Written by Pro Team member Elliot Megquier

Reebok Spartan Race will kick off the first of two race weekends in Tuxedo, NY which is just north of New York City by 45 miles. To say this is going to be a big event is an understatement. Tuxedo is the only race in the USA Spartan circuit that is a double back to back weekend. Last year Spartan Race held 3 races in Tuxedo over the course of 8 days. This year they’ve bumped it up to 4 races in 9 days.

Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center is the venue and you can expect numerous climbs to the summit that has an elevation of 1200 feet. Set in the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, be prepared to see ascents and descents through the woods, challenging obstacles after your legs are destroyed from climbing, one of the hardest uphill barb wire crawls on the circuit and of course lots of mud in and around the finish line.

Hunter and Glenn share a joke in Vegas.

For the men look for points leader and championship contender Hunter “the Sheriff” McIntyre to continue his recent dominance of the series, his top contender looks to be Glenn Racz who beat the Sheriff in Vegas, mountain man Matt “the Bear” Novakovich will look to maul the pretty boy from Malibu. Other Spartan Team men that could contend include David Magida, Isaiah Vidal, Elliott Megquier, Cody Moat, Miguel Medina, Brian Hoover, and Alexander Nicholas. However you can never count out the locals to include 2013 Week 1 Champion Patrick Grevalding, runner up Randy Feeley, and Kevin Donoghue.

On the women’s side look for reigning champion Amelia Boone who is coming off a win in Indiana to be the favorite, however Rose Wetzel-Sinnett has been hot on her heels and is coming off three straight wins in Texas and Montana, and look for TyAnn Clark to return from a recent battle with illness to build on her impressive win in Las Vegas the last time she raced. Other women who will contend include April Dee, Ella Kociuba, Tiffany Novakovich, Karlee Whipple, and Laura Messner.

Amelia Boone will look to assert her authority in NY.

Most of the stars will only be present for the second week of racing, so look for a possible dark horse to shock the field. You can never count anyone out and sometimes it is the person who you do not know that is gunning for you that is most dangerous. Other events to look forward to include the Kid’s Race and all the festival challenges where you can win an entry into an upcoming race. Looking for other ways to get a free race? Volunteer one of the days or even a half day. These wonderful events cannot happen without you help, Spartan Race Staff members are amazing and tireless workers but they cannot do it all without you! This is going to be an amazing two weeks you’ll you kicking yourself if you don’t come and experience at least one of the races…

The 2014 Tristate Tuxedo Sprint marks the start of guest blogger Elliott Megquier’s fourth year doing Spartan Races. Back in 2011 when Spartan Race first hosted a sprint in Tuxedo NY, he toed the line for the very first time, now he’s completed 85 races and is still as hooked as he was during his initial experience. It’s true Elliott’s a junkie.

Sign up for your next race today and you’ll understand what it means to “know at the finish line…”

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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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And just like that, another powerhouse bursts onto the scene leaving a trail of destruction behind him. Spartan Race is proud to announce the newest addition to the Pro Team – Glenn Racz.

Perhaps more recognizable as the man from American Ninja Warrior and the man that can run a 4:12 mile and a 5K in 15:12, Glenn boasts not just an envious running pedigree, but amazing agility and strength. Despite having only ran 5 Spartan Races so far, he has never placed lower than 5th place and with each race has seen his placing rise each time, including the latest – a victory at the Las Vegas Super Spartan. 

“I’m stoked to be given this opportunity to represent Spartan Race! My first Spartan race was just 4 months ago, so I am enjoying the ride one race at a time! The other Pro Team members have been very welcoming to a newbie such as myself.”

Reflecting on how quickly everything has happened and how his background helped him get to where he is, Glenn smiles at the thought of all the work he has put in.

“Growing up in SoCal, I grew up playing roller hockey, snowboarding, and surfing. Then after graduating from UCSB, I began my career as a Mechanical Engineer – but in order to not weigh too much for surfing, I started running, which was about 10 years ago. The next 9 years I surfed less and ran more and trained hard to be competitive at road races primarily at the 1 mile and 5k distance (4:12 mile/14:59 5k PRs). Then last year, just for fun I applied to American Ninja Warrior (ANW) and to my surprise I was accepted to try out the course in Venice Beach.  After failing an obstacle in the preliminary round, I was determined to try it again this year so I began to do some upper body/gymnastics training and started learning about obstacle training and that was when I started to be interested in the Spartan Race – in order to supplement my obstacle training. But once I did the Malibu Spartan a few months ago, I knew that this was the perfect blend of running/obstacles that best fit my skill-set (plus my wife wasn’t too impressed with the skinny runner’s physique!). Then last month when I didn’t get the call back from ANW, I converted my backyard obstacles from ANW to Spartan obstacles and focused solely on Spartan-specific training.”

“I do a lot of the running with obstacles mixed in, but I also have a garage and backyard full of fun stuff to train on, so I feel like the convenience is key since I am able to work out and play with my 3 kids at the same time. I feel like this type of home-gym arrangement is beneficial for everyone since it is cheaper than a gym and it allows for more family time, which is one of the things that takes priority over my training!”

But don’t let the smiling face of the Californian let you think his kindness is weakness. Behind it all is a determined and focused individual.

“I want to be a part of the Spartan Race because:

1) It offers a challenge in both the running and obstacle aspect of racing; plus I enjoy learning and adapting my training after each race

2) Spartan Race is always progressing & evolving to keep every race exciting and new, unlike your run of the mill road race

3) Compared to running, the Spartan Race exposes weaknesses in my overall fitness, which encourages me to become a better all-around athlete as well as a guard against injury

4) Now I can finally beat my wife at arm wrestling!”

“I am planning to focus my training for the Spartan World Championship Race in September. But during the next few months, I hope to have some good battles with some of the other top Pro Team guys who have set the bar high.”

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A lesson learned for those that took the race lightly – make sure you hydrate!

Spartan Race’s second visit to the glitzy atmosphere of Las Vegas delivered more surprises that you could shake a roulette wheel at. Under the relentless Nevada sun that was as unforgiving as the rocky terrain, over 8000 Spartans – veterans and newbies alike – earned their medals and the right to call themselves Spartans.

Heat, rocks, dry and sandy landscapes that seemed to go on forever, even sudden and violent sandstorms – it didn’t matter. The people were here to be tested and to thumb their noses at whatever stood in their way. A move to a different venue didn’t change the attitude or the desire of staff or racer and the relentless terrain certainly did its job, but what it didn’t know was that it was dealing with a different breed of person – The Spartan Racer.

The elite waves threw up some surprises, as new boy Glenn Racz powered his way through a field of established elite veterans to grab number one spot. John Yatsko’s background in running helped him to grab second place, while the familiar sight of Hunter McIntyre on the podium, albeit in third place, made up for the lack of familiarity. Tyann Clark breezed to a comfortable first place, with Amelia Boone in second and the always-smiling face of Rose Wetzel-Sinnett taking third spot. With so much talent, skill and power now bristling within the elite Pro Team, it’s becoming harder and harder to predict podium placements, let alone winners. With this competition being so fierce, races are only going to become faster and tighter.

The winner’s podium at Las Vegas 2014

As ever, the day started with the Hurricane Heat, but it was a special one as it would morph into the first ever class of the new 12 Hour Hurricane Heat. Under the usual guidance – abuse? – of Tony Matesi and a back-up of three extra Spartan Race staff, the competitors were treated to dips in cold water as early as 6am, crawls, squats and endless burpees.

As the regular Hurricane Heaters broke away after around 3.5 hours, the HH12HR – as it is now known – were bombarded with all manner of horrific crimes against the body, one of which being the punishing ordeal of finding, rescuing and returning to the start line with a tire that they would then learn they would cover the course with the whole time. From this, one of the highlights of the event was born. Despite understanding that there was a strict time cut off for the lap with the tire, Kyoul Cha of Arizona (and Weeple Army/Team SISU member who again won the biggest team title) chose to forego his official finisher title and instead stay behind in order to help another competitor that was struggling with his run.

Those unaware of Kyoul’s background will not know that his profession is that of a Hotshot firefighter. Covering long distances with the added pressure of time constraints and intense heat is his normal day. Any other day he would happily have been able to complete the distance in well under the time allowed, but remembering the Warrior Ethos that is taught during the Hurricane Heat, he adhered to the last line which states that, “you will never leave a fallen comrade”. Kyoul sacrificed his official finisher title and patch in order to help his colleague – unwittingly embodying everything about Spartan Race in one selfless gesture.

Kyoul Cha sacrificed his own qualification of the 12 Hour Hurricane Heat to help a fellow competitor finish their race.

In the event village, Spartans were treated to the sight of not one, but two weddings. Well, it wouldn’t be Spartan Race without one, especially given that it was Las Vegas. Amongst deafening cheers and a volley of “Aroo!”’s, Spartan Race and thousands of racers applauded those starting a new chapter in their respective lives. As with the famous phalanx, the coming together of a couple showing that a unit can be stronger than the sum of its parts.

Those with marriage furthest from their minds of course, were the Spartan Kids. As ever, the tremendous and vibrant energy that could be felt from the aura that followed them was magnificent. Caring not that the heat was climbing higher with every minute that passed, they ran through mud pits, over hills and crawled over the ground with reckless abandon. In an age where technology suggests that a good time could and perhaps should be had indoors and beckoning a finger of a blander, more sedentary lifestyle, to see thousands upon thousands of children climbing, running and ultimately, playing their way to a healthier way of life, one would believe that perhaps that there is still an ever increasing pocket of resistance to the malevolent shadow of an unhealthy lifestyle.

With the always supportive Reebok, Eco Vessel, Core Power, National Air Guard and the Navy Credit Union helping bring Spartan Race to the fore time after time, Spartan Race showed not just Las Vegas, but everyone associated that yet again Spartan Race delivered.

There’s a time when you realize what it means to wear that medal and feel that pride and we say it often.

You’ll know at the finish line.

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