By Isaiah Vidal & April Luu

Nestled in the mountains of Santa Ana Jilotzingo, 5,000 plus participants were anxiously waiting to conquer the first International Spartan race of the year in Mexico.

Surrounded by a spectacular view of the valley as the sun hit the horizon the day promised to be a day for the ages. Racers came from all over to take on this amazing course cut through some of the most rugged, and amazing, terrain the area has to offer.

The Elite heats promised to be truly entertaining as Spartan Race Pro Team member April Luu traveled to Mexico for the race. Ready to face off once again Spartan Pro Team member April Luu & the Spartan chicks of Mexico, Chickorita de Lego and Olympian Tri-athlete, Fabiola Corona. Its a friendly rival match and last time these ladies raced against one another, Fabiola took first as April Luu placed 2nd, followed by Chickorita in 3rd in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

On the men’s side was Spartan Pro Team member Isaiah Vidal making the trip down from the US, the Spartan Mexican Junior Olympian steeplechase competitor Angel Quintero and Junior Olympian Tri-athlete Octavio Oliveros. The rest of the field was packed with competitors looking to podium and find Spartan glory.

As the race got under way little did the participants know how obstacle heavy this event would end up being. To top it off the elevation was 2400 feet, which promised to play a factor in the 5 mile, 25+obstacle event. Starting the race off was a brutal 100 meter maze barb-wire crawl, followed by a run through water, climb over a cargo net and immediately faced with another barb-wire crawl. It was interesting to see some participants succeed while others struggled in overcoming these back-to-back obstacles in the first quarter of the race. The start of this race was merely the beginning as the competitors started to descend into the valley of Santa Ana.

There were many elevation changes along the narrow paths through tall grassy terrain and wooded areas. Around every corner stood another obstacle yet to be faced. Over – under- throughs, walls of varied heights, moats with mud & water, balance beams, inverted walls, hurc hoist, monkey bars, tractor pull, rope climb, and a 400 meter sand bag that was absolutely punishing.

Leading the race Isaiah fought Angel for the lead after descending into the woods followed by the sand bag carry with Octavio was closing in. Angel maintained his lead by making the spear throw. Octavio in second missed, followed by another miss from

Isaiah, giving Octavio a thirty second lead. With a mile left and 5+staggered obstacles the top podium spot went to Angel, followed by Octavio in second and Isaiah in third.

The battle between the women was settled as April paved the way with a 2 minute lead over the Olympian Fabiola. Missing the spear, caused her to take the thirty burpee penalty, but was still able to maintain her lead. Just when Fabiola thought she had closed the gap, missing her spear throw pushed Fabiola back to third as Chickorita over took the Olympian by dominating the spear. In the end the top spot went to April, followed by Chickorita and Fabiola in third.

After the elite men & woman the 9:30am race participants took over in packs of 100+ every 15 minutes until 2:30pm, many fighting to earn a part of their Spartan trifecta medals. The Spartan Kids race took 4 – 13 year olds on their very own course, earning their unique Spartan medal.

The first Mexico Spartan Race of the year was an outstanding course designed by the Spartan Race Mexico team. They will be taking a similar design approach for the next event, the Spartan Super in Puebla, Mexico on April 5th & 6th where the venue will sit at 9,400 feet and allow the people of Mexico to continue their quest for the Spartan Trifecta.

Sign up for your next Spartan Race today! 

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By guest writer and Spartan Pro Team member Elliott Megquier 

Arizona is a unique state, you can experience all four seasons in one day depending on where you are traveling throughout the state. Reebok Spartan Race comes back to the Phoenix area for the four year and each year they have out down themselves. This year Fort McDowell Rodeo Grounds will host a Sprint distance of 3+ miles on Saturday February 8th and Sunday February 9th.  For more info on the venue check out this link.

For the course expect a rocky dessert terrain, running up and down steep ridges and hills. Cacti will be out in full force and for those not careful, they will get a sharp, prickly surprise. The weather Saturday calls for a high of 65 degrees with 0% of rain. While Sunday warms up to a high of 73 degrees, again with no rain in sight. Locals might complain that is cold, but for people like me that live in upstate New York that is marvelous weather.

Matt Novakovich a hot favorite to podium again

For the men the hyped up Matt “The Bear” Novakovich headlines the Spartan’s aiming for victory. In his first Spartan Race ever Matt took down the Champion Hobie Call, but ever since he has been unable to find the top honor with just a third place at the Fenway Stadium Sprint. Elliott Megquier will be back to Arizona for the third year in a row and he will look to slay the bear. Miguel Medina is taking a break from building his cabin in Vermont and he will also try to use his new found Mountain Man training to secure his first victory. Other racers expected to challenge will be Shawn Feiock, Chris “Tough Training Guy” Rutz, possibly the Arizona native John Yatsko who burst onto the Spartan scene with two podium finishes in Temecula. If present, John becomes the top contender.

On the women’s side, look for K.K. Paul to be the favorite. Paul is coming off podium finishes in Temecula (1st Place Sunday Sprint) and Glen Rose where she beat the likes of Rose Wetzel, April Luu, and TyAnn Clark. Clark will look to revenge her defeat and looks to be the top challenger. Laura Messner is another name to watch, as she is coming off a Saturday Temecula Sprint victory. Another name you can’t count out is former Spartan Champion Jenny Tobin. Jenny is known to always challenge for victory wherever she races and whatever the distance, in Temecula she had her first burpee free race so watch out she is on her game. Other racers planning on toeing the line are Ang Reynolds, Juliana Sproles and Sue Luck.

Tyann Clark is gunning for victory in Arizona

Other cool things to look for are the Painted Warrior Team of Stephen Sinek and Aeni Domme who always create amazing body paint that Sinek races in for racers/spectators to admire. The kid’s race is always a highlight as it is so amazing to see kids active and excited to become the next great Spartan as they grow older. Lastly I’m calling out my cousin Erik Carlson to race with me. Last year he became a Spartan, but since he has fallen off the wagon exercise wise, I’m using peer pressure to get him to race with me again.

Click here for more information on forthcoming events.

Elliott Megquier is a member of the Spartan Team and a veteran of 69 Spartan Races. He has many podiums to his name, but is still looking for his first Saturday victory. Last season Megquier finish 4th in the points series, after finishing 5th the year before.

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So here we all are again. Another year starts and yet again we look toward the sun kissed hills of Temecula in southern California to kick off another year of hills, pain, ropes, barbed wire and thousands upon thousands of delicious burpees. Don’t pretend you don’t like them.

As Vail Lake prepares to open its arms to thousands of Spartans old and new, we now have the fortunate dilemma of just how much we want those Trifectas. Instead of hosting the usual Super to get proceedings underway, this year begins with the option of doing both the Sprint and the Super, or perhaps just one or the other. The mid-range Super will boast a minimum of 8 miles and at least 20 obstacles waits for you on Saturday. The shorter Sprint, a great option for those new to Spartan Race with a distance of around 3.1 miles, will also be held on a completely different track taking place on both Saturday and Sunday. Which Spartans out there will try to get two thirds of their Trifecta done in one glorious weekend?

The rolling hills of Temecula can be unforgiving. Have you been training?

Additionally, the ferocious lunacy of the always-demanding Hurricane Heat will be available for those who like their early starts sprinkled liberally with hundreds of burpees and random tasks that serve no purpose other than to build teamwork and exhaust your muscles.

Miguel Medina is looking to make the podium his own in 2014

The elites will be keen to reap more points. Especially the early 2014 season leader of the men’s elite division, Elliot Megquier. Currently Elliot has a paper-thin lead over Alexander Nicholas who was last seen showing us how to beat the Slippery Wall. Naturally well known heavy hitters in the form of Hunter McIntyre, Miguel Medina, Isiah Vidal, David Megida, Hobie Call and others will be sure to have their say in how those rankings look before too long.

The in the female division the competition grows equally as fierce with every race. Keen to shake off the dust following the winter break, Laura Messner will be all too aware that Danielle Ross, Jolene Wilkinson, Andi Hardy and the imposing pair of April Luu and Amelia Boone will quickly want to destroy her lead in the points tally. It’s looking very much like 2014 will become the most hotly contested year yet.

Also new to Spartan Race is the Special Needs Spartan Course. The Special Needs Spartan Race is an obstacle course race designed to test resilience, strength, stamina, and ability to overcome adversity. Sports are a universal language which unites people on and off the field of play, cutting across lines of race, ethnicity, education level, social status, and economic background. The Special Needs Spartan Race breaks new ground by increasing collaboration and raising awareness. Most importantly Spartan Race is providing a safe and structured athletic event where individual differences are embraced. This will be a place where children and families can feel comfortable to express themselves and engage fully in the Spartan community.


The Special Needs Spartan Race course is designed for participants with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (IDD). Special considerations have been set in place to accommodate the sensory profiles, physical, cognitive, and behavioral challenges faced by race participants.

In keeping with the Spartan Mission, our events are all about challenging today’s perception of normal. Spartans welcome racers of all abilities. We integrate people with special needs to challenge the public’s perception of what is normal. The spirit of the Spartan Race community encourages the development of skill, courage, sharing, and joy while transcending boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, race or religion. All racers receive a Finisher’s Medal, a T-shirt, and are embraced as a member of the Spartan Tribe.

With our usual mix of vendors, music and community atmosphere in the event village, it’s shaping up to be yet another outstanding event under the gloriously warm blue skies of California.

See you at the finish line…

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It was a tale of two halves as the 2013 calendar came to a close in Glen Rose at the Spartan Beast. Saturday saw competitors challenged by not only the evil genius of Norm Koch’s 14.8 mile course, but the freezing temperatures not helped by the relentless bone-chilling wind. Sunday saw frost at first, but quickly became an altogether different day as the warm Texas sun smiled upon all those who wanted to challenge themselves.

April Luu saw back to back wins over the weekend.

Familiar faces littered the elite podiums, with April Luu being clearly the happiest of the weekend with back-to-back wins in the female elites. In the males on Saturday, Hunter McIntyre kept up his impressive form by strolling to victory a good 6 minutes ahead of second placed Cody Moat. Isiah Vidal would come in third, but he quickly righted his own personal wrongs by romping to victory the following day. Kioyake KK Paul took the female second place with Rose-Marie Jarry claiming third. On the Sunday, Elliot Megquier gave himself the gamble of competing and forcing a fast time in order to catch a plane home. Spurred by this pressure, he took second place with another Pro Team favorite Shawn Feiock taking 3rd place. Debbie Moreau and Jolene Wilkinson both had impressive runs to take 2nd and 3rdrespectively. With many correctly seeing Glen Rose as their last opportunity to earn some coveted Spartan Race “bling”, the race was awash with people that had challenged themselves to rise above their own personal situation. Social media favorite Amanda Sullivan, accompanied by Pro Team Elite athlete Alex Nicholas, beat her own personal demons by taking the course on in her own inimitable style. With her backpack, knee and wrist braces literally duct-taped to her and her trusty crutches, she battled through taking nearly 9 hours to complete the race to find her boyfriend and friend of Spartan Race, Todd Love, waiting for her at the finish line. As she collapsed at his wheelchair the cheers and applause were deafening.

Waiting for Amanda at the finish line was her boyfriend Todd Love.

All of this after only 3 years ago having been in 2 horrific accidents separated by a matter of weeks that saw her break, “pretty much everything from my skull to my toes”,  Amanda continues build, grow and inspire everyone she meets with her lust for life and the smile she wears that simply refuses to stop shining.
Completing the course only moments before, Louisiana’s own Matt Pevoto had completed his battle against the course.  Despite suffering from Spina Bifida, Matt’s appetite for Spartan Race was tweaked when he completed the Sprint in Burnet earlier in the year. Deciding to go all guns blazing at the Beast, Matt trained rigorously and it showed. His shoulders, arms and chest now visibly bigger and more defined than they were when he finished the Sprint, he waltzed through many upper body obstacles with derisory ease. With his sights now to crash through 2014 like a wrecking ball, his states matter-of-factly that by 2015, he will race at the elite level.

Matt Pevoto refused to let Spina Bifida get in the way of completing the Beast.

 

Other racers of note included Californian Dave Huckle who finally managed to achieve his dream of nine Trifectas. There was the familiar sight of “Thing 1 and Thing 2” – The Unbreakable Joneses -, albeit this time not tethered, blindfolded or carrying sledgehammers. Must have been a rest day!

And in true Spartan Race tradition, staff, runners and spectators saw a marriage proposal by the finish line. Jenna Dalton (completeing her Trifecta) accepted Collin Witte’s hand amongst cheers of support and applause.

One notable finisher was that of James Simpson, the UK military veteran who, after having been forcibly removed from the London Beast after 6 miles due to horrendous weather conditions, made the flight to Texas from England purely in order to complete the Trifecta. In doing so, he is now the first double amputee in the world to have completed this achievement. Helping him along the way, amongst others, were his expat friend Steff Crawford, now living in Texas and military veteran Michael Smith, a right arm amputee from Fort Sam, Houston who, in his parting words as he walked towards the starting line was simply, “be motivated. Realize your potential.” Perhaps wise words we could all carry in the holiday season and into the New Year.

And so, as we go full circle and end another year with a trail of medals, bucket carries, rope climbs and oh-so many thousands of feet of barbed wire crawling behind us, we wish every single runner, competitor, volunteer, spectator, staff member, contractor, security guard and everyone in-between a healthy and prosperous happy holidays and hope that the new year brings in whatever it is you’ve chosen to dream and aim for.

See you in Temecula in January. AROO!

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by April Luu, Spartan Pro Athlete

It’s hard to believe that this adventure started one year ago today! I went to that start line at the Ft. Carson Military Sprint not knowing anything that was going to be put before me. I was scared and excited at the same time. I was challenged both physically and mentally to complete this race. It was unlike any other race I had ever been in. When I crossed that finish line I was exhausted and elated at the same time. My efforts earned me the top spot. I had won the race, unbelievable! The sense of accomplishment I felt when I got to stand up on stage with that badass helmet was like no other! That was it, I was hooked.

After I got home I started researching about Spartan Race and who all of these crazy people were that were competing. I finished up the fun OCR races that I was doing that year just in the state of Colorado. After that I decided that I wanted to compete in the Spartan Circuit. I thought why not? During this process I actually got some people to sponsor me on this adventure because of my performance in my local races. It was incredible how the sport was taking off and how many were paying attention.

Yes, some people thought I was out of my mind but others could not help but be infected with my enthusiasm. As a personal trainer I started inspiring others to train and reach their goals. Some of those goals being to race in a Spartan Race! And so it began. My family in tow heading to Glen Rose, Texas, my first race in the circuit. A Beast in Texas was 13.5 miles with 20 some obstacles. It was a brutal race. There was a 100 meter swim, Tyrolean traverse, bucket brigade, Hercules hoist, two rope climbs, and of course the spear throw.

I thought, “They are throwing everything at us! Get through this and make it to that finish line!” That I did with my husband and kids standing there cheering me on and so proud of my accomplishment. I did something no other Spartan athlete had done that weekend; I won a Beast back to back!

And the journey continues to grow as my family and I set off for each race through the season. We look forward to meeting new people and meeting up with our friends. I take the time at each race to talk to the people who work for Spartan and have now became a part of my family.  My kids are always excited about the next place we will be going to race. I take great pride in setting an example to my kids and others and inspiring them to reach for their goals. Those crazy people that I was talking about at the beginning of this story ? Well I guess I am one of them now. My family and I have had the honor and privilege to get to know them. Our race weekend in Colorado alone we had 10-12 Spartan racers at our house (you know who you are) and had the honor to a part of Mike and DiAne Santos wedding at the Spartan Race.

This has and will continue to be an epic journey and I want to say thank you to my family for all of their support on this crazy train. And thank you to my sponsors Adam Way Racing, Eco Vessel, Sol Survivor, Colorado Running Company, Open Fences, Kronobar, and last but not least, my coach Aaron Knutson from Max Performance for keeping me healthy and strong!! Thank you all for believing in me and taking that chance. It means a lot! Live everyday as if it were your last!

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