Those butterflies, that gentle “bubbling” right down there in the pit of the stomach. That nervous energy that consumes you leading up to your first Spartan Race. The electric tingle that buzzes over you the night before and despite your best efforts, your mind won’t shut off.  You’re trying to imagine what the course will be like, but naturally, you have no idea – no one does. Your clothes are already laid out, your bag is packed, the alarm set (both of them) and even though you checked and re-checked (and then checked again just to make sure), you’re worried you are missing ID, dry shoes, the waiver, whatever the case may be. Sleep isn’t coming, it’s just too exciting. It’s every single Christmas and birthday rolled into one ball of glorious, happy energy. We’ve all been there and right now you’re smiling, nodding your head as you read along. It’s ok. We all are.

This nervous energy isn’t exclusive to Spartan racers however. Don’t forget that there are legions of kids that are watching what mommy, daddy and Auntie Sue are doing. They want to be like Uncle Steve rolling around in the mud. They saw Grandma Lilly climbing over wooden walls and they want to do it too. Spartan, forever leading by example.

Meet Faith Ensminger. Faith’s world changed when she saw Spartan Race for the first time. She knew that was what she wanted to do. Such was her determination and enthusiasm for the images she saw, when she went to Arizona race she made the event her own. This started with capturing the hearts of everyone she met.

Quickly coming under the wing of festival manager Laura Ploude, she found herself volunteering at the merchandise tent all day Saturday, rapidly outselling all other staff and volunteers with her high-octane enthusiasm. This continued well into the following day, but the whole time, her eyes would shoot a glance over to the Kids Race area, knowing that her time was soon approaching. The 12 year old was ready, amped and was pacing the merchandise tent like a caged animal, ready to be released.

At her scheduled run time however, as she and her father Andy went to the staging area, they were dismayed to find that the course was already dismantled and being packed away. A breakdown in communication meant the Kids Race was closed. Faith was crushed.

“Faith immediately was in tears and this was quickly becoming a disaster,” Andy recalls. “One of which I had no control over and felt helpless. We were able to speak with some staff members to see what they could do. The staff got onto their radios, that’s when Dylan Plante and Alexandra Avellino showed up.”

It was decided that Dylan and Alexandra would chaperone Faith not over the course that kids had conquered, but the full adult course. “Then just like that, it went from a catastrophic event to an unforgettable memory that both Faith and I will cherish forever. Faith got onto the course and climbed walls, low crawled through mud and water, and took on the gladiators. None of this could have been possible without the support of the Spartan staff”, recalls Andy.

Alexandra remembers how Faith’s smile shone brighter than the Arizona sun that day, “She is one of the strongest 12 year old girls I have met. Her ability to run up a hill she wasn’t prepared for, climb over a cargo net that was twists to a height taller than most prefer and then do the barb wire crawl/dunk pit section 6 times, all with a smile, was beyond words and truly inspiring. I felt so unbelievably lucky and privileged to get to run the race with her and I want to say thank you so much for the memories and the conversation.”

A sentiment echoed by Dylan, who also came to her aid, as he had already been working with her at the merchandise tent and had seen how much it meant to her.

“She handled at least 3 miles – 2 miles further than the Kids Race – plus did all the final five obstacles of the barbed wire, crawl up a muddy hill, under the muddy wall dunk, then up the slippery wall, over the firepit, which she actually decided to do 5 times, and through the gladiators, which she actually did twice.  It was an honor and a pleasure to help make some first time memories for Faith. I enjoy helping people thru the courses and its part of who I am, The Weeple Army (my running team), and Spartan Way!”

Angela Overstreet, another staff member that was heavily involved with Faith’s weekend also recalls the impact one little girl’s enthusiasm made on not just her, but the event as a whole.

“Strength. Beauty. Inspiration. Perseverance. These words are powerful.  As adults we shoulder the responsibility to inspire future generations. However in this case as much as I have hoped to inspire and impact this young lady….truth is, it is she…it is YOU Faith who has managed to appear as a beautiful light shining upon us all. The passion within you bursts out of you with your every movement, your smile is infectious, your handwork is unparalleled, your drive and determination is difficult to put into words. YOU Faith are a force that one day I truly hope and pray you understand the greatness of. Sometimes it is difficult to see ourselves as others do. YOU Faith have the universe at your fingertips. Know that regardless of what you are going through today, it is YOU that has the choice and the power to infuse every part of your beautiful being into making it your mesmerizing reality. Not only for you but for others. YOU are an amazing young woman that has every quality to be a great leader and fulfill every dream you have. Know what you possess is a gift. Know that you are loved. Keep shining your light on those around you, be an inspiration to those around you. BE YOU. Run with it. Embrace It. Own It. Because although you are small in stature your spirit is larger than life itself. THANK YOU for coming into our lives. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for being YOU. YOU are Strong, YOU are beautiful, YOU are an inspiration and YOU will always persevere Faith.”

When it comes to drive and enthusiasm, or perhaps just the sheer joy of loving what she does, the bar has been set higher than it ever has at any Spartan Race before and it came from a little 12 year old girl. She already had a good idea way before the finish line and when she did get there, it only reinforced what she already knew.

Will you? Sign up now and change your life forever.

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By Anthony Matesi

Just outside of Phoenix, AZ there was a disturbance in the normally desolate lands near Fort McDowell. The Spartans had arrived. Marking the second Spartan Race of 2014 the obstacles were erected all throughout the week to bring to this cactus filled paradise an event that would challenge all walks of life.

To kick things off, Hurricane Heat leaders devised a relatively creative plan for the brave souls looking to participate in the event which began in the early hours of the morning before the sun had a chance to rise up over the mountains off in the distance. Teamwork is essential in finishing one of Spartan’s challenging HH events. New Hurricane Heaters were put through everything from learning animal movements and body weight exercises that are the foundation of the Spartan SGX training program to having them dig up a treasure chest filled with zip ties only to be zipped together right arm to the next person’s left ankle and forced to inchworm as a one unit through a tunnel that went under the highway. The suffering these participants endure together takes a group of strangers and creates a bond like no other.

While those crazy Hurricane Heaters were suffering together in the festival area the Elite racers began to storm the grounds. Some of the top racers from the Spartan Pro Team were in attendance. For the men, Matt Novakovich from Alaska, mountain man Miguel Medina left his cabin in Vermont, with Christopher Rutz, Shawn Feiock and Elliot Meguier also in attendance. On the women’s side there was TyAnn Clark, Juliana Sproles, Jenny Tobin, and Ang Reynolds. Outside of the pro team there was an impressive showing from Sarah Pozdol, Laura Messner, and Rose Wetzel as well as the local newcomer to Spartan Race, John Yatsko. The early hours of the morning were a bit brisk but things heated up very quickly as the race day began. The course was fast and hilly with all the usual obstacles to test the strength, endurance and agility of the racers. As the temperatures rose the cramps began to set into racers who didn’t take the time to properly hydrate. The Amphibious Medics team led by, David Gonzalez, was on site helping the Spartan Staff to help those who were injured on course back to safety or fixed them up to continue their journey.

The Elite wave took off early Saturday morning fighting for the prize money offered by Navy Federal Credit Union with a total of $7500 up for grabs. The competition was incredibly fierce. In the men’s division there was a grueling battle that brought had the top 3 finishers all finishing within a minute and 30 seconds of each other. At the end of the day it was John Yatsko, Glenn Racz, and Chad Trammel taking the first three spots and Matt Novakovich coming in fourth.  The elite women’s field was equally grueling with Kk Paul, Rose Wetzel and TyAnn Clark battling it out for the top 3 spots coming into the finish in that order with Rose and TyAnn finishing within seventeen seconds of each other. The Sunday Elite crowd was stacked once again with some of the top elites and Spartan Pro Team members. It was another tight battle with Matt Novakovich taking the first place on the podium followed by fellow Spartan Pros Miguel Medina in second and Elliot Meguier in third. For the women we saw the importance of counting your burpees out loud when Sarah Pozdol was bumped from what could have been a second place finish to fifth place. Kk Paul took first again on Sunday, Jenny Tobin came in second and Sue Luck saw her way back to the podium taking third. Spartan Pro Team member Shawn Feiock saw a top ten finish taking 7th and Christopher Rutz in 9th.

Spartan Weekends are about more than just the elites of course. There were a lot of families, Spartan Singles, and couples alike mingling, racing, and enjoying the warm touch of the Arizona sun. In the festival area the Spartan SGX tent was providing warm-ups and cool down exercises as well as stretching by the crew from Power in Motion CrossFit. Our sponsors Core Power Protein delivered some excellent post race recovery drinks, E-Boost kept everyone energized, Clif Bars took care of feeding the taxed muscles of everyone who crossed that finish line, and Zico covered the much needed hydration to keep up with the desert sun.

In addition to all the first timers and those looking to begin their quest for the coveted Trifecta there were some inspiring people out on course defining what it means to push beyond your limits. We saw the ever glowing smile from Misty Diaz, who conquers her Spina Bifida by traveling the country running half marathons and Spartan Races chasing after that double trifecta. On Sunday a racer by the name of Joel Brown was spotted on course making it happen. At only 54 years young Joel is a former Para-Rescue and has been a Krav Maga instructor since 1978 receiving all his training in Israel. In 1981, he lost his right leg in a motor vehicle accident. Regardless of this accident Joel has continued to train, instruct, and push himself. His journey to the Trifecta began here in Arizona will continue at the Super in Vegas and conclude with the Beast in Monterey.

As always the Spartan Kids were out in force to light up everyone’s day with their beaming smiles and mud covered bodies. Many of the elites including Miguel Medina, Matt Novakovich, Sarah Pozdol and Rose Wetzel came out and helped play the role of the rabbit that the kids try to catch on the course.

Another incredibly successful Spartan weekend filled with fun, smiles, mud, and even a little blood has come to an end. Next up Spartan Race will be invading Tampa with the first Special Ops event of the year taking place at Raymond James Stadium. This Special Ops Race will offer a combination of the traditional outdoor obstacles alongside some of the signature Spartan Stadium obstacles.  Sign up to earn your very own unique Special Ops Spartan Sprint medal andwe’ll see you at the finish line!

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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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by Carrie Adams

When we get emails and letters from Spartan finishers we are inspired by their individual journey’s and how they’ve changed because they’ve committed to a healthier life, they’ve pushed their limits, and they’ve overcome obstacles to find out what they are capable of accomplishing. 

This story touched us, because it had an effect on a whole family…

Meet Johnathan Spoonmoore and hear his family’s story.  Johnathan recently finished the AZ Super Spartan and inspired a family along the way. 

john2Both my parents were athletic and fit at a younger age. My Mom played high school sports and so did my dad, who after school joined the United States Marine Corps while my Mom stayed at home to raise children. After the military life both continued and increased their smoking and didn’t keep up with staying healthy on a daily and long term basis. I myself have been in sports most of life as well as going to the gym and staying personally healthy on a daily.

I came across Spartan Race through a friend who was interested and shared it with me(but has still yet to race!). About a year later I signed up for my first race, the AZ Super Spartan. I knew this race was a big deal and a huge accomplishment but much more came out of it than i had expected. After months of training, it was race day and i gave it all I had crossing the finish line.

After many congratulations and hugs the news was out, my Dad had signed not only me, but himself for next years race here in Arizona. He has decided that he is going to quit smoking, after so many years, and get into shape to run next years race with me. There was more.  My Mom also decided she wanted to quit smoking and get into shape to race as well, so we got her signed up. They have already began their journey with putting down the cigarettes and preparing to get their workout on.

It is not just the race but the need for them to change their lifestyle and add years on instead of taking them off. A huge, immeasurable, thank you goes to Spartan Race and the Spartan family. With everything they have brought forth the change has already started and I don’t believe it would be happening right this second if it wasn’t for this organization and it’s followers. We cant wait to see you all next year with our new and improved selves.

[Editor’s note: Do you have a Spartan story you wish to share with HQ?  Email your stories with pictures to carrie@spartanrace.com and you might see your story in our blog or on our FB wall!]

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