Written by guest blogger and Pro Team Elite racer Rose Wetzell-Sinnett

Many people have asked, “what is a Founder’s Race?”

Well for those of you that raced in Montana, you now know what it is. It’s a little less formal that a regular Spartan Race. The obstacles are more like they were “back in the day”. They are made out of what is available at the venue. In the case of Montana, this was primarily fallen pine trees. The feel overall is more grassroots and the basic. But that does not mean less challenging. What else makes a Founder’s Race unique? It is designed by one of the Founders. In this case,  Joe De Sena.

Joe De Sena, you did not disappoint. In the Montana Sprint Founder’s Race preview, Spartan Pro Team member Elliot Megquier predicted that the race would be “brutally awesome”, thanks to the Spartan founder designing it himself, Elliot was right. With over 4,000 feet of elevation gain in under 5 miles, if racers weren’t climbing up a hill last Saturday, they were running down one. On the women’s side, talented racers such as Tiffanie Novakovich, Jenny Tobin, Rose Wetzel-Sinnett, Andi Hardy, and Laura Messner stepped up to the challenge after studs like Matt Novakovich, Chad Trammell, Elliot Megquier, Miguel Medina, Joey Patrolia, and Chris Rutz took off to tackle the roughly 20 obstacles strewn throughout the course. The race started off with a quick jaunt through a pond followed by a steep incline to shoot the heart rate up. Many racers found themsleves power hiking within the first few minutes, thinking, “What did I get myself into?” After flying down the hill, racers landed in front of a new obstacle – the biggest, baddest slippery wall Spartan has ever dished out. As racers headed uphill again, they came across a cute sign that read, “1.5 Mile Hill Climb” and then, underneath “Love, Joe.” And who was there within the first minute or so of this brutal hill climb but Joe himself, cheering racers on and probably smiling at the thought of their impending quad burn.

Over the next 2-3 miles, racers carried logs, flipped logs, waded through ponds, crawled under barbed wire with huge hay rolls in the way, climbed rope and numerous walls, carried sandbags, and of course, threw the Spartan spear, all the while making their way through the rocky terrain and occasional waist-high brush. Joe kept everyone on their toes, that’s for sure. Mountain running expert, Matt “The Bear” Novakovich from Alaska, smoked the course and finished in style, lifting a burning log over his head as he hurdled the fire pit. Next came Chad Trammell flying in, despite nursing a hamstring strain after claiming first place at the Colorado Sprint last week, followed by Lucas Zemlicka, a Montana native. The women’s race ended with a very exciting sprint to the finish after Rose Wetzel-Sinnett was directed off course by a fellow racer, only to run up the initial hill again, costing her a few precious minutes. Faye Stenning, who pursued Wetzel-Sinnett by a minute or two the entire race, also went off course, leaving Jenny Tobin a chance to possibly take the top podium spot. Once Wetzel-Sinnett realized she was back on the course’s beginning section, however, she bolted like a madwoman 150 meters to the last wall, which Jenny Tobin was already ascending. Full of determination, Wetzel-Sinnett flew up the wall, spilled ungracefully onto the other side, shot up and sprinted like crazy to clinch the win. Faye crossed the line in third, with the bronchitis-battling Tiffanie Novakovich just missing the podium.

Once racers tackled the course and earned their coveted Spartan medal, the real party began. Joe De Sena personally congratulated racers as upbeat music blasted, beckoning racers to find a second wind for the dance party. Although morning conditions consisted of clouds and coldness, the afternoon brought sun breaks between short rain showers, warming things up for the loony guys in Speedos. Spartan Races always offer challenging courses and an encouraging atmosphere, though all would agree that the Montana Founder’s Race added a special element of brutal awesomeness.

Sign up for your next Spartan Race right here and you’ll know at the finish line!

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Three years ago, April 2012, the Spartan Race series descended upon the small town of Laurel, IN playing host to the very first Founders Race. This past weekend, the Spartans returned and with them they brought all of their comrades. What started out three years ago with around 2500 Spartans has now grown to over 10,000 Spartans who embraced the ethic of “knowing at the finish line.”

Starting the weekend off as usual were those seeking that extra bit of challenge via the Spartan Hurricane Heat, this time taking place on the Friday evening before the race. After four hours of brutal team building challenges, Tony Matesi, with the assistance of Andé Wegner, Ian Nichols, Todd Sedlak, and JJ Lipetzky, led 130 Hurricane Heaters from being complete strangers to a proud finish, exemplifying the Warrior Ethos imprinted on the HH dog tags they earned through bumps, bruises and burpees.

The sun rose the next morning welcoming the elite racers with the warmest weather seen in Indiana since that Founders Race three years back. Spartan warm-ups were led by Spartan SGX Coaches, Sarah Pozdol and Steve Manns. Ready to tackle what just might be one of the toughest Sprints of the season were Spartan Pro Team members, Brakken Kraker, Amelia Boone, and Elliot Megquier. Joining them were Spartan elite racers, Joseph Kauder, Tonya Stogsdill, Brakken’s brother McCauley Kraker, Laura Messner, Ben Lehman, Kevin Donoghue, Laura Lunardi, Margaret Anthony, Chris McCorkle, and Andé Wegner.

The course offered an incredible challenge to runners, with obstacles frequently spaced to break things up just enough to prevent the runners from getting into too much of a groove. That wasn’t enough to slow Spartan Pro Amelia Boone from absolutely dominating the course and leaving her competition twelve minutes behind and in doing so, establishing another 1st place podium finish.  Rounding out the women was 2nd place finisher, Amy Pajcic and taking third was Tonya Stogsdill. On the men’s side, Brakken Kraker and his brother McCauley led the pack almost all the way to the end but a fall off the traverse wall prevented the brothers from delivering the one-two punch. Brakken came in first over Spartan Pro teammate Elliot Meqguir and in third was Jordon Buscemi.

Spartans come from all over the country to attend Spartan Races and the same held true for the Indiana Spartan Sprint. With people coming from Chicago, IL, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia, it’s impressive to see how many people will venture out into the “unknown” to conquer their fears and push their limits. This held more true than ever when we met Eddie Ramos who biked 140 miles from Fort Wayne, IN to attend not only the Friday night Hurricane Heat but also the race Saturday morning followed by volunteering throughout the weekend. Eddie demonstrated the spirit of being a Spartan and we look forward to seeing if he’s able to take on the challenge presented of biking from Fort Wayne to Vermont for the World Championship this September.

The Amphibious Medic Team was back on the scene providing their unbelievable abilities to assess any situation and provide the necessary care to all of our racers all weekend long. We cannot express the appreciation we have for their incredible team led by David Gonzales and staffed by Jennifer Dierks.

Not surprising at all were the amount of teams in attendance encapsulating the spirit of the Midwest. From the biggest team who originally brought Spartan Race to Indiana, the Corn Fed Spartans, to the breadth of teams here to conquer the course through pure camaraderie including: Fire, Illuminati, Midwest Vikings, Team Ninja, and the Chicago Spartans. You could see the always helpful hands of all these teams on and off the course helping each other, cheering each other on and making sure everyone crossed that finish line.

Always bringing the biggest smiles to the crowd were the Spartan Kids as they conquered the Spartan Kids Race course and showed us just a taste of what the future of Spartan looks like. Returning to the kids course was the always happy face of Matthias Vescelus who refuses to let his lack of sight prevent him from tackling the obstacles with pure determination. Congrats to all the Junior Spartans who conquered their course.

As always we want to thank our sponsors: Reebok, Core Power, Clif Builder Bars, Eco Vessel, SpartanUP! Graphix and Spartan SGX, for making these events as grand as they are!

It was another incredible weekend of Spartan filled fun and we look forward to the next time the Spartan Race series returns to the welcoming town of Laurel, IN. Thank you for your hospitality. Next up, Spartan Race brings the return of the Military Sprint to Fort Carson, CO. There’s still time to sign up and we’ll see you at the finish line.

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Written by guest writer and Elite Pro Teamer Amelia Boone

For the third year, Spartan Race will be back at Haspin Acres in Laurel, Indiana, setting the stage for a Midwest showdown. Located an hour and half from Indianapolis and an hour and a half from Cincinnati, don’t let the remoteness of this race venue fool you – it’s anything but cows, pastures, and spotty cell phone service.

Three years ago, Indiana was the site of the first-ever Spartan “Founder’s Race” – a race stripped down to it’s bare essentials. While the race now has all the trappings of modern-day Sparta that we know and love, expect a test of grit true to its Founder’s Race origins. An off-road park when it’s not invaded by Spartans, Haspin Acres promises 4+ miles of muddy trails through woods and fields scattered with 15-20+ Spartan obstacles. And don’t call the Midwest no flat land – plenty of quick hill climbs and scrambles will keep you on your toes.

Amelia and Todd Sedlak discuss the course.

Indiana has proven to be one of the longest Sprints out there – last year, course director Todd Sedlak promised that no one would finish in under an hour, and only 12 athletes managed to prove him wrong. With a new race director this year, it remains to be seen whether this challenge will stand.

For the elite waves, both male and female winners from last year, Spartan pro team members Brakken Krakker and Amelia Boone, are expected to race. And if he doesn’t get lost in the Chicago airport finding deep dish pizza, Elliott Megquier will be joining them. On the women’s side, fresh off her two-podium weekend at Citi Field, Laura Messner will be looking to extend her streak. And as we’ve seen of late, expect plenty of elite challengers when you least expect it.

The good times never end in Indiana.

Also of note, Danny Rodriguez will be making his 2014 Spartan Race debut. You all remember Danny as the Chicagoan who packed up his life, moved to Vermont to live and train in Pittsfield with Joe, and lost over 100 pounds in the process – his transformation of his life and his health served as inspiration to thousands of Spartans worldwide. Last we checked in with Danny, he’s back in the Midwest, training hard, with his sights set on, among other things, the Chicago Marathon this fall. Welcome back to Sparta, Danny!

With team showings by the Chicago Spartans, Corn Fed, and even some rumors of the NE Spahtens making the road trip, expect a great turn-out and a festive atmosphere.

See you in Indiana!

Are you ready for your Spartan Race? Sign up now and we’ll see you at the finish line… 

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