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!

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Look around any Spartan Race and you’ll often see groups that run together, wearing the same shirts and smiling for any nearby camera. They are there to not only beat the course, but to have a good time with their friends. Ranging in size from anything as little as 2 people to colossal numbers of into the hundreds, teams are now every bit a part of Spartan Race as the rope climbs and barbed wire crawls.

Dominating the West coast is The Weeple Army. Originating in Southern California, but now having “chapters” not only across the states, but worldwide as well, the familiar sight of swathes of green and black can be seen at many races. Boasting members that include Death Racers, Marathon runners and even Spartan Race staff, it’s a false assumption that they are an elite group of runners. All abilities – and indeed disabilities – are welcomed.

Also based in California are Team SISU, headed by Daren De Heras, regular Spartan Death racer and co-organizer of endurance events. Due to the appeal of the intense ferocity of the boot camps and events they put on, SISU has also expanded to the east coast, Midwest and now Texas. Team SISU teaches and coaches the team ethic whilst beasting trails and training hard.

“Team SISU was born a few years ago after my first Spartan Death Race. A few people searched me out to help them train for their first Death Race. When we started this it was long all day events meant to take people to their limits and beyond. It quickly grew as Spartan Races grew and we changed what SISU is. We have now merged with the Weeple Army and are the largest OCR team in the Nation. We have chapters on the West Coast, East Coast, Texas, and Midwest. We host Spartan Training events year long and modify every event so that all athletes of all levels can participate.”

Hailing out of Indiana, the might of the Cornfed Spartans, led by Jonathan Nolan, are instantly recognizable by virtue of their “wrap”-style shirts with the Spartan chewing on a corncob. Boasting over 1500 members, Cornfed members are rarely alone, something very useful as founder Jonathan Nolan explains, “Corn Fed uses the term “family” to describe our team. We use that because when one of us is down, the others pick him/her up, when one of us needs help, others are there, and that is what family does. No matter what, despite anything going on around us, we are there to help each other, whether they are teammates or not, and that is what makes us the Corn Fed Spartans. Next time you’re at a Spartan Race, yell out Corn Fed and see what happens!”

Out of Texas, the Lone Star Spartans follow a similar vein, as member Christopher Rayne explains, “Lone Star Spartans is a Texas based racing team dedicated to helping its members and others live an active lifestyle through the sports OCR, road racing, triathlons, and cycling. We strive to be team for people of all fitness levels that wish to challenge their mental fortitude and shatter their physical limitations. Currently we are at just over 400 strong and growing each day. One of the ways that we help new and current members get to know each other is that Paul Almanza (founder) is constantly looking for local races to join.”

In Canada, The Canadian Mudd Queens – with their team almost 300 strong – are an all-female group dedicated to staying together and helping one another. Pamela Kirk of the CMQ explains, “We just celebrated our first birthday in August. We came together as a group of about 4 online and later met in person. We’ve grown by word of mouth and indoctrinating our friends. We meet like-minded women at races and invite them to drink the kool aid. I believe my daughter is the youngest member [15] that runs adult Spartans and other OCRs. Our oldest member is in her 50s. We come from all walks and stations. No other joining criteria other than female.”

Hailing from Florida, self-confessed “goofy Asian dude”, JayTea Tran, a familiar face with the Spartan Race Street Team community, is a co-founder of Azn Armour which now has close to 500 members. “With our team being represented at most, if not all Spartan Races, it really brings home the close-knit community that we have formed. Our team runs together and we don’t leave any team member behind”, he explains. He continues, “with Azn Armour having teamed up with another east coast team, MudRunFun, it now means that the family is so large that no one person will ever have to run alone. We have a team page where we discuss training, diet, sport clothing among other things. We motivate each other by posting our daily workouts and training strategies.”

But these are just a few examples and barely scratch the surface of the multitude of teams out there. New England Spahtens, Team Braveheart, Chicago Spartans, WVVA Spartans, Team Ugly Fitness, Team Red White and Blue, Boot Camp Rhino, Warrior State Of Mind, Team Burgh all are familiar names across the country and are often seen destroying courses as a unit.

One team that stands out arguable more than any other is Operation Enduring Warrior. Made up of military veterans offering support to the nations wounded heroes, their trademark masks worn by each member signifies the struggles each military member goes through and are worn in a show of solidarity. Their member Todd Love’s picture now being an iconic shot of everything that not only they, but what all teams and Spartan Race stands for; pushing through adversity.

So, get yourself a group of friends, start a website or group page and see where it leads you! Spartan teams stick together!

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