One thing we see again and again at Spartan Race is people failing the Traverse Wall. In this edition of “How To”, Corinne Kohlen guides us through the basic skills and shows us how, as an elite racer, she prefers to see off this obstacle with the minimum of fuss. 

In addition to this, we would also advise those that have difficulty with the Traverse Wall to experiment with Bouldering and indoor rock climbing. This sport generates great coordination and improves strength in the muscles needed for this obstacle, as well as improving strength in grip.

With practice, you need never do burpees at this obstacle again.

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by Corinne Kohlen, Spartan Pro Team

Jamie Gold

Chiropractor, Former Military Intelligence, Neuroscientist, Pharmacist, Computer Scientist, Microbiologist, Doctor of Dental Surgery, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Aerospace Engineer, Judge, Nurse, Doctor in Organizational Leadership, Environmental Scientist, Immunologist, Dietitian, Doctor of Education, MBA – what do these professions have in common?

Impressive – yes, skilled – yes, requiring high levels of focus and dedication – yes, admirable -yes, held by members of our Spartan Chicked community – YES!

In case it wasn’t obvious Spartan Woman are smart woman! Many not only hold advanced degrees and play important roles in society but balance motherhood and training on a daily basis. Some are working on second and third degrees and adding credentials behind their names including JD, RN, PhD, MD, MBA, DC, BA, MA, EdD. The list goes on and on. In addition to University degrees many Spartan woman have found success founding their own businesses, authoring books, designing homes, cooking, and developing new technology.

This is look at just a few of our Spartan Smarties:
Jamie Gold – Certified Kitchen Designer, Author ( MA Communication management.
Here is Jamie in her own words: ” I love being able to share my passion with clients, readers and seminar attendees alike. I also love the flexibility of keeping my own schedule, letting me start and end most work days with a physical outlet. I have learned that breaking the desk chair to dining chair to couch with exercise is essential for my health and sanity!”
Jamie is looking forward to running her first Spartan Sprint in January. “I’ve never been “athletic” but got in shape in my late 40s/early 50s and am now regularly active.” Her blog post: shows her journey of loosing 100 pounds:

Becky Mang – Senior Mechanical Engineer – AMEC – the international engineering and project management company.

Becky Mang

Becky enjoys working in a field where everyday brings unique challenges and obstacles. In her own words: “Every day I learn something new (which I love) and on really good days I’m able to teach someone else something new! Being a female in a male dominated field has been difficult at times, but it has made me stronger and more confident. I enjoy mentoring the next generation of female (and male) engineers, helping them meet their career goals. One of the most interesting things I have seen is the inside of an underground salt mine almost 1,000 meters below surface.”

Becky just completed her first Spartan Race at the Montana Spartan Sprint and is hooked! She has already signed up for the Calgary Sprint and the Red Deer Super this year. Next time your at a Spartan Race look for some of these ladies, admire their athleticism, and know that they are not only strong but smart! AROO!!

Want to join the ranks of the Spartan Chicks?  Join our network HERE.  No boys allowed!

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Corinne Kohlen

by Corinne Kohlen, Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician
Spartan Pro Team Member

The American Medical Association (AMA) voted Tuesday, June 18, to classify obesity as a disease. This decision has come after much controversy and years of debate.

Currently obesity is defined by using Body Mass Index or BMI. BMI is a ratio of one’s weight to height and for most people* correlates with their amount of body fat. A BMI of 18.5 -24.9 is classified as “normal weight” while a BMI above 30 is classified as obese. It is estimated that 1 in 3 Americans has a BMI over 30. That translates to 78 million adults and 12 million children who are obese, and now according to the AMA have a “disease”.

The vote was against the recommendations of the Counsel of Science and Public Health who believes BMI as a measure of obesity is flawed. They feel that a BMI of 30 is a very arbitrary threshold; People with a BMI of 30 can be very healthy and muscular while many people at a “normal” BMI may have multiple metabolic issues. There is also concern that once diagnosed with a “disease” people may become overly reliant on medication and surgery as a solution to obesity and neglect to focus on lifestyle and behavioral changes.
The AMA was joined by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American College of Cardiology to classify obesity as a disease. Supporters of the vote site multiple reasons for their decision. They believe classifying obesity as a disease will reduce the stigma associated with the condition and make it easier for physicians and patients to talk about. It may also help get the attention of insurers and researchers and increase reimbursement and availability of counseling, treatments, surgery, prevention, and drugs to treat obesity.

The AMA denies that obesity is simply the result of overeating and under activity. “The suggestion that obesity is not a disease but rather a consequence of a chosen lifestyle exemplified by overeating and/or inactivity is equivalent to suggestion that lung cancer is not a disease because it was brought about by individual choice to smoke cigarettes.”

As one can imagine this decision and statement has created much controversy. The AMA feels this decision will only better the treatment and care of the obese, and will open up opportunities to more people for care. Currently Medicare does not pay for obesity related drugs, or dietitian counseling regarding obesity.

For many it is difficult to not blame diet and lifestyle for the rise in obesity. With portions being supersized, foods packed with saturated fat, processed sugars, and loaded in calories, and people becoming more and more sedentary it seems a logical correlation. With the addition of just 500 calories a day one will gain a pound a week. For some these calories “sneak” in with their morning blended coffee drink, with their side of fries or potato chips, or with their soda or sweet tea.

On the flipside of things obesity can be prevented and even reversed by focusing on portion control, appropriate daily calories, and an active lifestyle. It seems almost too simple but daily exercise and mindful eating can help maintain healthy body weight and prevent obesity.

What do you think? Should obesity be classified as a disease? Will classifying obesity as a disease help or hurt in our fight against obesity?

Time for you to get fit?  Sign up for our FREE Food of the Day (FOD) to help you get started.

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[Editor's Note] Ang Reynolds is a regular on the Spartan Race scene.  An active member of the Spartan 300 group, she’s a to points leader and she’s spent the year traveling the country racing Spartan events and making a name for herself as a competitor in the growing OCR sport.  The single mother of three is also a contributing writer for the blog Barb Wire 4 Breakfast.  Here she shares her year in review.  A year of racing, competing, and finding the family she never knew she had.

Saying Goodbye to 2012

by Ang Reynolds

It is tough to summarize the end of my racing season. With three races in four weeks, my weekends have been packed with the air of Sparta. The Sac Beast was cold and rainy with relentless wind, pitted mud, and straw thick under foot. My hometown race, the Malibu Sprint, was rainy as well. When a typically dry Southern California is drenched with rain for days prior to the race, a muddy course is easily delivered. The tough hills in Calamigos Ranch were slick and unforgiving as I trudged through two more cold wet days of racing. Four days later I boarded a flight to Texas to be reunited with many friends I had not seen since my wayward weekend in Killington, Vermont.

As we stood at the starting line on Saturday morning, facing a course that Mike promised would deliver Spartan’s best; I looked at the faces that surrounded me. A little over a year ago I ran my first Spartan race. A little over a year ago all of these people were strangers to me. Now, as I looked to the Spartans on my left, and the Spartans on my right, we ran into our battle united as a team.

I remembered the first time I spoke with Andi Hardy on the phone, inviting her to spend the weekend with my family in Utah for the Beast. I remembered the first time I met Corinne Kohlen, volunteering at the Spartan Super in Arizona.

I looked further to each side and saw more familiar faces. These were the people that were my greatest competitors. The people that I wanted to beat to the finish line at the end of the day, but also the people that I shared my days and nights with. We had stayed out many a night, and slept late into the morning. We had jumped in lakes, stood around fires, and huddled together in the pouring rain to warm our bodies. We had helped each other limp across the finish and wipe the blood off our broken and bruised bodies. We shared some of the roughest times in our lives and but also in each other’s greatest joys.  

After less than a year I was innately connected to each and every one of these individuals in some way, having shared so much more than just a race. We had not only raced together, but to also encouraged each other along the way, through our strong moments, and at our worst. The racers that stood beside me were my family, and for the last time racing in 2012, I was reminded how lucky I was to be a part of the Spartan community. I have gained not only everlasting friendships, but also a family that runs thicker than blood; a family that will continue to love and support me through so much more than just racing.

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by Jason Rita

Should an Armageddon or Apocalypse ever threaten the human race, I am expecting that the Spartan Women survive and lead us back from oblivion.

The Spartan Race at Blue Mountain Pennsylvania in July was billed as a marquee match up of the best female Spartans, the sport’s top obstacle racers, battling it out for glory and cash, at one of the toughest Spartan courses on the circuit.  The poster proclaimed: “We Like Our Women Fast,” and the Spartan chicks proved it that day.    But at Killington, fast definitely won’t be enough to claim the 2012 Spartan Championship and the prize money on offer.   The toughest of all Spartan courses will demand a combination of speed, agility, strength, endurance, mental toughness and acuity – all these qualities and more will be required to be crowned as Queen of Sparta.

Jenny Tobin

At the PA race, former pro Xterra and Ironman triathlete Jenny Tobin came in unbeaten, fresh off a close win at the Pacific NW Spartan Sprint Race, and carrying the expectations that went with her clear victory at last year’s Spartan 2011 Championship in Texas.   But Canadian national team biathlete and Olympic hopeful Claude Godbout took 1st place.  (What is it about Canadian biathletes anyway? Maybe it’s the Timbits?)  Make no mistake; this loss motivated the take-no-prisoners Jenny to refocus her training in the mountains near her home in Boise, Idaho, in a calculated and determined mission to reclaim her title at Killington.    Both Jenny and Claude finished in the Top 10 overall in PA proving that Spartan women racers can challenge their male counterparts.   Jenny’s professional career in Xterra and Ironman proved that she is a money player, and she really likes collecting checks.    She has declared that she is aiming for 1st place in both the Beast and UltraBeast distances.


Claude Godbout would be expected to challenge Jenny for pre-race favorite, but like her compatriot and fellow national biathlete

Claude Godbout

Marc-Andre Bedard, Claude (and just like Marco, coming fresh off a win at Spartan Slovakia) is not racing Killington this weekend, removing one of Jenny’s biggest obstacles to a back-to-back Championship repeat, but the multisport veteran will still face strong challenges from an amazing group of racers.

Jacklyn Rust

Included in that group is the woman who finished second to Jenny at the Texas Super Championship Race last December, Jaclyn Rust. An All-Conference collegiate runner, Jackie was slowed down in Texas because she had to do 150 burpees.  Jackie decided on her strategy last year to train secretly and Killington will be her only Spartan Race since then, and she is going all-in to pull off an upset.

Ella Ann Kociuba

Another Texas challenger is the 19-year-old phenom Ella Ann Kociuba.  Ella’s athletic talent was obvious when she debuted in the Spartan Texas 2011 race clocking a time faster than champion Jenny Tobin in Glen Rose but in an open heat, not eligible for the cash prize.  For all her promise, Ella has had to show more grit than grins as she has battled injury after injury.  Sadly it is a common theme for Ella.  We featured Ella’s battle back from a debilitating horseback riding injury as a teenager to become a true Spartan competitor.   But Ella had to pull out of the 2012 Spartan Death Race in June with a leg injury, and when she recovered to race in Pennsylvania, another injury derailed her quest when she crashed on the trail soon after the race started breaking her shin open on her already injured leg.  Despite the pain, and with blood gushing from her wound she battled on to finish fifth, surrounded by some of the same women who came to compete against her.  Ella has warned she is fully recovered, and now sponsored by Flag Nor Fail clothing, she is determined to show the doubters that the only thing between her and the podium is a race without catastrophe.  Fair warning to Ella and all other racers:  that may not be possible in Killington.

Amanda Czapa

Another young-gun who hails originally from Texas, Amanda Czapla has in fact won more races in the USA 2012 than any other Spartan woman: first-place in Miami, Carolinas and Texas, so she could establish herself as the best female obstacle racer in the world with a win in Killington.  But she admits that she doesn’t know how to swim, in which case some of the Killington obstacles might prove more daunting and distressing than otherwise.  Amanda is one of the strongest runners in the field, but the now resident of Florida could be undone by the mountainous course – not a lot of hills to train on in the Sunshine State.  We hope she was able to find a tall office building with a staircase to the roof!


No such dilemma for Margaret Schlachter of  Margaret has home field advantage, as

Margaret Schlachter

she is a Killington local, and she showed her endurance bona fides with a third place Beast finish in 2011.  Margaret has dedicated herself unlike many others to the sport of obstacle racing, and her ultra-distance training for this year’s Death Race will mean that she will be undaunted by the Killington distance and terrain.   One of the most popular obstacle racers in the fastest-growing sport in the world, Margaret has taken a leading role in the transformation of Chris Davis as he also toes the line at Killington in his quest.  We acknowledge Margaret’s dedication to another Spartan athlete.  The Spartan Code tells us that a Spartan gives generously, and Margaret demonstrates that quality like no other.

Rose-Marie Jarry

The only racer with more wins than Amanda Czapla is Canadian Rose-Marie Jarry, who has an amazing four wins in 2012, three north of the border capped off with an impressive showing at the recent Tri-State New Jersey Super.  Rosie’s pedigree is competing as a national 800 meter runner, representing her country on the international stage, so for sure she has the speed, and the second place finish at the Ottawa Beast coupled with winning in New Jersey Super show she now has plenty of endurance.  Rose is also leading the 2012 Spartan Race Points Series competition and is determined to maintain her standing with a strong showing in Vermont.  She is well known as the owner of all-natural sports nutrition brand Kronobar and now is sharing her healthy food recipes for training and living on the Spartan Blog.  Amazingly she has run 21 Spartan Races since 2010, earning at least a cake at Killington, maybe?   Knowing her, the competitive fire that has fueled her athletic success will not be satiated with cake; her sights are more set on devouring her competition.

Andi Hardy  has had a real breakout season, registering multiple wins and multiple podiums, but

Andi Hardy

more than that, transforming herself to a serious contender at every race she contests.  Her enthusiasm for the sport of obstacle racing has seen her embark on a veritable Summer of Spartan tour, a self-funded road-trip that included 8 races across the map, with more on the calendar, and made her into a one-woman roving Spartan ambassador.  She is currently 2nd on the Spartan Points Ranking table but more than results, Andi represents the best of Spartan racing and what makes our Spartan athletes incredibly special, always pushing herself to the limit, pursuing her passion to new realms of performance, and proving in action what is possible when you decide to change your life.

Grace Cuomo Durfee

For all the favorites above, we know there will be surprises to come to challenge the experienced racers?  Grace Cuomo Durfee suffered though 40 miles of brutal tests over 2 days during the 2011 Death Race, showing incredible physical and mental strength to finish 4th overall and 1st female. At Killington, she is expected to compete ferociously during the 26-mile challenge of the UltraBeast, and could blaze her way through the Beast field as well.

First time Spartan racer and recently retired professional Ironman triathlete Kate Pallardy is confident about her chances.

Juliana Sproles

And last year’s first female finisher at the World’s Toughest Mudder, Juliana Sproles has been preparing for the Vermont race by scouting and training runs at Spartan PA and MA, and the long course format of the Beast will suit her well.  Now a bona fide member of Spartan Chick’d Nation, Juliana is sure to leave it all on the course as she pursues Spartan glory.

Some other names that could shake things up include Spartan300 athletes Liz Law, Leyla De Cori, Sue Luck, Angela Reynolds, Corinne Kohlen and Irene Call.  All have raced well in 2012, and they too will be out to tame the Killington Beast and claim their place in the pantheon.

An intriguing battle awaits.  Any of these women will be worthy Spartan champions.  We know that the Amazons were a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology and Classical antiquity.  But for my money, it is modern Spartan Race Women that carry the battle to new heights of accomplishment and inspiration.


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by Carrie Adams

Corinne in the PacNW, Second place finish

It’s been an epic year for Spartan women and we’ve had some regular faces on the scene.  One such face is Corinee Kohlen.  Like so many of our Spartan women, Kohlen is strong and determined.  The 30 year old from Visalia, CA made her first appearance in SoCal in January and in the Pacific Northwest she took home second place and $750 courtesy of Navy Federal Credit Union, who is generously providing cash prizes at select Spartan Race events.  Check out Corinne’s impressive stats and hear her Spartan story and how she keeps learning and growing in the emerging sport of Obstacle Racing.  

Corinne Kohlen 6 F 30-34 19 5 3 10,932
SoCal Super Spartan Race 2:35:31 167 17 9 0
SoCal Super Spartan Race 2:14:40 89 7 3 491
Arizona Super Spartan Race 1:35:18 69 7 4 493
Colorado Military Sprint Spartan Race 2012 1:18:15 57 4 3 4947
Colorado Military Sprint Spartan Race 2012 1:08:50 10 1 1 5001
Pacific NW Sprint Spartan Race 45:02 23 2 1 0
Utah Spartan Race – 2012 2:36:42 143 22 9 6109

My first Spartan race was the super Spartan in Temecula, CA in January.  I had done other obstacle races before but was new to Spartan racing and was encouraged to try it out by a few friends.  In Temecula I decided to race both days since I would have to travel about six hours to get there I wanted to maximize my experience.  Saturday  I lined up to the starting line feeling pretty confident and thinking how experienced I was and how prepared I was and that I had the race “in the bag”.  My Saturday race didn’t quite pan out how I had hoped though…

It was hot, I was overdressed, it was hilly, I was doing burpees which to be honest, I had never done before, I was playing mind games and getting really discouraged as I saw competitors pass me.  I was overheating and dehydrating and miserable that I was not winning.  I finished the race thanks to encouragement from a fellow competitor (Sue Luck) whom  I didn’t even know but have since become friends with and she has been a huge inspiration to me.   After hours on the grass recovering from the race in fetal position, I went back to my hotel, bruised, depressed, nauseated, and discouraged.  That night the results of the race were posted online and as I compared my race times to other peoples I started thinking – I should have done better than that, I can do better than that,  I will do better than that!

I went back Sunday and although I was scratched up, sore, and sun burnt I was much more prepared mentally and had the spark in me!  Sunday I finished the course almost 20 minutes faster than my Saturday time and improved my placement a lot.  From that moment on I was hooked on the energy, challenge, and competitiveness of Spartan racing.

Since Temecula I have competed in the Arizona Super, both days of the Colorado Military Sprint, and just last weekend in the Pacific Northwest Sprint.  I have become a member of the “Spartan Chicked” facebook group and the women of that group have given me immeasurable amounts of support, encouragement, and training tips.  I am inspired by the stories I am able to share with my fellow Spartan chicks and love the camaraderie between the ladies.  I have met some great women and we have shared hotels, dinners, and travel to races together and I am so happy that among these girls I “fit in”.

So onto the PNW race.  I originally was not planning to travel to this race but when I read the description on the Spartan website I knew I had to go.  Spartan Race promised that PNW would have some extreme and long sections of the bob wire crawl and this is my absolute favorite obstacle, and one that I am pretty fast at.  I was going to be in San Francisco area anyways that weekend so the flight was not ridiculously expensive and I was really hoping to place and be able to at least break even budget wise.   When I got to Washington I had heard that the course was short but that the first mile or so was all uphill, and that the bob wire was also uphill.  I immediately panicked.  Hills are my biggest weakness and I was worried that if I could not run fast enough on the first mile of hills I would be passed my many people, then end up getting behind on the obstacles.  Also, an uphill mud crawl meant rolling would be nearly impossible.   I was nervous and this race meant a lot to me.  When I got to the race site I was met by a few familiar faces and many new ones.  I tried to size up who might be my competition and one woman stood out instantly.  She was petite but strong, looked very athletic, and was wearing a pearl izumi workout suit and shoes.  She was warming up, checking out the obstacles, stretching, talking to people.  I was thinking that she was probably a sponsored runner and would be fast on the run.  I was hoping that running would be the only thing she was good at but I was so wrong!   As it got closer to our heat time she changed into running attire and we began to line up at the start.  We were given red wristbands to identify that we were in the competitive heat and in hopes that we would be able to avoid waits at obstacles.  I dumped half a gallon of water on my head because to me it was on already hot, and before I knew it – we were off.

As I had been warned, the first part of the race was all uphill.  I was passed by almost all the guys and about six girls.  Being passed so early and by so many people never feels great but I have learned to get used to it, and for this race I had mentally prepared myself to understand that this would happen.  I am not a fast runner, and to keep moving forward up that first hill I was expending serious amounts of energy.  I began breathing very hard, which is actually normal for me, but seemed to worry other competitors.  Multiple guys asked if I was OK and one very sternly warned me to “control your breathing”.  Was it really that bad I wondered?  It didn’t matter.  I knew I had to keep pushing to the top because I knew this was a short race and if I didn’t give this hill 100% I had no chance of finishing in the front.  I knew within an hour my race would be over so I was going to spend that hour pushing as hard as I could.

When we reached some “top” of a hill the trail began to mellow out a bit and became more rolling and even downhill at times.  This was my first chance to shine.  I love the downhill and began passing people, catching up to my original place at the starting line.  I passed all of the woman I could remember except that one – the one I had been worried about.  She was no where in site and I hadn’t seen her for a while.  I can’t really remember the order of the obstacles but was relieved by the waterslide that launched me into some super cool water.  I was so excited to cool down I slid down before the volunteer wanted me too and got yelled at –sorry volunteer, I was already sliding by the time you yelled at me.  A bit after that there was the sandbag carry – still no girl, and then the first mud crawl.  This was tricky because it was over motorcross  bumps  with very thin mud and sharp rocks pointing up from the dirt – AND the volunteers would not let us roll!  What!??? No rolling???  So I crawled, slid and wiggled as fast as I possibly could, slicing my knees up with every movement.  It was not as fast as a roll but I was still passing men when a volunteer yelled at me: “The first girl is still in the mud, you can catch her”.  My knees went into overdrive and I crawled faster than ever before but still no sight of her.  More obstacles followed the traverse wall which I love, the rope climb, the spear throw – automatic 30 burpees for me, still no sight of the girl.  Time passed and it seemed like the race must be at least halfway over and I came to the chain pull.  It was here that I finally saw my competition – the first time since we had been at the starting line together.  As I was going to head up the hill, she was heading down.  Was it possible?  Could I catch her?  No, not yet.  The chain pull is hard for me, and again she disappeared.

Now the uphill bob wire crawl.  This was so steep Spartan added ropes.

The top finishers from PacNW

It was steep, my knees were bleeding, people were complaining and moving like slugs but I loved it.  I made good time up the crawl and moved on to the monkeybars where I saw her – girl number one doing burpees.  I was so surprised that she had fallen and again, thought this may be my opportunity.  I cruised through the monkey bars right when she finished her burpees but she quickly sprinted up a mini hill and I followed at least 100 feet behind.  This was it.  It was now or never.  We ran, her much quicker than me.  I could see the finish line and see her in front of me.  She was going to win I thought, and I was OK with this but I was still going all out.  She made it over the slanted rope all and I followed very close behind her.  About 50 feet from the gladiators and finish line was the last obstacle.  The balancing stepping log obstacle.  I couldn’t believe what I saw – she had fallen and was doing burpees, just feet from the finish line.  I had never fallen at this obstacle before and thought at this moment I might just have it.  I tried to choose my line wisely and made it about 5 steps, then the last log I moved to wiggled just enough to make me lose my balance and fall!  I was heartbroken, and joined her doing burpees.  She finished hers when I still had about 10 left, and I knew I came in second place.  I was bummed that it was so close and felt like I let it slip away but still really happy to come in 2nd.  It would be my best Saturday finish to date.  As I finished my burpees I ran through the gladiators and one gave me a high 5 instead of hitting me.  This brought a huge smile to my face and I crossed the finish line, proud and exhausted.  I told “the girl” congratulations and told her how fast she was and how I tried to catch her then asked her name.  Jenny.  Jenny Tobin?   The girl with the braids upside down on the traverse rope who won the Spartan Championship last year?  The girl who beat some really great competitors to win $10,000.  Yes, Jenny Tobin.  I felt honored to come in second place to her, and relieved that it was “her” who beat me.  I was a happy girl.  Less than a minute later another woman I had met at the start finished in third place and I realized she must have been on my tail, as I was on Jenny’s, and I was thankful I had given every part of that race everything I had and never given up.  I hadn’t realized I was being chased!

I will forever look upon my PNW with a smile.  It was a fun race, I really worked hard on keeping my attitude positive and optimistic during the race, and I never gave up.  Thank you to Spartan Race for putting on yet another great race, thank you to Navy Federal Credit Union – because of you I can afford my next race, and thank you to all my new friends I have met racing, and the support of the Spartan chicked community.



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