By: Kristine Iotte

There in the desert land of Vegas, the sun not even up yet, and already we had started with the burpees. In my mind 30 is a lot. Burpees are hard. We got to 40, 50, 75, 90 burpees. I began to think “Ugh I should have seen this coming why did I sign up for this”, then “this is ridiculous, we are never going to last 12 hours if we are doing this crap the whole time”, and then “there is no WAY we are doing more than 100” –and was pretty set on there being no chance we’d go past 100. Then we got to 101, 102, and something weird happened; I went into autopilot. Instead of focusing on when we were finishing I was focusing on each burpee because who knew how many these crazy jerks were going to make us do. Granted we ended up only doing a few more, but because anything over 100 seemed unreasonable and unsustainable (we still had over 12 hours to go, this was just the warm up!) and we surpassed it anyway, I didn’t really know what to do with it and just kept moving.

The same happened shortly after when they made us roll sideways through the rocks and dirt. When I saw how far they were making us roll, and thinking about how much I dislike being dizzy, all I could think was “when I barf, who should I aim it at: John or Cookie?” After deciding Cookie was my target, and feeling pretty good about that, I kept rolling. It was getting uncomfortable and I noticed I was only just over half way.

Figuring they would likely move the end point even further once we started getting close, it happened again. It got easier. The nausea went away and the sharp rocks no longer bothered me.

What? Again?  Not knowing how long I will have to subject myself to each of these awful tasks is somehow making them easier? How is my brain shutting down discomfort?

It was bizarre.

That pretty much set up the rest of the day. When they made us get tires and announced that we would be carrying them through the entire course, with obstacles, no one flinched. There was almost an air of confidence about us.

There were numerous other occasions (any one of the countless push-up, burpee, or awful-bodyweight-exercise sessions) where we somehow made it through ridiculous amounts of reps –but there was one other repeated task that didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. The dunk wall. I hate wet clothes and get cold pretty easily.  I lost track of how many times we ended up there. Oh, you’re cold? Let’s head to the dunk wall. Your shirts are getting dry? Dunk wall. The sun is going down? Dunk wall. But somehow it bothered me less when I didn’t know how long we were going to be in there or how long it would be until we would end up there again. (And I noticed that no one was complaining about it anymore.)

When I only concerned myself with the task itself and not how long or how many times we would have to do it, it wasn’t as bad as it seemed it should have been. Don’t get me wrong, it was a hard 12 hours and I was plenty beat at the end, but we certainly did more than I had imagined. It makes me wonder how much our expectations and assumptions limit what we are capable of or are willing to try, and it made it very clear how much our minds baby our bodies.

Think you have what it takes? Sign up for an HH12HR today! 

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A lesson learned for those that took the race lightly – make sure you hydrate!

Spartan Race’s second visit to the glitzy atmosphere of Las Vegas delivered more surprises that you could shake a roulette wheel at. Under the relentless Nevada sun that was as unforgiving as the rocky terrain, over 8000 Spartans – veterans and newbies alike – earned their medals and the right to call themselves Spartans.

Heat, rocks, dry and sandy landscapes that seemed to go on forever, even sudden and violent sandstorms – it didn’t matter. The people were here to be tested and to thumb their noses at whatever stood in their way. A move to a different venue didn’t change the attitude or the desire of staff or racer and the relentless terrain certainly did its job, but what it didn’t know was that it was dealing with a different breed of person – The Spartan Racer.

The elite waves threw up some surprises, as new boy Glenn Racz powered his way through a field of established elite veterans to grab number one spot. John Yatsko’s background in running helped him to grab second place, while the familiar sight of Hunter McIntyre on the podium, albeit in third place, made up for the lack of familiarity. Tyann Clark breezed to a comfortable first place, with Amelia Boone in second and the always-smiling face of Rose Wetzel-Sinnett taking third spot. With so much talent, skill and power now bristling within the elite Pro Team, it’s becoming harder and harder to predict podium placements, let alone winners. With this competition being so fierce, races are only going to become faster and tighter.

The winner’s podium at Las Vegas 2014

As ever, the day started with the Hurricane Heat, but it was a special one as it would morph into the first ever class of the new 12 Hour Hurricane Heat. Under the usual guidance – abuse? – of Tony Matesi and a back-up of three extra Spartan Race staff, the competitors were treated to dips in cold water as early as 6am, crawls, squats and endless burpees.

As the regular Hurricane Heaters broke away after around 3.5 hours, the HH12HR – as it is now known – were bombarded with all manner of horrific crimes against the body, one of which being the punishing ordeal of finding, rescuing and returning to the start line with a tire that they would then learn they would cover the course with the whole time. From this, one of the highlights of the event was born. Despite understanding that there was a strict time cut off for the lap with the tire, Kyoul Cha of Arizona (and Weeple Army/Team SISU member who again won the biggest team title) chose to forego his official finisher title and instead stay behind in order to help another competitor that was struggling with his run.

Those unaware of Kyoul’s background will not know that his profession is that of a Hotshot firefighter. Covering long distances with the added pressure of time constraints and intense heat is his normal day. Any other day he would happily have been able to complete the distance in well under the time allowed, but remembering the Warrior Ethos that is taught during the Hurricane Heat, he adhered to the last line which states that, “you will never leave a fallen comrade”. Kyoul sacrificed his official finisher title and patch in order to help his colleague – unwittingly embodying everything about Spartan Race in one selfless gesture.

Kyoul Cha sacrificed his own qualification of the 12 Hour Hurricane Heat to help a fellow competitor finish their race.

In the event village, Spartans were treated to the sight of not one, but two weddings. Well, it wouldn’t be Spartan Race without one, especially given that it was Las Vegas. Amongst deafening cheers and a volley of “Aroo!”’s, Spartan Race and thousands of racers applauded those starting a new chapter in their respective lives. As with the famous phalanx, the coming together of a couple showing that a unit can be stronger than the sum of its parts.

Those with marriage furthest from their minds of course, were the Spartan Kids. As ever, the tremendous and vibrant energy that could be felt from the aura that followed them was magnificent. Caring not that the heat was climbing higher with every minute that passed, they ran through mud pits, over hills and crawled over the ground with reckless abandon. In an age where technology suggests that a good time could and perhaps should be had indoors and beckoning a finger of a blander, more sedentary lifestyle, to see thousands upon thousands of children climbing, running and ultimately, playing their way to a healthier way of life, one would believe that perhaps that there is still an ever increasing pocket of resistance to the malevolent shadow of an unhealthy lifestyle.

With the always supportive Reebok, Eco Vessel, Core Power, National Air Guard and the Navy Credit Union helping bring Spartan Race to the fore time after time, Spartan Race showed not just Las Vegas, but everyone associated that yet again Spartan Race delivered.

There’s a time when you realize what it means to wear that medal and feel that pride and we say it often.

You’ll know at the finish line.

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