For the fourth time, Spartan Race brought the Spartans to the sunny, hot, ever scenic Oleta River State Park for the Miami Super Spartan.

It wasn’t just about surviving the heat in Miami. Competitors were thrown for a loop, encountering our newest iteration of the Monkey Bars obstacle, or should we say “Monkey Net”? That’s right – Miami introduced a version of the monkey bars obstacle which fashioned cargo webbing that began with an incline and ended with a decline traverse. The rule of the obstacle was no feet, just hands, and was meant to be performed in the same manner as you would the traditional Monkey Bars. All this, but over three feet of water. Fall off, and you know the drill. Burpees.

As per usual, the Hurricane Heat launched the weekend’s activities. Tony Matesi and John Ziegler took over 100 participants through demanding and sometimes seemingly impossible challenges that were developed to build camaraderie and teamwork. From team carries through the obstacles to being the first to test the new obstacle, this group of early morning Hurricane Heaters came together to figure out what it means to be a Spartan.

At first glance, the course may have appeared to be simple and flat given the nature of the Florida region. Assuming the lack of hills equated to an easier course would have been a massive faux pas. The course had unique terrain that acted as the ultimate obstacle in itself. Hard rocks, switchbacks and open waters delivered an exciting and exhilarating course which amplified the difficulty and created a course that was not to be taken for granted.

On Saturday the intense heat made for a very interesting day – never forget that hydration is key in these conditions. Drinking plenty of water the night before, the morning of and during a race with over eight miles and more than 20 obstacles, it is crucial to preventing yourself from cramping while out on the course.

Spartan SGX Coaches were on site leading warm-ups and cool downs. These highly educated coaches are there to assist racers in race prep and recovery of the taxing course. Joe Di Stefano, Co-Founder of the SGX lead the charge along with Coaches Sarah Pozdol and Casey Eischen. The Spartan SGX team will be traveling the Spartan Race circuit, so be on the lookout for the warm-up and cool down area near the start line.

In our elite heat, Spartan Pro Team members, April Dee, Isaiah Vidal, Brakken Kraker, also Founding Pro Team members Chris Rutz, Shawn Feiock and Hannah Orders were all in attendance. Other elite competitors included Arizona native and 2nd Male at the Vegas Super, John Yatsko, Chris McCorkle, Debbie Moreau, Valerie Smith, Sue Luck, Amanda Ricciardi and Sarah Pozdol.

Saturday’s men’s elite heat came down to the difference between making the Spearman Toss and having to complete a set of 30 burpees. Brakken Krakker successfully nailed the spear throw taking the top spot over John Yatsko. Coming in third for the men was recent Spartan Pro Team addition, Isaiah Vidal. April Dee of the Spartan Pro Team dominated the women’s division taking first place over Debbie Moreau and Founding Pro Team member, Hannah Orders.

On Sunday April Dee returned to once again take the top spot on the podium with a demanding lead over Debbie Moreau taking the number two spot and Geishel Valverde grasping a third place finish. In the men’s division, John Yatsko returned with determination after practicing his spear toss and captured a first place finish. An extremely friendly second and third place finish was taken by Isaiah Vidal who showed a tremendous amount of sportsmanship as he waited to cross the line with Joey Patriola after running a majority of the Sunday Super Spartan together.

Close to 10,000 Spartans came and conquered the course this weekend at the Super Spartan in Miami, but there was one very special set of finishing scenes that played out under the relentless Florida sun. Remembering that being a Spartan is about overcoming adversity, finishing what you start, and never giving up no matter the circumstance, it was a joy to behold the newest member of the Spartan family – a young man called Sean. His “Best Buddy”, Tripp Prevatt, has been running races for some time now, making sure to always do one lap for himself and one additional one so that he can give that medal to Sean. You see, Sean has Cerebral Palsy. After telling Sean countless stories about the races he conquered, he wanted to find a way to give Sean the opportunity to join him on the course so they could both earn Spartan Finisher medals, together.

Naturally, the Spartan Kids course again showed that same fighting resilience. Climbing over walls, crawling under neon green “barbed wire” and zig-zagging through a web of bungee cord providing a glimpse of the future Spartans of the world. Be on the lookout; one day these young ones will be standing atop the podium. Just you wait and see!

All of these incredible experiences are made possible with the support of our incredible sponsors, Reebok, ZICO Coconut Water, CorePower, Clif Bar Builders Bars, the U.S. Navy, Eco Vessel, Air Force Reserves, Nestle Water, and DeliverLean. With their support Spartan Race showed Miami once again what we mean by “you’ll know at the finish line.”

Congrats to everyone who Spartan’d UP in Miami. Next up, Spartan Race is headed to the Midwest for the Indiana Sprint. What started as a Founders Race has become a staple of the Spartan tour, it you’re not signed up yet, what are you waiting for?

Go ahead, sign up. We’ll be waiting for you at the finish line.

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Like moths to a flame, the Spartan Race community was drawn to Cliffs Insane Terrain Park in Marseilles, Illinois for two days of intense trails and obstacles that would test all those who were willing to push themselves. With this being the Super Championship for the year, the men’s elite line-up read like a who’s who of Spartan Race with the Spartan Pro Team seeing a lot of the podium all weekend.

On the men’s side the competition was tough.  Spartan Pro Team men Brakken Kraker, Hunter McIntyre and David Magida finished in a 1-2-3 ahead of so many highly skilled athletes.  In fact, the top three finishers in the elite heat Saturday and Sunday on the men’s side were all Spartan Pro Team athletes.

Amelia Boone kept her winning streak alive by winning both Saturday and Sunday, despite getting lost on Saturday for over

Iram Leon with Spartan Race Race Director Mike Morris

ten minutes and clawing her way back to the front of the pack. Boone has never failed to podium at a Spartan Race and her Sunday finish saw only five men finish before her, nabbing not only first female but sixth overall.  Behind Boone, Spartan Pro Team females rounded out the female podium Saturday with Hannah Orders in second and Leslie St Louis in third. Orders made many jaws drop at the fact that despite losing a shoe mid-race, she finished just two minutes behind the leader on Saturday. Leslie St Louis fought off brave competition for third in a highly competitive field.

Also racing in the elite heat both days was the quiet and unassuming Iram Leon. A terminal cancer marathon winner, Leon is an inspirational runner. Leon placed high, despite being very new to the concept of obstacle course racing. The marathon champion charged at the course, wearing a shirt with a runner being chased by the Grim Reaper, with the caption, “Make Him work for it”.

Brad Kloha, who is running 100 races in 52 weeksto raise money for Alzheimer’s was on-hand in Illinois. He is running to

honor the memory of his grandmother and great-grandmother who he lost to the disease and hopes to raise $1 Million to aid the charity. Kloha runs every race with a photo of his grandmother strapped to his forearm to remind him of his purpose.

The Unbreakable Joneses, a father son team we recently profiled who often does multiple laps, also took to the highly technical trails, mud and obstacles in Illinois.   Last seen sprinting around the Texas Sprint multiple times, the father and son team known affectionately known as “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” successfully completed the course 3 times; once for speed, once carrying sledgehammers and once tethered together.

AC Auld – a Biggest Loser participant – remarked that finishing is, “an achievement that no one can take away from you.”  He smiled cheerfully and held up his hands bearing two wounds opened up while low crawling under the barbed wire.  Spartans wear their cuts and bruises with pride.

Love was also in the air!  In what is quickly becoming a tradition at Spartan Races all over the country,  Megan Pritchard happily accepted Michael Manning’s request for her hand in marriage amid huge cheers and applause at the finish line.  We wish them the best!

Danny Rodriguez

The longest and hardest journey of the weekend was that of someone who is no stranger to what a Spartan Race can offer. Weighing over 400lbs, Danny Rodriguez, along with some friends and a couple of staff members, hiked and fought his way through an epic nine hours to cross the finish line to a flurry of high-fives, knucklebumps and teary-eyed hugs. Personifying the “sign up, show up, don’t quit” attitude, Danny is now undergoing the very same regime Chris Davis went through with Spartan Race founder Joe Desena in Vermont in a bid to emulate the same weight loss and lifestyle change. Everyone at Spartan Race would like to wish Danny good luck for the next few months.

A big thanks goes out to the Cornfed Spartan team whose volunteering, work and course sweeping for the Midwest race was an immeasurable asset.  Thanks, Cornfed!

Next up, the Sprint championship in the Pacific Northwest. Who will come out on top? You’ll know at the finish line…

Sign up today! 

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by Brakken Kraker

Ten months and three days ago life as I knew it changed forever. My wife, Lisa, and I were blessed with a beautiful, perfect baby boy. We immediately slipped right into the role of parents and have not looked back yet. We felt decently prepared for our new life as people had spent the previous nine months giving advice about how to handle a new child and all the joys and struggles that go along with this. However, there was one new part of this equation that we were not prepared for: how to give our baby boy all the time and love he needs and deserves while maintaining some level of physical activity. Unlike the majority of parents giving us advice who had, at most, one competitive individual in their marriage, both Lisa and I are runners. This doesn’t allow for one of us to choose the time and duration of our workouts while the other goes about their daily routine. We have double training time to fit in our days, and this turned out to be a struggle for us.

Our two options for when to work out are before and after school (we both teach), and my after school time is also restricted by coaching. I will freely admit that for several months I just took the easy route (“Lisa you can run today, I’ll stay and watch Braden”). I not only missed the daily workouts, but really lost a lot of the fitness I had built up over the previous year. My turning point came when I talked with Cody Moat at a race and realized that he is in the same boat as me. He is a father, a teacher and a coach yet still manages to be one of the best trail runners in America- oh, and he has three more kids than I do… It also didn’t hurt that I felt incredibly out of shape during that race. I knew a change needed to be made, so I made it. Braden now sits in the stroller for every run I do, from long runs to speed intervals. It is not always the perfect running situation, but at the end of the day what could be better than running every step of the way with my baby’s happy face looking up at me? Plus, there has to be some benefit from pushing a bulky, plastic wheeled, non-running designed stroller up and down hills. The teams I coach have grown to love having Braden around, and he always makes doing core easier when he is crawling over everyone and giggling.

Lisa and I have come full circle with our training, and it now includes Braden on a daily basis. As a man and a father there is nothing more rewarding than a beautiful wife and a smiling little boy waiting for me at the finish line, and now I get to experience that every single day for every run I go on. On Father’s Day I can only hope that this post pays it forward and serves as someone else’s “Cody” talk. Make the time, put the excuses aside, and get out there. Include your child or children if you need to, and become the best father and man you can in the coming year.

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by Brakken Kraker, Spartan elite athlete

When I arrived at Haspin Acres a year ago, I truly had no idea what to expect. As Spartan’s first ever “Founder’s Race”, it was being billed as a sort of return to the roots of ancient Sparta: a primal, stripped down race. It sounded intriguing, but it really didn’t paint a clear picture of what we were to expect come race time. No one had any real idea of what we were about to endure.

A little over half an hour later, I crossed the finish line smiling, having enjoyed almost every second of the race (other than the barbed wire crawl). The experience was very different from my previous two Spartan forays. From the start the “primal” theme was set as we were immediately directed into the frigid shallows of the lake before returning to the course. There was no rope climb, no traverse wall, no spear throw, no sandbags, and no balance obstacle; in truth, it was lacking any one of the defining “Spartan Race” obstacles. Despite this, the course had been a blast to race! It wound constantly up and down ATV trails. The trails were coated in an orange mud, soaked by the week’s rainfall, which made any sort of incline nearly impossible to run up.

And then there was the barbed wire crawl. The endless barbed wire crawl. It was littered with hay bales that prevented you from rolling. It forced you crawl its entire length, arm pull after burning arm pull. And just as you finally emerged from that torture, you ran around a corner and found yourself facing another identical stretch of wire. In your final strides you were confronted with a log barrier that loomed over your head. I watched as many a racer accelerated to the finish, only to find they could not make it over the final barrier. One of the top five racers lost his spot, just feet away from a podium finish.

This Indiana race will be wide open on both the men’s and women’s side, with several of the big names in Spartan Race taking the week off in preparation for the mighty Colorado Sprint which looms in the coming week. Spartan Pro Team racer Elliott Megquier will be joining me at the starting line, we will find out if LeEarl will be making his 2013 debut, and my brother McCauley may just make the drive down with me to throw his hat in the ring.

Race Director Todd Sedlak is making his debut in Indiana and has promised a brand new course completely different than last year, less than five miles in distance, but no finish times under an hour. It’s time to head to the Midwest! See you on the course!

Register today!

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