by Jason Rita
Reports are surfacing this afternoon that an elite two person special forces unit has been deployed from Quebec City and is marching on Vermont, with the mission to take Killington Mountain by storm. Trained in the skills of cross country skiing and target shooting, this crack team (which American sources believe represents the entire strike force of the Canadian army) is made up of biathletes Marc-André Bedard and Claude Godbout. The best intelligence available suggests their arrival at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. What does this mean for the country?
On the Men’s Side: If confirmed, this will be the first major battle since last year’s Spartan Killington Beast between Hobie Call and Marc-Andre Bedard when the Canadian shocked the world, vanquishing the previously unbeaten Hobie. Marco did not compete in the 2011 Spartan Championship Race in December at the Spartan Super in Glen Rose Texas, as Hobie fought off a strong challenge from Xterra and Teva Mountain Games Champion Josiah Middaugh to claim the title of Spartan Champion. It is this title which is on the line this weekend.
A minor skirmish at Spartan Pennsylvania in July this year allowed Hobie to gain a measure of satisfaction when he defeated Marco, but insiders close to Bedard note he was a last-minute entry to that event and was not properly recovered from a heavy schedule of Winter Olympic training preparation. No such excuses will matter this weekend as it is all on the line for these two Spartan heavyweights battling for the right to be crowned World’s Best Obstacle Racer. Marco is coming fresh off a win a few weeks back at the Spartan Race in Slovakia. And again, Hobie comes to Vermont as undefeated in the year, and carrying the burden of huge expectations. But as previewed on Monday here, they will face serious challenge from the strongest field of obstacle racers ever assembled including Junyong Pak, Alec Blenis, Chris Rutz and Sebastien Monette, just some of the many Spartan300 elite athletes who are determined to upset the status quo.
With the Canadian threat level increasing to Defcon-5 status, US Army 1st Lieutenant Elliott Megquier must race in Vermont to reinforce the American line. As of press time, we are given to believe that it is possible that Megquier could be on hand in Killington. Elliott has been competing in Spartan Races since 2011, always on the podium and is sure to be amongst the leaders – if he can make it. We call on Megquier – do your Spartan duty, sir, and race!
On the Women’s Side: A similar border-war dynamic is in place in the women’s division. 2011 Spartan Champion Jenny Tobin will now have to defend the attack of Canadian Claude Godbout, as well as hold off challenges from the likes of Amanda Czapla and Ella Ann Kociuba. Both Jenny and Claude have reached the heights of success in their professional athletic careers – Jenny in the world of Xterra and Ironman triathlon, Claude in biathlon; as the youthful vanguard of obstacle racing, Amanda and Ella have it all to prove in Killington. The sport of obstacle racing requires all-around athleticism, and these Spartan women have adapted to the challenges from a variety of sporting backgrounds to claim their spots as major OR stars. The match-ups between Tobin, Godbout, Czapla, Kociuba and all the elite Spartan women athletes were highlighted in our Women’s Race Preview here, and CrossFit star Bobbie Jo Hackenbruck will also have be out to prove her impact on proceedings. Now that Claude is on her way south, the already fascinating race has another plot-line to follow.
What had promised to be an epic race is now certain to reach legendary status. The racers are all chasing their share of the $150,000 cash and prizes on the table in the single biggest purse offered in obstacle racing history to date. But it isn’t the money that motivates these competitors. It is the chill up the spine as the cries of AROO echo in the Green Mountain morning Saturday when they charge up the mountain for glory, and battle stake their place in Spartan Race history. One thing is sure: they, and we, will know at the finish line!