The first Beast of the season did not disappoint.  The hills at Toro Regional Park in Monterey seemed to get a little higher over the past year. Racers returning for the second year were remarking about how the course difficulty had increased from 2013.  The nearly 5,000 athletes that turned out on a perfect Monterey morning were greeted with new challenges and just the right amount of water and mud.

The rugged terrain was fully utilized in this Beast. The course included all types of running surfaces, from fire roads, to single track and off trail bushwhacking. Many racers site this as being the toughest Beast course this side of Vermont and this race has only amplified that claim by somehow making it even harder than it was last year. New obstacles making their California debut included the new Monkey Net and the Laguna Seca inspired Tire Rope Swing.  In addition to the terrain the course layout ramped up the difficulty. What made this course especially demanding was the obstacle cluster at the end of the race. These included the Tire Flips and Atlas Stone Carry, which can take a toll on already taxed hamstrings, quads and calves. Despite this obstacle, the challenges were not going to prevent many racers from finishing their third race of the season and getting their Trifecta. The Trifecta is completing a Sprint, Super and Beast in one calendar year.  

Starting the day was the second ever 12 hour Hurricane Heat. With all manner of testing challenges, both mental and physical, the team was put through it’s paces and brought about a new record. The team contained Daren De Heras who is now the only person in the world to have successfully completed every race and challenge that Spartan Race has to offer, from the touring workout right through to the Death Race.

The elite heat racers started promptly at 8AM and charged up the first mountain at a fast pace. The fastest men completed the course in about 2 hours and the women in 2 ½ hours. For the men, the top three spots went to Chad Trammell, 30 from Yakima, WA, Brian Gowiski, 24, from San Diego, CA and in third place James Appleton, 27, from London, who again appeared from nowhere to quietly come in and assert some British bulldog spirit onto the field. Look out for more from the reigning UK Tough Guy champion, as the rumors are that he’s moving to the states. With his impressive record and stats that speak for themselves, could we have another heavy hitter in the men’s elites soon? Stay tuned!

On the women’s side Spartan Pro Team athlete, Jenny Tobin 45 from Boise ID finished first, followed by Lesley Moser, 30 from Menlo Park, CA and Monica Jo Nicholson, 32 from Aromas, CA. Our other Spartan Pro Team athlete on hand, Christopher Rutz, won the men’s masters (40+) race.

Veteran Earl Granville deals with a wall with ease.

As wave after wave went out, Spartan SGX coaches Andi Hardy and Michael Ainis were on hand to talk participants through some warm ups, cool downs and helped with general advice and instructions.

On the course, the story of the day went to a Team made up of Amanda Sullivan, Earl Granville of Operation Enduring Warrior, Matt Pevoto and Misty Diaz. Aided along the way by Slosh Pipe Champion, Kevin Kierce, a staff member and many members of the Weeple Army – who again took the biggest team title for a record 12th time – the team known as “The Avengers” took on the course and battled their own demons in order to achieve, in some cases, their Trifectas. Look out for a feature in the future from Spartan Race covering the day that these amazing competitors had.

The next race on the Spartan Race calendar is also a Beast, only this time in Utah. Don’t be surprised if Spartan Race tries to outdo the challenge they presented for you in Monterey. The hills are there for a reason. Get out of your comfort zone!

For those of you on the East Coast, the Connecticut Sprint will also be making its debut the same day, Saturday June 28th. Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.

See you at the finish line!

 

 

 

 

 

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By: Kristine Iotte

There in the desert land of Vegas, the sun not even up yet, and already we had started with the burpees. In my mind 30 is a lot. Burpees are hard. We got to 40, 50, 75, 90 burpees. I began to think “Ugh I should have seen this coming why did I sign up for this”, then “this is ridiculous, we are never going to last 12 hours if we are doing this crap the whole time”, and then “there is no WAY we are doing more than 100” –and was pretty set on there being no chance we’d go past 100. Then we got to 101, 102, and something weird happened; I went into autopilot. Instead of focusing on when we were finishing I was focusing on each burpee because who knew how many these crazy jerks were going to make us do. Granted we ended up only doing a few more, but because anything over 100 seemed unreasonable and unsustainable (we still had over 12 hours to go, this was just the warm up!) and we surpassed it anyway, I didn’t really know what to do with it and just kept moving.

The same happened shortly after when they made us roll sideways through the rocks and dirt. When I saw how far they were making us roll, and thinking about how much I dislike being dizzy, all I could think was “when I barf, who should I aim it at: John or Cookie?” After deciding Cookie was my target, and feeling pretty good about that, I kept rolling. It was getting uncomfortable and I noticed I was only just over half way.

Figuring they would likely move the end point even further once we started getting close, it happened again. It got easier. The nausea went away and the sharp rocks no longer bothered me.

What? Again?  Not knowing how long I will have to subject myself to each of these awful tasks is somehow making them easier? How is my brain shutting down discomfort?

It was bizarre.

That pretty much set up the rest of the day. When they made us get tires and announced that we would be carrying them through the entire course, with obstacles, no one flinched. There was almost an air of confidence about us.

There were numerous other occasions (any one of the countless push-up, burpee, or awful-bodyweight-exercise sessions) where we somehow made it through ridiculous amounts of reps –but there was one other repeated task that didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. The dunk wall. I hate wet clothes and get cold pretty easily.  I lost track of how many times we ended up there. Oh, you’re cold? Let’s head to the dunk wall. Your shirts are getting dry? Dunk wall. The sun is going down? Dunk wall. But somehow it bothered me less when I didn’t know how long we were going to be in there or how long it would be until we would end up there again. (And I noticed that no one was complaining about it anymore.)

When I only concerned myself with the task itself and not how long or how many times we would have to do it, it wasn’t as bad as it seemed it should have been. Don’t get me wrong, it was a hard 12 hours and I was plenty beat at the end, but we certainly did more than I had imagined. It makes me wonder how much our expectations and assumptions limit what we are capable of or are willing to try, and it made it very clear how much our minds baby our bodies.

Think you have what it takes? Sign up for an HH12HR today! 

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By: Casey Eischen

This past weekend we took part in the first ever Spartan Race 12 Hour Hurricane Heat. Honestly, had Joe Di Stefano not invited me I would not have considered it but who am I to pass up that opportunity? I had never done a Hurricane Heat so I had no expectations, but being a SGX Coach and finding out this was a Death Race qualifier I knew one thing, they would do everything they could to try to break us.

The nerves set in a week before when we get this ominous email from Tony Matesi saying they have been watching us and then proceeded to name a bizarre mandatory supply list each athlete must take. The list included a golf ball, flotation device, and Hooters poker chip to keep in our backpack that would carry enough food and hydration for 12 hours. Oh, and we will be in the desert so why not make us wear all black while we are at it!

Morning of, 32 of us HH12HR athletes met at 5:15am with the rest of the regular HH crew of 60, but we we’re distinguished by our reflective vests. We didn’t actually start til 6am and of course we kicked it all off with burpees. We did them together counting as a team until told to stop at 103. Next came the first of what would be MANY dunks in the ice bath. At first we were told to just sit in there and recite the Spartan Warrior Ethos and then we all had to cross over the other side by submerging our heads under a wall. This would be my biggest Achilles heel of the day.

After that, we had to duck walk up a mountain to where there start line was and of course, do more burpees. From there, we had to lay on the ground and roll about 100 yards to where we would build a “tunnel of love”. First person to arrives goes to plank, next person army crawls under to plank, and so on. I was third to fall in line which meant I had to hold a downward dog/plank for about 10 minutes while 90 people crawl under. Not so bad but your pack is on your head crunching your neck. Then we proceeded to some obstacles. First was the under/over where I was chosen as the person to not touch the ground. I would bear hug the hurdle and swing under which was most affective while I saw other groups lay down and pass someone on top. After climbing another hill we then proceeded to some more obstacles: cargo net, wall, and then to the rope climb where we all had to wait til every athlete hit the bell at the top. I hopped right to it nailing it and then watched as a bunch of men tried to get a larger fellow up without success. Finally someone grabbed the bell from the top and brought it down to him to ring.

By this time, athletes and spectators were filling in so why not parade us in front of them? So we had to do about 30 minutes of different exercises which included more burpees, push ups, lateral gorilla, planks, and kid n play. At this point, 3 hours was up and we went back to the dunk tank to chant the ethos, ran out jumping the fire that just kicked off near the finish line, and said goodbye to the HH crew. 3 hours was already up?! Easy, peasy I thought!

Then the tone of the game changed and things got real. Tony shows us a map and says, “you are no longer a team, it’s individual challenges”. So, our first mission was to run to a destination in the desert that’s off course, grab a tire, and meet back at the start line in x amount of time. I was the first girl to the tire graveyard picking what seemed smaller than others, little did I know the smallest ones were buried under to be revealed to the slower runners.

It’s about 10am and Tony says, “now do the whole 9+ mile obstacle race with the tire”. I was more than happy to oblige and excited to do all the obstacles in a 4 hour window. “Piece of cake”, I thought! Although time was on my side, it quickly became apparent we had entered the suck. Maneuvering up and down gravel hills was quite dangerous! Sometimes I chose to bear crawl because I couldn’t keep my footing with the weight of the tire. The whole time I kept thanking God I was not racing this at full speed. It would be all too easy to miss a step and injure yourself.

So through cargo nets, walls, the Hercules hoist, multiple carries, tire flips, crawls, and many other obstacles, I made it through with ease of my tire. I was lucky to be small enough to fit inside my tire where I could position it to rest on top of my pack so it actually helped in the gravel carry because I was able to use the tire to place the weight vs using strength.  But still, holding anything for that long burns your shoulders. If we missed an obstacle it was a 50 burpee penalty vs the usual 30. Rope climb and monkey bars with a tire? Not a chance!

So me and my new buddy Kristine stayed together through the entire course helping each other and laughing while we would nonchalantly take a pee break while chatting to people passing by. I really want to thank everyone who passed us that day. Everyone was so encouraging shouting words of praise. That’s the best part of the Spartan events, we all want to see the other succeed and hearing cheers from fellow racers made our will that much stronger that day.

I do feel I was well prepared for this event. I had all kinds of electrolytes, salt packets, and snacks to help carry me through such a long day in the desert. I even helped a few of the other athletes including some that were not in HH12HR but were desperately seeking salt for cramps. Not once did I have a physical limitation. Despite only being back in the game for 6 months after a year off from total knee recon and 4 surgeries to replace toxic breasts, I never experienced a twinge of pain or cramp. For me, it was the mental part of dealing with the environment. As previously mentioned, the terrain was incredibly wicked with multiple climbs on gravel and rock. And of course, it was blazing hot and I was surprised I was one of few to wear sunglasses (mine are prescription) to help block the sun. Another tool that helped me greatly that day was the dry fit handkerchief I tied around my neck. I used it to cool myself, pick dust globs out of my nose, to cover my mouth when crawling, to wipe things off, and to occasionally cover my whole face while some wicked sand storm would blast through. The weirdest thing about the desert is how quick the temp changes. You would be incredibly hot with dry mouth and burnt skin but then a cloud would come in creating a rapid chill, especially after you enter those dang ice baths!

So after another dunk in the ice bath, Kristine and I crossed the finish line just in time for the cut off. While waiting for everyone else to finish and trying to get warm, we were awarded a break to refuel and collect our finisher medals and shirts. All of us were delighted about having something warm to put on. However, only 19 of us successfully completed that mission. While the others were able to rejoin us, they were not eligible to receive the HH12HR patch.

Only 4 more hours to go and feeling great at this point! They decided to parade us again in front of everyone with our hands interlocked to each other between our legs and then back into the damn ice bath!!!! Really?!! Get us warm and then make us crawl under barb wire while freezing water sprays us only to fully submerge us in the ice bath again?! At this point, I was pissed! We get out and they say go make sand angels. My head was angry as I stared up at the sky flailing around arms and legs. The clouds rolled in and even though I cloud see the sun I was shivering so badly all I could do was pray the clouds would move. Just to mess with us a little more, they had us flip over face down to make sand angels while they kicked up dirt.

After another series of torturous exercises that included group sit ups, more rolling, fire man carries, reverse bear crawl down hill and crab walks back up hill, we were sent on another mission….after another trip to the ice bath of course. We partnered up and were told to retrieve our poker chips from the tunnel under the freeway off course. Lucky I’m only 5’1 because the first tunnel we had to cross was tiny, dark, and laced with spider webs. Then we met one of our slave drivers under the freeway where he demanded 100 push ups for the chip. We did them together in sets of 10 because our shoulders were absolutely destroyed at this point. After running back to hand in the chip, we were greeted with yet another damn ice bath!

Only 2 hours left and we were dragged to a car where we had to retrieve logs to carry. Once we reached our next destination it was exercise roulette drawing from a deck of cards that would determine what and how many of each exercise we would do together as a team. Finally, the golf ball and sharpie came into play writing our names on them only to have them chucked into the desert. After all, Easter is coming so why not celebrate with a hunt? Still not sure why we had to bring a floatation device to the desert, perhaps to slow us down as we crossed under water in the ice bath….?

Back to the logs and on to another destination of freezing water where we did more burpees. At this point I was so cold and the sand storms were so bad that I began coughing uncontrollably feeling like I had pneumonia. One more hour!!  Well, the sand storms got so incredibly dangerous that parts of the Spartan festival started flying around so they put us to work helping break down set ups and grab sand bags to reinforce tents. Thank god because I was praying for no more ice baths. I honestly could not wait to run out of there and get dry clothes after one last task, Indian run the festival while carrying a heavy ass tractor tire.

Finally, our day was done. We earned our shirts, and while only half of us earned the badge, we all earned honor! Some people must have quit along the way as well because the group pic does not have 33 athletes in it. Either way, it was a complete head trip and I totally cried at the end knowing that I can do anything as long as I keep a strong will. I would definitely do this event again, any day. As far as the Death Race goes, I think I may have to pass on that for now so that I can take on the Ultra Beast later this year.

Thank you to all my teammates, slave drivers, and everyone who encouraged our journey. Every bit of the suck was worth it. AROO!!!!

 

Do you think you have what it takes to do the HH12HR? Sign up today! 

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On the Las Vegas Strip, opulent waterfalls, sky scraping hotels and lush retreats abound.  On The Strip, you could almost forget that this bustling city began simply as a dream in a desert.

Yes, a desert.

This Saturday, thousands of Spartans will invade the infamous Sin City for the second-ever Las Vegas Super, which make no mistake, while conveniently located, is taking place on the outskirts of the metropolis, away from the ringing bells of casinos, the air conditioned biomes of pink clouds the billboards of lights, lights and more lights.

Spartan Racers should expect nearly nine miles and nearly two dozen obstacles in the dry, dusty plains of the Nevada desert.

With a new locale from last year aptly called the “Gravel Pit,” course designers are promising all the Spartan staples — spears, ropes, walls, pits, tires — amid both the natural, rocky topography and new, man-made terrain.  There will be muddy portions, but true to the setting, very little water, except for the planned three stations and one at the finish. If last year is any indication, participants should also expect some down and uphill climbs. At last check, the weather predictions called for sun with highs in the 70s and a slight wind.

The Racer Athlete Guide suggests everyone bringing an ID for check in (and any post-race drinks), arriving at least an hour before the wave start, carrying personal hydration and nutrition. If starting at 2:00pm or later, it’s also advised to carry a headlamp. Click here for the Las Vegas Athlete Guide.

Just like the desert itself, the elite heats will be scorching, with athletes from the around the nation all vying for spots on the podium and top ranking in the 2014 World Points Series, especially since this is a one-day event.

In the men’s elite, look for 2013 top-ranked Brian Hoover and the Spartan Pro Teamers Elliott Megquier, Chris Rutz, David Magida, current points leader, Hunter Mcintyre and Charlotte’s first place winner, Matt Novakovich.

Last year’s Vegas 2nd place winner TyAnn Clark and Spartan World Champion Amelia Boone are both expected to take the start line in the women’s heat, as are Leslie St. Louis, making her first 2014 return from injury, and Pro Teamers Andi Hardy, Juliana Sproles and Tiffanie Novakovich.

Beyond the Super Spartan, there are other events taking place on Saturday: the not-to-be-missed Kids’ Races, the 6:00 am Hurricane Heat and the 12-hour Hurricane Heat (HH12HR), which serves as one of the qualifying events for the Peak Death Race.

While all of the events promise to challenge racers, the festival area will offer some Spartan-Style entertainment and fun, including food and refreshments, an SGX Warm up every hour starting at 7:30am, an SGX tutorial on rope climbing every hour starting at 9:00 am and Pull-up, Traverse Wall, Slosh Pipe and Tire Flip challenges happening throughout at the day starting around 10:00 am.

Amid obstacles, sweeping desert views and rousing “Aroos!” racers at the Spartan Super this weekend will likely discover something new to remember about Las Vegas, a city founded on dreams and a desert.

Click here for more information.

 

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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