By Pro Team Member Chris Rutz

“Everything is bigger in Texas” is phrase that Spartan Race was determined to live up to in Austin. The race returned to Reveille Peak Ranch for its third year and drew in excess of 12,000 athletes. New this year was the Super distance. In past year only the Sprint distance race was run. This year the Super was added. All racers on Saturday ran the Super and all runners on Sunday ran the Sprint. This created the opportunity for 2/3 of the Trifecta in one weekend. It also creates the opportunity to earn a Trifecta without leaving the state on Texas. The Dallas Beast will be later this year on 11/1.

The Sprint course was essentially the first 1/3 and last 1/3 of the Super course. The Super course added a number of challenges not seen by those that ran the Sprint. The highlight of the Super course was a hill climb on slick rock that reminded many of the runners of sections of trail near Moab, UT. Much of the added distance of the Super included off trail bushwhacking and stream crossings. In addition the Super racers had an Atlas Stone carry and double the distance on the tractor pull to name a few of the additional challenges.

Both courses had some significant challenges. The climbing ropes seemed to be especially slick. Perhaps it was the Texas mud. The Spear also seemed to have a higher failure rate than normal. In a twist which runners hate and obstacle racers love, most of the “burpee” obstacles were clustered at the end of the course. The Traverse Wall, the Hercules Hoist, the Rope Climb and the Spear were all within the last ¼ mile of the race. Just before entering the festival area where these obstacles were clustered, racers were challenged with a 150 yard swim section. PFD and a bypass were available for non swimmers. This definitely is a favorite venue by most the Spartan faithful.

The Elite heats on each day were won by the same athletes,  John Yatsko of Flagstaff, AZ and Rose Wetzel of the Spartan Pro Team from Seattle, WA.  They each took home $2,500 for their victories, $2,000 on Saturday and $500 on Sunday. Prize money for Saturday’s race was funded by Navy Federal Credit Union. Rounding out the top 3 on Saturday were, Hobie Call (Utah) $1,000 and Chad Trammell (Washington)  $500 and Chikorita De Lego (Mexico) $1,000 and KK Paul (Arizona) $500. On Sunday’s Sprint, home town racer Isaiah Vidal and Elliott Megquier, both on the Spartan Pro Team placed second and third, with Chikorita De Lego and Laura Lunardi taking those same positions for the ladies.

It was a perfect weekend for a race in Texas. The weather was just right, the racers were pumped and the course delivered on the promises of Spartan Race. Next up are the Tri-State Sprints.

See you at the finish line! 

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The sun rose slowly over the hills of Southern California Saturday morning. Blue shirts swarmed the hills of Vail Lake in order to bring the Spartan Race to life. Saturday marked the first time that Spartan Race had done both a Super and a Sprint in the same day and the weekend promised to be epic.

Tony Matesi launched the days activities off with the morning Hurricane Heat. The HH is a different kind of event. Not so much a race as a challenge to be taken on. It forces people to work together as a team to overcome obstacles together. Tony took the participants that signed up through his various tortures starting at 6am for a full four hours. For a complete rundown on the HH look for Tony’s report coming later in the week.

Cars filled the parking lot as the Elites began warming up for what promised to be an epic battle. The men’s elite had high-octane racers in Spartan Pro Team members Hunter McIntyre, Matt Novakovich, Miguel Medina, and Chistopher Rutz. The women’s Pro Team showed up in the likes of April Luu, TyAnn Clark, Juliana Sproles, Jenny Tobin and Tiffany Novakovich. The rest of the field outside of the Pro Team was stacked. Rose Wetzel who stormed through Malibu was in attendance as was Laura Messner, and as was expected the legendary Hobie Call came to push the men to their limits and beyond.

The weather on Saturday was sunny, warm, and not a cloud in the sky. It promised to make the course fast, but dangerous as was seen through the day where people cramped up from a lack of sufficient hydration. The Amphib Medics crew, as well as Spartan Race Staff, was there to help those injured on course to safety or to help get them back into the fray.

The Elites took off early for the Super where money was on the line for that event. With the men first out of the gate it was a tight bunch until coming to the first gamble where racers could choose to either take the shorter harder route or the longer faster half of the course. Hobie and Matt “The Bear” Novakovich veered to the right while Hunter took the left shorter route. As Hobie and The Bear came out of their gamble they caught sight of Hunter and the group that went left far up ahead.

Ever the fierce competitor Hobie caught Hunter making it another epic showdown between the two friends. Newcomer John Yatsko form Arizona was right on the heels of the two titans for the men. At the end of the day it was Hobie first, Hunter tacking second, and John in third.

It was universally considered to be one of the toughest women’s fields people had seen in awhile. It seemed to be that only reigning World Champion Amelia Boone, still recovering from a hamstring injury, wasn’t on course. Rose Wetzel and April Luu promised to make this women’s race one to remember trading back and forth on the course until April missed the spear thrown and Rose stuck hers resulting in just the break she needed to take the win. April cruised into the finish line in second place with TyAnn Clark placing third. 

The Saturday Sprint was not a money heat but still saw Laura Messner dominate as she warmed up for the Sunday Elite Sprint. Saturday also introduced the first time Spartan Race recognized the top age group finishers from the open heats. 14 year old Josh Novakovich dominated the Under 20 open taking first place overall while placing fourth overall on Saturday in the open.

Sunday the money heats for the Sprint were run and the podiums didn’t look too different. Hunter took first for the men with newcomer John Yatsko in second and Glen Racz in third. For the women it was a tight race. Kk Paul came through the finish line ahead of Rose Wetzel to take first place. A battle between April Luu and TyAnn Clark decided third place. The epic finish came down to the wire as April barely edged out TyAnn for the last podium spot.

The weekend wasn’t just about the Elite’s however. Families spread out on Saturday to cheer on their loved ones as well as soak up some of the beautiful weather that graced the event. New sponsors Core Power Protein delivered much needed post-race beverages to racers at the finish line. 

Spartan Race began the year trying some new things with team results and rankings. Each team that signed up were ranked according to the average time of the top 4 finishers on their team. P4L Fitness took top in the team standings with an average time of 53:05 with the mighty Weeple Army (who had 269 racers in attendance) in second and Warrior Showdown placing third. Looks like it’s time to get serious about team racing.

Lastly the great medal question of 2014 came to an end with Spartans receiving the new medal and being told they would need to perform an additional round of burpees for their second medal. The second medal being of course the one everyone had come to expect from previous events. No one walked away disappointed, and the beach by the lake was a swarming mass of muddy bodies flying through burpees in order to collect not one, but two medals. Some even wandered around with four.

As mentioned earlier the 2014 SoCal Spartan was the first time racers could take part in not just one race but had the option to run two distances in one weekend. There were those brave souls taking up the gauntlet thrown down by Spartan Race and running both courses in the same day while others chose to run the Super on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday. Either way these brave Spartans are two thirds to their Trifecta with only one weekend of racing under their belt in 2014. As we talked to some that had done both they made it abundantly clear that they would be finishing out their Trifecta before the year is out.

The kids races were amazing to behold, especially the Special Needs kids race. Seeing the families going around the course together made it hard to not feel that pull on your heartstrings. Spectators dried their eyes as these amazing families came rolling through the mud together with smiles a mile wide.

All in all the weekend was a huge success with tons of muddy smiling faces, a few cuts, some bruises, but a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction by those who raced. Next sop on the Spartan Race calendar, Arizona. Will we see John Yatsko make another appearance and if so will Hunter and Hobie be there to take him to the limit? The best way to find out is to be there. Sign up for the Arizona Sprint and we will see you at the finish line.

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Under sunny, blue skies in central Vermont, before an international crowd of 15,000, the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships crowned new male and female World Champions. Utah’s Hobie Call, 36, and Amelia Boone, 30, of Chicago, finished first and each earned a $15,000 payout. The hotly anticipated season finale with over $290,000 in cash and prizes, featured some of the world’s most talented professional obstacle course racers, Olympians, professional triathletes, and world champion trail runners. NBC Sports was on hand to capture all the action for a television special airing October 19, 2013.

The men’s competitive heat featured the winner, Hobie Call, emerged from the daunting 14 mile course with a time of 3:35:56. Finishing in second place was Australian Spartan Champion Matt Murphy, 28, in 3:44:15, and Spartan Pro Team member Hunter McIntyre, 24, now residing in Pittsfield, Vt., who finished a close third with a time of 3:44:42.

On the women’s side, Amelia Boone, who came in second last year, took the top spot this year with a time of 4:09:52, nearly 15 minutes ahead of the second place female finisher, Australian Spartan Champion Deanna Blegg, 44, who clocked in at 4:24:10. Rounding out the top three was Canadian National team biathlete, Olympic hopeful and 2012 Spartan Race World Champion Claude Godbout, 27, of Quebec City, with a time of 4:34:52.

At the finish line, still caked in mud, Hobie Call, of Erda, Utah, said, “The course is absolutely crazy. I had to do it carefully and pace myself. I’m still in denial that I won. I’m sure I’ll be crying in a corner in a couple of hours,” he jokes.

Female champion Amelia Boone, an attorney at Skadden Arps, says, “It really could have been anyone’s race. That’s what is great about these events. I went out not knowing what to expect. It was the toughest competition I’ve ever faced in a race.”

The Reebok Spartan Beast race, in Killington, Vt., which will attract over 9,000 competitors and 6,000 spectators this weekend, is infamous for a half marathon worth of steep inclines, technical terrain, and challenging obstacles such as carrying 65 pound sand bags, climbing walls, and crawling through mud under barbed wire.

“We continue to push athletes to new limits with our races,” said Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena of Pittsfield, Vt. “This is the toughest race we’ve designed to date, most definitely. We can’t wait to show the world what we have in store for 2014.”

In addition to the elite heat, the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships featured a charity challenge, an inaugural Vermont Spartan Sprint, and an Ultra Beast that began early Sunday morning on a cold, and windy morning.  More to come on an epic weekend of racing.  Congratulations to all our winners and all our Spartan World Championship weekend finishers!

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by Hunter McIntyre, Spartan Elite Athete

Hunter McIntyre and Hobie Call

I am a Spartan.  I am not a mountain man born and raised for the tough harsh elements of this Earth.  I was born on the upper east side of Manhattan, raised in Connecticut where the biggest hill around was my in my backyard, which was used for sledding.  Growing up I spent my time in the woods running around with a BB gun and a pocket full of fire crackers looking to stir up a good time.

I began my sports career with wrestling and picked up cross-country along the way in my Junior year of high school (because my dad told me to.)  I never had much love for either sport.  I would have rather spent my time planning an adventure with my friends. As my high school years came and went my sports career became a thing of the past.

Fast forward five years.   I moved across America to live in the star-studded hills of Malibu in a bro mansion with seven of my buddies from school. I decided to put my adventure pants back on and begin exploring my surroundings, quickly falling in love with my new habitat. I began working out in the mountains all day everyday, running, climbing and lifting anything that got in my path. Around September one of my roommates charged into my bedroom screaming something about Spartans.  I was intrigued by the race and signed up myself.  So in November I was lined up at the starting line at Calamigos Ranch in my underpants and bandana, ready to show the world how to win a race in style.  Thirty five minutes later I was covered in mud and filled with an amazing sense of accomplishment.

 

I was hooked.  It was time to test the competition by taking a run for the gold. I did my research and quickly saw that Spartan Race was full of talented athletes.  Especially one man named Hobie Call. Training became more intense, I focused on a CrossFit style and logging the miles in the hills of Malibu. By the time November rolled around, I had raced four times taking first place at each so I decided that I would take my chance against the best in Sacramento.  After running the longest race of my life, I took an honorable third against Hobie but I walked away with much more than a smile from ear to ear and a pocket full of mud.

I was quickly adopted into the world of Spartan warriors that has spread worldwide. I was getting messages daily from people telling me that I was an inspiration and to keep up the good work. I now had a family of people I had never met cheering me on at my races.  Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) is unlike any other sport.  Challenging, ever-changing, and exciting it’s become my sport.  The Reebok Spartan Race provides camaraderie and support provided amongst the racers, like no other sport I’ve seen.  Since I first set foot on a Spartan course in 2011, I knew my life had changed but with this New Year I have decided to take my commitment to another level. I am truly thankful to be a part of a sport that allows me to travel the world while experiencing all of its toughest challenges and amazing people.

It’s time to test yourself.  Get registered.  Find an event near you and join me in a Reebok Spartan Race in 2013.

 

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Brands Launch New Collaboration with Reebok Spartan Race Times Square Challenge” in New York City; a Celebration of America’s Newest Sport: Obstacle Racing

Canton, MA [January 17th, 2013] – Reebok, the global fitness brand, and Spartan Race, the world’s leading obstacle racing series and Outside Magazine’s Best Obstacle Race in 2012, have today announced a multi-year partnership. The collaboration marks Reebok’s commitment to one of the world’s newest and fastest growing sports – obstacle racing.

As part of the multi-year collaboration, Reebok will be the title sponsor for the global race series beginning with the first race of the season at Vail Lake Resort in Temecula, CA on January 26th and 27th, and the official apparel, footwear and accessories supplier for the Reebok Spartan Race series. In addition, the Reebok Spartan Race will be featured in the brand’s upcoming global marketing campaign – the first time obstacle racing has been featured in a major campaign. Reebok also plans to develop a range of products specifically created for the demands of Reebok Spartan Race athletes, which will be available in fall 2013.

The partnership was launched with a traffic-stopping live event in New York – The Reebok Spartan Race Times Square Challenge. Times Square’s first ever extreme obstacle race saw hundreds of contestants take part including actress/model Brooklyn Decker; former NY Giants All-Pro Tiki Barber; Spartan Race Champion Hobie Call; and Spencer Hendel, winner of the Obstacle Course event at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games.  The Times Square course featured a 7 ft. wall climb, a mud crawl with barbed wire, a 10 ft. high Hercules Hoist, a 75 ft. sandbag carry, and other obstacles..

The tie-up between the two brands is built on shared values about the future of fitness. Reebok’s mission is to change the way people perceive, experience and define fitness and empower them to be physically, socially and mentally fit for life. Spartan Race is the perfect partner to help spread this message. Founded in 2010, the race series expects to attract 500,000 athletes in 2013, up from 350,000 in 2012, many of whom are people looking for a new alternative to more traditional forms of fitness.  Spartan Race currently has more than 2.3 million “likes” on Facebook and is one of the fastest growing series in the sport of obstacle racing.

Spartan is a timed event series featuring races at three escalating distances in locations worldwide. The series culminates in a world championship finale with a prize fund of over $500,000. As well as the competitive elite heats, Spartan Races are set up for all levels and ages of athlete to take part and engage in a new form of fitness.

“At Reebok, we recognize that the fitness landscape is changing. More and more, people are beginning to see fitness as part of their lifestyle rather than simply an activity, said Matt O’Toole, Chief Marketing Officer at Reebok.  “Spartan Race is at the forefront of this movement. It enables people to come together to experience fitness with a community of like-minded people – to take part in something that is challenging and daunting, but at the same time, inspiring and fun. This is what makes it so rewarding, and is a large part of what is fueling the incredible growth of the sport.”

Adds Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena, “Reebok shares our vision – they think, act, and live exactly like we do down to the last detail. Both organizations believe that through fitness, ordinary people can realize their full potential and reap benefits throughout their lives.

“Reebok will help us expand globally, pursue our goals of making obstacle racing an Olympic sport, share the healthy living we promote, and rip people off their couches and do what human beings were made to do: run, jump, sweat and climb,” De Sena said.

About Reebok

Reebok International Ltd., headquartered in Canton, MA, USA, is a leading worldwide designer, marketer and distributor of sports, fitness and casual footwear, apparel and equipment. An American-inspired global brand, Reebok is a pioneer in the sporting goods industry with a rich and storied heritage in running, training and fitness. A subsidiary of the adidas Group, Reebok operates under the multiple divisions of the Reebok brand, Reebok-CCM Hockey and the Sports Licensed Division.  Reebok is the exclusive outfitter of CrossFit and the Reebok CrossFit Games and main event partner and official apparel and footwear supplier for the 2013 Red Bull X-Alps. For more information, visit Reebok at www.reebok.com. Or, discover Reebok at the following locations: http://reesha.re/plus; http://facebook.com/reebok; http://twitter.com/reebok; and http://youtube.com/reebok

About Reebok Spartan Race

Reebok Spartan Race, voted Outside Magazine’s Best Obstacle Race in 2012, is the world’s leading obstacle racing series and the first of its kind to have global rankings. With 350,000 participants in 2012 and 60 events planned for 2013, Reebok Spartan Race is making this one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Reebok Spartan Race is a timed event series featuring races at four escalating distances in locations worldwide that culminate in a World Championship Finale with cash and prizes for the champions – with a half-million dollars in cash and prizes awarded in 2012 alone. While featuring competitive elite heats, Reebok Spartan Races are for athletes of all levels and abilities and are geared toward ripping people off their couches and into the outdoors.

You’ll Know at the Finish Line – A Spartan Guide to the Sport of Obstacle Racing, a new e-book from Spartan Race co-founders Joe De Sena and Andy Weinberg that inspires readers to find and unleash their inner warrior, is available for free on the company’s website.

Go to http://www.spartanrace.com/ for more information, a schedule of events or to register for a Reebok Spartan Race. For videos, please visit www.spartanrace.tv.

Spartan Race

Alfred Schreiber

Mobile: (646) 320 -5142

Jeff Blumenfeld

Direct: (203) 655-1600

Mobile: (203) 326-1200

jeff@blumenfeldpr.com

Reebok

Dan Sarro

Direct: (781) 401-4443

Daniel.sarro@reebok.com

Richard Barker

Direct: +1.646.619.2805

Mobile: +1.917.287.9992

Richard.barker@mcsaatchi.com

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by Carrie Adams

Not that you need 500,000 reasons to love Spartan Races  but they sure help!  In 2012, one of our most popular blog posts outlined our cash and prizes on the year.  Far and away, Spartan was the leader in the Obstacle Racing pack with our payouts for Champions and competitors.

Spartan Race was living large in 2012.  So large, we finally quantified it! Spartan Race HQ was proud to have given away $500,000 in cash and prizes!   Born out of the Death Race and growing rapidly since 2010 Spartan has continually worked hard to make our mark in the growing sport of Obstacle Racing.  With 34 global events in the season of 2012, and recognized as Outside Magazine’s “Best Obstacle Race” for the same year, Spartan Race, is building the sport of obstacle racing as the competition for the complete athlete – fast, strong, agile, with endless endurance, and strong of mind, body and character.  There is no doubt that Spartan is cutting edge with the world’s first and only global ranking system, an escalating race series from 5K to the first ever marathon(plus) distance race with the introduction of the Ultra Beast we worked hard to reward our Spartan community – handsomely!

When the season ended, the leader board had Cody Moat, who also won the  Trail National Marathon in Moab, UT on November 3rd, 2012, solidifying his position as an all-around athlete.  It came down to a fraction of points with the final tally for the men, Moat beating resident Spartan Champion Hobie Call by an extremely narrow margin.  On the women’s side, positioned at the top spot on the was former professional X-Terra athlete Jenny Tobin, with a first place point’s finish.  With 2013 already in full swing, check out the current points standings HERE.  To read the full details on the cash and prizes given away in 2012, click on the link HERE. 

We’ll be giving you even more reasons in 2013!  Our good friends at Navy Federal Credit Union have graciously agreed to sponsor the prize money at six Spartan Events in 2013.  The breakdown will be:

$2,000 1st Place

$1,000 2nd Place

$750 3rd Place

These prizes will be awarded in Arizona on February 9th, Las Vegas on April 6th, Burnet, Texas May 18, Washington, August 3rd, and the Mid-Atlantic August 24th.

More cash and prize updates coming soon!  You could win BIG with Spartan Race.  Don’t wait.  Register today.

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by Carrie Adams

When we announced early 2012 that we’d be having the world’s first marathon(ish) distance Obstacle Course Race, the response was overwhelming.  Application only, thousands of race resumes flooded HQ with runners wanting to be a part of history.  When all was said and done, we had a line-up of Spartan Ultra-Beast participants that ranged from National Champion Trail Runners and Olympic athletes to first time marathoners.

When all was said and done, 386 were accepted (86 more than originally planned) to compete and on race day 345 would toe the line, 321 as individuals and 24 in eight separate three person teams.  Rules were laid out and it was decided at HQ that athletes could compete in both for cash prizes with the assumption that any Spartan tough enough to win both races deserved both cash prizes.  $5,000 was up for grabs for the top spot of the single and double loop Beast and Ultra Beast for top male and female, $2,000 would go to second place and $1,000 for third.  On the day, $50,000 would be handed out in cash prizes.  Other awards were also presented, making it the highest payday for any single obstacle race ever held.

When several of the Ultra Beast runners wandered off course, the time cut-offs were backed up so allow the runners to finish

the over 27 mile course.  Running as much as six miles extra, some were pulled from the course before they could finish when the dark and rain made it impossible for them to continue.  And when the day was over, 162 finished and 69 of those finished in less than 11 hours.  The Ultra Beast medals are special edition and will never be re-created.  They’re larger with a special ribbon, oh, and they glow in the dark.  That’s pretty badass.  We shared photos on our wall all day with breaking stories on Saturday that you can see HERE.

Some of the most compelling stories on the day were of those who DNF’d the course.  For those who missed cut-offs, dropped out due to injury, excuse, or exhaustion, they shared their candid stories with us that you can read HERE.

Results:

Men’s Ultra Beast Top Finishers:

Cody Moat – 7:01:26

Junyong Pak – 7:29:38

Brakken Kraker- 7:38:47

Female Ultra Beast Top Finishers:

Claude Godbout – 8:09:32

Amelia Boone – 8:35:55

Jenny Tobin – 9:00:46

Want to read the rest of the race report from the Ultra Beast?  Click HERE.   And if you want the Ultra Beast by the numbers including stats on fastest and slowest times, transitions in the pit, and average laps… click HERE. 

Not to be outdone, the Vermont Beast was the true World Championship of the 2012 season.  The monster Ultra Beast certainly captured a lot of attention, but the crowning jewel on the season was wrapped up in the Beast where a lot was laid on the line by those brave enough to race for the cash.

One look at the results board and one thing stands out immediately.  Hobie Call’s name is NOT at the top.  In our review of the male competitors coming to the race that we posted last week HERE, several names were visible at the top of the leader board that we predicted would be.  It would ultimately be Cody Moat’s day two times over, taking the top spot and besting Hobie Call in the Beast (one loop) and then continuing on and winning the Ultra Beast (two loops).  Call, nursing a hamstring injury was second on the day, finishing almost five minutes after Moat.  Other high finishers included Brakken Kraker who took third, Ben Nephew who captured fourth, and Sebastian Monette who snagged fifth.  We talk more about the Ultra Beast, HERE in this blog post published yesterday.

On the women’s side it was a tight race!  We previewed the ladies last

week HERE. The top spot went to Canadian biathlete and Obstacle Racing phenom Claude Godbout, who, like Moat, went on to a second loop capturing both race victories!  Godbout took not only top spot for females, but 7th overall, beating all but six men on the course.  Godbout was our top place finisher in the 2011 Vermont Beast last year and was able to reclaim her first place status.  Amelia Boone was a notable racer as well in Vermont.  The Death Race veteran swept in from the windy city of Chicago and took second place in the Beast and the Ultra Beast.  Like Godbout, she out paced many of our top men, her 14thoverall in the single loop Beast performance landed only 12 men total ahead of her.  Boone was followed by Ella Kociuba in third and Jenny Tobin in fourth a battle at the finish line.

In addition to the elite Beast heat Nearly 6,000 competitors and spectators from across the U.S. and several foreign countries representing every walk of life, age and stage and varying degrees of athletic abilities converged on Killington, VT to tackle the 2012 Spartan Race World Championship. Consisting of a Beast (one loop) 13 + and a first of its kind Ultra Beast (two loop) 26+ mile race, presented by Dial For Men on Sat., September 22nd and Sunday, September 23rd it capped off our season with one hell of an Obstacle Race with $50,000 being handed out before the day was over for the top finishers.  The most EVER given out at an Obstacle Race event.

The Ultra Beast will be making an appearance in the 2013 season.  Stay tuned, details coming soon!  In the meantime? Can’t wait to race again?  We understand.  Click HERE and find your next Spartan finish line.

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by Carrie Adams

[Editor’s Note: Original posted on Carrie’s personal blog www.leavingapath.com.]

mom4Spartan Race has exposed me to some of the most extraordinary athletes and individuals.  I’ve made friends all over the world and witnessed feats of courage and triumph all over the United States and from super athlete’s like Hobie Call and Jenny Tobin.  I’ve been inspired away from home and brought those memories home with me. 

This weekend, I had a different experience and while I was away from home, the inspiration came from a very close and personal place. 

My mom has always been a person I’ve admired.  Arguably one of the smartest women I’ve ever met, she made being a mom and having a kick ass career something that looked easy when I was growing up.  It was only years later with my own children that I realized the struggle she faced and how much grace she held to make it look easy.  Never missing a game or a dance recital, putting homemade and nutritious food on the table each morning and night, all while holding down 60 hour work weeks, she was superwoman.

In the business world, she was a force, often in fields dominated by men.  I remember her telling me of working for Lee Iacocca early in her career when he was with Ford Motor Company and how during a meeting she defied the automobile icon directly. 

She says, “He was unhappy with the production numbers at Claycomo, MO plant and looking directly at me, I was  the only woman in the room, he said, ‘I think it’s time for you to leave.’”  She was shocked at the request.

Iacoca’s reason for asking her to leave, “I am going to swear, and I don’t want to do that in front of a woman.”

In a roomful of men she wouldn’t allow herself to be different, regardless of his intention.  She told him, “No, I’m fine.”  She laughs recalling that her boss looked at her like she had two heads at her defiance of the man in charge.

“I stayed.  He swore.” She explains with a smile. 

As I’ve grown up, she’s never ceased to amaze me at what she can accomplish.  Thissarasotaandstuff 3586 past weekend was no exception.  Just a week inside of being over a debilitating bout with pneumonia and coming off a season ending stress fracture, she finished her first half marathon in under 2:45 minutes  yesterday finishing 53rd in her age group. 

No small feat for a woman who has never run more than six miles, who had not run outside since August 2011, and who even the day before the race was having lung trouble post-pneumonia.  She registered six days before the event, at my insistence and calmly, sarasotaandstuff 3635and coolly we towed the line at the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon and took off in the dark with 3,000 other runners.  She was undaunted on the outside of the task that lay ahead. We watched the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico, she battled for 12 miles by my side in good spirits and never without a smile.  I lost her just past mile 12 and went forward finishing just three minutes ahead of her.  I watched her cross the finish line more than fifteen minutes inside her goal of three hours earning her first half mary hardware. 

We didn’t run alone, we were surrounded by exceptional women.  Our pacer Marisela (a marathon veteran 41 times over) who we stuck by for 11 miles was extraordinarysarasotaandstuff 3563 and in our group ran two eleven year old girls one of whom would finish side by side with her older sister, just 13 years old, in 2 hours and 40 minutes.   And another 11 year old girl who would finish her first half marathon alone, chicking her dad shortly after the start.  Mothers, daughters, sisters, and best friends crossed the line in a race comprised of 65% females.  I held back tears watching so many of them finish hand in hand.

sarasotaandstuff 3615It was a memory I won’t soon forget alongside women, one in particular, my mother I am so very grateful for having in my life.  I made a video for her, of our day and our run, a little Half Mary by the Gulf, 13.1 miles shared by mother and daughter and one finish that will last a lifetime. 

On our way home she said casually and unexpectedly, “So, where is the closest Spartan Race?” 

I couldn’t help but smile,she’s often heard me talk about the races and what they mean to me.  I replied, “We’ll be in Chicago in October, it’s a Super, so eightish miles.”

“Hmmm,” she mused, “I think I might have to get a plane ticket…”

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by Alec Blenis

393595_10150389196771861_251061411860_8883561_1155940080_nAt times running over 100 miles per week in freezing temperatures, he takes endurance to a whole new extreme. Placing third in the Spartan Race World Championship, he won the World’s Toughest Mudder competition just two weeks later. Mechanical engineer by day, hardcore endurance athlete by night, he often doesn’t finish his grueling workouts until after midnight. This extraordinary gentlemen is known by some as Pak-man.

Sparta, meet Junyong Pak.

Junyong, 34, was born to a loving family in Korea. To survive the harsh winters in his homeland, extra body fat was sometimes a necessity. Always slender however, Junyong was actually considered unhealthy by his family. Now living in Boston, perhaps it is this background which helped him win the World’s Toughest Mudder, a 24 hour test of endurance in which icy waters and harsh weather kept all but ten of the initial competitors from even finishing the event. With a 2:33 Boston Marathon finish previously this year, it’s no surprise that he did well. Second place was more than four hours behind. “I could have run farther,” he says, “but I didn’t want to get hurt.” Junyong has other big races coming up…

Junyong started racing in middle school when a friend convinced him to join the cross14641_590787849279_2811400_34885900_7814527_n country team. Never one to disappoint, Junyong ran hard for his high school coach but, regrettably, he didn’t run in college. He had always wanted to run an obstacle course competitively, but “there was nothing like [Spartan Race] when I was growing up,” he says. When he saw an ad for Spartan Race a few years ago, he jumped on the opportunity. An inspiring athlete, Junyong always places well at Spartan Races. With another successful racing season behind him, Junyong has big plans for 2012. He’ll be running in multiple Spartan Races: the infamous Spartan Death Race and the Spartan Race Championship to be held in Killington, Vermont.

So how does he balance a full time job and personal life with his rigorous training? Admittedly, he is not a morning person. He does all of his workouts when he gets home from work around 10:00pm, tired and hungry. It’s not always easy though. “Not working out is simply not an option. The rest of life starts when you’re done training. I just make it happen.” Junyong has no secrets. In fact, his training log is available for all to see online. What separates him for his competition is his grit, work ethic, and passion to succeed. He envisions each workout as the one that will make him a better and stronger athlete than the rest.

This year at the Spartan Race World Championships in Glen Rose, Texas, Junyong briefly overtook Hobie Call at the spear throw, only to be passed again at the herculean hoist. Never too far behind Hobie, the reigning champion, many wonder if Junyong has what it takes to claim the title next year. “Hobie’s on top,” says Junyong. “I don’t think anyone can beat him right now. I’ve gotten to be such good friends [with Hobie], I don’t think I would want to beat him even if I could.”

190201_194462037254114_126442634056055_566080_1122835_nI asked Junyong what new obstacle he would like to see in an upcoming Spartan Race. “A peg-wall… It would only be feasible for the top athletes, but it would be great to see at a championship level event.” This obstacle would be a wooden wall filled with holes. Athletes would climb the wall by hanging from two pegs which would would be moved from hole to hole.

Along with his World’s Toughest Mudder victory, Junyong took home a $10,000 prize.
“I’m giving it all to my dad,” he says. “The sacrifices he has made for our family are so great. He really needs to retire, and I want to help make that happen.”

It’s easy to see why everyone loves Junyong Pak.  We’ll be seeing a lot of Pak Man in 2012. 

Editor’s Note: Alec Blenis is an accomplished endurance athlete and Spartan competitor.  Finishing in the top three at several Spartan events and top five in the Spartan World Championships he was the youngest competitor in the field at 17 years of age. 

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Introduction and Closure by Carrie Adams

“It’s simple…If you don’t think you were born to run, you’re not only denying history.  You’re denying who you are.” – Dr. Bramble

When Hobie Call crossed the finish line of the 2011 SoCal Super Spartan he was unknown.  His accomplishments, however remarkable, remained largely undiscovered and he was just a man with a plan that would take nearly a year to see through.   Crossing the finish in SoCal in early 2011, he was ending one race a champion but beginning another, the race of a lifetime for a man who thought his time may have passed.  While we, Spartan Race were introducing a new sport, Obstacle Racing to the masses, we were also unknowingly meeting the man who would come to define excellence in the burgeoning sporting event and who’s valiant efforts would inspire a community of Spartans to find their own path to glory.  He was featured in our SoCal video about Overcoming Adversity where we first heard part of his story. 

Hobie’s first Spartan Video, SoCal 2011

Venue after venue, race after race Hobie’s winning streak continued and almost every race he touched he owned. After SoCal, came many more races for Call to take on, even the Death Race, and despite his DNF at the Death Race and his loss at the Beast, his fans never faltered and the interest in what this humble man from Utah was pursuing grew.  His journey that began in California led him all the way to Glen Rose, TX and a shot at $10,000.  The cash prize heat was on the minds of many of our Spartan community when the heat took off at 3:30 on December 3, 2011 at Rough Creek Lodge.  With Xterra racer Josiah Middaugh hot on his heels the entire course, Hobie still crossed the finish line first earning him a check for $10,000 and the right to call himself Spartan Race champion. 

In his own words, he remarks on a year of racing and on where he started, how he’s changed, how very thankful he is as an athlete, husband, and father. 

081016_hobiecallOh what a remarkable year!  I was 33 years old and my best athletic accomplishments were virtually unknown to the world.  I’ve logged a 4:40 mile on a treadmill with a 40 lb. vest on, a 17:36 5k on a relatively slow course with a 40 lb. vest on, and I had lunged a mile with a 40lb. vest on in 34:01. (and I don’t use my hands to help when lunging, lunging is a leg workout). Guinness world records wouldn’t recognize my lunge mile because apparently lunging a mile without any weight is hard enough.

I was disappointed enough about the lunge mile, that I never bothered to see if there were even records established for the runs with the 40 lbs. Anyway, in the midst of producing these records, I moved to the city where the smog is too thick, the winters are too cold, and my new job took too much time and energy to train properly to continue to improve. Of course, I’m not one to settle for mediocrity, so I tried anyway. This just caused me to get injured.

I attempted for 1-1/2 years to get back into shape, but to no avail. My job was just too demanding. For the first time in my life, I decided that my chance to be a great athlete had passed. I would attempt a few marathons next year, make a few thousand dollars, and retire. It was a disappointing end to a lifelong dream. As winter settled in, I switched up my training, because running outside, in the dark, on cold icy roads, in the smog just didn’t sound like a good idea. I shortened my runs and focused more on building extra strength, which I could quickly transfer to endurance as soon as spring came. And I did aerobically intense upper body workouts a few times a week in place of my easier runs, so I could stay indoors to workout. 

Early in February, my wife showed me this race that someone had FaceBooked to her and she thought I would like it, so she showed it to me. I saw a picture of a girl crawling through a mud pit under barbed wire. I said no thanks, I’m not a big fan of mud. I don’t even like walking through it to get to my job sites!  But later, for some unexplainable reason, I decided to take a closer look.

310567_10150297865671861_251061411860_8456162_348277038_nAs I was researching the race, I came across an article where the race founder was offering $100,000 to any of the winners of the survivor show who could win his Death Race. And then on a whim (and just for publicity reasons I’m sure) he threw in “if anyone can win all of my other 2011 USA Spartan races I will also give them $100,000”. Nothing on his website said anything about this, nor any other article I could find. But that was enough to get me excited. I could handle a little bit of mud for a prize like that. I figured that as good as I was at running, I would actually be even better suited for a race like this because I had a lot more upper body stamina than a typical runner, especially considering the way I had been training for the last few months.

I talked to Irene (my wife), and we decided to give it a try. So, 2 weeks before the race, I clip_image005 (1)signed up, went and got some contact lenses, and spent every last penny we had to pay for gas to get to California.  And for the first time in many years, I remembered just how fun racing was supposed to be. I felt like a kid all over again. No boring road race here. I was running up and down hills, sometimes on trails, sometimes not. Over walls, under walls, through walls, crawling under barbed wire and through tunnels. Running through freezing water, jumping over a fire, pulling a bucket full of concrete up a pulley. Solve a Rubik’s cube, throw a spear…The list goes on. I was having the time of my life.

SRFL_AB_0012Well, as you can imagine Joe DeSena (one of the race founders) was happy to see someone take on his challenge. As the races progressed, so did the excitement. Joe was happy to see me winning, but was also getting nervous that I would actually win the $100,000. They couldn’t find anyone to challenge me. But, as he was quick to keep reminding me, he still had his Death Race, and I had no chance of winning that. I did a total of three Death Race training workouts. I had never tried working out when sleep deprived, and had no idea what we would even be doing for the race. But, I was healthy and had been working a full time manual labor job while also training for the other Spartan Races, so I knew my endurance was good.

But, the theme of the Death Race is to “expect the unexpected.” We started out by lifting rocks for six hours. As monotonous as it was, I actually enjoyed it. Then we found my kryptonite. The cold. We hiked up a river in the middle of the night, in the rain, had to swim through a freezing pond seven times, and hike back down the river. The seven times through the pond were the seven hardest decisions I have ever made in my life. It’s amazing my body didn’t shut down on me. Anyway, I got held back with a small group of other people for going too slow, and had to wait until the very last person finished. By the time we finished doing group challenges, and arrived back at the farm, I was 1-1/2 hours behind the leaders.

262164_10150227079801861_251061411860_7837628_189769_nNo worries, the race was just getting started, and as long as I was warm, I was gaining on them. But it seemed that for every two steps forward, I took one step back. It was constantly raining, and my body was hypersensitive to the cold because of the night before. I had to wait out rainstorms, and change my clothes often to try and keep warm. Twenty-five hours into the race, I was approximately one hour behind the leader (Joe Decker, who would ultimately win the Death Race for the second year in a row), and gaining fast. Carrying a log up and down a mountain was my kind of fun. But just as things started to look up, a big storm hit as I was reaching the top of a mountain. I had to wait out the storm while my brother brought me a wetsuit. Then, while going down the mountain, I got lost. By the time I reached the bottom, I was over 2 hours behind. Now 29 hours into the race, I concluded that there was no way I could possibly win. So I stopped.

I still had a lot of races left this year, and there was no point in possibly injuring myself268274_10150227079701861_251061411860_7837627_4225439_n just to say I finished. I was not there to finish, I was there to win. So, the cold bested me before Joe ever got the chance to. I won’t be naïve and say that I would have won if the cold wouldn’t have been so severe. The endurance/strength, and sleep deprivation of the next 10 hours may very well have got the best of me. 

Leaving Pittsfield and the Death Race behind me, I had more racing to do before the year was done.  The agreement was, no Death Race win, no $100,000 but I wasn’t done.  People wonder why I continued to race after even when the $100,000 was gone, but if you understand me, it’s obvious. If my pursuit for excellence was driven by money, I would have quit 10 years ago. It’s always been my desire to inspire others to never give up, eat healthier, get out and exercise, take care of your body; it’s the only one you’ve got. These races were accomplishing that more than anything else I had ever done. Besides, I was having the time of my life. Well anyway, to keep this thank you letter from turning into a book, the rest as they say is history.

374691_10150389185026861_251061411860_8883400_172098013_nI would like to thank everyone for such a memorable year. I would try to mention names but would surely miss many of them. From everyone at Spartan Race (of which there are more than a few), the volunteers (many of which didn’t even race, but are just good people looking for an opportunity to help out), to those who donated money, those who put me up in their homes and drove me to the races and back and forth from the airports, and all of the fans with all of their encouragement and support.

I would also like to thank my wife and children, who for most of the year only lived on the386409_10150389197686861_251061411860_8883570_1579919594_n sacrificing end of things, but supported me anyway; my brother who took the time off of work to come to many of the races, and help make a workout video (that you can get at www.hobiecall.com). I would especially like to thank my Heavenly Father for blessing me with the knowledge, ability, and opportunity to be where I am today.

“I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.”  – William Shakespeare

We at Spartan Race would like to extend our own thanks and congratulations to Hobie Call for an epic year.  His kindness, generosity, dedication, and work ethic has come to represent the Spartan spirit.  Whether it was voluntarily pitching in at a pre-race packet pick-up in Malibu when we were overwhelmed with racers wanting bibs and chips, to chopping wood for fellow Death Racer, or posing for pictures, signing autographs, giving tips on training and nutrition to eager racers, and making fun videos and commenting on FaceBook questions, he’s a class act.  Always with a smile and always with honor and  integrity leading him we’ve loved having him as part of our Spartan community and look forward to 2012.

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