall and clear the Gladiator pummeling to exact a small measure of revenge and redemption after his Vermont debacle, as well as pocket $250.
Cody will next line up at the USA Trail Championship race in Moab, Utah, on November 3rd, and every Spartan wishes him every success there. AROO AROO AROO
WHO SAYS EXPERIENCE MATTERS? Not Hannah Orders, the 22 year old Appalachian State collegiate cross-country runner who came in to the South Carolina with no prior Spartan races on her resume. “It was my first Spartan Race, and now I’m addicted.” Winning does have that ability to flood the serotonin pathways, but fortunately for Hannah, being addicted to Spartan Races is a healthy type of addiction, and we approve, although the rest of the competitive Spartan women might not. Team Flag Nor Fail’s Ella Kociuba had her sights set on challenging for first place as both Claude Godbout and Amelia Boone, the 1st and 2nd place Vermont Champions, were absent. While she could never get close to Hannah’s superior running pedigree, Ella’s strong 2nd place finish ahead of 3rd place Melinda Branch now has her well placed to challenge for the 2012 Points Crown with only two more Beast races left on the 2012 season. The top three women also took home cash prizes courtesy of Navy Federal Credit Union of $1,500, $750 and $250 respectively, as well as Spartan museum helmets and swords provided by Atlanta Cutlery, also presented to the top three male finishers. Spartan thanks the continued support of NFCU and Atlanta Cutlery to make the awards possible for the elite wave winners.