by Jason Rita
Should an Armageddon or Apocalypse ever threaten the human race, I am expecting that the Spartan Women survive and lead us back from oblivion.
The Spartan Race at Blue Mountain Pennsylvania in July was billed as a marquee match up of the best female Spartans, the sport’s top obstacle racers, battling it out for glory and cash, at one of the toughest Spartan courses on the circuit. The poster proclaimed: “We Like Our Women Fast,” and the Spartan chicks proved it that day. But at Killington, fast definitely won’t be enough to claim the 2012 Spartan Championship and the prize money on offer. The toughest of all Spartan courses will demand a combination of speed, agility, strength, endurance, mental toughness and acuity – all these qualities and more will be required to be crowned as Queen of Sparta.
At the PA race, former pro Xterra and Ironman triathlete Jenny Tobin came in unbeaten, fresh off a close win at the Pacific NW Spartan Sprint Race, and carrying the expectations that went with her clear victory at last year’s Spartan 2011 Championship in Texas. But Canadian national team biathlete and Olympic hopeful Claude Godbout took 1st place. (What is it about Canadian biathletes anyway? Maybe it’s the Timbits?) Make no mistake; this loss motivated the take-no-prisoners Jenny to refocus her training in the mountains near her home in Boise, Idaho, in a calculated and determined mission to reclaim her title at Killington. Both Jenny and Claude finished in the Top 10 overall in PA proving that Spartan women racers can challenge their male counterparts. Jenny’s professional career in Xterra and Ironman proved that she is a money player, and she really likes collecting checks. She has declared that she is aiming for 1st place in both the Beast and UltraBeast distances.
Claude Godbout would be expected to challenge Jenny for pre-race favorite, but like her compatriot and fellow national biathlete
Marc-Andre Bedard, Claude (and just like Marco, coming fresh off a win at Spartan Slovakia) is not racing Killington this weekend, removing one of Jenny’s biggest obstacles to a back-to-back Championship repeat, but the multisport veteran will still face strong challenges from an amazing group of racers.
Included in that group is the woman who finished second to Jenny at the Texas Super Championship Race last December, Jaclyn Rust. An All-Conference collegiate runner, Jackie was slowed down in Texas because she had to do 150 burpees. Jackie decided on her strategy last year to train secretly and Killington will be her only Spartan Race since then, and she is going all-in to pull off an upset.
Another Texas challenger is the 19-year-old phenom Ella Ann Kociuba. Ella’s athletic talent was obvious when she debuted in the Spartan Texas 2011 race clocking a time faster than champion Jenny Tobin in Glen Rose but in an open heat, not eligible for the cash prize. For all her promise, Ella has had to show more grit than grins as she has battled injury after injury. Sadly it is a common theme for Ella. We featured Ella’s battle back from a debilitating horseback riding injury as a teenager to become a true Spartan competitor. But Ella had to pull out of the 2012 Spartan Death Race in June with a leg injury, and when she recovered to race in Pennsylvania, another injury derailed her quest when she crashed on the trail soon after the race started breaking her shin open on her already injured leg. Despite the pain, and with blood gushing from her wound she battled on to finish fifth, surrounded by some of the same women who came to compete against her. Ella has warned she is fully recovered, and now sponsored by Flag Nor Fail clothing, she is determined to show the doubters that the only thing between her and the podium is a race without catastrophe. Fair warning to Ella and all other racers: that may not be possible in Killington.
Another young-gun who hails originally from Texas, Amanda Czapla has in fact won more races in the USA 2012 than any other Spartan woman: first-place in Miami, Carolinas and Texas, so she could establish herself as the best female obstacle racer in the world with a win in Killington. But she admits that she doesn’t know how to swim, in which case some of the Killington obstacles might prove more daunting and distressing than otherwise. Amanda is one of the strongest runners in the field, but the now resident of Florida could be undone by the mountainous course – not a lot of hills to train on in the Sunshine State. We hope she was able to find a tall office building with a staircase to the roof!
No such dilemma for Margaret Schlachter of Dirtinyourskirt.com. Margaret has home field advantage, as
she is a Killington local, and she showed her endurance bona fides with a third place Beast finish in 2011. Margaret has dedicated herself unlike many others to the sport of obstacle racing, and her ultra-distance training for this year’s Death Race will mean that she will be undaunted by the Killington distance and terrain. One of the most popular obstacle racers in the fastest-growing sport in the world, Margaret has taken a leading role in the transformation of Chris Davis as he also toes the line at Killington in his quest. We acknowledge Margaret’s dedication to another Spartan athlete. The Spartan Code tells us that a Spartan gives generously, and Margaret demonstrates that quality like no other.
The only racer with more wins than Amanda Czapla is Canadian Rose-Marie Jarry, who has an amazing four wins in 2012, three north of the border capped off with an impressive showing at the recent Tri-State New Jersey Super. Rosie’s pedigree is competing as a national 800 meter runner, representing her country on the international stage, so for sure she has the speed, and the second place finish at the Ottawa Beast coupled with winning in New Jersey Super show she now has plenty of endurance. Rose is also leading the 2012 Spartan Race Points Series competition and is determined to maintain her standing with a strong showing in Vermont. She is well known as the owner of all-natural sports nutrition brand Kronobar and now is sharing her healthy food recipes for training and living on the Spartan Blog. Amazingly she has run 21 Spartan Races since 2010, earning at least a cake at Killington, maybe? Knowing her, the competitive fire that has fueled her athletic success will not be satiated with cake; her sights are more set on devouring her competition.
Andi Hardy has had a real breakout season, registering multiple wins and multiple podiums, but
more than that, transforming herself to a serious contender at every race she contests. Her enthusiasm for the sport of obstacle racing has seen her embark on a veritable Summer of Spartan tour, a self-funded road-trip that included 8 races across the map, with more on the calendar, and made her into a one-woman roving Spartan ambassador. She is currently 2nd on the Spartan Points Ranking table but more than results, Andi represents the best of Spartan racing and what makes our Spartan athletes incredibly special, always pushing herself to the limit, pursuing her passion to new realms of performance, and proving in action what is possible when you decide to change your life.
For all the favorites above, we know there will be surprises to come to challenge the experienced racers? Grace Cuomo Durfee suffered though 40 miles of brutal tests over 2 days during the 2011 Death Race, showing incredible physical and mental strength to finish 4th overall and 1st female. At Killington, she is expected to compete ferociously during the 26-mile challenge of the UltraBeast, and could blaze her way through the Beast field as well.
First time Spartan racer and recently retired professional Ironman triathlete Kate Pallardy is confident about her chances.
And last year’s first female finisher at the World’s Toughest Mudder, Juliana Sproles has been preparing for the Vermont race by scouting and training runs at Spartan PA and MA, and the long course format of the Beast will suit her well. Now a bona fide member of Spartan Chick’d Nation, Juliana is sure to leave it all on the course as she pursues Spartan glory.
Some other names that could shake things up include Spartan300 athletes Liz Law, Leyla De Cori, Sue Luck, Angela Reynolds, Corinne Kohlen and Irene Call. All have raced well in 2012, and they too will be out to tame the Killington Beast and claim their place in the pantheon.
An intriguing battle awaits. Any of these women will be worthy Spartan champions. We know that the Amazons were a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology and Classical antiquity. But for my money, it is modern Spartan Race Women that carry the battle to new heights of accomplishment and inspiration.
Tags: Andi Hardy, Claude Godbout, Corinne Kohlen, Ella Ann Kociuba, Grace Durfee, Jaclyn Rust, Jenny Tobin, Juliana Sproles, Kate Pallardy, Margaret Schlachter, Rose-Marie Jarry, spartan beast, spartan death race, Spartan Ultra Beast