Written By Pro Team member Glenn Racz

The Colorado Military Sprint at Fort Carson Army Base delivered another solid race weekend for over 8,000 participants.  This Military Sprint adds various different elements as compared to other Spartan races such as the increased amount of obstacles (25+) packed into the Sprint distance of about 4.5 miles and the nose-bleed elevation of over 6,000 feet.  These two aspects of the race proved to be a challenge to all competitors in the race.  The stakes were high on this race as this was one of the Navy Federal Credit Union $7,500 prize purse races – which helped to pull in some of the most hardcore obstacle racers from around the country.

The race conditions were ideal with moderate temperatures throughout the weekend.  However, the temperature was the only moderate feature in this race as once the racers took to the course, they all very quickly realized that this race would truly test how one could manage the extremely “obstacle dense” course along with the short, yet steep hills scattered throughout the course.

For the elite men on Saturday, Pro Team athletes Brakken Kraker and Glenn Racz took an early lead by mile 1, but Glenn Racz soon fell back behind Matt Novakovich and Chad Trammell after the Atlas Carry.  Half way through the race, recent Boston Marathon finisher, Brian Gowiski joined the lead pack.  Then after the ruck sack carry, Chad Trammell powered by Matt Novakovich to take and hold the lead to emerge the victor and take his first 1st place finish for a Saturday race.  But just 14 seconds behind Chad was Brakken Kraker and Matt Novakovich “The Bear” as they battled it out though the final 7 obstacles all stacked up before the finish line to give the spectators a great show with only 3 seconds separating them.  Athletes Brian Gowiski and Isaiah Vidal came in a noteworthy fourth and fifth place.  Then on Sunday, Matt Novakovich wasn’t allowed an easy victory with Isaiah Vidal just 3 seconds behind him for another exciting finish.  Pro Team athlete Elliott Megquier held off Brian Hoover in the final obstacles to take a 3rd place podium finish.

With so many close finishes happening now, it’s clear that the courses on the circuit are highlighting the need for good, all-round training. While some may blitz obstacles and others build leads with running, regular podium placings and good times are now reflected in the fact that working all aspects of the body are clearly yielding better results. The days in which relying on running would see you through are starting to disappear.

The women’s elite Saturday race proved to be just as much of a nail-biter since race came down to the spear throw – which was missed by front runner and returning champion April Dee which allowed competitors KK Paul and Orla Walsh to overtake her for 1st and 2nd place.  April Dee took 3rd place for the Saturday race but then came back Sunday to take 1st among elite women. These 3 women were the only female competitors to complete the course in under 1 hour – a reflection of just how difficult the course was this year. With each year that passes, it seems Fort Carson ups the ante a little more. Looking forward, it makes for a brutal prospect in 2015.

As ever, Spartan Race would like to thank Reebok, Core PowerClif Builder BarsEco VesselSpartanUP! Graphix and Spartan SGX.

Of course huge thanks go out to all the staff at Fort Carson for their help and support for making the Colorado Sprint as epic as ever.

Sign up for the next Spartan Race here and you’ll understand what it means to “know at the finish line”.

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By Leslie St. Louis

The Colorado Military Sprint is a one-of-a kind, race like no other! Taking place on the Fort Carson Army Base and featuring a slightly longer length, special medals, unique finisher shirts and more than 15 obstacles, including some designed by the 4th Infantry and Special Forces Unit, the weekend also promises military tributes, over $7,500 in cash prizes and the added elements of Colorado’s unpredictable weather and high altitude.

Isaiah Vidal wins the Colorado 2013 Sprint.

Volunteers have been working all week to build the obstacles for this western-area event, and with 14,000-foot Pike’s Peak towering nearby, racers can expect to take full advantage of the base’s up and down rolling terrain, to complete many of the usual Spartan challenges and perhaps even try the new, net monkey bars that made their debut in Miami. If the past Military Sprints are any indication, runners may also find themselves using the army’s “weaver” training obstacle and hiking up hills with rock-filled ruck sacks.

There are important instructions for parking (see below) and racers should allow at least an hour or more before their start times. While parking is free, there is a shuttle to race site that costs $5 per person ages five and older.

Coloradoans often joke about the state’s temperamental weather, so there is the possibility of sunny skies or snow storms, even the possibility of both occurring during the same day! Three water stations and one at the finish are planned, but keep in mind that this event has averaged longer finishing times than other Spartan Sprints; the fastest men and women averaging an hour or more and two hours or more for open heats.

With an Olympic Training Center only a few miles away and the state’s cities filled with some of the nations fittest* athletes, professional racers from around the nation will face a challenge in making this weekend’s podium, as locals have dominated in years past. To top off the appeal, the Navy Federal Credit Union is offering $2000 for first place, $1000 for second and $750 for third. Currently in first place for Spartan Points, April Dee of Peyton – who  served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and later the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson - has won the Saturday race both years and is returning to reclaim her title. Last year’s first and second place men on Saturday, Justin Jindra of Larkspur and Isaiah Vidal of Peyton are also returning.

Founders Pro Team Member Leslie St. Louis of Morrison, won last year on Sunday, will be competing again both days. Flying in for the race are Pro Teamers K.K Stewart-Paul, Amelia Boone (possibly), Corinne Kohlen, who took second on Sunday last year, Brakken Kraker, who won last week’s Indiana Sprint, Shawn Feiock, Matt Novakovich and Elliott Megquier, who will be looking for redemption after his flight to Colorado was delayed last year (he still managed to squeeze in the fastest open heat time on Saturday and take second Sunday).  Also taking their spots on the elite start line will be top ranked Casey Jindra, Jenny Harper, Tonya Stogsdill, Sue Luck, Chad Trammell, Brian Gowiski and Brian Hoover. Look out for the ever-present Stephen Sinek, aka, “The Painted Warrior” sporting the latest artistic creation made by his fantastically creative make-up and FX genius, Aeni Domme.

In addition to the elite and open races, there will be Junior Spartan Races and fun activities in the festival area, including Spartan Group Training Warm-ups and Tutorials, beginning at 7:30 am and Festival Challenges, starting around 10:00 am.

Finally, one of the most meaningful aspects of the Colorado Military Sprint is the additional opportunities for racers to honor current or retired military members.“I wear blue and run to remember the fallen, the fighting, and the families,” said Lindsey Leiker of Palmer Lake, who is racing Saturday. Her husband Jeremy is on active duty and is racing on Sunday.  Former Marine John Becker of Greeley will be running both days and said while he always appreciates those that have or are currently serving, this race will have special significance. “I will be running Saturday in Memory of an Army soldier that was KIA (killed in action) in Afghanistan and was stationed at Fort Carson.”

Spartan recently announced their charity partners, which fittingly includes Homes for our Troops.

Want to know more about this unique race? Colorado Obstacle Racers has a three-part series, including a Visitor’s Guide.

Colorado Crowned Fittest State - click here to read more.

Please be aware that parking on Fort Carson will be strictly organized by staff onsite. A such, please heed the following advice.

RACER & SPECTATOR PARKING – SATURDAY AND SUNDAY

Fort Carson Army Base

Fort Carson, CO 81240

HEAT TIMES THAT END IN :00 OR :30 (E.G., 10:00 OR 10:30): YOU MUST GO TO THE EAST LOT VIA FORT CARSON GATE 20 @ EXIT 132 OFF I-25

HEAT TIMES THAT END IN :15 OR :45 (E.G., 10:15 OR 10:45): YOU MUST GO TO THE WEST LOT VIA FORT CARSON GATE 5 @ HWY 115 AND TITUS BLVD (2 MILES SOUTH OF GATE 1)

PLEASE BRING THE CORRECT PARKING PASS FOR YOUR LOT (download above)

BE PREPARED TO SHOW “CURRENT” STATE, MILITARY OR D.O.D. IDENTIFICATION, AS WELL AS PROOF OF INSURANCE AND VEHICLE REGISTRATION

FOLLOW ALL SIGNS TO PARKING ONCE IN FORT CARSON

FORT CARSON IS A FEDERAL INSTALLATION. NO WEAPONS OR DRUGS ALLOWED.

THERE WILL BE A ONE-TIME SHUTTLE FEE OF $5 PER PERSON (CHILDREN 5 AND UNDER RIDE FREE)

Leslie St. Louis is a trail runner, obstacle racer and mom of two mud-loving girls in Morrison, Colorado. She is currently ranked 9th in the Spartan World Points Series and the founder of a local obstacle group, resource and blog, Colorado Obstacle Racers, http://coloradoobstacleracers.com/.

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Written by guest writer and Elite Pro Teamer Amelia Boone

For the third year, Spartan Race will be back at Haspin Acres in Laurel, Indiana, setting the stage for a Midwest showdown. Located an hour and half from Indianapolis and an hour and a half from Cincinnati, don’t let the remoteness of this race venue fool you – it’s anything but cows, pastures, and spotty cell phone service.

Three years ago, Indiana was the site of the first-ever Spartan “Founder’s Race” – a race stripped down to it’s bare essentials. While the race now has all the trappings of modern-day Sparta that we know and love, expect a test of grit true to its Founder’s Race origins. An off-road park when it’s not invaded by Spartans, Haspin Acres promises 4+ miles of muddy trails through woods and fields scattered with 15-20+ Spartan obstacles. And don’t call the Midwest no flat land – plenty of quick hill climbs and scrambles will keep you on your toes.

Amelia and Todd Sedlak discuss the course.

Indiana has proven to be one of the longest Sprints out there – last year, course director Todd Sedlak promised that no one would finish in under an hour, and only 12 athletes managed to prove him wrong. With a new race director this year, it remains to be seen whether this challenge will stand.

For the elite waves, both male and female winners from last year, Spartan pro team members Brakken Krakker and Amelia Boone, are expected to race. And if he doesn’t get lost in the Chicago airport finding deep dish pizza, Elliott Megquier will be joining them. On the women’s side, fresh off her two-podium weekend at Citi Field, Laura Messner will be looking to extend her streak. And as we’ve seen of late, expect plenty of elite challengers when you least expect it.

The good times never end in Indiana.

Also of note, Danny Rodriguez will be making his 2014 Spartan Race debut. You all remember Danny as the Chicagoan who packed up his life, moved to Vermont to live and train in Pittsfield with Joe, and lost over 100 pounds in the process – his transformation of his life and his health served as inspiration to thousands of Spartans worldwide. Last we checked in with Danny, he’s back in the Midwest, training hard, with his sights set on, among other things, the Chicago Marathon this fall. Welcome back to Sparta, Danny!

With team showings by the Chicago Spartans, Corn Fed, and even some rumors of the NE Spahtens making the road trip, expect a great turn-out and a festive atmosphere.

See you in Indiana!

Are you ready for your Spartan Race? Sign up now and we’ll see you at the finish line… 

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By Brakken Kraker

Spartan Race returns to Miami this weekend, ready to break in a new and exciting venue. Oleta River State Park will host it’s first iteration of the Super Spartan, featuring 8+ miles of hot, humid racing. For the first time, Miami Spartans will be able to enjoy Spartan Race staples such as the spear throw and fire jump. Unlike past years, the new locale will allow such obstacles on the premises! The course is rumored to traverse through a mix of wide dirt fire roads, beaches, deep canals, technical single track mountain bike trails, and lots of swamp. The forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-70s for the first heat, with possibility of low 80s by the time the final heat takes off. The humidity isn’t going to be taking it easy either, so the promise of frequent water crossings may be a life-saver for anyone descending from above the Mason-Dixon for this race. Three aid stations are to be provided, but this may be a race worth carrying extra water.

With two Spartan Races this weekend (Citi Field once again plays host to a Stadium Sprint), competitive racers have a decision to make as to which location they will be attending. As of press time, both the men’s and women’s fields are wide open. There is rumor that Shawn Feiock, Joey Patrolia, and Isaiah Vidal will be joining me at the starting line, but whether or not any other big names will throw their hat into the ring remains to be seen.

The women’s race has the potential for a big throwdown, as both April Dee and Amelia Boone may show up to resume one of the best rivalries in the sport today. Amelia is coming off a tough 2nd place finish via Spear Throw in Las Vegas, while April is looking for her first victory of the year. Which women will show up to challenge these two champions remains to be seen. There is always fast, homegrown talent in Florida, so it would surprise no one if some local speed materializes come race day.

As always, the can’t miss event of the weekend will be the Kids’ Race. With 6 different race times and both a 1-mile and ½-mile version, there is sure to be race perfect for the future Spartans in attendance. If you are 13 or under, don’t miss this chance to run a race with Spartan Pro Team members!

Make sure to show up extra early for the Miami event, as parking is located off-site. There will be a shuttle service ferrying racers to and from the course, but it is first-come first-serve. Allowing extra time for this will ensure a stress-free check-in process on the day of the race.

See you at the finish line!!

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By Brakken Kraker

Spartan Race returned to Hawaii this past weekend, arriving for the Aloha Stadium Sprint in Honolulu. As advertised, the weather was beautiful and the course was excellent! Navy Federal Credit Union continued to show their unbelievably generous support for our sport, providing a $7,500  purse for the top 3 men and women. They also had a wonderful tent set up with lots of free gifts and smiling employees! It was a great experience to have such a committed, supportive partner for Spartan Race. 

The big cash prizes, combined with sunny beaches, brought out some great competitors, both local and mainlanders. We even had some athletes from across the pond show up and compete. On the men’s side Brakken Kraker, Alexander Nicholas, Joey Patrolia, and Christopher Rutz made the trip, while Miguel Medina left his dungeon for a few hours to throw his hat into the ring.  Newcomer McCauley Kraker also showed up, ready to test his running and athleticism against the Spartan veterans on this exciting three mile course.  Several new obstacles made their appearance on this course, including a tire hoist and a bleacher squat series.

The relatively new but already universally despised football throw returned. Preliminary reports indicate that more than two people actually completed the obstacle this time. On the women’s side the pre-race favorites of KK Paul, Oahu’s own Lauren Ho and Karlee Whipple lived up to their hype, as all three finished within 21 seconds of each other. The battle for first came down to the final obstacle, where KK Paul edged out Lauren Ho for a two second victory. The men’s race stayed packed together for the first half of the race, until burpees ultimately broke it open. The Kraker brothers finished 1-2, with Joey Patrolia claiming the 3rd podium spot. 

We’d like to thank all of the sponsors, volunteers, and workers at Spartan Race Hawaii, as well as the people of Oahu! Every single person we met was so unbelievably kind and supportive. It made our trip and race fantastic. We can’t wait to head back for the next race!

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By Christopher Rutz

Palm trees, cool breezes, and sunshine are not what most of the rest of the country are experiencing this time of year. With winter storm after winter storm blasting the Midwest, East, and West coasts most people are bundled up tight trying to stay warm. It was a welcome change this weekend for those that traveled to Florida for the Spartan Tampa SpecOps Sprint, the first ever run in Tampa. While the weather was a little wetter than most were expecting it was still much warmer than the rest of the country, and made even more so by the sweat, mud, obstacles and fire participants would soon be subjected to as they descended on Raymond James Stadium. 

The Tampa Special Ops Stadium Sprint race took place this past Saturday in beautifully tropical Florida. While most of the country was experiencing more snow and cold temperatures Florida’s Spartans, and many snowbird Spartans, were out in force to take on the course. Registration topped 6000 racers and Raymond James Stadium was transformed from a Buccaneer Den to Spartan battle ground. Unique obstacles in this Special Ops race included and ammo can farmers carry, a football toss into a barrel, a sand barbed wire crawl the length of the field, and a cammo net crawl. There was also a “gamble” in this race, which forces the racers to choose harder and shorter or longer and faster course options.  In addition, finishers were awarded a unique Special Ops finishers medal.

The mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn, was in attendance to help kick off the day along with many distinguished military service men from MacDill Air Force Base.  The day started out with the Elite heats under tropical winds and a quick rain shower.  The men’s race included six members of the Spartan Race Pro Team, Hunter McIntyre, Brakken Kraker, Elliott Megquier, Christopher Rutz, David Magida and Alexander Nicholas. Other top competitors included Isaiah Vidal, Brandon Dupont and Dennis Smith. Due to some misdirection on the course the men’s field split with some taking alternate courses to finish the race. Fortunately there was timing mat at the point of the misdirection so mid race results can be used for scoring. At this point in the race Brakken, Hunter and Isaiah were in the top three spots. When the elite men finished up their heat and it was realized that many did different routes it was decided to run again for the prize money. So with that 30 or so of the top Elite racers went back up in the Stadium to complete the course from the misstep. In the end the top placing went to Isaiah, followed by Hunter and then Brakken.

On the women’s side, they were able to stay on course and ran the race as intended. First place went to Cassidy Watton, followed by Spartan Pro Ameila Boone and then Kailee Whipple.  $7,000 in Prize money was awarded to the Top 3 men and women courtesy of Navy Federal Credit Union.

After the elite heats concluded the open waves took to the course. The weather was cool, for Florida, with sunshine and a breeze for most of the day. This was the first Spartan Race in Tampa and first one  ever run in a football stadium. For those thinking they would stay dry, they were wrong.  Spartan took advantage of the outside and created rolling mud. The challenge intensified with the Herculean Hoist, Atlas Carry (a concrete ball – 100lbs for men and 60lbs for women – carried a distance, a required 5 burpees, and then carried back), an inverted wall climb, an ammunition box carry, the ever-daunting spear throw (a challenge that dished out burpee penalties for many throughout the day), and the dreaded rope climb. Finally, with a triumphant leap over fire, racers victoriously crossed the finish line to receive their one-of-a-kind Special Ops medal and Spartan Sprint trifecta piece.

Not only were adults able to claim their Spartan victory, but a ½ and full mile kids race was also available for children aged 4 through 13. Small Spartans were sent out at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm, giving them the opportunity to take on a course designed just for them, and to earn a medal all their own.

While we are sure you are more than a little jealous of your fellow Spartans run in the (kind of) sunny state of Florida don’t worry. To join in on the next race go to spartanrace.com and sign up for a race in your area (or someplace warmer than your area…it’s your choice).

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When I was anxiously preparing for the start of the World Championships I saw a glimpse of some of the announced runners that would be attending the event. I saw at least 10 athletes that had running times that were so superior to mine, I felt like a JV high school runner at best. I mentioned this to a mentor and friend of mine, Chris Clifford and he said, “remember Spartan Racing is a different beast.” Chris said, “if you had to spend 5 minutes in a boxing ring with one of these 120 lb, 14-minute 5K guys, and then race the Spartan event who do you think would win?”

As I stood on one of the 15-round Spartan stickers, waiting for the start of the 7 AM elite Fenway Park Spartan Sprint, with less than a minute to go Chris’s words came to my mind. I glanced to my right and looked at the 205 pound Alexander Nicholas, then in front at the 200 pound Hunter McIntyre and then I noticed there were also the runners with the sub-140 pound frames and thought the only way Spartan Races attract all of us is because they are battles, not races.  I smirked a small smile as I pictured Alexander Nicholas, with his baggie Moi Thai shorts from his Elite Fitness Club in a MMA ring with Hobie Call and thought, Spartan has created an event where heart, strength, agility, speed, endurance – everything – is needed to win.  

Fenway’s start was a battle; athletes were greeted by an immediate bottleneck and a serious urgency to be the first to the front if they had any desire of being a contender. Grasping the handrail and whipping myself around the turns of the ramp, climbing furiously, I found myself urging to be in first but ebbing in and out of the top 5. As soon as we reached about 300 feet of vertical climbing we quickly grabbed the dual 5 gallon jugs and were performing the farmer’s carry down stairs that brought us back down the vertical only to carry the 60 pounds of water right back up. Only 2 minutes into this race I found my lungs being seared by the crisp, morning air.

After ascending over and through the bungee cords I found myself in the company of Hunter McIntyre and Brakken Kraker. We had a fairly good gap as we entered the rowing machines. I had heard the rowing machines were a 500 meter row in less than two minutes with a pre-programmed message on the screen: less than 2 minutes, “AROO!” more than 2 minutes “Screw You!” Actually, the message said, “30 burpees” but screw you and 30 burpees is quite similar if you’ve ever done a Spartan Race.

I finished the row just in front of Hunter but felt a little timid leading through the ups and downs and lefts and rights through the stadium seating rows.  I felt it better strategy to follow then to lead.  As we continued through obstacles I felt like an MMA fighter exchanging blows as we went count-for-count through the heavy rope, slam balls and hand-release pushups. I found myself on the defensive as Hunter made his move and Brakken made his.  

With a mere 7 minutes remaining in a short 25-minute sprint, I helplessly watched as Hunter and Brakken dropped me through the sandbag carry and would proceed to finish in yet another (Remember Miller Park) finish-line sprint. As I went over the final set of 5-foot walls, followed by the 8-foot wall I saw out of my peripheral on the giant Fenway Screen, Hunter and Brakken going neck and neck on the final box jumps. Hunter would once again beat Brakken by less than a second.

I crossed the finish line and again reflected on being a fighter in a battle and pushing myself beyond my limits. Third place didn’t feel like a victory, it felt more like being on the ropes and not punching back when the time was necessary. However, once again I walk away from my early career as a Spartan Racer yearning for the next battle and planning how I will be delivering the blows and beating the beasts that this sport has given me.

The Bear


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