By Miguel Medina

Reebok Spartan Race Preview:  Citi Field the modern day Coliseum

The time has come Spartans! On April 12th and 13thSpartan Race is stepping off the trails and storming the gates at Citi Field, home of the Mets in beautiful New York City, not to mention that the weather for the weekend is looking great, with a slight chance of showers on Saturday. This year’s Stadium Sprint will include a vast array of obstacles that we’ve seen both on and off the trails, with a few surprises tossed in courtesy of Race Director Dann LG, racers will be able to run through the team locker rooms, among the bleachers and dug outs attacking obstacle after obstacle. Spectators and participants alike will be able to get a full scope of the action via Jumbotron throughout the entire weekend along with enjoying the battles to ensue within the men’s and women’s elite heats.

Miguel Medina is no stranger to rocking it.

Hunter “The Sheriff” McIntyre will be returning to the big apple after a phenomenal 3rd place finish in the Las Vegas Super Spartan and to continue his winning streak in stadiums. He won’t be met unchallenged as several of the Spartan Pro’s and elites are looking to end that streak. Fort Drum’s favorite Elliot Megquier is looking to get a shot at the Sheriff, along with Colorado’s Cody Wright. Tossing his trooper hat aside and leaving the mountains of Vermont is Miguel Medina along with a new addition to the Pony Barn and Boston Native, Dennis Smith.  The women’s elite heat is shaping up to be fierce in Competition as Karlee Whipple is looking to best her last performance, an impressive 3rd place finish at Aloha Stadium but she won’t be alone as Shaun Provost, Laura Messner and several other of Sparta’s finest are looking to conquer Citi Field as well. 

In addition to the Elite and Open waves, Citi Field will hold the first Special Needs Spartan Race course within a stadium. This course is designed for Spartans with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (IDD).  In paving new ground for increased collaboration and awareness within the Spartan community, these racers along with their guardians will test their strength, stamina and resilience in overcoming adversity and continuing to encourage people from all walks of life to be more active, fit, and healthy. Also throughout the day there will be food and refreshments, festival challenges for prizes and bragging rights as well as The Jr. Varsity Spartan and Varsity Spartan races for children 4-13 years of age.

All Spectators and Participants are encouraged to arrive at least an hour before their start time and to bring their ID for registration. If necessary you may carry personal hydration and nutrition but there will be 1-2 aid stations along the way. Waves start at 7am Saturday and 8am on Sunday, and every 15 minutes after commencing with the Elites, Confirmed, Morning, Afternoon, and Late Afternoon. Don’t forget to enjoy the sights, sounds, and entertainment that New York City has to offer.

Will you know at the finish line?

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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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By Christopher Rutz

Palm trees, cool breezes, and sunshine are not what most of the rest of the country are experiencing this time of year. With winter storm after winter storm blasting the Midwest, East, and West coasts most people are bundled up tight trying to stay warm. It was a welcome change this weekend for those that traveled to Florida for the Spartan Tampa SpecOps Sprint, the first ever run in Tampa. While the weather was a little wetter than most were expecting it was still much warmer than the rest of the country, and made even more so by the sweat, mud, obstacles and fire participants would soon be subjected to as they descended on Raymond James Stadium. 

The Tampa Special Ops Stadium Sprint race took place this past Saturday in beautifully tropical Florida. While most of the country was experiencing more snow and cold temperatures Florida’s Spartans, and many snowbird Spartans, were out in force to take on the course. Registration topped 6000 racers and Raymond James Stadium was transformed from a Buccaneer Den to Spartan battle ground. Unique obstacles in this Special Ops race included and ammo can farmers carry, a football toss into a barrel, a sand barbed wire crawl the length of the field, and a cammo net crawl. There was also a “gamble” in this race, which forces the racers to choose harder and shorter or longer and faster course options.  In addition, finishers were awarded a unique Special Ops finishers medal.

The mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn, was in attendance to help kick off the day along with many distinguished military service men from MacDill Air Force Base.  The day started out with the Elite heats under tropical winds and a quick rain shower.  The men’s race included six members of the Spartan Race Pro Team, Hunter McIntyre, Brakken Kraker, Elliott Megquier, Christopher Rutz, David Magida and Alexander Nicholas. Other top competitors included Isaiah Vidal, Brandon Dupont and Dennis Smith. Due to some misdirection on the course the men’s field split with some taking alternate courses to finish the race. Fortunately there was timing mat at the point of the misdirection so mid race results can be used for scoring. At this point in the race Brakken, Hunter and Isaiah were in the top three spots. When the elite men finished up their heat and it was realized that many did different routes it was decided to run again for the prize money. So with that 30 or so of the top Elite racers went back up in the Stadium to complete the course from the misstep. In the end the top placing went to Isaiah, followed by Hunter and then Brakken.

On the women’s side, they were able to stay on course and ran the race as intended. First place went to Cassidy Watton, followed by Spartan Pro Ameila Boone and then Kailee Whipple.  $7,000 in Prize money was awarded to the Top 3 men and women courtesy of Navy Federal Credit Union.

After the elite heats concluded the open waves took to the course. The weather was cool, for Florida, with sunshine and a breeze for most of the day. This was the first Spartan Race in Tampa and first one  ever run in a football stadium. For those thinking they would stay dry, they were wrong.  Spartan took advantage of the outside and created rolling mud. The challenge intensified with the Herculean Hoist, Atlas Carry (a concrete ball – 100lbs for men and 60lbs for women – carried a distance, a required 5 burpees, and then carried back), an inverted wall climb, an ammunition box carry, the ever-daunting spear throw (a challenge that dished out burpee penalties for many throughout the day), and the dreaded rope climb. Finally, with a triumphant leap over fire, racers victoriously crossed the finish line to receive their one-of-a-kind Special Ops medal and Spartan Sprint trifecta piece.

Not only were adults able to claim their Spartan victory, but a ½ and full mile kids race was also available for children aged 4 through 13. Small Spartans were sent out at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm, giving them the opportunity to take on a course designed just for them, and to earn a medal all their own.

While we are sure you are more than a little jealous of your fellow Spartans run in the (kind of) sunny state of Florida don’t worry. To join in on the next race go to spartanrace.com and sign up for a race in your area (or someplace warmer than your area…it’s your choice).

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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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One competitor laughs of the cold and takes time to tell the photographers that it really isn’t that bad under the water.

You’d have been forgiven for thinking you were not actually in sunny California, but perhaps Chicago, Detroit or somewhere not altogether unfamiliar with ice and below freezing temperatures.
With the typical Spartan Race rain on the Saturday and the malevolent grin of glinting frost and ice beckoning the competitors to the start line on Sunday, the elements had already conspired to make the competitors suffer.

Spartan Race elite male and female podium finishers

With many regular faces descending on Malibu from all corners of the country, the all-too familiar feeling of a reunion in was in full force. However, once stepping over that start line, all friendships were put temporarily on hold. Tellingly, a water obstacle again proved to be the undoing of Hobie Call as he only briefly misjudged a plan of attack. This merest hint of a chance was something Hunter McIntyre exploited and punished by pushing past and snatching first place by only 33 seconds. Brakken Krakker took third place by crossing the line only just over a minute after Hobie, proving just how tight the men’s elite class is now. It seems as though every race is now a guarantee for a nervous and exciting fight for 1st place.

The female elites didn’t fail to add to the tension, either. Rose Wetzel (1st), Lauren Ho (2nd) and Tiffanie Novakovich were separated by only just over 3 minutes. The female elites are crashing through into 2014 with higher rates of training and motivation than ever before, so it was unsurprising that numbers into double figures were finishing faster than some male elite runners. Competition has never been fiercer!

Despite having no legs, Mathew Webb failed only one obstacle – the spear throw.

Away from the professionals the Spartan Race inspiration machine was in full force. Travelling over 7 hours to make the event to represent the ever-present and all-conquering Weeple Army (taking their 8th biggest team win), Mathew Webb crushed the course despite having the “minor inconvenience” of having had no legs since being only 18 months old. Making jokes that the water in the lake was so cold that he couldn’t feel anything below the knee, he powered through failing only the spear throw.“Overcoming Obstacles” was led by Slosh Pipe champion Kevin Kierce. Containing competitors  Michael Aygin, Brian Tom, Michael Yu, Durrell Johnson, James Mogana, Joel Senteno, (who are all hard of hearing or blind) and previous Spartan Race blog subject Misty Diaz who battles Spina Bifida, they all went through the course in a flurry of high-fives from well-wishers and a  volley of “AROO!” chants. Accompanying Kevin was his 74 year old mother, Linda Barber. Together, this one group alone pushing the fact that there are simply no valid excuses.

Linda Barber, 74, has completed every Malibu Spartan Race to date.

Team SISU,led by Daren De Heras made multiple loops of the course over the weekend, choosing to continue their Death Race ethic by carrying logs, tires and wearing elevation masks in order to make “things more interesting”.

From Hollywood, actors Tony Besson – making his third Spartan Race appearance – and Josh Peck ran in a wave shortly before Eric Colley fromTMZ made his debut at the start line.

As 2014 winds down to a close, Texas will see thousands of Spartan descend on Glen Rose where host the last race of year. Spartan Race will see out 2013 with a Beast and the last chance to qualify for a Trifecta before the new season starts in January. Will you be one of them?

 

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When I was anxiously preparing for the start of the World Championships I saw a glimpse of some of the announced runners that would be attending the event. I saw at least 10 athletes that had running times that were so superior to mine, I felt like a JV high school runner at best. I mentioned this to a mentor and friend of mine, Chris Clifford and he said, “remember Spartan Racing is a different beast.” Chris said, “if you had to spend 5 minutes in a boxing ring with one of these 120 lb, 14-minute 5K guys, and then race the Spartan event who do you think would win?”

As I stood on one of the 15-round Spartan stickers, waiting for the start of the 7 AM elite Fenway Park Spartan Sprint, with less than a minute to go Chris’s words came to my mind. I glanced to my right and looked at the 205 pound Alexander Nicholas, then in front at the 200 pound Hunter McIntyre and then I noticed there were also the runners with the sub-140 pound frames and thought the only way Spartan Races attract all of us is because they are battles, not races.  I smirked a small smile as I pictured Alexander Nicholas, with his baggie Moi Thai shorts from his Elite Fitness Club in a MMA ring with Hobie Call and thought, Spartan has created an event where heart, strength, agility, speed, endurance – everything – is needed to win.  

Fenway’s start was a battle; athletes were greeted by an immediate bottleneck and a serious urgency to be the first to the front if they had any desire of being a contender. Grasping the handrail and whipping myself around the turns of the ramp, climbing furiously, I found myself urging to be in first but ebbing in and out of the top 5. As soon as we reached about 300 feet of vertical climbing we quickly grabbed the dual 5 gallon jugs and were performing the farmer’s carry down stairs that brought us back down the vertical only to carry the 60 pounds of water right back up. Only 2 minutes into this race I found my lungs being seared by the crisp, morning air.

After ascending over and through the bungee cords I found myself in the company of Hunter McIntyre and Brakken Kraker. We had a fairly good gap as we entered the rowing machines. I had heard the rowing machines were a 500 meter row in less than two minutes with a pre-programmed message on the screen: less than 2 minutes, “AROO!” more than 2 minutes “Screw You!” Actually, the message said, “30 burpees” but screw you and 30 burpees is quite similar if you’ve ever done a Spartan Race.

I finished the row just in front of Hunter but felt a little timid leading through the ups and downs and lefts and rights through the stadium seating rows.  I felt it better strategy to follow then to lead.  As we continued through obstacles I felt like an MMA fighter exchanging blows as we went count-for-count through the heavy rope, slam balls and hand-release pushups. I found myself on the defensive as Hunter made his move and Brakken made his.  

With a mere 7 minutes remaining in a short 25-minute sprint, I helplessly watched as Hunter and Brakken dropped me through the sandbag carry and would proceed to finish in yet another (Remember Miller Park) finish-line sprint. As I went over the final set of 5-foot walls, followed by the 8-foot wall I saw out of my peripheral on the giant Fenway Screen, Hunter and Brakken going neck and neck on the final box jumps. Hunter would once again beat Brakken by less than a second.

I crossed the finish line and again reflected on being a fighter in a battle and pushing myself beyond my limits. Third place didn’t feel like a victory, it felt more like being on the ropes and not punching back when the time was necessary. However, once again I walk away from my early career as a Spartan Racer yearning for the next battle and planning how I will be delivering the blows and beating the beasts that this sport has given me.

The Bear


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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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Like moths to a flame, the Spartan Race community was drawn to Cliffs Insane Terrain Park in Marseilles, Illinois for two days of intense trails and obstacles that would test all those who were willing to push themselves. With this being the Super Championship for the year, the men’s elite line-up read like a who’s who of Spartan Race with the Spartan Pro Team seeing a lot of the podium all weekend.

On the men’s side the competition was tough.  Spartan Pro Team men Brakken Kraker, Hunter McIntyre and David Magida finished in a 1-2-3 ahead of so many highly skilled athletes.  In fact, the top three finishers in the elite heat Saturday and Sunday on the men’s side were all Spartan Pro Team athletes.

Amelia Boone kept her winning streak alive by winning both Saturday and Sunday, despite getting lost on Saturday for over

Iram Leon with Spartan Race Race Director Mike Morris

ten minutes and clawing her way back to the front of the pack. Boone has never failed to podium at a Spartan Race and her Sunday finish saw only five men finish before her, nabbing not only first female but sixth overall.  Behind Boone, Spartan Pro Team females rounded out the female podium Saturday with Hannah Orders in second and Leslie St Louis in third. Orders made many jaws drop at the fact that despite losing a shoe mid-race, she finished just two minutes behind the leader on Saturday. Leslie St Louis fought off brave competition for third in a highly competitive field.

Also racing in the elite heat both days was the quiet and unassuming Iram Leon. A terminal cancer marathon winner, Leon is an inspirational runner. Leon placed high, despite being very new to the concept of obstacle course racing. The marathon champion charged at the course, wearing a shirt with a runner being chased by the Grim Reaper, with the caption, “Make Him work for it”.

Brad Kloha, who is running 100 races in 52 weeksto raise money for Alzheimer’s was on-hand in Illinois. He is running to

honor the memory of his grandmother and great-grandmother who he lost to the disease and hopes to raise $1 Million to aid the charity. Kloha runs every race with a photo of his grandmother strapped to his forearm to remind him of his purpose.

The Unbreakable Joneses, a father son team we recently profiled who often does multiple laps, also took to the highly technical trails, mud and obstacles in Illinois.   Last seen sprinting around the Texas Sprint multiple times, the father and son team known affectionately known as “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” successfully completed the course 3 times; once for speed, once carrying sledgehammers and once tethered together.

AC Auld – a Biggest Loser participant – remarked that finishing is, “an achievement that no one can take away from you.”  He smiled cheerfully and held up his hands bearing two wounds opened up while low crawling under the barbed wire.  Spartans wear their cuts and bruises with pride.

Love was also in the air!  In what is quickly becoming a tradition at Spartan Races all over the country,  Megan Pritchard happily accepted Michael Manning’s request for her hand in marriage amid huge cheers and applause at the finish line.  We wish them the best!

Danny Rodriguez

The longest and hardest journey of the weekend was that of someone who is no stranger to what a Spartan Race can offer. Weighing over 400lbs, Danny Rodriguez, along with some friends and a couple of staff members, hiked and fought his way through an epic nine hours to cross the finish line to a flurry of high-fives, knucklebumps and teary-eyed hugs. Personifying the “sign up, show up, don’t quit” attitude, Danny is now undergoing the very same regime Chris Davis went through with Spartan Race founder Joe Desena in Vermont in a bid to emulate the same weight loss and lifestyle change. Everyone at Spartan Race would like to wish Danny good luck for the next few months.

A big thanks goes out to the Cornfed Spartan team whose volunteering, work and course sweeping for the Midwest race was an immeasurable asset.  Thanks, Cornfed!

Next up, the Sprint championship in the Pacific Northwest. Who will come out on top? You’ll know at the finish line…

Sign up today! 

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by TyAnn Clark, Spartan Pro Team

The pressure is officially on for this weekend at the Midwest Reebok Spartan Spartan July 20th and 21st! Located at the Cliffs Offroad Park in Marseilles llinois, runners can expect to have heat, humidity, thick mud, unique obstacles, beautiful terrain, and competitive heats. The park is an off-road ATV trail park that winds through trees and trails – with plenty of dips perfect for a Spartan mud pit. Though the hills are not as steep as we’ve seen in other races, there will be plenty of them to keep it challenging. Don’t expect an easy course though. For the past two years, the mud has been extra deep and plentiful.

There were many obstacles unique to the Midwest Spartan in the past two years. In the past, logs have dominated the landscape: logs in the water, logs to cross, logs to climb. With the addition of severe muddiness, things will probably get interesting. If the rope climb and log hop looked hard before, try it covered in a nice thick layer of slop on top. Last year, cold temperatures had runners reeling, this year the hot and humid forecast will be a whole new challenge for those returning to the Midwest.

There will be plenty of strong athletes present to make the competitive heats worth watching. On the women’s side, there will

Amelia Boone

be several present that know how to win a Spartan race. Amelia Boone, the 2012 Midwest champion and recent winner of the Indiana race will be there, as well as Canadian and Spartan Pro Team member Rose Marie Jarry fresh off of an injury. The 2012 2nd place points champion, Leslie St. Louis will also be present. Other strong female competitors include: Sue Luck, Melinda Branch, Spartan Pro Team member Angela Reynolds, and Tonya L Stogsdill.

On the men’s side, there will be many athletes that will be hoping to challenge Spartan Pro Team Hunter McIntyre’s strong performance this year. Hunter is fresh off a win at the Citi Bank Spartan Sprint and has placed high in every race that he has competed in. Fellow Spartan Pro Team members Brakken Kraker (2013 Carolina Sprint 1st place) and Elliot Megquier (2013 Texas Sprint 1st place) came in first and second last year on Saturday’s course. Other men that to watch from the Spartan Pro Team are Shawn Feiock, David Magida, Miguel Medina, and Alec Blenis. Rounding out the stiff competition is Joseph Kauder and Brian Hoover.

Iram Leon

Two other notable men will be on-hand in the Midwest. Brad Kloha is running several Spartan Races this year as part of a campaign to run 100 races in 52 weeks to raise money for Alzheimer’s. He was featured on the Spartan blog earlier this week. See that story HERE.

Also, Iram Leon will be participating in the Chicago race. Leon is a well-known endurance athlete, who won a marathon in 2012. He is also a terminal cancer patient who participated in the Austin Spartan Race earlier this year and who won the Gusher Marathon in Beaumont, Texas, finishing in 3:07:35 and pushing his six year old daughter in a stroller. You can read more about his story HERE.

Make sure to check up on the race results this weekend to see who will be crowned the Spartan Super Champion.

Ready to run?  Sign up and find your own Spartan finish line HERE.

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Chris Davis and Anna Gargan

As he walks over to the emcee, Spartan Race veteran and all-round nice guy Chris Davis smiles the smile of someone who has just survived a brutal beating. He points at the mountain that looms over Blue Mountain Ski Resort and shakes his head, “that thing is the Killington of Sprints!” Davis is making a reference to the Vermont Beast that many racers will tackle later this year at the second annual Spartan World Championships. And indeed, the Pennsylvania Sprint has long been regarded and argued as being the hardest Sprint on the circuit, something all too evident as many racers new to the Reebok Spartan Race series were to discover.

The Blue Mountain course features an incline so long and so steep that it requires a ski-lift in order for most people to scale it’s face. And competitors from around the country – and a small contingent from Slovakia – spent months training for a race that would prove an incredible test of endurance. The fact that the course was “only” 4 miles set a beguiling false sense of security.

The Elites set the standard very early on. Spartan Pro Team athlete Hunter McIntyre blazed through the course in an incredible time of 41m 53s, with his Pro Teammate David Magida coming in a close second, only 19 seconds behind him. Andrew Hostetler took third place on the podium with a time of 43m 42s.

In the ladies Elite wave, Kristen Zielinski powered through with a time of 56m 08s, coming ahead of Gracie Wikie and Cassidy Watton who took second and third respectively.

In the open heats, stories of how Spartan Race not only changed people’s lives, but brought them together as a community. A

Ben Braverman

group of friends since high school and through work calling themselves “Team Lionhearted” came together from Reading, Philadelphia and various parts of New York in order to help their friend Louis Valencia get off the couch. Together they stormed the finish line and high-fives were the order of the day. “You *CAN* do it”, being the simple message Louis gives to those contemplating a race.

Ben Braverman, in active service with the Pennsylvania National Guard, decided to wear all his equipment – weighing in at over 40lbs – with the simple explanation that, “you train how you fight. There’s no point in my training without the weight and getting used to movement without what I would have to wear”.

At 9.30pm, some five hours after she started, Annie Wills crossed the finish line with her husband Andy by her side. After seeing him complete the Vermont Beast, she decided to train long and hard to do a course together with him. Setting about a regime that would see her train four days a week every week for four months, Annie lost 7 inches from around her hips, and dropping three dress sizes in the process. With pure grit and determination, she completed her first Spartan Race. There was not a dry eye in

Amy and Andy Wills

the venue when they crossed the finish line. Amid cheers and applause from all the staff, volunteers and remaining racers, the couple from Houston, Mississippi kissed under the finish line. Exhausted and completely drained, but proud. It was a true moment of Spartan togetherness and how something can become greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Next up on the tour? Two days of Super Spartan madness in Illinois. See you at the finish line.

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