by Jason Rita
“Phenomenally Phenomenal Women”
SPARTAN RETURNS TO GLEN ROSE WHERE THE BIGGEST NAMES IN OBSTACLE RACING WILL BATTLE FOR THEIR SHARE OF SPARTAN’S $40,000 POINTS COMPETITION PURSE.
FOLLOW ONE EPIC WEEKEND OF LEGENDARY SPARTAN RACING AS THE SPARTAN300 POINTS LEADERS FACE OFF IN THE SEASON’S FINAL BEAST RACE IN ORDER TO SETTLE WHO WINS THE 2012 SPARTAN POINTS SERIES COMPETTION. YESTERDAY WE PREVIEWED THE MEN’S RACE; TODAY WE FOCUS ON THE WOMEN’S RACE.
Maya Angelou wrote her anthem to a woman’s strength, “Phenomenal Women,” in 1978, but she might have been describing our Spartan women athletes: “It’s the fire in my eyes and the flash of my teeth, the swing in my waist, and the joy in my feet. I’m a woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.” These women have the fire and flash, the swing and the joy. They are phenomenally phenomenal. But only one can be Spartan Points Champion.
While the Spartan men’s race in Glen Rose, Texas, on Saturday may feature two titans of the world of obstacle racing in Hobie Call and Cody Moat, who sit atop our sport like two colossal mythological figures, the Spartan women’s field features a constellation of competitors, a magnificent and impressive array of athletes/warriors/goddesses, a panoply of serious “playas” (I think that’s how the kids say it), all of whom are striving this weekend to write their name into Spartan legend and the win the inaugural Points Competition title as the crowning achievement on the Spartan racing year.
This weekend, the field of Spartan women is like one of those ensemble comedies where everyone is an A-lister. It is the Emmys, Grammies, Golden Globes and Oscars all rolled into one star-studded and mud-splattered extravaganza. It is the All-Star game and the Pro Bowl except everyone is really competing from the first AROO to the final obstacle.
Rose-Marie Jarry is leading the women’s field in the Points Series heading into Texas, having won the most recent two Spartan Races, the Malibu Sprint last week and the Spartan Beast in Sacramento three weeks ago by an incredible 21 minutes ahead of 2011 Spartan Champion Jenny Tobin. The fast, flat and dry Texas conditions will suit the Kronobar founder even more than the cool and muddy conditions from Sacramento, and the former 800m Canada national team track and field star will be fast away from the starting line. An experienced and accomplished front-runner, Rose will force the pace and demand that everyone try to hang on to her raw speed. She already has 15 Spartan races under her belt this year with a sweep of the Canadian sprint, super and beast races in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, to which she added first place finishes south of the 49th parallel not just in Malibu and Sacramento, but also in the Mid-West Super, Tri-State NJ Super, and the New England Sprint. Rose needs to win in Texas to make certain of the 21012 Points Series crown, and in the absence of the Vermont champion Claude Godbout, Rose enters Texas as the favorite. Her recent wins prove she is the in-form racer but there have been many thoroughbreds who have been Triple Crown contenders after winning the Derby and the Preakness only to falter in the Belmont, and Rose will need to prove she has the character and mettle of a true champion to hold off the charging challengers. If she can, she will claim not only the $1,500 first prize being awarded by Navy Federal Credit Union to the top female finisher on the day, but she will also win the Spartan prize of $4,250 being awarded by Spartan Race to the 2012 Points Series champion.
Andi Hardy has done more Spartan races this year than Rose, a staggering 20, in her first full-year of obstacle racing, and is
in second place in the Points Series table. Since Andi already has points from four Beast races that make up the points calculation, Andi can’t overtake Rose but can improve her tally to ensure she preserves her shot at the 2nd place $2,000 cash prize. One of the most popular Spartan athletes with a large following at races and on her blog BarbWire4Breakfast, she is easily recognizable in her lime green racing kit and will have a lot of support to help her conclude the 2012 season on the podium as well maintain her AG lead over Juliana Sproles.
Numerous racers can overtake Rose in the points standings with strong showings on both days of racing including Melinda Branch, Ella Kociuba and Jenny Tobin. Ella and Jenny come in to the weekend banged up from a season of obstacle racing that has pushed them to their physical limits. If they can survive Saturday, their challenge will be to recover in order to thrive on Sunday. Jenny will be drawing on a wealth of experience as a pro athlete in Xterra and Ironman competition for the mental tenacity to race on less than 2 legs. While Ella is one the youngest racers in the field and lacks Jenny’s racing resume, her legendary workouts for sponsor Flag Nor Fail will give her the endurance edge to overcome her lack of recent training and finish the season with one last chance at fulfilling the promise that we glimpsed one year ago at Glen Rose, when she had the fastest time over the weekend in any wave. Melinda has quietly positioned herself with a chance at a high points series finish, and proved at the South Carolina Beast, she is a podium threat.
Podiums are not foreign to another of the most well-known and popular Spartan racers, Dirt in Your Skirt alter ego Margaret Schlachter, who despite having 17 races in her legs this year before coming to Texas, is aiming to have two of her best finishes all year in the Saturday/Sunday elite waves. An experienced competitive skier, she knows what it is like to race hard multiple events over a two or three day competition. If Rose falters, Margaret could find herself on the top spot of the Points Series table come Sunday afternoon. Irrespective of finding her on the podium, you can always find Margaret supporting other Spartan racers, giving medals to racers all afternoon, doing sweep heats, setting up the “Meet the Racers” tent where beginner obstacle racers can get training and racing advice from the competitive Spartan300 athletes.
Despite the great camaraderie and friendship amongst all these Spartan women athletes, make no mistake that for two hours
on Saturday and Sunday morning this weekend, no quarter will be given nor asked. Too much is on the line – cash, pride, titles, glory. Seriously, what more could a girl want?
Maya Angelou’s powerful words concluding her famous poem say it best as a celebration of spirit that our Spartan women athletes represent:
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
AROO AROO AROO!
See – even Ms. Angelou knew from Spartan Chicked.