by Briana Meikle

I did my first obstacle course in August of 2012. It was an easy one as OCR’s go. I was terrified and then hooked. A year later, I have run nearly 20 races including six Spartans. I still have two Beasts left this year, Sun Peaks this month and Carolina in November, which, if I am successful, will give me Double Trifecta for 2013!

I think I fall in a category that many women do. I am not a competitive athlete. I am not overweight. I don’t have an amazing story of overcoming the odds or running elite heats or losing 100 pounds. I am an average woman of average fitness and average weight. I work sometimes 80+ hours a week so getting to CrossFit times a week is an accomplishment and usually accomplished at the expense of the laundry or the dishes. I am not a natural athlete, but I can complete all of the obstacles, most of the time. I am slow, but not slow enough to earn any applause for the perseverance to finish. I am just awesomely average.

One of the things I love about OCR’s and Spartan Races in particular, is that ANYONE can do it. My boyfriend is a competitive, military athlete. And we leave the start line together every time. And he is always waiting for me at the finish line, and has been waiting for more than an hour. What other sport can two people of such different skill levels participate in the same event?

I applaud the ladies who have made a commitment to lose weight, get fit, get healthy because that is a huge accomplishment. And I hope you hear it all the time! I am in awe of those amazingly committed and gifted athlete chicks that prance over the men’s 8ft wall like it was a mere hurdle. You inspire me and even though I know you hear it all the time, I am happy to tell you again, WOW!

But for the rest of us, the average girls… In case someone hasn’t told you lately… Good for you! You just accomplished something amazing! You were brave enough to get out of your desk, get off your treadmill and swim, jump, climb, run, slop, roll and smile your way through 5km, 14km, 22km… You attempted every obstacle and did every one of your burpees (even if they weren’t pretty and took a long time). You accepted help and lent a muddy hand. You encouraged the struggling Spartans and stepped out of the way of the fast ones.

Just by being a Spartan Chick you have made average AWESOME.

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My first Spartan Race was in Ottawa back in June 2011. I signed up with my volleyball team for fun. At the time, the idea of getting down and dirty seemed like such a crazy but fun concept so hey, why not give it a try, right?

I raced in an open heat not knowing what to expect other than lots of mud. Being competitive by nature, I wanted to give it my best shot. I was never much of a runner for fear of bringing back old fencing injuries. I had fenced from the tender age of 9 and put my weapons away at 21, fed up of the shin splints and the stress fractures. The idea of running around was certainly not my priority.

I remember that Saturday morning at Camp Fortune. The intensity of the crowd, my adrenaline pumping! I wanted to run it and give it my all. I was definitely out of my comfort zone but I loved it! I had never climbed walls, jumped through fire and yeah, it was a first to tackle gladiators! And let me tell you, that 5K felt like it was at least 15! I was bruised and had scrapes all over but, WOW! I was on a high!

After that race, all I wanted was to do another Spartan Race. And so, my search began. Seeing the next one was in Vermont but was a “Beast”, I figured I couldn’t do a “green level” Spartan before doing a “blue level” race – aka a “Super Spartan”. And so I signed up for the Staten Island Super and eventually upgraded to the Hurricane Heat.

Through Facebook I connected with other mud obsessed people. It was reassuring to see I was not the only crazy person out there. After reading about the Founder’s HH in Amesbury MA, I wanted to be part of it all… The Staten Island Super Hurricane Heat was LIFE CHANGING. I met my Spartan Family there. I was the sole Canadian girl. My team was the Damn Cannucks – despite everyone (except me!) being American. The people that I met during this HH are some of my closest friends up to this day. They are my OCR family. It’s funny to say because I’m usually more of an individual athlete. I have never been a big fan of team events but that HH changed it all! I was with people that understood me, that got the same high from exerting themselves through mud, barbed wire and carrying heavy buckets and running around doing countless burpees (for the fun of it!)

And so this was the beginning of my love story with Spartan Races. I had to wait quite some time to race again. My first competitive race was Tuxedo NY in June 2012. I finished 5th and then I just couldn’t get enough of Spartan Race. I had to do it all – from the Winter Death Race, to Death Race, to back to back races, might they have been Supers or Beasts… Ultra-Beasts (love the glow in the dark medal!)

Coming from Canada, every trip was and still is, a time for me to see my Spartan Family. The camaraderie can’t be explained. It has to be experienced. Yes… You’ll know at the finish line but it doesn’t end there. Spartan Race changes lives. It changed mine. It has built my confidence and has shown me that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. I never expected to become a ranked top athlete and today I am proud to say I have people looking up to me, especially women. SR empowers people… It has even brought my mother and I closer than ever… That’s probably the most epic moment of my racing life thus far: crossing that finish line with my 72 years-young mom. If you haven’t read about that, well you better click on this: http://blog.spartanrace.com/tag/johanne-di-cori/

Obstacle racing is my passion. It’s my fuel. It keeps me sane even if the races look insane. Sure, winning is of course a great feeling, but above all, it’s knowing you gave it all you got at that time. I know I am stronger than yesterday and that fortitude to improve every day burns within me thanks to Spartan Race.
I could go on and on about the different races I have done but the best part of it all: the friendships I have made. I treasure them.

AROOOOOO!!!!!!!!
Unleash the Beast Within

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by Amanda, Czapla, Elite Spartan Athlete

Playing as a Child

As a child I idolized my older brother. I was more or less his shadow. What he did, I did. From getting into trouble, playing in a mound of dirt, searching for rollie pollies, making mud pies. We were kids having fun the only way we knew how. Those were the good old days.

Flash forward 15 years. The monotony of being a roadrunner was starting to take its toll. I needed a change. Deciding to branch out, a friend and I signed up for our first obstacle race, the Warrior Dash. Disappointed by the lack of intensity, we wanted something a little more challenging and we found the Miami Super Spartan Race in 2011. I knew I found my race. I felt like that little girl running carefree with my brother through the trails, picking up heavy objects, throwing myself over walls and getting down and dirty. A second place finish and a few nefarious battle wounds motivated me to come back the following year faster and stronger. My weakness was obvious; I neglected my upper body and relied heavily on my speed and endurance.

Setting Goals

Over the next year, I made a few lofty goals in preparation for my ultimate test to WIN the Miami Super Spartan 2012. Hard work and a few PRs later, I did take the top spot in Miami and then a few others. Admittedly, I was still intimidated by the rope climb and a few other obstacles. To be truly competitive, a racer would have to finish a race burpee free.

Carolina’s race made me stop making excuses and to learn to swim. For the Vermont Beast, I thought training for the Chicago Marathon would suffice. Mountain legs? Ha! Joke was on me. Those weren’t any mountains, those were mountains from hell! I never walked so much in my life on a course. I met my match. I was under-trained. South Florida may have beautiful beaches, but it will not prepare you for the course in Vermont. A little bitter post Vermont, I wanted redemption and set my sights on the Spartan Texas Beast.

My preparation was solid. I knew this would be MY race to prove myself in the fast growing sport of obstacle racing. And then, a fatal fall the first mile in, I hobbled my way through another 12 miles of obstacles to finish 6th. I took it hard. I did this to myself. I refused to heed the obvious caveats of over-training. I was forced into submission. My Achilles’ heel was my Achilles’ heel. Achilles’ Tendonosis. No running for 6-8 weeks per my doctor’s orders or I could risk a complete rupture. The fear of being out 6 months with surgery if I decided to push it, I succumbed. Feeling empty and lacking the anaerobic push with the Miami Super Spartan quickly approaching, I chose to join CrossFit Fort Lauderdale, The Playground. I knew if I wanted to play with the big boys and girls I would need to step my game up.

Miami Super Spartan came and went. It was a surreal feeling to be back in action. I knew I wasn’t 100%, so my goal was to have fun and stay within my limitations and not overdo it.

The Spartan Way

What I love about Spartan is pushing through that damned and fathomed wall, refusing to give up, refusing to quit. I love the ability to test my limitations that bind me by breaking free and emerging fearless. I refuse to say, “I won’t, I can’t.” I love what I hate, what makes my skin crawl.

Whatever it is that you abhor, that you cringe at the very mention of it, make it your strength. Dominate. Work on it with relentless dedication and perseverance. Believe in your abilities and when it comes race time, let that be the obstacle that you do not falter, that you own and you makes you smile looking back. Embrace the inner child.

The Spartan community is a family. A network of friends from across the country that may or may not be as “crazy” as you are. We are hungry. We refuse to settle. We share similar desires, the same passion to continually strive to be the best, constantly evolve, have fun along the way and experience the adventure that awaits us.

The people are real. The emotions are real. The journey is real. For everything that Reebok Spartan Race is, “You will know at the finish line.” Aroo! It’s time you find yours. Register today.

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by  Jose Ortiz, guest blogger

Where it Began

In 2000, I made a decision to serve my country in the most honorable manner I knew possible; I joined the United States Marine Corp.  After serving honorably in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, my commitment to the Marines came to an end in 2004.  Returning to my home of Long Island, I settled with my wife in Wantagh, New York, a suburb about 35 miles away from New York City and I became a corrections officer.

 

Needing a Change

Once I was home I was looking for something to take the place of the daily PT routine I had in the Marines.  A friend of mine introduced me to two of the best things I have discovered since my wife, Spartan Race and CrossFit Lighthouse.  As soon as I listened to my friend’s story about Spartan Race I started to track down pictures and watch videos…I was hooked.  I signed up right away for the Spartan Sprint in Tuxedo, NY and started doing the Workout of the Day (WOD).  Soon after, I wanted to workout with some great people who could push me and I met Dan Luffman and Jack Sandhaas, owners of Crossfit Lighthouse.  These two guys are HUGE fans of Spartan Race and they took me on as their pet project immediately.  They showed me how the integration of movements in the gym would translate into a healthy lifestyle and top performance in a Spartan Race.

A New Life

Once this journey began, I set my sights on the Spartan Race and my CrossFit coaches did the rest.  I am proud to say that I dropped 30 pounds of unwanted body weight.  I was inspired by the Chris Davis story and followed his journey as I embarked on my own.  I found that once my body became acclimated to the workouts, nutrition also became a huge focus.  Now, everything was part of my Spartan Race/CrossFit lifestyle.  It was something that I lived and breathed every day.  It wasn’t just a workout or a healthy meal; it was a commitment to my wife, my family, and myself to say that I was taking control of everything that was good and productive for me.

The First Spartan Experience

After months of lifting, stretching, running, and healthy living, my first Spartan Race arrived.  The cannon sounded and before I knew it and I was at the starting line staring at my goal that I set months prior.  I was finally here.  One obstacle after the next, training and muscle memory took over, rope climbs and wall climbs and hurdles were second nature.  I am proud to say that I did not have to do one penalty burpee, but if I did, I was ready.  The motto is true, “You’ll know at the finish line.”

Now, with that race under my belt, I have become a permanent staple at CrossFit Lighthouse and Spartan Race.  I am training every day towards my new goal, the Trifecta Medal.

Semper Fi.

Are you ready to test your Spartan mettle?  Find an event near you and get signed up today.

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by John McEvoy, Owner CrossFit Craic34800_10150118451226488_737781487_8229477_6008529_n

How do you train for an event that could potentially involve anything like a Spartan Race? The answer is simple. You have to do everything.

The goal of a Spartan race is to truly test your fitness. You need to be able to run, jump, climb, lift and carry heavy objects, crawl and continue to move forward after each task has been completed.

If you are exclusively a runner then chances are you will struggle with the climbing and165241_10150116337771488_737781487_8189726_8123613_n lifting aspects and if you are predominantly a weightlifter you will likely struggle with the running aspects of the race. Equally, if you are one of those people who love running around the track and doing sit-ups every lap you will no doubt struggle when the time comes for you to pick something heavy up of the ground and move it.

To truly perform in a Spartan Race your goal should be to become a hybrid version of all the above – part runner, part lifter, part climber.

315974_10150389170636488_737781487_10570256_910949538_nIn CrossFit this is our goal. To us ‘being fit’ is being able to perform responsibly well at any physical task. I cannot tell you how many people I have had come into my gym saying “I’m really fit! I’ve run 4 marathons” and they cannot do 1 pullup!. I also get big dudes who come in bragging about their 400lb Deadlift then they cannot run 400m without throwing up. The world of fitness is changing. It’s not good enough anymore to simply be a specialist, at least not in this game.

In CrossFit some days we run, some days we lift, some days we do just bodyweight164054_10150116337411488_737781487_8189708_6855384_n movements and some days we do all 3 in the same workout.  Every day is different and that is what keeps it exciting and what keeps the fire alive inside each of us.

When we arrive at the starting line for a Spartan Race it is no different. We stand at the starting line staring up the hill with no worries about what lies ahead of us because even though we have no idea what obstacles we will encounter, we know that we will be able to navigate them. We have lifted weight heavy for low reps, light weight for lots of reps and vice versa. We have run short, middle and long distances. We have jumped, crawled, carried and pulled ourselves over objects.

We are ready.

309629_10150389170881488_737781487_10570260_989958427_nWe train for the unknown and the unknowable. CrossFit competitions are the same. Sometimes we do not know what the events will be until game day which is the same as a Spartan Race.

Training for a marathon is different.   You know the distance, you might even know the course or you can find it, and you just follow a program you found on Google to prepare.

Spartan training is far different.  Run, jump, climb, crawl, lift, sprint, throw. If you have 163894_10150116337461488_737781487_8189710_5226270_nweaknesses they will be exposed. The only way to ‘play it safe’ is to expose your weaknesses in your training and eventually they will become strengths.

When it’s your turn to step up to the starting line and it’s time to test yourself you should have confidence knowing that you are ready for whatever comes your way because you trained to be ready.

Get signed up. 

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John McEvoy is the owner of CrossFit Craic, a Cross Fit gym located at  355-359 Washington Street, Dedham, MA, right opposite the Kikuyama Japanese Steakhouse.  John is also a Death Race participant in 2011 and an Amesbury Spartan Sprint finisher! 

If you have any problems finding the location, call 617-817-7447!

Website: www.crossfitcraic.com

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Lt_Michael_Murphy

Lt. Michael Murphy Navy Seals Blog

“Murph”

For time:
1 mile Run
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 mile Run

In memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y.  Murphy was killed in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005 supporting Operation Red Wing.  Lt. Murphy was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor.  Lt. Murphy loved this workout, even nicknaming it, “Body Armor.”  Murphy liked to wear body armor or a weighted vest when he did it… 20 pounds is about right.

Get it done today for Lt. Murphy.

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by Carrie Adams

Katy McCabe

You didn’t think we were going to crochet, did you?  You can thank the one and only Katy McCabe aka Katya (She’s a Russian linguist and former Marine); Spartan Death Racer, and CrossFit badass for this WOD.

Spartan WOD’s are fun ways to get your ass kicked and we are adding new boots all the time!  Next Tuesday Ms. McCabe will be drop kicking us through our WOD and we need a sandbag.  For about $20 you can have one of your very own!  Don’t worry, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of it.  We’ll make sure of that.

(We’ll also be giving you tips on where to get your very own tire in an upcoming post!  We are so full of fun tips!)

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Photo Credit: Tobyotter on Flickr

by Khaled Allen

When I was running cross country in high school, we always began each practice session by stretching to avoid injury, and after we were done, we’d stretch again. We did this presumably to prevent injury, but despite the fact that I was the most flexible person on the team, I was injured most of my senior year. Nevertheless, I continued to stretch because I felt knotted and stiff when I didn’t.

A few years later, a number of studies came out suggesting that stretching wasn’t helpful to distance runners at all. According to some researchers, distance runners actually don’t need to be flexible. Some cite studies that prove stretching doesn’t prevent injury, and may actually make it more likely. Some say stretch only if you need to get more flexible.

The points against stretching are pretty harsh. According to a study published on the Gatorade Sports Science Institute website, stretching before exercise may cause temporary strength deficits, doesn’t prevent injury, and doesn’t improve exercise performance. The study did find that passive stretching, done away from the exercise environment, may improve flexibility, but the study also claimed that increased flexibility was detrimental to runners.

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by Khaled Allen

Picture credit Julia Baykova on Flickr

My most impressive physical accomplishment involved me carrying an aluminum canoe over razor-sharp rocks submerged in  knee-deep water, during a thunderstorm, while thick underbrush dragged me to my knees. It was one of the best days of my life, largely because it ended with a warm campfire and a full belly, but I was lucky to have been well prepared for it. For the month leading up to that camping trip, I had been doing all my usual CrossFit workouts outdoors, running on grassy mounds, lifting logs and rocks instead of balanced bars, and doing pullups on tree limbs. I was used to awkward, slippery, and uncomfortable. Some of my camping partners were totally stuck. Their gym workouts hadn’t prepared them for this, though they could probably lift more than me.

If the only races you’ve ever run have been on paved roads, you’ll be in for a surprise when you first step off the beaten, graded, and well-maintained path. Road runners transitioning to trail running always find that it’s the little things that throw them off: the unsure footing, the twists and turns, the constant elevation changes. They can handle the running itself, but when you have to get past all sorts of other things to even get to the running, you may find yourself stranded.

In reality, our bodies were designed to work in unstable, unpredictable conditions. Primitive fitness is based on using all possible movement patterns, in random and unpredictable environments and is based on what our hunter-gatherer ancestors did every day. It pays to keep in mind that we only have to use our own strength and speed when we lack modern conveniences in the first place. The only times you’ll have to rely on your own physical abilities to get work done are also the times you won’t be indoors, near the comforts of civilization. You wouldn’t have to carry your injured friend if you were near a road with a car, for example.

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by Khaled Allen

Picture credit: oddsock on Flickr

Are you fit enough to save your own life? What about those of your loved ones? Are you fit enough to survive a natural disaster?

If you workout just to get ‘in shape’, that isn’t good enough. It has no concrete value; what does ‘in shape’ even mean? It is a very vague goal, and vague goals never get you anywhere.

Here is a better set of goals, from Mark’s Daily Apple: be fit enough to survive a threat to your own life, to rescue your family if you must, and to endure any trauma you might experience.

Fitness is and always has been a means to an end. We train our bodies so that they might help us accomplish something. The Spartans trained from childhood not because they wanted to have higher levels of energy and look good in a loincloth. They had a city to defend and the honor of a culture to uphold. They put their bodies at the service of their city-state, and that is what gave them purpose in their training.

The most successful athletes have goals. Looking damn sexy is a fine goal, and it has motivated a lot of people in the past. Needing to be in shape to survive is a much better goal, and will let you push yourself to much greater heights of physical and mental prowess.

The greatest athletes in our civilization are the Olympians. They aren’t in it for the fitness. They are in it for the gold, literally. They don’t just want to be ‘in shape’. They want to be the best they can be, to perform whatever task is required of them as effectively as possible, and to leave a mark on the world. For them, it isn’t good enough to just go through their fitness routine; they need to see results.

If you want to become a truly accomplished athlete, you need something to train for, some objective to dedicate your body towards pursuing.

Fitness demands testing. That is why the truly fit – real athletes – are naturally drawn to challenge. They want to be tested. That is really the only way to know if you are fit, and to what extent.

CrossFit stakes its entire approach to fitness on measurable results. Fitness is meaningless if it cannot be measured and tested. The CrossFit definition of fitness is fairly straightforward. It is based on how efficiently you can complete a given task. Weightlifters are fit to move heavy loads. Runners are fit to cover a lot of distance quickly. How do we know? We measure it.

Being fit is important, make no mistake. The term fitness originally refers to the likelihood a given organism will reproduce and pass on its genes. You want to be fit, trust me. The desire to be fit is hardwired into your genes.

A great way to measure your real, applicable fitness is to consider whether your level of fitness is sufficient to save your life in the event it were ever threatened. The blog, The Art of Manliness, suggests 5 physical benchmarks that every man should be capable of performing should he need to save his own life. They include swimming half a mile, running at top speed for 200m, jumping over an obstacle at waist height, 15-20 pull ups, and at least 25 dips.

When fitness is necessary for survival, you have a much more useful measurement of ‘in shape’. Are  you fit enough to save your own life? Or are you just in shape to look pretty?

Most people are content to delude themselves into thinking they are fit based on cheesy infomercials and clever gym advertising. Nobody wants to admit that they’re not fit, because on a biological level, it is the equivalent of admitting you can’t survive and are not worthy to reproduce. And so our culture has come up with plenty of ways to let people avoid admitting that. You go to the gym for an hour a day and you pedal the elliptical like your overpaid personal trainer told you to, therefore you are fit. Never mind the fact that you still can’t climb your apartment building stairs without stopping to catch your breath.

Our definition of fitness has been divorced from actually demonstrating physical prowess.

Want to know for sure if you’re fit enough to save your own life? Run a Spartan Race.

The race doesn’t care if you look good in a muscle shirt. It doesn’t care if you have the latest running shoes. It doesn’t care if you can bench 300 lbs. All it cares about is whether or not you can survive and finish. Can you get the job done? That is fitness. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are trying to sell you something you probably don’t need.

That is why I love CrossFit so much. The CrossFit WODs don’t care how you get the job done, so long as you do it powerfully and efficiently. If the goal is to get weight overhead, you’ve got several different ways to do it. If the objective is to get yourself over a bar, by all means kick your legs and wriggle your way over the bar. If it gets you there faster than some muscle-head showing off his lats with strict pull ups, guess who will win the WOD? If you’re climbing for your life, guess who will survive and who will be found ‘unfit’?

Honestly, you don’t have to do either CrossFit or Spartan Races to test your fitness. You simply need to step up to a challenge that will push you out of your comfort zone. You need to put yourself in a place that is not easy and see if you can take it, and how well you can take it.

And you’re even allowed to fail. But if that happens, I expect you to train yourself to succeed next time. We have the luxury of simulating life threatening emergencies to test ourselves, and we should take advantage of that luxury so we’re ready for the real thing.

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