Teamwork. The word is drilled into our heads in a number of areas within our lives, from playing sports to working with others in either our professional or academic life. There are very few sports where the individual is more important than their team. Yet how often do we see organizations stack their team in order to win games (Lakers or Yankees anyone)? This isn’t always the answer though, and more often than not, it takes some of the fun out of being a spectator. It’s kind of like watching a movie that you already know the ending to. So how does a sport without any kind of team event start team racing without allowing stacked teams? In the words of Charlie Kelly from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia “WILD CARD…”.

In true Spartan fashion team racing was introduced at the Tememcula California race, with a twist. Instead of allowing Spartan Elites the opportunity to team up with the individual of their choice Tom McCormack, Spartan’s Director of Product Management, came to the line with a deck of playing cards.  When asked about it Tom provided an interesting explanation.

 “Everyone got a card which they wrote their name on and then gave back. The Elites were then matched up by their card, three people to a team. This way no one knew who was on their team and the teams were completely randomized making it way more competitive than say having Hunter team with Hobie and Amelia or April. This means a team with one of those guys on it could still be beaten by a team with three people that finish middle of the pack. It really makes the team aspect fun, interesting, and competitive in a whole new way.”

The idea had received a great deal of positive response from spectators as racers coming across the line in 15th place had a huge impact on the outcome of the team event. Changes to timing on the course coming up will help to make things even more interesting according to McCormack.

“We are updating our timing a little bit. There are some things in the works that will allow us to track people along the course and make updates in the festival area as to where people are. Spartan feels that it will really make the Wild Card team aspect even more entertaining to spectators as we continue to work on making the whole event more spectator friendly.”

Tom and the team have been working to make the Wild Card aspect a well oiled, and entertaining, machine within the race. Testing it in Temecula the organization didn’t do it again in subsequent races but Tom states that they are ready to roll it out again in Georgia and in Vegas with more to be announced soon.

What about the Open Heats you say? Tom has something there as well.

“The Open waves already see people showing up as part of teams. Groups such as NE Spahtens, CornFed Spartans, Weeple Army and others will be entered into the Open Team racing automatically. The four fastest racers will be what determines their teams time and ranking. We’ve seen some fast times from groups such as Camp Rhino and Gut Check Fitness out of Southern California. We expect to see even more of the same through out the rest of the year.”

2014 promises to be a year of new things from Spartan HQ. Each one designed to give racers, and spectators, even more of what they want. Sign up now, either as an individual or as a team, and as always…

We’ll see you at the finish line!

 

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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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I do not talk about myself when it comes to the Corn Fed Spartans because all of its success has been due to the dedication of everyone on the team and the family atmosphere each person provides. Through this family of racers, and a big help from Spartan Race, something was accomplished on April 21st, 2012 that had not been done before. A team, that was created to bring a Spartan Race to Indiana, turned into a family from different walks of life for one thing…each other.

Here is a brief history of the team. Nate and I ran the Midwest Spartan Sprint in Illinois in 2011. A few weeks later, during a phone call which we talked about bringing one to Indiana, he threw out the name, Corn Fed Spartans, and we knew that was the name. After volleying, spamming, and emailing people to death, the race happened and became the first ever “Founders Race.” After that race, restructuring of the team created a more family feel and unity driven team. Several road trips, races, and members later, Corn Fed has grown into a powerful family of racers all willing to trade time and speed in order to help each and every one on the team to cross the finish line.

Writing about the Indiana Spartan Race always touches my heart and fills me with so much emotion and tears. Imagine back when you did your very first obstacle race. You didn’t know what it was like, unsure if you could finish, and when you did, the emotion that you felt for the few minutes following. Indiana is that for me because of what it stands for. If it were not for Spartan Race, the Corn Fed Spartans would not be here….wow…. to me, and several others, that cannot even be imagined. When Nate and I thought of this and started the team, it was simply a place to gather to get the race, but after being on this ride for the past 17 months, it has and will continue to be a staple in the OCR community along with teams like the Weeple Army, Team SISU, and NE Spahtens to name a few. We will gladly share the battlefield with them as we all become the best families we can be.

An excerpt from someone that ran his first Spartan Race: “I “joined” this group with desire to spend more time with Rick Bosley. I ran my first OCR (CerebRun in Wrightsville PA) just to spend time with him, and do the things he does…to show interest in his life; I also did it because this OCR was based upon intelligence, and the two of us tend to strive in that area. I never planned on making a lifestyle change…but little did I know. Rick made me a part of the group and from the minute I started looking at posts on FB, I began to realize something big was taking place. I started mulling over the affordability of Indiana…and without hesitation Jonathan Nolan stepped up big for me. From the minute I stepped onto the grounds at Indiana, I knew something was happening…something awesome. I saw hugs and love; I saw strength and support. I regret that I didn’t meet most of you because home commitments limited my time there. When the race started, I found myself in an entire heat that embodied the Corn Fed motto “If you want to know…run with us” I saw an entire heat of runners helping out any and everybody in their path, and I followed suit. I apologize if I didn’t help all of you, because it became my intention to do so, I simply could not find myself staying on course for that long. After I finished, and after over an hour on the slippery wall, I couldn’t find Rick and Maribel, so knowing my time constraints I went to clean up. Post clean-up I put Rick’s bib number in the computer to look for his time, and 4 hours later he still hadn’t crossed. I stood by the slippery wall and shortly after I saw the tip of a flag come across followed by the signature red Mohawk…AWESOME! It was at this point that I felt the true love and determination that Corn Fed had…or so I thought. Then I started seeing pictures, and videos of that group carrying a Biggest Loser member across the traverse wall. This made me more proud then the comments about me helping people…this made me proud to be Corn Fed. You all, each and every one of you are an inspiration and you are ALL BEASTS!

In the words of Ricky Booby, you carried your feet to the start line, and you carried them over the finish. You got up the nerve to do this, and you completed it all on your own. It is for reasons like that, that I am proud to embody the Corn Fed name, and I wear it with pride. Thank you Rick for steering me away from sedentary behavior, and thank you Corn Fed for all you do. AROO!” -Adam Joseph Witmer-Bosley

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[Editor’s Note: In December, Spartan Jason Jaksetic is off to compete in one of the world’s most elite races, the EpicMan Triple Ironman (http://www.active.com/triathlon/honolulu-hi/epicman-challenge-2011).  In this blog he writes about how Spartan Race is the ideal platform to take yourself from couch potato to bad-ass athlete.  Here is his story of going from utter newb to aspiring Triple Ironman.]

jjSpartan Race offers something to racers that no other obstacle race does:  a systemic approach to go from your couch to the world’s most extreme race.

Seven years ago, I started with a 5k St. Patty’s Day Run.  (Spartan Race wasn’t around.  If it was, I would have been there for sure.)  This 5k run was all about the free beer for me.  I didn’t even have athletic socks or shoes – I went out and covered the course in ratty Converse and plaid socks.

Tomorrow, I’m leaving for Hawaii to compete in the prestigious EpicMan Triple Ironman (http://www.active.com/triathlon/honolulu-hi/epicman-challenge-2011).  It’s invitation only.  7.2 mile swim, 336 mile bike, and 78.6 mile run – without stopping

Between the 5k and Triple Ironman I did my first marathon and then first Ironman.  Then I tacked on my first Ironman World Championship and Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualifications.

jj2Last month I took fifth overall in my first Double Ironman.

It’s all about progression.  You don’t just go from beer runs to triple Ironman without some bumps in the road.

Like DNF’ing my first 150 mile run (Peak Races) and dropping out of the Death Race.  Yes, I failed on the Death Race.  (I can attest to The Death Race being more difficult than a double Ironman, and will let you know about how it compares to EpicMan in January.)

You need to visualize realistic goals and put it on the line to get there.

Spartan Raceis probably the best race series in the planet because it has built into its structure a step by step goals to becoming a legitimate badass.

Working with Spartan Race and going to events I’m amazed at the people achieving things they never thought possible.  They get hooked by doing theirfirst Spartan Sprint.  It’s like a gateway drug.  From there they can build fitness and confidence as they tackle a Super Spartan and then Spartan Beast.  And, hell, maybe step up to the Death Race.  It’s all there for the taking.  Spartan Race is just asking for people to step up.

As an elite athlete I have the following to say:  there is nothing elite about me.  I’m just like you.  I’m the guy in Converse and plaid socks still.  I just took endurance racing for a ride.  I really wish I had Spartan Race to help me along the way – it would have helped!

I encourage everyone to push themselves by signing up for what might seem beyond their capabilities.  You will get there.  I invite you to join me in this.  Hell, I invite you to come on out and race the EpicMan with me.  If you think you are qualified to race there are still spots for eligible athletes.  Just contact them.  Sign up for a Spartan Sprint or sign up for the Death Race.  Either way, push yourself and rise up in the structure of bad-ass that Spartan Race embraces.

Jason Jaksetic is a professional endurance athlete, fitness coach, and consultant for Spartan Race.  He can be contacted at JasonJ@SpartanRace.com.  While in Hawaii he will be working with Hawaii Spartans to bring them a race.  Speak up if you want a race!  We are serious about bringing them to you.  Home grown efforts have already brought a race to Indiana!

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