By guest blogger Alec Blenis
What a weekend! The 2013 South Carolina Beast pushed athletes to their limits with 12+ miles of rugged trails, frigid temperatures, and tough obstacles. Despite these challenges, top male finishers still managed to get through the course in under 2 hours with the women not far behind. There were great performances all around.
On the men’s side, the race started with dozens of racers looking to make a statement during the relatively easy first mile, but it didn’t take long for front-runners to emerge. By mile 2, Hunter McIntyre, Isaiah Vidal, Alec Blenis, Matthew Taverner, and Elliott Megquier comprised the top 5. The first few miles of the race featured lots of ups and downs, technical footing, and extended running sections; the majority of the challenging obstacles were found on the second half of the course. Returning to the festival area around mile 5, Hunter led Alec by a minute, but failed the traverse wall with frozen hands; both made the spear throw and other festival area obstacles. Alec briefly gained the lead and would run neck and neck with Hunter for 6 more miles. Meanwhile, Isaiah and Matthew were battling for 3rd.
Although they began the obstacle together, Hunter gained an insurmountable lead on Alec during the mile 11 bucket carry and would win by a 1.5 minute margin. While Alec struggled with the bucket, Isaiah and Matthew were gaining quickly from behind. Always excellent at the strength obstacles, Isaiah made a push for 3rd at the bucket carry and maintained this position through the end of the race. The top 5 finishers in order were Hunter, Alec*, Isaiah, Matthew, and Elliott.
In the ladies Elites, the starting grid was bustling with faces that made it hard to pick a favorite. Melinda Branch and Jolene Wilkinson, a top twenty finisher in Vermont, were also ready to go on the attack. In the end, it was April Luu, fresh from a 2nd place in Mexico, who announced her return in emphatic style, coming in a full 10 minutes ahead of the pack. Rose-Marie Jarry fought hard to take second place with Jolene Wilkinson taking the last place on the podium.
Jamie Cooper and Angela Kalal kept up the pressure on the top of the points rankings – now in 6th and 8th place respectively – with the evergreen Andi Hardy still sat in second place just behind Laura Messner.
With competition fiercer than ever in the female Elite division, 2014 will be arguably the tightest and most hotly contested year for the Spartan Race ladies.
As everyone now looks towards Fenway – the last stadium series of 2013 – who will see victory there?