by David Magida, Spartan Pro Team

Reebok Spartan Race returns to Virginia on August 24 for another weekend of mud, obstacles and of course, a Navy Federal Credit Union purse of $7,500. With it, comes a new venue with elevated challenges and a layout completely unlike the previous year.

Last year Virginia offered the unique terrain of rolling hills, shin-high grass and an endless flow of horse steeples in the Leesburg countryside just outside Washington, DC. However, this year the venue has shifted to the ski slopes of Wintergreen Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which has been described by race directors as, “the ideal testing grounds for the Vermont World Championships.”

While it is unknown how much of the mountain Reebok Spartan Race plans to utilize, participants can expect grueling climbs and heart pumping descents. This author wouldn’t be surprised to find that race directors have included Wintergreen’s longest slope, a 1.4 mile run that winds its way to the peak. And for those of you out there who like a little excitement in your lives, sit back and picture 3,300 feet of elevation change. That’s more than you’ll face in Killington, so get your hiking shoes ready.

Toeing the line for the men on Saturday is a deep field including Spartan Pro Team athletes Elliott Megquier, Alex Nicholas, Alec Blenis, and David Magida. Megquier currently sits in second place amongst the men in the 2013 Spartan Points Series while Magida has finished on the podium of his last five races. They will be challenged by 2013 Spartan Sprint Champion Hobie Call, who is rounding into form as the World Championship race approaches. Other notable competitors include the “Mud Man” Kevin LaPlatney, Dan Krueger and local David “Highland Cow” Mick.

On the women’s side, racers can look forward to the return of Spartan Pro Team member TyAnn Clark, winner of the Texas Sprint and SoCal Super Spartan races. TyAnn has been recovering from a hamstring injury but expect to see her in top form. Melinda Branch, winner of the Tuxedo Sprint will also be making a return from injury, as she has been sidelined with a stress fracture for the past couple months. Expect Clark and Branch to face stiff competition from Spartan CitiField 3rd place finisher Gretchen Krueger, Janice Ferguson (2nd place at the Texas Sprint) and Hannah Orders, who has reached the podium in 4 of her last 5 races.

In addition to the usual suspects in the competitive heats, Operation Enduring Warrior will be on hand for the unveiling of their new brand. Led by combat veterans and amputees Noah Galloway, Todd Love and Jonathan Mozingo, the team will be running in their blacked out gas masks. Formerly Team X.T.R.E.M.E., these very same men skydived to the starting line and raced the 10.5 mile Super Spartan course in Leesburg, VA last year.

To everyone out on the course this weekend, summon your courage and your internal grit. We have a mountain to conquer. Good luck.

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[About the Author: David Magida is a member of the Spartan Pro Team with more than twenty Reebok Spartan Races under his belt.]

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