Written By Pro Team member Glenn Racz

The Colorado Military Sprint at Fort Carson Army Base delivered another solid race weekend for over 8,000 participants.  This Military Sprint adds various different elements as compared to other Spartan races such as the increased amount of obstacles (25+) packed into the Sprint distance of about 4.5 miles and the nose-bleed elevation of over 6,000 feet.  These two aspects of the race proved to be a challenge to all competitors in the race.  The stakes were high on this race as this was one of the Navy Federal Credit Union $7,500 prize purse races – which helped to pull in some of the most hardcore obstacle racers from around the country.

The race conditions were ideal with moderate temperatures throughout the weekend.  However, the temperature was the only moderate feature in this race as once the racers took to the course, they all very quickly realized that this race would truly test how one could manage the extremely “obstacle dense” course along with the short, yet steep hills scattered throughout the course.

For the elite men on Saturday, Pro Team athletes Brakken Kraker and Glenn Racz took an early lead by mile 1, but Glenn Racz soon fell back behind Matt Novakovich and Chad Trammell after the Atlas Carry.  Half way through the race, recent Boston Marathon finisher, Brian Gowiski joined the lead pack.  Then after the ruck sack carry, Chad Trammell powered by Matt Novakovich to take and hold the lead to emerge the victor and take his first 1st place finish for a Saturday race.  But just 14 seconds behind Chad was Brakken Kraker and Matt Novakovich “The Bear” as they battled it out though the final 7 obstacles all stacked up before the finish line to give the spectators a great show with only 3 seconds separating them.  Athletes Brian Gowiski and Isaiah Vidal came in a noteworthy fourth and fifth place.  Then on Sunday, Matt Novakovich wasn’t allowed an easy victory with Isaiah Vidal just 3 seconds behind him for another exciting finish.  Pro Team athlete Elliott Megquier held off Brian Hoover in the final obstacles to take a 3rd place podium finish.

With so many close finishes happening now, it’s clear that the courses on the circuit are highlighting the need for good, all-round training. While some may blitz obstacles and others build leads with running, regular podium placings and good times are now reflected in the fact that working all aspects of the body are clearly yielding better results. The days in which relying on running would see you through are starting to disappear.

The women’s elite Saturday race proved to be just as much of a nail-biter since race came down to the spear throw – which was missed by front runner and returning champion April Dee which allowed competitors KK Paul and Orla Walsh to overtake her for 1st and 2nd place.  April Dee took 3rd place for the Saturday race but then came back Sunday to take 1st among elite women. These 3 women were the only female competitors to complete the course in under 1 hour – a reflection of just how difficult the course was this year. With each year that passes, it seems Fort Carson ups the ante a little more. Looking forward, it makes for a brutal prospect in 2015.

As ever, Spartan Race would like to thank Reebok, Core PowerClif Builder BarsEco VesselSpartanUP! Graphix and Spartan SGX.

Of course huge thanks go out to all the staff at Fort Carson for their help and support for making the Colorado Sprint as epic as ever.

Sign up for the next Spartan Race here and you’ll understand what it means to “know at the finish line”.

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By Leslie St. Louis

The Colorado Military Sprint is a one-of-a kind, race like no other! Taking place on the Fort Carson Army Base and featuring a slightly longer length, special medals, unique finisher shirts and more than 15 obstacles, including some designed by the 4th Infantry and Special Forces Unit, the weekend also promises military tributes, over $7,500 in cash prizes and the added elements of Colorado’s unpredictable weather and high altitude.

Isaiah Vidal wins the Colorado 2013 Sprint.

Volunteers have been working all week to build the obstacles for this western-area event, and with 14,000-foot Pike’s Peak towering nearby, racers can expect to take full advantage of the base’s up and down rolling terrain, to complete many of the usual Spartan challenges and perhaps even try the new, net monkey bars that made their debut in Miami. If the past Military Sprints are any indication, runners may also find themselves using the army’s “weaver” training obstacle and hiking up hills with rock-filled ruck sacks.

There are important instructions for parking (see below) and racers should allow at least an hour or more before their start times. While parking is free, there is a shuttle to race site that costs $5 per person ages five and older.

Coloradoans often joke about the state’s temperamental weather, so there is the possibility of sunny skies or snow storms, even the possibility of both occurring during the same day! Three water stations and one at the finish are planned, but keep in mind that this event has averaged longer finishing times than other Spartan Sprints; the fastest men and women averaging an hour or more and two hours or more for open heats.

With an Olympic Training Center only a few miles away and the state’s cities filled with some of the nations fittest* athletes, professional racers from around the nation will face a challenge in making this weekend’s podium, as locals have dominated in years past. To top off the appeal, the Navy Federal Credit Union is offering $2000 for first place, $1000 for second and $750 for third. Currently in first place for Spartan Points, April Dee of Peyton – who  served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and later the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson - has won the Saturday race both years and is returning to reclaim her title. Last year’s first and second place men on Saturday, Justin Jindra of Larkspur and Isaiah Vidal of Peyton are also returning.

Founders Pro Team Member Leslie St. Louis of Morrison, won last year on Sunday, will be competing again both days. Flying in for the race are Pro Teamers K.K Stewart-Paul, Amelia Boone (possibly), Corinne Kohlen, who took second on Sunday last year, Brakken Kraker, who won last week’s Indiana Sprint, Shawn Feiock, Matt Novakovich and Elliott Megquier, who will be looking for redemption after his flight to Colorado was delayed last year (he still managed to squeeze in the fastest open heat time on Saturday and take second Sunday).  Also taking their spots on the elite start line will be top ranked Casey Jindra, Jenny Harper, Tonya Stogsdill, Sue Luck, Chad Trammell, Brian Gowiski and Brian Hoover. Look out for the ever-present Stephen Sinek, aka, “The Painted Warrior” sporting the latest artistic creation made by his fantastically creative make-up and FX genius, Aeni Domme.

In addition to the elite and open races, there will be Junior Spartan Races and fun activities in the festival area, including Spartan Group Training Warm-ups and Tutorials, beginning at 7:30 am and Festival Challenges, starting around 10:00 am.

Finally, one of the most meaningful aspects of the Colorado Military Sprint is the additional opportunities for racers to honor current or retired military members.“I wear blue and run to remember the fallen, the fighting, and the families,” said Lindsey Leiker of Palmer Lake, who is racing Saturday. Her husband Jeremy is on active duty and is racing on Sunday.  Former Marine John Becker of Greeley will be running both days and said while he always appreciates those that have or are currently serving, this race will have special significance. “I will be running Saturday in Memory of an Army soldier that was KIA (killed in action) in Afghanistan and was stationed at Fort Carson.”

Spartan recently announced their charity partners, which fittingly includes Homes for our Troops.

Want to know more about this unique race? Colorado Obstacle Racers has a three-part series, including a Visitor’s Guide.

Colorado Crowned Fittest State - click here to read more.

Please be aware that parking on Fort Carson will be strictly organized by staff onsite. A such, please heed the following advice.

RACER & SPECTATOR PARKING – SATURDAY AND SUNDAY

Fort Carson Army Base

Fort Carson, CO 81240

HEAT TIMES THAT END IN :00 OR :30 (E.G., 10:00 OR 10:30): YOU MUST GO TO THE EAST LOT VIA FORT CARSON GATE 20 @ EXIT 132 OFF I-25

HEAT TIMES THAT END IN :15 OR :45 (E.G., 10:15 OR 10:45): YOU MUST GO TO THE WEST LOT VIA FORT CARSON GATE 5 @ HWY 115 AND TITUS BLVD (2 MILES SOUTH OF GATE 1)

PLEASE BRING THE CORRECT PARKING PASS FOR YOUR LOT (download above)

BE PREPARED TO SHOW “CURRENT” STATE, MILITARY OR D.O.D. IDENTIFICATION, AS WELL AS PROOF OF INSURANCE AND VEHICLE REGISTRATION

FOLLOW ALL SIGNS TO PARKING ONCE IN FORT CARSON

FORT CARSON IS A FEDERAL INSTALLATION. NO WEAPONS OR DRUGS ALLOWED.

THERE WILL BE A ONE-TIME SHUTTLE FEE OF $5 PER PERSON (CHILDREN 5 AND UNDER RIDE FREE)

Leslie St. Louis is a trail runner, obstacle racer and mom of two mud-loving girls in Morrison, Colorado. She is currently ranked 9th in the Spartan World Points Series and the founder of a local obstacle group, resource and blog, Colorado Obstacle Racers, http://coloradoobstacleracers.com/.

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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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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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