Spartan Texas Beast Race Recap: Words Do Not Justice, Actions Do
by Jason Rita
I’m not sure but I thought I heard one of Hobie Call’s children at the Spartan Beast in Glen Rose Texas on Saturday say to Cody Moat, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Or maybe that was just the thought running through my head on Saturday morning as I looked at these rival racers, thinking back to the Killington Beast, where Cody prevailed at the Spartan 2012 Championship race, wresting the title away from Hobie’s grasp in the last mile and throwing into question much of what Hobie had achieved over the last two years when he won 24 Spartan events, but never in Killington and not the 2012 title he coveted and maybe felt was his for the taking.
I was looking for a flash of ill-will, a glimpse that this was a grudge match, a smidgen of spite, a nuance of nastiness. Disappointed, all I saw was the top Spartan racers from the Vermont Beast – Cody, Hobie and Brakken Kraker – all Spartan champions, incredible athletes and tough-as-nails competitors, all who had something to prove at the year’s final Beast, chatting like it was a training run amongst mates. But we all knew why we were there: there was the $40,000 elephant in the room as the 2012 Points Series Crown would be decided. In addition, sponsor Navy Federal Credit Union was putting up $1,500 for the day’s elite wave winner. It was a chance at redemption. It was time to win some cash money. It was a time to settle the score. What was that Hobie v Cody score again?
Head to Head victories: 1-1
Beast victories won in Other’s Absence 1-1
Spartan Championships 1-1 (2011 Hobie, 2012 Cody)
It would make it easier to write the story if these two great athletes hated each other; unfortunately that is not the case. Sadly, the only emotion each has for the other is respect, not a grudging kind, but the sort that is willingly granted when it’s been earned in the cauldron of racing by being forced to race to your absolute maximum effort against a rival that demands your best, and knowing that there was no more to give, and whatever the result, there was a bond born from a shared suffering, but also a shared pride.
And every competitor in Spartan gets to feel this bond of brotherhood (Spartanhood?), having ran the same challenging course and been asked to complete the same difficult obstacles as Moat, Call, Kraker, Rutz and all the other points leaders in the Spartan Points Series. They too struggled with the only nastiness on display, which was the nasty course put together by Mike Morris, Race Director/Resident Evil Genius, and head Spartan Course Architect, the quiet but deadly Russell Cohen. And like the Spartan athletes, Mike and Russell are perfecting their game too and sprung a few course design holiday season surprises at the experienced field who should have known not to expect any gifts in this season of giving other than the gift of pain. The course layout included several series of obstacles that were sequenced together in a new pattern and allowed no mercy, with no time for recovery – notably the swim, Hercules Hoist and then Tyrolean Traverse. Another “favorite” was the hill climbs into the Sandbag carry, right on to the Bucket Brigade. You could see the carnage in the field as racers who normally complete the obstacles were forced to do many, many, many sets of burpees. For this, there are no apologies because Spartan doesn’t repeat the same obstacles or course layout at every race. Life throws up different challenges every day, and so will Spartan Race as we keep asking our racers never to settle, and always to push themselves to where they may not have even know they were capable of going. We think you are tougher and stronger than you know – and our job is to help you find out.
So that is what awaited the obstacle racers as they set out on Saturday morning. A fast pace was set by Cody Moat running with first time Spartan racer, Enoch Nadler, a young former collegiate cross-country runner. The pace was so fast that Hobie looked like he was barely hanging on to the leaders. But the race got real in a hurry at the Sandbag Carry/Bucket brigade obstacle sequence. Nadler was starting to get a taste of the full-body strength and athleticism required by the sport of obstacle racing, where it is not just about running well. This was one of the nastiest sandbag carries we’ve seen from Mike and Russell. A long, steep hill with very dodgy footing underneath, which made traction tricky, adding a level of difficulty that even experienced Spartan athletes would have cursed, had they breath to do so. Coming into Sandbag Carry at mile 4 after a long stretch of steep intense technical climbs, Cody led Enoch and Hobie, and then into Bucket Brigade, Cody had kept the lead, but Hobie had moved up. But a mistake at the Bucket Brigade cost Cody when he spilled a small amount of the gravel, and didn’t realize it was so much gone so that the bucket fill line was showing. With Cody forced to do another loop carrying the 50 lb bucket, Hobie ran ahead, able to establish a lead of several minutes. And that proved to be enough for Hobie on the day. He completed the whole Texas course penalty free in 1:43:37, doing no burpees, showing that he was ending 2012 at the top of his game. Cody, it seemed was having on off-day, perhaps not fully recovered from his victory at the USAT&F Trail Marathon Championships in Moab a few weeks back, and he had to do other burpees on several other obstacles, finishing 2nd in 1:50:57. Spartan newcomer Enoch Nadler showed class in hanging on for 3rd from Elliott Megquier close behind in 4th with Brakken Kraker rounding out the Top 5 men, and 18 year old Alec Blenis once again showing that he is one of the stars of the sport of OR with a very impressive 6th place. Too young to drink alcohol, but not too young to throw spears! And yes, as foreshadowed in our Men’s Race Preview last week, Mr. Chris “SuperBeast” Rutz did finish his 24thSpartan Race of the year, including his seventh beast. More Beast than man? You decide. Whichever, it is a special accomplishment and one to be applauded.
On the women’s side, the future very quickly became the now, as the movie in mind switched from The Princess Bride to A Star is Born, starring not Judy Garland (1954 version), not Barbara Streisand (1976 version), not Janet Gaynor (the 1937 version) and not Beyonce Knowles (who was planning a remake with director Clint Eastwood, but dropped out) — in fact we could call it, A Star Spartan is Born, starring April Luu. And if you were there in Texas, you would have seen why the lone star of Texas was not what flies on the state flag, but for two straight days, it was April Luu. And she announced it in a big way wining both days in Texas. That’s right. In a feat not achieved by any Spartan athlete to date, April won back to back weekend Beast races. Oh and she was only 9 minutes slower on Sunday (2:28:43 vs 2:19:48). Holy elite endurance exploit, Batman!
April herself said it best after her win on Saturday, “I did all those dashes and mudders as practice, as training for the real deal, The Spartan Circuit. And I’m here to win.” Win she did, running down the finishing chute, high-fiving the crowd screaming, “Payday, Payday, Payday”, celebrating the Navy Federal Credit Union $1,500 1st prize in the female division that she had just claimed against possibly the strongest women’s field assembled outside of the Vermont Killington Championship race. All the best Spartan racers were on hand in Texas, except reigning Spartan 2012 Champion, Claude Godbout, who is preparing for her chance at the Winter Olympics competing in Europe on the Canada national biathlon team. In bad news for our top women racers, April plans to race Spartan 2013 starting with Arizona 2013, and expect her to bring her trademark intensity, focus and determination to every last mile and obstacle as she has world obstacle course domination in her sights. In good news for OR fans, we can’t wait to see April and Claude race against each other next year.
To be fair, April gave us a preview of what she could do at the Spartan Colorado race in May earlier this year, the Fort Carson sprint, where she placed as 1stfemale. But no one except her family, who were on hand in Glen Rose, could have foreseen how commanding a performance she gave at the year end Beast when every other top Spartan female racer was hoping to earn enough points to shake up the points table one last time.
So while April stole the show and the weekend belonged to her, there was a small matter of the 2012 Points Series to be decided. Points Series leader Rose Marie Jarry’s failure to complete the Tyrolean rope traverse on Saturday put her season-long quest for the points crown in jeopardy since the failure on the Tyrolean removed her from earning any points on Saturday. This meant that after Saturday, she still only had three Beast results (four would be needed to rank amongst the top). For Rose to have any chance to hold off last year’s champion Jenny Tobin in the points race, she would have to complete the Tyrolean on Sunday and hope for Jenny to fail it or otherwise have a bad race Sunday.
When Rose arrived on Sunday, we knew that she was ready to face up to the one obstacle that had troubled her all year, her bête noire, the Tyrolean rope traverse. The war paint was on! And overcome it she did, inching her way out on the rope suspended high over the water below, hand pulling over hand, trying desperately to maintain her balance, calling on every gram (she’s Canadian, metric system, eh) of determination and willpower in her 50 kilo frame (told you, Canadian, metric system) to get to the bell. You could feel the relief wash through her as she dropped into the water below, happy to know that when she finally crossed the finish line in 2nd place, she would be at or near the top of the overall points series, depending on the results from Jenny Tobin, Leslie St. Louis, Melinda Branch and the other top Spartan women.
Jenny, Leslie, Melinda, Margaret Schlachter, along with Rose and ten of the other top Spartan women were, like April, racing both days in Texas, attempting two Beasts with less than a 24 hour turnaround. All of them accomplished an amazing athletic double this weekend, and we acknowledge the passion that all of these competitors brought all year to Spartan obstacle racing.
And what of the 2012 Points Series update results? An announcement is pending, but that is for the next update. Until then, do 30 burpees every hour to wash away the nerves and suspense, and check back again here soon.
AROO AROO AROO
Tags: Race Report