by Margaret Schlachter, guest blogger

2010 may have been the start of my Spartan journey when I was one of the original Spartans racing in the first Spartan Race in early 2010. 2011 marked my first podium and an invitation to join Spartan Chicked from the beginning, but it’s 2012 that will forever go down in the history books.

2012 was an incredible year, little did I know that in June when I started my 2012 season I would race nineteen official times and a few laps to help out, amass seven podium finishes and never out of the top 15. Little did I know I would travel throughout the country, race countless miles, make lasting friendships, and change careers all because of Spartan Race. I could write novels about the year but instead condensed it down to my Top 10 Moments in Spartan for 2012.

Top 10 Moments in Spartan Race of 2012

10.       The Perfect Race – finishing my first race with a single penalty burpee in Amesbury, MA Sprint.

9.         Finishing 3rdboth days in the Mid-West Super Spartan. It was an incredible weekend where two great races happened.

Margaret Schlachter and Juliana Sproles

8.         Watching the Spartan Chicked movement grow over 9,000 members. We started with a dozen women brought together with an idea by Carrie Adams and today it’s grown beyond what any could have imagined a year and a half ago.

7.         A Book Deal – Because of OCR and Spartan Race I am working on my first book due out in Spring 2014, dedicated to getting more people into racing and getting over the hurdles that stand in the way.

6.         Racing in Fenway Park – I went to college in Boston and that’s when I first got into baseball. Racing in Fenway was a surreal experience, hugging the Green Monster, burpees on the warming track, and seeing parts of the park otherwise closed to the public was priceless!

5.         The People – The Spartan Community is unlike any other in sport. The bonds and friendships formed are closer than many friendships I have had for years. Some of my biggest competitors are my best friends. The conversations on the trails during races are what sometimes got me to the finish.

4.         DNF’ing the Death Race after 25 hours of racing – More was learned in about myself in that DNF than I could have ever known.

3.         Finishing the Ultra Beast – it was more than a race for me, a goodbye to Killington, Vermont where I started my fitness journey. My last time on “my” mountain before moving to Utah, it was a race that transcended the rest.

2.         Chris Davis – Meeting and helping Chris to train for the Vermont Beast was an experience that not only allowed me to help train another Spartan but more importantly I got a great friend out of it. The first time he got over the 8ft wall in my backyard is a treasured memory of 2012

1.         Turning “pro” – In July, I quit my day job and simultaneously became the first female professional obstacle course racer. My life is my website, Dirt in Your Skirt, racing and training.

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by Carrie Adams

Since he first burst onto the scene in February 2011,  Hobie Call has dominated the Spartan male competitive landscape.  While there have been a few notable exceptions and despite a very talented male field, Call has nearly single-handedly owned the top male Spartan spot unchallenged.

When it comes to the women, there is a very different story in play.  With a field of female athletes that is vast and varied, the Spartan women have been battling it out course after course with several names coming to the surface in a pool of talent that is growing daily.

In Pennsylvania, there will be a showdown of some of the biggest names in obstacle racing you should know by now and we want to introduce you them!

In Sparta, we like our women fast.  Let’s take a look at the line-up!

The Champ

Jenny Tobin, 2011 Spartan Female Champion

Jenny Tobin.  2011 Spartan Champion and 2012 PacNW 1st place female this professional Xterra triathlete and Ironman Champion took home the top spot in Texas’s World Championships also nabbing a $10,000 payday in Glen Rose, TX.   Jenny brings experience in racing to the table and two solid wins make her an obvious choice for the PA course champion.

The Spartan Challengers

The In-Form Racer:

Andi Hardy-Jory

Andi Hardy- Jory is the winner of 2012′s Tuxedo Race and the Indiana Founder’s race not to mention a second place finish in Georgia and Montreal.  Does this Spartan winner and high school prinicpal have what it takes to outclass the field?

The Familiar Face:

Blogger and familiar Spartan figure

Margaret Schlachter

Margaret Schlacther of Dirtinyourskirt.com is heading to PA and a race more suited to her trail background.  With a third place Beast finish in 2011 and a second place finish in New York behind Hardy-Jory, Schlachter is going to be toeing the line at several upcoming Spartan Races.

The Young Gun:

Ella Anne Kociuba

At 19, Ella Ann Kociuba is young, but this recent Death Race paticipant raced faster than Jenny Tobin in Glen Rose in 2011 but in an open heat not eligible for the cash prize.  We featured Kociuba in a story earlier this year and her battle back from a debilitating horseback riding injury to become a real Spartan competitor.  Will she be able to outpace Jenny in the same heat?

Gretchen Krueger

The Local:

36 year old Gretchen Krueger is coming back to PA.  Krueger took top spot in PA in 2011… can she hold her own in her backyard and defend her title?

The Up-and-Comer:

Alyssa Tokorcheck

Alyssa Tokorcheck’s first Spartan race was 2011′s Beast in Vermont.  Since then she’s been chipping away at the races she’s run.  Tokorcheck just took third place in Toronto and also took home a second place finish in the Carolinas in 2012.  She’s poised to be a competitor in this field of road and trail runners.

The Canadia Phenom

Rose-Marie Jarry, a 29 year old ex-Canadian national level 400 and 800 meter track and field athlete.

Rose-Marie Jarry

Jarry owns and runs her own all natural sports nutrition brand called Kronobar, all the while she keeps up her training for Spartan racing.  She has run 17 Spartan Races since 2010.  Jarry has won the Mont-Tremblant race 3 years in a row and Toronto 2 years in a row, she took the top spot in Malibu in 2010 and made podium every year after.  Jarry also ran the Beast in Ottawa last week and finished second with a time of 3:58. In Pennsylvania, she will be looking to have a great race and a good time.  Jarry has also joined Spartan Race in providing healthy recipes on our Spartan Blog!

The WildCards

Juliana "The Shark" Sproles

The Shark:

Juliana Sproles aka “The Shark” will be onhand in Pennsylvania for her first Spartan race.  Known as the World’s Toughest Mudder, she claimed top spot in the Tough Mudder World Championships last year but can she hang with the Spartans?

The CrossFitter:

Janice Marie Ferguson

Another new name to be watching is Janice Marie Ferguson, who qualified for the SouthCentral CrossFit Games Regional in San Antonio, TX this year.  An injury left her in a disappointing 30th place  and while she intends to return to compete in CrossFit again, she now has her sites set on Sparta.

Be at the Spartan Pennsylvania race and watch the drama unfold in a Spartan Chicked Battle of Champions and Challengers.  It all goes down Saturday, July 14th at 9 AM.  More challengers might even get added to the line up so stay tuned!

There are still a few slots open so GET REGISTERED and watch the ladies take on the PA course for top spot and bragging rights this round!

Click HERE to register!

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by Margo the Great

Originally posted in Margo’s “Dirt in Your Skirt”

[Editor’s Note: Margaret Schlachter aka Margo the Great recently placed third at the Spartan Beast and is sharing her pearls of wisdom from her year and a half as an obstacle racer regarding how to prepare for a Spartan Race day.]

Spartan Race 2010, Burlington, VT
The First Spartan Race Ever!

Don’t:
1. Do Not Wear Cotton!
I made this rookie mistake my first obstacle race wearing a pair of cotton capris, cotton undies, and cotton shirt. Repeat do not wear cotton, especially if you are doing an event with water obstacles. It will weigh you down, and not a happy camper. Those cotton capris were rolled up so high by the time I finished that course and I won’t even go there with cotton underwear. I learned my lesson quickly.
2. Do Not Wear White
Know going into a race everything, I mean everything will and does get dirty. Anything white will never be the same again. If you plan on keeping those socks, well they will forever be gray

3. Do Not Race With Your Car Keys, iPod, Sunglasses
Seems simple, you would be surprised how many people I see at their first race have an iPod in or sunglasses, even once saw a dude with his keys clipped to his shorts. Leave any valuable belongings at home. iPod’s will get ruined in water and mud, sunglasses you will most likely loss in an obstacle, and well keys and wallets leave them in the car! Most races now have bag check so you can check all that stuff. I personally like to leave it in the car then to a hide a key

4. Do Not Clock Block
Clock blocking, quoted from www.clockblocking.com -
“What is Clock Blocking?
Clock blocking is when a person either deliberately or inadvertently disrupts another racers flow or stride causing their pace to slip and thus directly hurting another racer’s overall and/or average times for their respective event.”

What this means is if it’s your first race, you might not want to push your way to the front with people who do this all the time. Also if a running in your heat and a later heat competitor is barreling past you or you are barreling past them, PLEASE get out of the way for the faster runner. They may be going for the win, in truth if you are the slower one they will probably between breathes ask you to move. If you are the faster one please say thank you when you pass. I tell each person who moves out of my way thank you!

If you decide to run in a full on costume. Do not line up at the front of the line to start, Guy in the wedding dress you aren’t going for the win, back off. Let the racers who want to PR race!

5. Do Not Run Bandit

Sign up for the race and pay for it like everyone else. It’s really not cool to have someone at an event get a finisher medal when they didn’t sign up to race in the beginning. Support Obstacle Racing and sign-up for the events. Help grow our sport!
DO:
Okay, so we covered all the things you shouldn’t do on race day, lets focus on all the things that can help you achieve your goals.

1. HYDRATE

Depending on how long the race is, depends how far out you start hydrating. for a race like the Spartan Sprint or other 5K distance obstacle race, a day or two before is a great time to hydrate, make sure you are drinking water the day of and maybe a half electrolyte drink (Gatorade)/ half water mix if its hot out. For the Spartan Beast I spent the week walking around with a gallon water bottle, I call my water baby. Best if you leave the beer unopened. 

2. Have a Race Pack

Have a pack of stuff for race day. My pack always includes:

2 – Gallon size plastic bags

1 – Sunscreen

1 – Small Towel

1 – Beach Towel

1 – Travel Size Bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Biodegradable Soap (may sure it’s biodegradable)

1- Shammie

1 – Full Change of Clothes

1- Sweatshirt

1 – Pair of flip flops or extra shoes

Post Race Snacks – I prefer Luna Bars, and Clif Builders Bars, and other Clif Products

1- Gallon of Water

1 – Other Gallon of Water

Now is where you have your sunglasses and wallet. OK, I know that sounds like a lot of stuff, try to get to the venue early so you can just leave it all in the car and get it out after you finish. Plastic bags are for your dirty clothes after you race and your small wet towel. Sunscreen well that should be self evident. The first gallon of water is for if the showers suck at the race you can just go to your car and use the small towel to wash off with the Dr. Bronners. The Shammie will help you dry off and the large Beach towel will help you change in the parking lot. A skill I picked up from surfing. (Underwear first, then pull the clean sports bra over the towel and pull the towel down you are dressed again! Full change of clothes including underwear, I have forgotten the extra change before and been pretty unhappy standing around in muddy undies. Even if it’s 100 degree after a race sometimes your body will feel off from exerting the energy, so bring layers. I like to wear flip flops after a race but you need a second pair of shoes. The last gallon of water drink up after your race. Your free beer will not rehydrate you!

3. Do Wear Trail Running Shoes

Post Spartan Beast 2011

I have raced in many different shoes over the last year and a half, whether you choose Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) (done it) or heavy old trail shoes (done that) make sure you can run in them over varying terrain. I personally wear the company Inov-8 now when I race, they are super light and are made specifically for trail running. I have seen many in VFF’s crumble as they are not use to trails in them. Best if to go out and run some in the mud before a race see how the shoes are. If there is swimming a heavy hiking shoe is not going to be the answer. But I think footwear is extremely personal. Just know they are going to be muddy and dirty when you finish whatever you wear.

4. Bring Nutrition 

For a 5K you will probably not need any nutrition, but anything longer than that it’s a good idea to store a gel pack or gummies in a pocket. All races have water stations and some give you bananas as well but just know you may be in the woods for over a mile or two without any options. If you are worried bring some water with you but for the Spartan Beast (Over 12 miles) I only carried a couple gel packs. If this is your plan take the extra time at aid stations to hydrate before moving on, the seconds you take there will pay dividends when you need the calories later.

5. Learn to Love Spandex

Remember how I said don’t wear cotton, so you might we wondering what do you wear then. Simply I wear as little as possible my race day attire is a sports bra and shorts. This is why, the more clothes you wear the more it will weigh you down when wet and muddy. Not comfortable in just you bra, choice a form fitting tank top in a wicking fabric. Wicking fabrics are as key in cooler races are they are in warmer races, like the Spring climate, they help move moisture away from the body to keep your core temperature up. In the summer it will draw away the sweat from your body. Find wicking underwear as well. I know I keep going back to underwear but its important.

For shorter races (5K) I wear shorts, longer races, I switch to capri’s mostly for chaffing reasons. Learn where your bodies hot spots are so you can lube up before a race. A cheap lube that works great is baby diaper rash cream A&D. Also my personal color of choice for clothing is black, it shows no mud or blood you may have incurred along the course.

When you get home dry the clothes out first, shake off excess mud then wash them. It saves you having to wash them a second time when they aren’t clean at first!

Final Thoughts…

These races are not your average 5k, 10 mile or even half marathon. If it’s your first race throw out all ideas of what a 5k time should look like. Some races might take under 30 minutes others might take an hour for the same distance. The terrain in these races can be gnarly and unforgiving, you maybe running up a mountain or in a state park depending on your geographic location, each race venue is different. Obstacles are meant to slow you down, they will, it’s OK. You will get better at them the more races you do. Use your instincts on them, if an obstacle is intimidating take a deep breathe then try it again. It took me 3 times to get over one of the walls at the Spartan Beast and I still finished the race well.

Go into race day with a clear mind and ready to expect the unexpected. Most importantly run YOUR OWN RACE, results in the end don’t matter as long as you know you pushed hard. Don’t get caught up in what all the crazy people are doing around you before a race. Just because the guy next to you decided to do 100 burpees before the race doesn’t make him any faster than you. Or conversely the guy who shotguns a beer with his buddies to show how cool he is on his gopro video. Let him try to prove he is a badass. Have a plan and stick with it. I run a lot of races where the testosterone is so high at the start my ovaries hurt.

My warm-up varies race to race. For a short race it might take me 45 minutes to warm-up for a 5K, where as the Spartan Beast (12+ miles), I just walked up to the line and relaxed into what would be just under a 4 hour race for me.

Overall, have a great time, meet new people who share your interest in this amazing sport. If you are lucky enough to have a group to race with cheer each other on. If it’s your goal maybe you bring home a cool sword at the end of the day! But overall, its about you and finding out a little bit more about yourself and you will have some bruises and cuts to show off at work on Monday!

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by Brian Ansley

Marg 1When you combine some of the world’s toughest obstacle challenges, including the Spartan Beast and the World’s Toughest Mudder 24 hour race, what do they all have in common? Well besides the obvious elements, they have one forceful competitor ready to take them all on before the end of the year! That’s right, Margaret Schlachter, 27, currently residing in Killington, Vermont is ready to take on that test. Margaret has developed a passion for obstacle racing. She did her first Spartan Race in 2010. I asked her about her craze for obstacle racing and she simply said, “I’m addicted”. Well Margaret, the feeling is mutual, and I’m sure many of our readers feel the same way! Vermont is also where Margaret conducts the majority of her training to prepare for all of the upcoming races. She sticks to a very rigid workout routine, and shares it on her web page www.dirtinyourskirt.com.

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