By guest blogger Alec Blenis

What a weekend! The 2013 South Carolina Beast pushed athletes to their limits with 12+ miles of rugged trails, frigid temperatures, and tough obstacles. Despite these challenges, top male finishers still managed to get through the course in under 2 hours with the women not far behind. There were great performances all around. 

On the men’s side, the race started with dozens of racers looking to make a statement during the relatively easy first mile, but it didn’t take long for front-runners to emerge. By mile 2, Hunter McIntyre, Isaiah Vidal, Alec Blenis, Matthew Taverner, and Elliott Megquier comprised the top 5. The first few miles of the race featured lots of ups and downs, technical footing, and extended running sections; the majority of the challenging obstacles were found on the second half of the course. Returning to the festival area around mile 5, Hunter led Alec by a minute, but failed the traverse wall with frozen hands; both made the spear throw and other festival area obstacles. Alec briefly gained the lead and would run neck and neck with Hunter for 6 more miles. Meanwhile, Isaiah and Matthew were battling for 3rd.

Although they began the obstacle together, Hunter gained an insurmountable lead on Alec during the mile 11 bucket carry and would win by a 1.5 minute margin. While Alec struggled with the bucket, Isaiah and Matthew were gaining quickly from behind. Always excellent at the strength obstacles, Isaiah made a push for 3rd at the bucket carry and maintained this position through the end of the race. The top 5 finishers in order were Hunter, Alec*, Isaiah, Matthew, and Elliott.

In the ladies Elites, the starting grid was bustling with faces that made it hard to pick a favorite. Melinda Branch and Jolene Wilkinson, a top twenty finisher in Vermont, were also ready to go on the attack. In the end, it was April Luu, fresh from a 2nd place in Mexico, who announced her return in emphatic style, coming in a full 10 minutes ahead of the pack. Rose-Marie Jarry fought hard to take second place with Jolene Wilkinson taking the last place on the podium.

Jamie Cooper and Angela Kalal kept up the pressure on the top of the points rankings – now in 6th and 8th place respectively – with the evergreen Andi Hardy still sat in second place just behind Laura Messner.

With competition fiercer than ever in the female Elite division, 2014 will be arguably the tightest and most hotly contested year for the Spartan Race ladies.

As everyone now looks towards Fenway – the last stadium series of 2013 – who will see victory there?

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On March 23rd and 24th Reebok Spartan Race headed to North Carolina for a Sprint and it was a chilly weekend with rainy and cold temps Saturday and Sunday but that didn’t keep it from being one of the most competitive men’s event we’ve had in 2013!

For the men’s elite athletes it was a tight race. Check out these times – less than 2 minute between top 5 finishers!
Brakken Kraker (38:28.9)
David Magida (39:51.9)
Alec Blenis (40:15.5)
Elliott Megquier (43:07.0)
Stevven Anderson (44:24.6)

The women’s finish saw first and second-place separated by mere seconds!  It was an exciting race from start to finish!

Josh Fortenberry

Ella Kociuba (50:59.3)
Hannah Orders (51:11.7)
Elizabeth Law (54:27.8)
Laura Wyker (55:13.6)
Wendy McIntosh Norvell (56:50.6)

For the rest of the results, click HERE.

The cold weather was definitely a big story this weekend, but it not short of some inspirational moments. Joshua Swink ran the Spartan to raise money for Wounded Wear a total of four times! Josh Fortenberry, finished the North Carolina event in 3 hours and while using crutches because his legs don’t work like they used to. He’s had MS for 5 years.

We had some impressive women like Kristina Beville – Navy SEAL wife who finished her first Spartan Race seven and a half months pregnant along with other members of SEAL team FRG (family readiness group). They will be back for Leesburg!

We’d like to thank our incredible medical team who kept our racers safe and warm despite the unseasonably cold temps. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Want to see more photos?  Check out our FB page for albums from the weekend.

Did you finish the Sprint and feel ready for a Reebok Super Spartan?  We’ll be in Leesburg in August.  Sign up today!

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by Jason Rita

CODY MOAT IS THE REAL DEAL:  If anyone had any doubts at all about Cody Moat being an absolute Spartan assassin, an obstacle course killer, a mud race monster, his performance at the Spartan South Carolina Beast on Saturday not only laid those doubts to rest, it said last rites over them, sent them condolences and then lit them aflame in an effigy of efficiency, endurance and excellence.

The only asterisk that could cloud Cody’s dominance was the absence from the start line of a certain Mr. Hobie Call, the winningest Spartan obstacle racer over the last 2 years.  Billed as the biggest showdown since Mohammad Ali and Joe Frazier’s “Thrilla in Manila,” the tiebreaker race in SC between the two Spartan heavyweights (combined weight of Hobie and Cody is the same as one boxing heavyweight) did not materialize as disappointed fans learned that Hobie was forced to scratch on the morning of the race due to the same hamstring injury which had derailed his quest to win back-to-back Spartan Championships three weeks ago.  Hamstrung by his hamstring in the late stages of the Killington Beast, Hobie had to settle for 2nd place that day behind Cody whom he had beaten at the Utah Beast race in June.  Now Hobie’s complete 2012 campaign lies in doubt as it is open question whether he will be ready to mount a comeback and challenge Cody in the two remaining Beast races, Sacramento and Texas, to keep at or near the top of the Spartan Point Series competition.

Racers arrived on a chilly Saturday morning happy to find a course devoid of dramatic ski mountains but if they felt relief or any sense of security, then they didn’t know Spartan Race Director Mike Morris and Course Designer Rusell Cohen who took full advantage of Carolina Adventure World’s technical terrain to create a course full of intense inclines and boggy bushwacks. With many racers still recovering from the Killington Beast beat-down three weeks ago, it was hard going from the start.

Despite the tough course, Cody outclassed a strong field of Spartans including Brakken Kraker, Junyong Pak, LeEarl Rugland, Chris Rutz and Alec Blenis, leading from the start and finishing in 1:48, more than 10 minutes ahead of Brakken, taking home the first prize of $1,500 generously offered by sponsor Navy Federal Credit Union. Like Cody, Brakken used his strong running background as a collegiate athlete to place 2nd and win $750 thanks to NFCU.  The battle for the third podium spot provided one of the closest Spartan race finishes in memory, as Alec Blenis edged out Junyong Pak by a mere 16 seconds.  Junyong had held a lead over Alec and LeEarl Rugland for the whole race, and only had to hit his spearthrow to claim third place.  But when his spear attempt sailed just wide, it was 30 burpees, and Alec caught up to him at Burpee number 27.  They raced onto the slick wall where Alec couldn’t find traction and it looked like Junyong might reclaim the lead, but finally Alec managed to get up and over the top of the slippery wall and clear the Gladiator pummeling to exact a small measure of revenge and redemption after his Vermont debacle, as well as pocket $250.

Cody will next line up at the USA Trail Championship race in Moab, Utah, on November 3rd, and every Spartan wishes him every success there.  AROO AROO AROO

WHO SAYS EXPERIENCE MATTERS?  Not Hannah Orders, the 22 year old Appalachian State collegiate cross-country runner who came in to the South Carolina with no prior Spartan races on her resume.  “It was my first Spartan Race, and now I’m addicted.”  Winning does have that ability to flood the serotonin pathways, but fortunately for Hannah, being addicted to Spartan Races is a healthy type of addiction, and we approve, although the rest of the competitive Spartan women might not.  Team Flag Nor Fail’s Ella Kociuba had her sights set on challenging for first place as both Claude Godbout and Amelia Boone, the 1st and 2nd place Vermont Champions, were absent.  While she could never get close to Hannah’s superior running pedigree, Ella’s strong 2nd place finish ahead of 3rd place Melinda Branch now has her well placed to challenge for the 2012 Points Crown with only two more Beast races left on the 2012 season.  The top three women also took home cash prizes courtesy of Navy Federal Credit Union of $1,500, $750 and $250 respectively, as well as Spartan museum helmets and swords provided by Atlanta Cutlery, also presented to the top three male finishers.  Spartan thanks the continued support of NFCU and Atlanta Cutlery to make the awards possible for the elite wave winners.


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by Carrie Adams

LTJG Jason Redman knew he’d been hit, how many times he wasn’t sure, but two of his Teammates were also wounded. They were still engaging Al Quaeda fighters in an intense firefight outside Fallujah, Iraq taking heavy machine gun and small arms fire.  The Mobility Force and Assault Force Commander Redman could think only of getting his team out alive.  “I called out to God to give me strength.” Redman recalls.   Responsible for over 40 Direct Action missions throughout western Iraq, he was not new to the dangers and as he continued to take rounds to his body armor, weapon, helmet and Night Vision Goggles, he still led his team to win the fight without losing a member of his team.  That was September 13, 2007.

Redman joined the Navy in September of 1992 and had escalated up the ranks, starting as an Intelligence Specialist before graduating with BUD/S class 202 in December of 1995.  He balanced his time with deployments to South America working in Counter Drug Missions and in 2000 became a SEAL instructor for Marksmanship, Reconnaissance and Surveillance operations for his SEAL Team’s Basic Land Warfare training block.  He continued to excel in the Navy and was ultimately commissioned in May 2004 as a Navy SEAL officer.

All this led up to his assignment as an Assistant Platoon Commander and the deployment to Afghanistan in July of 2005.  The Task Unit he was injured with was directly credited with capturing over 124 Al Qaeda and Anti-Coalition fighters and killing thirteen Al Qaeda fighters.  Unfortunately for Redman, he was headed home to Bethesda due to the severity of his injuries he sustained during that September firefight .  All told, he was shot twice in the arm, once in the face and would, “Spend four years getting myself put back together again.”

Tenacious throughout his recovery, he demanded no special attention or pity for his wounds, focusing on his love of the job and country that led to his injuries.  In fact, he was fiercely proud of the scars and wounds he earned on the battlefield knowing the full risks and dangers are part of the job.  Redman committed himself to an optimistic and full recovery and showed the staff, his family and friends that despite 34 surgeries and painful treatments, he was proud of what had brought him there.  As he recovered, it was obvious he needed modifications to clothing and he realized that it was something he wanted to not only create but he wanted to promote awareness around the warriors themselves in the process.  Encourage pride and motivate those who were injured and honor those were fallen.   To that end, he began Wounded Wear three years ago, a Non-Profit organization whose mission is to raise the national awareness of the sacrifice of wounded warriors, their families, and the families of fallen service members.

According to their website, “In support of this mission Wounded Wear advocates on behalf anf facilitates opportunities for those who have sacrificed so much, as well as providing free fashionable clothing kits and modifications to wounded warriors that empower them to rediscover the hero within.”

Redman states, “I don’t know why I was spared and others didn’t.  But it made me say I have to make the most of this.”  Emboldened by his own survival and recovery and the growth of Wounded Wear, Redman took his mission a step further in the recent creation of Team Wounded Wear.  Team Wounded Wear is comprised of physically fit, adventure racers.  They are active and former military, wounded warriors, and patriots who are looking to endure some of the country’s most challenging adventure races, marathons, and Fitness challenges, and do all of it wearing full combat equipment while carrying a 185 pound downed man.

Team Wounded Wear

Led by James Ogden who ran Spartan’s Carolina’s Spartan Sprint earlier this year six times in support of Wounded Wear, you may remember his story told HERE, they are taking on the Carolina’s Spartan Beast for the first time, leaving the start line at 10:50 AM.  Ogden has beena supporter of Wounded Wear and a fan of Jay’s since he met him in 2002 at Old Dominion University under the Navy ROTC program.

Says Ogden, “After the dust settled from the Carolina event, I wanted to do something bigger but I wanted to incorporate some of my closest veteran athletes.  Originally, we were just going to do one event; this year’s Carolina Spartan Beast.  But since it’s conception, it has grown into what will now be a formalized team that will be traveling all over the country, motivating and inspiring wounded warriors, the American’s they fought for and their communities, and ultimately ‘Helping Warriors rediscover the Hero within.”

We look forward to seeing them on race day!  Learn more about Wounded Wear and their mission by watching this video HERE.

How can YOU support Wounded Wear?

Anyone can purchase Wounded Wear clothing – All proceeds from clothing sales go back to support their mission.  Wounded Wear clothing is Clothing for Patriots.  It symbolizes the Sacrifice that built this nation and the costs that our veterans have to endure, both physical and mental, once they come home.  Additionally, Donations are always accepted.  They can be made on Wounded Wear’s website.

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by Carrie Adams

527287_1987524544080_1722301684_952010_968456532_nSpartans give generously. 

James Ogden went to the Carolinas on a mission.  He went to loop the course and raise money for Wounded Wear, ending in a triumphant finale with weighted vest, full ruck, and elevation mask.  We told you about this Spartan with a Cause in an earlier blog post

Ogden earned six medals for his efforts on that day and the respect of many of his fellow Spartan racers and one even felt compelled to show Ogden how much his journey meant to her. 

Ogden posted the following message to his FB wall,  “If you would like to see a fully522466_2036265402571_1722301684_971378_1647898971_n grown man and combat hardened Marine veteran, cry his eyeballs out like an elated five year-old girl, please do the following:
1.) Send a Spartan Helmet to him; one that is won for a first place finish during a Spartan Race event.
2.) Include a note that states the following:
“You deserve this more than I do. Thank you for being such an inspiration. Best wishes on your continued success. Until the next Spartan Race… Aroo!!!
Kindest Regards,
Amanda Czapla

Czapla is the female champion from both the Carolinas and the Miami events in 2012.  In a gesture of respect for Ogden’s accomplishment she mailed him her first place helmet.  A truly remarkable gift from a truly remarkable woman.

She’s quickly made a name for herself as a athlete in the Spartan circuit balancing strength and speed and she’s gone even further making a name for herself as a gracious and humble human being.  We’ll have much more on this rad Spartan chick in upcoming posts, she’s one to watch and she’s one to follow

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