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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