Growing up as a boy in Germany, I was always fascinated by the endless pine forests that seemed to go on forever. I’d see men with forearms like Popeye and chests like barrels quaffing beers and throwing axes at logs in almost nonchalant disdain. The way the wood would explode into halves as the blade shot through it was almost hypnotic. The action, the smell and of course, that glorious sound made everything so delicious. It remained with me throughout my life and now, finally, not only do I have an excuse to chop, but it contains benefits that I embrace with the same arms that swing those axes.

Why would anyone want to chop wood, though? It’s actually very simple. It’s good for you.

Chopping wood is, simply put, one of the best workouts you can give your body. Let’s think about this. First of all, you need a good solid stance, right? Making sure the feet part at a comfortable distance, usually about shoulder width, in order to have a good solid base, you are prepping for action. Doing this means your hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and gluteal muscles are all in use and are tense and braced. Going on from there, you have the swing itself. This is generated in the latissimus dorsi, the lower and middle trapezius, the deltoids, obliques and the pectorals. Completing the swing, you will use smaller muscles in order to stabilize it. It’s one of the few motions, not unlike swimming, that uses a whole range of motions and muscles in order to complete one action.

Best of all for folks that hate doing floor exercises, but still want to try and work those abs, is that this action is basically like doing crunches, only you’re standing up and aren’t getting bored to tears. Crunches are boring. There, I said it.

But it doesn’t end there. Because wood chopping is considered a low-intensity workout, it can improve cardiovascular endurance when you perform is slowly and steadily for a protracted amount of time. With practice, the constant repetition of the swing of the axe will build precise form. This form will raise your heart rate, burn calories and improve your circulation.

Additionally, the motion of the swing – which should be smooth and fluid-like with practice – will not adversely affect your joints, because this exercise is effectively not a weight-bearing one. If you chop wood, say, twice or perhaps three times a week, it will help build aerobic fitness and as we all know, this is what you need in order to efficiently take in oxygen while you perform not just exercise, but any kind of physical activity.

As with any physical activity that requires certain amounts of exertion, you’ll be releasing both endorphins and adrenaline. These are both feel-good chemicals produced naturally within the body.

So chopping wood is in that bizarre situation of being both creative and destructive at the same time. Chopping wood is so rewarding and from personal experience, way more rewarding than any clinical workout in any gym or Crossfit box. You’ve achieved something and have actually something to show for it. You can feel all the muscles working and best of all, that satisfying ache of a job well done. Not to mention the fact that chopping is a confidence booster. Add that final element of problem solving when you come across that one particularly knotty and stubborn piece of wood that just doesn’t want to be split and you have what could be argued as the perfect workout.

As any Spartan Death Racer will tell you, log chopping is a staple part of the Death Race as it’s the perfect workout. Perhaps going back to basics is sometimes the best approach to go forward. So get chopping and sign up for your next race now.

See you at the finish line…

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When it comes to equipment for working out with, one often overlooked item is the humble splitting axe. There are huge physical benefits of chopping wood and the obvious end product also being useful fuel, but which axe specifically should you choose for the task in hand?

In recent times, Fiskars have become immensely popular. Having that balance of being a good, sturdy axe along with being a reasonable price for what it offers, it’s understandable why so many choose it.

So let’s look closely at it.

The Fiskars axe is designed to be as effective as possible in one-strike chopping. What they have tried to do is get that perfect balance of power-to-weight ratio in the same way a baseball bat has. It comes with an extremely sharp blade with a low-friction coating on the head, so it’s ready for use as soon as you get it. Along the blade it has a bevel convex coming out of the head so that it pushes the wood away when splitting. Hence the fact it’s a “splitter”. As silly as it may sound, many people confuse a chopper with a splitter. Two different tools for different purposes. Make sure you understand the difference before you commit to buying!

One claim they make is that it has a “stronger than steel” Fibercomp handle that won’t break through overstriking, ie, missing the head and hitting the log with the handle. They go on to point out that the Permahead insert-molded axe head will not loosen or fly off. If you’ve ever attended the Spartan Death Race in Vermont, you’ll see a graveyard of broken Fiskar axe heads and handles. Now, whether this is through poor striking, bad aim or shoddy quality merchandise is up for debate. The art of chopping wood is something learned over a little time. Not many souls take instantly to picking up an axe and getting right into the groove. Another good thing about Fiskars is their lifetime warranty.

Something else you’ll get with the axe is the head/blade locking case for when it’s stored away when not in use. A nice touch.

Signup today for a Spartan Death Race or 12 hour Hurricane Heat at and don’t forget to bring your axe.

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When Jason Hood talks about his son Micheil, you can see how the pride in him makes him feel. His eyes sparkle and his chest swells. He beams with joy when he talks about him.

“Let me start by saying how proud as parents my wife and I both were for the choice he made. As a kid around age 7 he always wanted to be in the military. After graduating high school he enrolled in college, was doing good but felt he wanted to do more with his life so he came to my wife and I and said “I want to join the Army“.

When Jason spoke to Spartan Race about him, a genuine father’s love shone through each word he spoke. When he graduated as an Infantryman in August with the 3rd Combat Brigade, (“The Spartans”), 10th Mountain Division, it took less than a month for him to be deployed to Afghanistan. 

Jason continues, “This deployment is a big deal for the brigade, due to budget cuts, this will most likely be the last for them as the brigade will be deactivated. How honorable is it that his deployment may be of historic nature?”

Such is his pride for his son, Jason decided to honor his son by undertaking one of the most arduous, toughest events in the world. Later this year, Jason will be taking part in the summer Death Race as a tribute to Micheil.

“It’s as a show of respect to him and others alike. I am going to enter the Spartan Death Race this summer as a tribute to all they have done to become Spartans in hopes that I may become one in my own way.”

When asked about the Death Race, the preparation for it and how he thinks he’ll do, Jason remains bluntly honest.

“First of all I must be crazy to even consider attempting something with a title like that I feel the need to see if I can endure it and I want to be pushed to the edge. How will I approach it? Head first! I will not stop! What do I expect will happen? That’s a good question and I have no answer for it! Does anyone really know? How do I think I will fare? Failure is not an option for me at this point in my life!”

Spartan Race would like to thank and salute Micheil and all those in the military for their service.

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Edgar at the Winter Death Race.

Death Race veteran and Spartan Race specialist Edgar Landa shares some top tips for all racers. 

So…you’re all geared up, pumped up and ready to attack the course this weekend at the Malibu Spartan Sprint. If you are veteran of multiple Spartan Races you know the routine, what to pack and how to prep your game face.  If you are a nervous first-timer you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed, nervous or apprehensive about what to expect.  Below are some helpful hints for both the experienced racer and the newbie that will make your day in Malibu just a bit more comfortable.

1. Bring a towel and a change of clothes (including socks, dry shoes, jacket and a beanie – you lose the most heat from your feet and head) to wear AFTER the race. I use quick-drying camp towels like the Packtowel Ultralite sold at REI.  They come in a variety of sizes and colors and even the XL (50″x27″) fits in the palm of your hand.  But if you want to bring your Superman towel then go nuts.  The water from the hoses in the shower area will be COLD but so what!!!  You just ran a cold, wet race…what’s a few more minutes of cold water?  Boo hoo! SUCK IT UP! AROO!  You will be thankful not being in cold, wet clothing while trying to enjoy the post-race festivities or waiting for the shuttles to the parking lot!  Last year I saw a lot of shivering, miserable looking people in the shuttle line.  Be dry, be warm, be happy!

2. Flip-Flops/Sandals (in addition to dry shoes): Keep your feet mud free in the shower area by putting on some flip-flops. You can also avoid the cold, muddy ground as you make your way to a changing area/tent by wearing flip-flops.

3. I also bring enough cash to pay for bag check, food, merchandise and leave my debit and credit cards locked in the car so I don’t lose them at the venue. You can also snap a photo of your ID on your smart phone and use that as ID.

4. Contractor-grade trash bag: You can place your wet, muddy clothes and shoes in the bag after you are done beasting the course. And, seriously, use contractor bags not Hefty or Glad kitchen bags.  Those will allow the moisture to eventually seep through and nothing sucks worse than getting home and finding a puddle of water in your trunk or back seat.  You can find them at any Home Depot or similar store.  Contractor bags: Those suckers will hold back the Red Sea.

5. In addition to my small back pack with change of clothes, towel, etc I also bring a Home Depot 5-Gallon bucket to deposit my wet clothes and shoes into before I drive home. Sometimes I check my bucket along with my backpack at bag check (place backpack in bucket or clip it to bag with carabiners). Convenient AND easier to carry than a trash bag. By the way, the “Let’s Do This” on the Home Depot buckets is new to me.  I wonder if Home Depot has been turned onto alternative workout uses for their bucket? Fireman bucket carries with 50lb sandbag, anyone?

6. If you use gloves cut the fingers off the work gloves. Otherwise, you trap mud and water inside the fingers AND your hands get colder.

7. My recommendation is not to bother with multiple layers or rain jacket if it is cold and/or rainy. You will get wet almost immediately from the rain coming down or the first water obstacle you hit. No need to run the course with extra wet clothing hanging off your body. Instead wear a long-sleeve tech shirt or compression shirt.  And, for the love of Pete, do NOT wear cotton! It’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight. Suffer for a few minutes while waiting for the start of your heat or hand off your jacket to a friend as the gun goes off…You are running a Spartan Race! Suck it up! Aroo! Aroo! 

8. On the serious side: You might have concern about getting across water obstacles. In Malibu, the water is not particularly deep and you can always stay to the edge. If you still feel apprehensive ask someone to be your buddy as you wade across so you can keep an eye on each other. Be safe. Period. If you are running with a group like the Weeple Army  or Team SISU you will have a bunch of friends looking out for you.  If you are going at it solo…you will have a bunch of friends looking out for you.  Just remember to ask.  Someone will hold your hand, carry you, push you over and do whatever you need if you ask. And, again, be safe.  If you don’t swim stay to the edge and ask someone to stay with you and be your safety buddy.

Above all else…have fun!  You paid to do this so you might as well enjoy it.  Laugh and smile through the cold, the mud, the barbed wire crawl and everything else that gets thrown at you in a Spartan Race.

Aroo! Aroo!

Ruck On. Stay Muddy.

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In light of the new 12 our Hurricane Heat that now stands as part of the qualifying for entry into the Death Race, Spartan Race are proud to announce the arrival of the new Hurricane Heat coordinator, Spartan Pro Team athlete and Death Race veteran, Anthony Matesi. 

Clearly very excited about his role at Spartan Race, Anthony said, “I bring with me the knowledge gained from hosting three 20-25 hour events that I built around the idea of Death Race preparation. Trying to break as many racers in less time to simulate the experience. That knowledge will be translated into a 12 hour event that will break you down and, if you don’t break, build you back up.”

Drawing on not only his experience as a Pro Team and Elite racer, but also from taking part in the Death Race, Anthony knows what the Hurricane Heat is about, what it needs and how those choosing to taking part expect to happen. (link)

“Those who want to complete a HH better know and possess the 7 pillars of Spartan; stamina, power, athleticism, readiness, tenacity, attitude, and nutrition,” he explains.

“Team work and individual challenges that will test you ability to adapt and react. The typical heavy lifting, off course exploration and camaraderie development will remain the staples of what an HH is.”

The Hurricane Heat is for experienced competitors and first timers alike. The same sense of camaraderie and togetherness is how people will get through. For those unfamiliar with the Hurricane Heat, Anthony explains, “there are no timing chips. Challenges will take place on and off the Spartan course and will often times require a team effort. You will do burpees. You will carry heavy objects, both individually and as a team. Mental toughness and quickness will be tested. You may have to memorize something individually or as a team. You can expect a HH to go up to 4 hours so you’ll need food and hydration and an HH12HR will obviously go up to 12 hours. 

For more information about the Hurricane Heat, click here.

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Guest Blogger Michael Mills celebrates life with Spartan Race

This year, 2013, marked 20 years that I have been paralyzed and I wanted to make it the best year of my life. When you hit the 20-year mark in anything, it is always important, as it marks a large passing of time. Twenty years is a long time, it’s celebrated in a marriage, in a career, and it is essentially a lifetime. That 20-year milestone is always honored. Well for me it was no different. I wanted to celebrate my life by doing things that were a challenge and doing something that no other paralyzed person has done.

It all started with the Spartan Sprint in Conyers, GA.  I decided I would do a Spartan Race. I was not sure how I was going to do it, but I was determined to compete in it. Not long after I made the decision publicly to do the Spartan Sprint several of my friends decided to do it with me.  The entire team was new to Spartan Race except for one athlete, John Hate Sales. John was our veteran and he knew all about the race and the rest of us knew nothing.

We didn’t care; we just wanted to do it so we jumped right in it. We took off and within the first mile I had a blowout. I had no way of repairing the wheelchair but I was not going to quit after just starting. I made the decision to carry on with a flat tire. In true Spartan Fashion I was going to carry on. I was to finish or be carried out on my shield. We started as a team and finished as a team and we were all proud. It’s because of the team and their help that I became the first-ever paralyzed person to earn a Spartan Sprint Medal.

Next was the Spartan Death Race in Pittsfield, VT. Someone on Facebook challenged me with the comment “He really did not do anything, he was simply carried by his team! He really did not earn that medal!” That really upset me because I know what I did and I know the work that we did as a team. This is where my next challenge came about.

Steve-Opie Reid contacted me and said, let’s do the Death Race. I told Steve-O, “YOU HAVE LOST YOUR MIND! There is no way I am going to do the Death Race!” Then I thought to myself, this would prove to everyone that doubted me in the beginning that I am a true Spartan Athlete. So, I agreed to enter the Spartan Death Race. From the start, I knew I was in for an adventure. From cutting grass and small limbs with scissors to building an amazing rock trail with a group of amazing people, the Spartan Death Race was an adventure.  I lasted a little over 24 hours before I was cut due to a time hack. I was the 20th person to go out of the Spartan Death Race but 19 before me quit and my goal was to go as long as I possibly could, and I did it. I never quit and I feel I beat many odds within that 24-hour period.

Last event of the year was my most recent, The South Carolina Spartan Beast. This event truly lived up to its name. “THE BEAST” was by far the hardest event of the year. I joined a new group of OCR crazy’s called “THE DIRTBAGS!” This group of men and women took me in and allowed me to be part of the team and I am sure glad they did. These guys and girls worked hard to help me the entire day. We all worked together as a unit. We had Zackary Paben, Steve-O and countless other volunteers along the way that helped and for those, I am forever thankful. Halfway through the day, my left contact came out and was put in a Ziploc bag so we could carry on. We knew we were on a time limit so we did not slow down. With three hours left in our day, my right contact rolled behind my right eye. I am completely blind by now. I am paralyzed and can’t see. I had to trust my team and the ones around me. We still had obstacles to get over and still finish the course.  As we come to the finish, I could see a blurry finish line and I could see a blurry figure holding the Beast medal. I leaned over and was given the hard-earned medal by Chris Davis. As Chris leaned over and hugged me, he said, “I told you I would wait on you!” To know that I had all the help I did on the course and to know that the rest of my fellow teammates earned their Trifecta that day, I was proud to have fought for 10 hours straight on what I would say, was one of the hardest things I have done to date.


For me this year was the year I wanted to prove to anyone who has ever doubted me and that has said that people with disabilities could not be athletes much less Spartans. I am here to tell you, that you are dead wrong. I am a Spartan. I am a Spartan three times over and to be the first to have done each of these in a wheelchair is a dream come true. I will tell anyone if you are disabled or just wanting to live a better and healthier life, DO A SPARTAN RACE. It changed how I see things and how I tackle life now. It will truly do the same for you!!!!!

See you in 2014 Trifecta!


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Just before this beard craziness all began, I was playing B-ball with one of our athletic, 16 year old African-American kids.  He was trash talking me from the start, and about halfway through he called me an, “old, big, hairy, ugly, white dude.”  He predicted that he was going to, and I quote, “cross me up and break my ankles,” making some comment about it having something to do with his “swag.”

Now, my shooting percentage is terrible, but as the old proverb says, “Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.”  After defeating him, I informed my arrogant opponent, “you just got beat by old, big, hairy, ugly, white dude with bad knees and no fingertips.”  As it turns out, his swag was no match for my beard.

It’s all about the beard. For as long as OCR has existed, beards have held exulted office simply because of the fact that they are beards. As a beard wearer of many years, Zack Paben saw this as a niche that bizarrely hadn’t been tapped into yet.

The morning following the basketball incident, I saw a random post on Facebook about boys having swag and men having beards. Inspired by the quote, I posted a picture of myself coming out of a frozen mud bath with the caption ”Boys keep your swag and I will keep my beard” to the More Heart than Scars (MHTS) Facebook page.  Billy Findeiss (Now forever known as Mr. December) asked me if I was trying to start a beard contest.  Of course, I said, “yes,” then Michael Caudell joined in and started posting all kinds of pure self-loving beard pics.  Jimi Da Beard Hughes  was next to enter his mud-faced masterpiece and then came Steve-o Opie Bones‘ entry.

Zack clearly had people in mind already. While the idea was one of those, “hey, you know what would be cool….?” Moments, things started to take shape, albeit slowly.

“I had hoped for (Spartan Death Race veteran) Steve-o, having seen pictures of him and his beard doing heroic things.  I have heard other men giving praise to my mud beard while participating in various OCRs. I have seen lots of pics of my Facebook friends’ muddy faces.  When I saw a post with a hairy visage I would pester/encourage them to join the competition.”

And so the idea of a “Bearded Men of OCR” calendar, with the proceeds going to charity was born. With Zack having worked for 22 years with at risk youth, it was a natural progression to have an idea and then have charitable causes benefit from it.

“The response was overwhelming once Steve-o entered, I never expected to have the incredible support and involvement that came from the OCR community. As time went on, it was clear that some rather amazing men were entered into this fun contest.  During a conversation with Steffen Cook, (Mr. February), the subject of what the winner gets came up.  Obviously, the first prize for all participants is having a beard, but it was decided that the winner would be awarded the title of “Sir Mud Beard,” with each of the top 12 winning a spot in a calendar. Mr. February said the only thing a Brit could to such an idea, “Brilliant!”

He could tell I was making it all up on the spot but he was still all in, and we love him for it.  He has been instrumental in refining the MHTS calendar vision, as well as being a great person for me to chat with about MHTS projects. It has been great to get to know this amazing group of guys.  Some of our private messages got a little hairy being that we all have a zest for life, and great sense of humor.

It started with just one picture but after a week it was clear we needed an album so everyone could look at the pictures side by side and find them in one place.  The last week, we included a collage along with some more questions to learn about our hairy friends.”

Selecting the final 12 was easily done, as Zack explains, “Once it was clear that our goal was to have a Sir Mud Beard Calendar we decided to have the top 12 guys represent their corresponding month (e.g. January would be the person with the most votes, February would be the person with the second most votes, and so forth…).  You can talk about encouraging others to vote and the vote counting process and so on.”

This throwaway comical idea about beards and OCR quickly became something to take seriously. The final 12 were selected and were even interviewed, so that each page of the calendar has a bio of the person that adorns it.

With the charities of Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge and Spartan Race regulars Operation Enduring Warrior benefiting from the sales of the calendar, the causes are close to the hearts of all involved.

The third and last portion of the proceeds will go to Zack’s own cause, More Heart Than Scars.

“The 3rd portion will go to us to More Heart Than Scars to become an official 501(c) (3) organization and to continue to assist and help individuals overcome both physical and or mental challenges. One of our primary goals is to sponsor John Powers, a full left hip-disarticulation amputee to hike the Appalachian Trail. We plan to list inside the calendar the dates of upcoming OCR events.  We also plan to have some OCR companies support by sponsoring our calendar and giving a one-time discount to a race with proof of purchase of one of our calendars.”

With Spartan Race being well represented within the pages by not only by staff members and even Death Racers, what’s your excuse for not owning one?

Contact Zack via the facebook page More Heart Than Scars Facebook page for more information.

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The Moment Life Changed
On October 23 2004, Joei Harrison’s life changed in one brief, horrific moment.

Her car was hit head-on by a drunk driver.  The collision that took the life of her six year old daughter Elisabeth cracked the skull and lacerated the liver of her son Ethan.  The accident knocked her unconscious and left her with a host of injuries including fractured vertebrae,  a shattered arm, and a concussion.

Harrison awoke five days later in the hospital with no memory of the accident but immediately saw her arm in apparatus, pins sticking out of her thumb. Looking around, she saw a room full of doctors who were at that moment deciding whether or not they would have to use a halo thoracic brace with a metal ring that is secured to the skull with screw pins.

That was a devastating day. Her emotional grief and physical rehabilitation would have to somehow begin and she also had to manage the impending legal battle with the person who caused it all.   She recalls, “On the way home to my mom’s house I remember trying to speak and what came out of my mouth sounded like a tape being eaten.  My words were all jumbled up and could not make sense of what I was saying.”

The Beginning of Recovery

Harrison was angry, “I was pissed off that I could not speak.  I remember just mentally thriving on the anger to overcome what was wrong with my speech, something clicked and I was focused and able to speak again.”  Life was busy and difficult, “I was going to rehab 3 days a week, dealing with funeral arrangements, being a mom and trying not to lose it for my son.”

The rehabilitation was a long road back grounded in excruciating pain.  “My right arm was about three times the size of my left one after the apparatus came off.  I remember the first time going to physical therapy where Jack, my therapist, massaged my arm to get all the fluid out.  It was so painful I passed out.”

The surgery on her arm left Harrison with limited range of motion, “My arm was missing bone in 6 different spots. When the doctors put my arm back together there were gaps in the bone where metal plates would connect one bone to the other.”  The reality of the damage was setting in, “I now had a permanent disability in my arm, loss of range of motion, could not extend my arm fully out and lost length in my arm since it was a permanent 90 degree angle and no longer could touch my face or drink with my right hand.  I had to learn how to use my left hand.”

She’s been getting surgeries ever since.  A constant state of rehabilitation and recovery but in 2011, Joei registered for the Super Spartan in Temecula.  She wasn’t sure on the day of the race if she was ready, “Saturday morning it was raining, cold wet, and miserable.  Out on the course the weather changed.  It started to hail on the way up the mountain until it turned to snow. I was already sick and I could not believe what I was getting myself into.  At that moment, along came the spear throw and I made it on my first try.”

Spartan Races

She finished the race, proud of the accomplishment and found a new challenge, the Spartan Death Race, “I learned about the Death Race here at one of the booths.  I looked at the information and said I suffered and went through Hell and back I think I could do this.  So I registered for 2012 Summer Death Race and finished top 5 female.”

Proving to herself that she’s a survivor in every sense of the word and that she’s somehow found a new normal, “My life is not normal but doing stuff like obstacle course racing gives me a sense of being normal again.”

Her son Ethan has also recovered from his injuries, “When I came home from the SoCal Super in Temcula, my son Ethan was waiting for me. His eyes popped out when he saw the medal that I got and he said, “mom I want to do this.”‘

And so she got him involved in the races.  ”At the 2012 NorCal Beast he did the Spartan Kids race.  He was having so much fun out there.  As he would approach an obstacle, he would already have what he was going to do planned out.  One obstacle after another, he dropped and rolled under the obstacle and popped up to his feet to continue the run. Spartan Race brought my whole family and friends together.”

Even in her darkest hours, a mother’s love, coupled with a will to survive, and the ability to push through any obstacle put in her way made Joei realize her own strength.  The gritty determination that carries her through every aspect of her life, whether it’s providing for her family, recovering from devastating injuries, doing her job, or attacking a Spartan Race course.  And Joei will be in Las Vegas to race the Reebok Spartan Race in Vegas.

If you have ever wondered if you can finish, you just have to decide to start.  We’ll see you at the finish line.  Sign up today. 

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by Anthony J Matesi

Team SISU is built on the foundation of going above and beyond our limits.  You can see this in everything SISU does, from training, to motivating others, to taking on extreme challenges, and even sacrificing their own bodies to support a great cause.   For the Malibu Spartan Sprint SISU has looked to helping their own, Shawn Parsons and his family.  To support them, all donations will go to From There To Care, a no-kill animal shelter located on 8 acres of land in Riverside, CA. In California, especially SoCal, there is a large problem with homeless pets resulting in the euthanasia of thousands of animals every year.  Organizations like “From There to Care” aim to help curb this trend by pulling animals from city and county shelters, rehabilitating them, and re-homing them with their forever families.  We’re asking people to support Daren’s generous effort, but pledging whatever they can.  It’s estimated that the average cost of rescuing and re-homing one animal is about $300.  But even if a donation is for just a few dollars per lap (more on that follows), every little bit helps.  Donations can be made via PayPal by going to the following URL:

Now, you are probably wondering what SISU will be doing to encourage donations, right? 

 The Challenge

Allow me to introduce you to Daren de Heras, a founding member of Team SISU.  Daren is an extremely active athlete, he coaches his daughters AYSO soccer team, runs a flexible packaging company; a family owned business, and a frequent Spartan Racer who takes on challenges all over the country including a few that he has helped organize even.  When Daren decided he wanted to help From There to Care he made a point to contact Joe Desena to discuss what kind of challenge he should take on.  Joe was inspired by the performance of James Ogden at the Carolina Spartan where he ran six laps to raise money for Wounded Wear.  Joe suggested Daren go after seven laps at the Malibu Sprint.

After some brainstorming back and fourth between the two the challenge was laid out.  Daren will begin with the first “lap” a la the Hurricane Heat which will lead straight into the standard course laps, beginning with a 40 lb. Team SISU War Hammer.  Next, Daren will be tethered to a friend thanks to Hobie Call lending the tether he used when racing with his wife at the Arizona Spartan Race.  Lap number four will be with the one and only LOG!  The mad man won’t stop there for his fifth lap he is going to wear a weight vest through the course and following that he will switch over to an elevation mask, because who really needs oxygen.  As if that wasn’t enough already, Daren will be running his final lap as a tribute to the Death Race Panda.  From what I’ve heard, Daren is a gambling man; he survived the Betrayal of the 2012 Death Race and is preparing himself for a return to Pittsfield, VT in 2013.  If you don’t know about the DR Panda, beware, it has been said he can either come to your aid or lead you to your demise.

Joe has challenged Daren to take on this challenge and he has accepted.  Now its up to you to help donate, help the animals without homes, prevent unnecessary death, and give these animals a chance to live.  With your donations, From There to Care will be able to provide a sanctuary for many, many abandoned animals that deserve some tender loving care.  Let’s support Daren as he tackles this tremendous challenge and donate to helping give the animals a second chance at life. Donate here


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by Carrie Adams

Spartan staffers are often asked what life is like working at Spartan Race HQ and for the one and only Joe Desena.  Spartan staff is comprised of a dedicated crew that helps create, design, build, and execute Spartan Races all over the world.  They are men and women who athletes and professionals, Guinness Book World Record Holders, Double and Triple Ironman finishers, Olympians, Adventure Racers, Badwater finishers, Death Race winners, not to mention moms and dads, husbands, wives, and, of course, Spartan finishers.

Spartan Race HQ is located in the big little town of Pittsfield, VT.  With a population of 427, the town was nearly washed away in last year’s devastating Hurricane Irene landfall on the Eastern seaboard.   Never a town to shrink back, they’ve rebuilt much of what was lost, not surprising when you consider it’s also the home of the infamous Death Race, it’s become a Spartan haven and the perfect place for a Spartan Race staffer to live, train, and work.  Situated next door to a Bikram yoga studio, staffers can regularly be seen in the studio early in the morning or over lunch getting their sweat on or in the organic General Store having breakfast or lunch.

Spartans keep irregular hours, but don’t tell them that.  Spartan staffer Jason Jaksetic is often seen climbing the mountain with Joe before the sun rises, toting 100 pound sand bags, Joe calls them “business outings.”  A lot of work has been done in the dark green mountains of Pittsfield.

What is a typical day at Spartan HQ?  How about burpees on the hour, green juices for lunch, mandatory bikram yoga sessions, and occasionally being woken up at 4AM by your co-worker to go on a 5 mile run.  Oh, and do you wanna leave town for the weekend?  Joe and Andy might take the tires off your car.  (True story- Stevie has details)

Led by Spartan’s fearless leader, and one of the SR founders, Joe Desena, who is well-known for his humor and his hard-working style and it’s not out of the ordinary for employees to work 16 hour days, especially on race weeks and then run a 16 hour day from the course running bag check or registration.  Yes, Spartan Race HQ is a small but mighty contingent of people who love their jobs and who look forward to meeting our racers in person. Joe keeps the troops motivated with his random and often slightly odd style of encouragement.  Here are a few examples of how Joe D gets Spartan Staff motivated on the job:

When an employee needed to go to a funeral of a family acquaintance Joe was overheard saying… “Stevie, that’s why you want to work, you don’t want to die when you still have work to do.”

“Don’t just be the early bird who gets the worm, be that bird who RIPS THAT WORM outta the dirt, before anyone else can get the chance!” - Joe D

“Whaddya workin’ a half-day?!” - Joe D (after seeing you pack up your desk at 8 o’clock at night)

That’s why some Spartan staffers have taken to hiding to get away!  So, be sure to thank the Spartan Staff and volunteers you see on site!  They work hard to make sure you can play hard on race day!

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