By Daniel Pebbles

We men, we live, we are strong, we rule, we beat our chest, and yet our strength is nothing next to the will of the women who love us. I have never been surer of this than I was when I watched my wonderful, beautiful, wife (my SPARTAN PRINCESS) complete the Spartan Military Sprint Challenge at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs Colorado.

For months now I have watched my wife dedicate herself to change physically and mentally. Working out almost daily at Gottsche. Now she had been doing this while never failing in any of her others endeavors such as taking care of our children, our home, her more than needy husband, and full time job.

I did not know much about what she had signed up for with this Spartan Race until I watched what it made her. Waves of 200 racers were released beginning at 0800 hrs. and continued throughout the day. Sherri’s heat was set to go at 0915 so numerous racers had been released prior to her start, making the course ahead wet and muddy in places that those who started first and or were in the lead would never have known. Just to give you an idea the first obstacle was a series of trenches that were 4 to 5 feet in width and full of water and mud, and there were at least five of them.

She was nervous and so was I, but she now it was time for her to do her thing out on the course. So then the waiting started. Minutes were multiplied and time seemed to slow down as I watched for her to appear on the horizon.  And then finally of all people to see her, Stone said, “Hey there is mom.” He pointed to an area just after the mud crawl, under the barb wire and through several mud pits, as long as or longer than two semi trucks and trailers end to end. And there she was covered in mud from head to toe running toward the “spear throw.”

I hollered, “Sherri” and the kids yelled, “mom!”

We caught up with her just prior to the spear throw and due to the bottle neck of throwers we were able to exchange a few words. She was muddy from head to toe, sopping wet shoes and an abundance of mud caked on her face, hair, and clothes. I could tell she was tired, exhausted.

I looked at her and simply said, “Do you want to quit.” And with a look that I honestly can say I have never seen in her before she said, “No”. I never asked again. We told her that we loved her and she continued on to the spear throw. That is where we lost her and we did not find her again until the mud pits on the other side.

Once she emerged from the mud pits there was the slanted wall of 10 feet or so that now was covered in wet mud, and the ropes were so slick with mud the racers could not hold on as they attempted to scale the wall and continue on. This is where I truly learned the meaning of this endeavor that my Spartan Princess had got herself into. As racer after racer attempted the slick muddy wall and muddy ropes, numerous racers slipped and fell back from where they had started. Other racers stepped forward and were able to get atop the wall and sat on top and helped racer after racer get up and over this obstacle. Encouraging words, hands outstretched helping each other beyond this obstacle of slick mud and slimy rope. This is when I learned this race was not about who was first or the fastest. It was about who was willing to give that possibility up to turn and put out their hand to someone who was struggling and simply say, “Take my hand.” I am a man a chest beater but I became just a little emotional at this point, not outwardly because I am a chest beater.

As Sherri stood in line for this obstacle we were to be able to speak with her. She was watching as racer after racer slid back and or fought this wall. She looked at me and said, “I don’t think I can get over that, I don’t know anyone here to help me. I told her to just go for it and they would help her. And she did, she grabbed the muddy rope and twisted it around her hand and placed her muddy shoes on the slick muddy wall and began to pull herself up and as she did the racer on the wall above her and the one below her helped her scale that wall of which she thought she could not do. I was in awe of her, and so very proud. Then we again lost sight of her for what seemed like forever. In the distance you could see where it appeared racers had to drag huge tires and hike up and down a steep hill with back packs (that I was sure were not empty) and then disappear from sight for god knows what for which seemed like forever.

And then again on the horizon the kids and I seen her, coming down the hill toward the last four obstacles that were between her and the end of this madness. What were left were the rope climb, cargo net, fire pit and gladiator pit. The rope climb was so slick with mud it was 30 burpee’s and on to the cargo net. Sherri climbed up and over without a hitch. Then on to the fire pit, which she cleared with ease, and through the gladiator pit  to the finish line.  That’s when my Spartan Princess received her Spartan medal. 

As I took her picture standing there covered in mud from head to toe, with her medal around her neck on the right side of the finish line. I realized why she had answered the way she did when I asked her if she wanted to quit. Even though at the time of my question I knew and she knew she was tired and hurt all over but it did not matter as she intended to conquer and nothing was going to prevent that, not 4.5 miles, not 28 obstacles, not the mud, not being alone (or at least thinking you were), the face I looked into was one of determination and dedication. I realized it was the same as many of the faces that I saw thrusting forth their hands and simply saying, “take my hand, there is no way we fail”.

I learned a lot from my Spartan Warrior Princess this date. And I am one lucky chest beater.

 

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By Leslie St. Louis, Spartan Elite Athlete

My feet and body are a symphony. My mind is clear and focused. The blue skies, the warm sun, the Colorado mountains embrace me as I crunch through brush, cactus and sage. I spy an orange arrow pointing into a ravine. I hustle down, see a stream, leap, feel the cool splash, the squish of mud, the jagged firmness of a river rock. I surge forward, grasping grass, weeds, bushes. I claw, use my legs, push up and out and am back to running.

The rhythm returns.

There’s another competitor ahead, and at least three more obstacles. What I can’t see is the finish line, but I can hear it. I know my husband and two daughters are there. I feel peace. For a brief moment, the Old Leslie butts in and whines “Can you really do this?” But it’s too late because I am strong and in synch. That doubting voice becomes a dimming hum, fading and floating away into the horizon. I surge forward even faster to a new confident beat. I am sure. I do believe. I am on a mission. I am Spartan.

The Colorado Military Sprint marks the one year anniversary of my first-ever Spartan Race (I came in third!) and the beginning of a life change. In the few years prior, I had quit my job as a teacher, had two girls 18 months apart and became a stay at home mom. On one hand, I was overjoyed with this new phase of my life, but on the other I was completely overwhelmed and exhausted. If you have young children, you probably know that feeling of being soooo busy, but not really getting anything “done.” Depressed and 15 pounds overweight, I had signed up for Spartan as a stepping stone to weight loss.

Amid the process of training, I rediscovered my passion for trail running and started working on my strength. My friends and I brainstormed workout ideas, integrating our little ones or switching off.
By the time I stepped up to the start line in Fort Carson, I had already forgotten about my initial goal of losing weight (that had happened along the way), and was more interested in putting all my new muscles to work!
The Colorado race, led to the Utah race, which eventually led to traveling the country, including scaling the mountains of Vermont (for 10 hours!) and swimming in the picturesque (frigid) lakes of SoCal. Through Spartan, I found “permission” to be competitive, and all within a very open and accepting community of inspiring and friendly athletes.

Every time I step up to the start line of a Spartan Race, I am a bit scared and nervous because I know that in the process of getting to the finish, I will feel exhaustion, fear, pain, uncertainty, surprise, exhilaration….I will be vulnerable and then build myself back up again. The secret of Spartan is that when you rebuild, you can construct any version of yourself and most likely it will be a stronger, more confident one than you ever imagined. This becomes a part of your everyday life too, and I think I am a better wife and mother because of it. In my best races, I am creating mental and physical symphonies: I am Spartan.

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SNAP Infusion is a proud supporter of Vitamin Angels, a charity that brings health to millions of children throughout the world. Through this partnership, SNAP Infusion and Vitamin Angels will be sharing the stories of SUPERMOMS worldwide. Here’s a story of a woman who managed to be an amazing mom and find time to train for no easy challenge, a Spartan Race.

Our second SUPERMOM is Kati Scheetz, a mother of a very special two-year old, Faith-Rose, who is better known as “Bug”. Kati has always been very active and fit. When Kati became pregant with her daughter, she found out early that Bug was way too small and they didn’t know why. At 26 weeks of pregnancy, Kati was placed on strict bedrest for the remainder of the pregnancy, which was extremely difficult for a woman who was so active. At 37 weeks, Bug was born at only 4lbs. She came into this world with no heart beat and not breathing. She has been fighting ever since and is now 2 years old.

Bug has been in and out of the hospital because she won’t grow, can’t eat anything by mouth and vomits all the time. No doctor can explain why this is happening. She is now fed 100% by feeding tube which is a full time job. Kati, her husband and Bug take everyday one day at a time, and they do so with a positive attitude. Kati tell us “She is definitely my motivation, I want her to grow up in an environment where healthy eating and being active is the everyday normal.”

This was Kati’s second Spartan Race. She thinks that OCR is an amazing sport. It not only challenges you physically, but also mentally. Kati trained by doing a lot of running, taking bootcamp classes and carrying Bug around, which is like carrying a Spartan sandbag around 7 days a week! This year, Kati shaved 45 minutes off her time from last year, now, that’s a SUPERMOM.

Mother’s Day is around the corner. Is your mom your super? Share the story of your SUPERMOM with SNAP Infusion and Vitamin Angels. #mysupermom

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The elements proved to be the unknown factor in Colorado for the second annual Reebok Spartan Military Sprint this year. With competitors getting sunburned and dehydrated on the first day, to those suffering from hypothermia the following day, it certainly was an event that tested every single competitor to the limit.

The men’s Elites was won by Justin Jindra, followed closely by Isiah Vidal and Nicholas Joseph taking second and third respectively. It was a home-grown 1-2-3 for the ladies as Colorado’s finest filled all three spots on the podium. April Luu successfully defended her title with typical fiery determination, with Tobie Rippy and Ashley Swallow making the home crowd proud with a sweep of the awards. Navy Federal Credit Union again generously donated the prize money to the winners.

The course took no prisoners at all. With even the most innocuous of obstacles such as the moats claiming victims, it was a wake-up call to all that thought this was a run-of-the-mill OCR. Both days had people failing to finish, proving that Spartan Race, even on “short” distances, demands your total attention and will punish those that do not prepare.

The event village saw support from many sponsors and promoters ranging from the Colorado National Air guard, Werner Climbing Equipment and Whole Foods. Of course, many competitors and spectators were thankful to Coors Light for the refreshments they offered. Red Bull gave the racers wings while Snap Infusion gave them the stamina to carry on.

Snap Infusion’s nomination for Supermom, Kati Scheetz, was not just running for herself or for the prize of the finisher’s medal. Her daughter – having been induced at 37 weeks weighing only 4lbs with no heartbeat or breathing – currently suffers from a condition that is baffling doctors. Of the last 6 months, 4 of those have been spent in the hospital trying to treat with the mysterious illness which means she has to be fed 100% of the time via tube. With caring for her daughter now being a full time job and all the stresses that come with it, Kati somehow still manages to train and successfully completed the Military Sprint for her little girl.

And like night follows day, more stories of triumph over adversity and inspiration came bleeding through. Zack Askins, a native of Colorado, decided to wear a full 85lb (when dry) bomb disposal suit throughout the course, with a shrug of polite indifference greeting those who ask him if it was difficult.

Brad Fredricks of New York explained, “I was sitting behind a desk and thinking, ‘life must be more than this’ and I saw one of your videos and I wanted the next challenge. I wanted something that was going to be the next level of my life.” Despite having broken his hip in June of 2012, he now is taking part in every Spartan Race this year.

Then there was Shane Tisdall, who having lost his left hand in a motorbike accident some years earlier and suffering paralysis, was seen cheerfully going through his burpees one-handed after failing to negotiate the monkey bars. When asked about how much of a hindrance it was, he smiled and simply pointed out, “it was the best thing that ever happened to me. At the time I wasn’t living very good”.

James Moody, after being clinically dead due to throat cancer and then underwent extreme and brutal throat surgery, offered the simple suggestion of, “don’t quit. Just stick with it, keep working at it”. Good advice not just for Spartan Race, but for all of life, perhaps.

The highlight of the weekend was that of the marriage on course between Arizonians DiAne and Mike Santos. Beneath the romantic monument of the cargo climb that stood before the fire pit, they exchanged vows before witnesses then went on to jump the fire pit together and have the Spartan gladiators form a guard of honor before Mike carried his bride over the finish line. A fitting end to an event that saw many either fall in love, or renew their passion for Spartan Race.

A special mention to go to the medical team that had to step up several gears in order to handle those unfortunates that succumbed to the course, the weather or a combination of both.

Is it your turn to find a Spartan finish line?  Find an event HERE.

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by Elliot Megquier, Spartan Elite Athlete

As I prep for this weekend’s Reebok Spartan Race Military Sprint in Fort Carson, CO, I like to think I have an advantage. I am a Soldier in the 10th Mountain Light Infantry Division at Fort Drum, NY. There are obstacle courses all over Fort Drum. Although I don’t take advantage of them as much as I should, I practice on military obstacles regularly. In fact, today at work we had to do buddy and litter carries which we complete in full gear. I’ll tell you what, carrying a 230 lb guy with gear when you weigh around 175 lbs is surely a great workout. There are ropes, ladders, and cargo nets within a quarter mile of each other. Then the pull up bars, they are everywhere. There are dip bars, tires to flip, Humvees to push, and millions of dollars of gyms and equipment at our disposable.

Not only am I representing myself, my family, friends, and fans, but I represent the 10th Mountain Division. I would like more than anything to get my first Saturday win this weekend at the home of the 4th Infantry Division, one of our rival division in terms of friendly completion. They are the Ivy/Iron Horse, while we are the Light Fighters who Climb to Glory, and that is what I plan to do. I anticipate my main competition will come from LeEarl Rugland and Miguel Medina, but there is always the unknown racer that always seems to show up.

Will you be there?

Find a Spartan Race near you.  Click HERE for a calendar of events.

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by Chris Rayne, guest blogger 

Chris Rayne, Fort Carson, CO 2012

Finding Spartan

I saw my first advertisement for the Spartan Race while I was at the gym at Fort Carson, CO.  It was in November 2011 and the poster was for a race in May.  I didn’t give it much thought and let it slip from my mind. I was in a transition from enlisted to officer in the Army, and was going through the rough ending of a divorce.  I didn’t think I had time to think about a Spartan Race.  A month later the I was asked if I would volunteer for the race.  Not thinking much of it, except that my weekend was free, I put my name on the list and then went about my business.

Finding the Finish Line

April 2012, life was much different for me.  I had fallen in love and I was about to be an Officer in the Army.  I got a reminder about volunteering for the race and was told I could race for free.  I looked into what Spartan Race was and that’s when I first saw the Powerful Beyond Measure video and I was shocked at the emotions that welled up in me when I watched. I had to share feeling with my loved ones and anyone who would listen. I only got around 20 or so people to race day but it was a success in my mind. I finished the Military Sprint I had volunteered for months earlier and was off to start my life as a second lieutenant feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Rebuilding a Life

Life took another turn.  During training I got a call from my fiancé, the moving truck we had all of our possessions in had caught on fire.  We lost everything. The devastation was immense and after the dust had settled I reached out to the Spartan Team and asked for help retrieving a finisher medal to start rebuilding from the ashes. Even though there was no finisher medal available, I did receive a Spartan Helmet and some encouraging words. This community who knew nothing about me and only ran in one race reached out to me and helped me out. This is what sparked my obsession with the Spartan Brand of living and my journey to share this with everyone.  I wanted to pay it forward.

My wife and I started a new life in an empty house with a two year old and a baby on the way.  It was tough to stay focused on training but it was the Spartan Race that helped me and my family. In November of 2012, my daughter Zoey came into the world I dedicated myself to earning the Trifecta in 2013 and bringing my wife to the Spartan Family. We formed a little two person team for the Fort Carson Military Sprint and word got to her family. This lead to her sister (who also just had her third child a few months earlier) and brother joining us and forming team Powerful Beyond Measure in honor of that spark that started it all.

I would frequently check the Spartan webpage and this is when I stumbled upon the Spartan Fuel and decided to send Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena a message asking a few questions. I honestly never expected a response let alone a response within the hour and from Joe himself.

Paying it Forward

It always amazes me that still after all that Spartan HQ has gone through; the core values outlined by the Founding Few are still adhered to. And with the partnership with Reebok it remains their mission to rip each and every person off their couch, get moving  and help people find their hidden potential.  I can never repay the drive that the Spartan Race had given me and my family. My wife jokes with me and says I have a healthy obsession with Spartan…

Well it’s the healthiest and best obsession I think anyone can ever have.  We love it.

Are you ready for your first Spartan Race?  Register TODAY. 

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by Carrie Adams

“The military is in Spartan blood.” – Joe Desena

Spartans are active soldiers, former soldiers, Veterans, wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, fathers, mothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and friends of troops.  Veterans and military personnel are even entitled to a discount when registering for a Spartan Race as well, a very small gesture of “thanks,” but one that we are honored to provide.   Since mid-2011, Spartan Race’s main military partner has been the Air National Guard. We could not be more proud to align ourselves with such a courageous group of Americans!

If you are a Spartan Race finisher, chances are you have been face-to-face with ANG’s logo, as you were attempting to successfully complete the traverse wall obstacle.  Some of you, whether racing or spectating, have competed in the Air National Guard Pull-Up Challenge – the most popular festival challenge at our events.

In 2012, a portion of all Spartan USA revenue is donated to Homes for Our Troops,a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that assists severely injured servicemen and servicewomen and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and to coordinate the process of building a home that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently.

Spartan also launched a Military series in Fort Carson, Colorado in May of 2012.  We’re returning in 2013 May 4th!  Click HERE for event information on this special edition Spartan Race.  The Military series was a huge success and it was coordinated through the Army Department of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR), a comprehensive network of support and leisure services designed to enhance the lives of soldiers (active, reserve and guard), their families, civilian employees, military retirees and other eligible participants.

In keeping with the longstanding Spartan Race tradition of giving back, a portion of the proceeds from the Spartan Fort Carson event was donated to direct military nonprofits including the Green Beret Foundation.  Future military series events will do the same and will donate to other organizations to help address the unique needs of each respective host installation.

In 2011 Spartan teamed with Pro vs. GI Joe to create a rehabbing with the Troops program that featured MMA superstar Tito Ortiz.  We put up a special Spartan Race course in Southern California, see the video HERE.  SR also partnered with Operation Gratitude, a non-profit organization that annually sends 100,000 care packages to military personnel, their families and wounded service men and women.  Donating money to their cause for FB likes going into the 2012 Calendar year.

Team X-T.R.E.M.E.’s Todd Love

Many military service men and women have graced our race courses.  From Team Riley in Glen Rose, TX, to Team X-T.R.E.M.E. in Leesburg, VA and everything in between.  Every Monday on the Spartan blog, we’ll be featuring some of our favorite military inspired stories.  Last week, we gave you the recap of Team Riley, an inspiring team running to honor a fallen brother.

Each Spartan finisher runs for their own reason, many of those reasons are bigger than themselves and we’re excited to tell you their stories in 2013 each and every Monday on our blog.  Spartan Race would like to say “Thank You” to so many men and women who have served, who serve still, and who will serve in the future.

For his week’s installment, we’re introducing you to a Beast.  Kevin Phillips took on his first Spartan Race, the Beast no less in Killington, VT.  That’s quite the introduction to the Spartan Race series.  Phillips enjoyed the race so much, he’s planning on earning his Trifecta Tribe status in 2013 (finishing a Spartan Sprint, Super Spartan, and Spartan Beast in one season) and in his own words, reflects on what the Spartan Race series has to come to mean to him.   Kevin spent four years in the Air Force and is currently a graduate student pursuing his MBA at the University of Michigan.   We look forward to welcoming him to future Spartan battlefields.

My Spartan Experience

by Kevin Phillips

I was once like you. I had participated in races, competed in mud runs, and finished tough workout programs, but the thought of doing a Spartan Race was daunting. The idea of subjecting myself to that type of torture didn’t seem to make sense; crawling under barbed wire, jumping over fire, and climbing up cargo nets seemed ridiculous. Why would anyone do this?

However, while I wanted to stay in shape, my desire to workout wavered because of the lack of having an end goal. Lifting weights at the gym, going out for a run, or completing a workout program was no longer appealing, and though I put emphasis on getting in shape every January, this past year was different because I lacked the motivation to stay focused. Because of this, I decided to take a chance and sign up for a Spartan Race.

What I got in return was one of the best experiences of my life!

While there was significant apprehension in the days leading up to the race, shortly after the event started the uneasiness disappeared. Concerns over not being able to get past an obstacle were replaced with the joy of conquering a challenge; uncertainties of whether I would be able to complete the race were pushed aside, as other Spartan racers motivated me to continue to push forward; and the anxiety and stresses of everyday life becoming too much faded away, knowing that if I could slither through the mud, navigate up a mountain, and perform hundreds of burpees, I was capable of conquering any challenge that I would ever face!

My Spartan Race was unlike any other experience I have ever had, and the way I felt throughout the race and at the finish line was nothing less than euphoric. The demanding course, dedicated athletes, and exuberant fans created a lasting memory that I will never forget.

Now it is your turn!

If you are reading this article you have undoubtedly thought about competing in a Spartan Race, but passed because of the fear of the unknown, concerns over the ability to do the obstacles, or worry that you might not be able to make it to the finish line. No more! Everyone has those fears, but the ability to get past them is what shows true grit and is the mark of a Spartan!

Join me and my fellow Spartans this year by signing up for an event of a lifetime! The Spartan Race you compete in will shatter your expectations and you will cherish your experience for the rest of your life.  Find a race near you HERE and find out for yourself.

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by Carrie Adams

With more than a million service men and women beginning the transition back to civilian life, and with Veterans Day just past, Spartan Race wants to honor those who have served this country.  One day a year is not nearly enough, the thankfulness and pride should be a part of the landscape and the fabric of this nation, and it is a part of the Spartan culture.

Spartan founder Joe Desena has been quoted as saying, “The military is in Spartan blood.”

Colorado Military Series

Spartan’s longstanding commitment and partnership with the military is evident since our creation, and it will always be a part of our organization.  “Two of Spartan Race’s biggest commitments are getting people from all walks of life active, healthy and open to new challenges and supporting the brave service members of the Armed Forces,” said Spartan Race Founder Joe Desena.

Spartans are active soldiers, former soldiers, Veterans, wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, fathers, mothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and friends of troops.  Veterans and military personnel are entitled to a discount when registering for a Spartan Race as well, a very small gesture of “thanks,” but one that we are honored to provide. Since mid-2011, Spartan Race’s main military partner has been the Air National Guard. We could not be more proud to align our brand with such a courageous group of Americans!

If you are a Spartan Race finisher, chances are you have been face-to-face with ANG’s logo, as you were attempting to successfully complete the traverse wall obstacle.  Some of you, whether racing or spectating, have competed in the Air National Guard Pull-Up Challenge – the most popular festival challenge at our events.  All of you, have undoubtedly said “thank you” in one way or another to our military for keeping us safe.

In 2012, a portion of all Spartan USA revenue is donated to Homes for Our Troops,a national nonprofit, nonpartisan

Operation Gratitude Recipients

organization that assists severely injured servicemen and servicewomen and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and to coordinate the process of building a home that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently.

Spartan also launched a Military series in Fort Carson, Colorado in May of 2012.  The Military series was a huge success and it was coordinated through the Army Department of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR), a comprehensive network of support and leisure services designed to enhance the lives of soldiers (active, reserve and guard), their families, civilian employees, military retirees and other eligible participants.

In keeping with the longstanding Spartan Race tradition of giving back, a portion of the proceeds from the Spartan Fort Carson event was donated to direct military nonprofits including the Green Beret Foundation.  Future military series events will do the same and will donate to other organizations to help address the unique needs of each respective host installation.

In 2011 Spartan teamed with Pro vs. GI Joe to create a rehabbing with the Troops program that featured MMA superstar Tito Ortiz.  We put up a special Spartan Race course in Southern California, see the video HERE.  SR also partnered with Operation Gratitude, a non-profit organization that annually sends 100,000 care packages to military personnel, their families and wounded service men and women.  Donating money to their cause for FB likes going into the 2012 Calendar year.

Team X-T.R.E.M.E.

In Leesburg, VA we were first introduced to Team X-T.R.E.M.E. fighting their way through the difficult course while donning their now infamous blacked out gas masks and then returning to the Carolina’s to take on a Beast.  They will be at several upcoming Spartan events including the NorCal Beast and the SoCal Super Spartan.  They have become partners and friends of Sparta.  Their faces hidden and their identities unknown, the team captured the attention of the Spartan community and it spread like wild fire.  Aside from the wounded warrior athletes, the rest of the team are distinguishable only by the call signs stitched into the patches they wear on their arms, and they intend on keeping it that way.  This deliberate anonymity is in recognition of their mission to honor, empower, and motivate wounded warriors and to remain selfless in the process.

From Spartan Race HQ, thank you to all our Veterans.  And let us all honor you with not only our words of thanks but with how we live out the freedom you have so selflessly ensured for us.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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by Carrie Adams

“For those of us who lived through these events, the only marker we’ll ever need is the tick of the clock at the 46th minute of the eighth hour of the 11th day.” – President George W. Bush

Roughly fifteen minutes before 9 AM on September 11, 2001 Spartan Race founder Joe Desena glanced up from his desk on the 59th floor of an office building across the street from the World Trade Towers and then immediately dropped his phone to the floor.   “I didn’t even feel myself let go of it.” He remembers.  “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

What he was seeing was the final seconds of Flight 11 as it careened towards WTC 1 and then violently slammed into the North side of the building.   “I couldn’t speak,” says Desena.  “I could hear my buddy Bobby yelling for me from the phone on the floor, but it was like my brain couldn’t process what I had just seen.”

The horror would repeat itself shortly after 9 AM when, alongside the rest of the world, Desena watched Flight 175 enter the landscape and strike the south tower (WTC 2) as the North Tower continued to burn.  “I pressed my hands up against the glass, everyone screamed… and then it was just…silent.”

Desena and his coworkers watched, stunned, as the buildings lay ablaze and ultimately collapsed; each one sending a billowing cloud of dust and debris all that could be seen through the glass, “Everything went gray… and the rumbling of the collapse was like a train roaring through the building.”  And even though the collapse(s) took only 12 seconds Desena says, “It felt like eternity.”

New York City wasn’t the only target, Flight 77 struck the Pentagon that day, and United Flight 93 crashed into an empty field in Somerset County, PA, when the passengers defied their hijackers.  It was a dark day with victims from 115 countries.

And Desena left the office that afternoon with some co-workers and was met by debris and an eerie sight.  “We were walking in ankle deep soot,” he recalls.  “The coffee vendors cart was sitting there, coffee still percolating on the pot, money on the counter, but there were no people.  It was like a gray ghost town.”  Desena slowly made his way to his Midtown apartment where his motorcycle was waiting.  He was lucky to get out of the city and head to his dad’s house in Queens.  “That day changed everything, “says Desena.  “But there were other changes that came from it.  People were looking one another in the eye again.  People were remembering how it felt to be human.  And we can never forget what happened that day.”

Lower Manhattan would burn for 99 days after that, 20% of the US population would know someone who was killed of the nearly 3,000, and it would cost nearly $600 million just to clean up the wreckage from the Twin Towers devastation.   And the United States mobilized swiftly to the threat.  Less than one month later, the United States was on the ground in Afghanistan and we haven’t left.  “Our military has been putting their lives on the line because of that day, and it hasn’t stopped,” says Desena.  “That isn’t lost on us at HQ.”

And in building Spartan Race, Desena kept that day in mind.  “We were in a new place as a country.  We needed hope and we needed to believe we could have a new life and embrace healthy, hopeful things,” says Desena.  “And even though life was moving forward and we needed to move forward, there are still men and women in harm’s way.”

Spartan Military Series
Fort Carson, CO

Since our inception, Spartan Race has been committed to the Armed forces.   In 2012, a portion of all Spartan USA revenue has been donated to Homes for Our Troops, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that assists severely injured servicemen and servicewomen and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and to coordinate the process of building a home that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently.

Spartan also launched a Military series in Fort Carson, Colorado in May of 2012.  The Military series was a huge success and it was coordinated through the Army Department of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR), a comprehensive network of support and leisure services designed to enhance the lives of soldiers (active, reserve and guard), their families, civilian employees, military retirees and other eligible participants.

In keeping with the longstanding Spartan Race tradition of giving back, a portion of the proceeds from the Spartan Fort Carson event was donated to direct military nonprofits including the Green Beret Foundation.  Future military series events will do the same and will donate to other organizations to help address the unique needs of each respective host installation.

In Leesburg, VA Spartan Race was joined by Team X-T.R.E.M.E.   Team X parachuted in Wounded Warrior athlete  Sgt. Noah Galloway

Team X-T.R.E.M.E.
Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography

and then their eight person team that included two other Wounded Warrior athletes Todd Love and Jonathan Mozingo, took part in the first every Heroes Heat in one of the most memorable appearances in our history.  They are set to be a part of the upcoming Spartan Beast in the Carolinas October 13th and 14th.  The team is a non-profit organization with an ongoing mission to Honor, Empower and Motivate our nation’s wounded heroes and it was started by Jeremy Soles, a United States Marine Corps and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.  Known for donning blacked out gas masks for endurance events that restrict 25 – 30% of oxygen intake, Team X-T.R.E.M.E. completed the brutalizing 10.5 mile course and all the obstacles on Saturday.  With over 75 obstacles to speak of, it was no small task.  The gas masks are worn as a symbol of encouragement and inspiration for their fellow wounded brethren and to honor the sacrifice of our nation’s wounded veterans.

There is always more we can do, because the fight continues every day.  The fight to preserve liberty, to honor the fallen, to move forward with grace and deliberation; all the while never forgetting where we’ve been and what’s been given to get here.  And at Spartan Race HQ we’re remember September 11th and recommitting to changing lives for the better with our race series and giving back where we can.  So, today, on a day that we all remember so well, we want to say, “thank you” to all who have paid a price for our precious freedom, and we assure our community that we’ll never forget.  And to Desena it’s a simple idea, moving forward from such a tragedy, “We can’t let it break us.  Never quit.  Never surrender.”

Team X-T.R.E.M.E.
Photo courtesy of Nuvision Action Image

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