As Spartan Race gears up to head back to Times Square on January 17th, we made a pit stop in the Rockaways with a dedicated group of Spartan Race Street Team members to give back to those hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy.  Partnering with NYCares, Spartan Race Street Teamers proved that, “Spartans Give Generously” with their hard work on the devastated coastline.  After the volunteer event, emails came pouring in from those who were onsite.  The photos were startling.  Months later, the damage is still severe and the work far from over.  Over the weekend Spartan Racers gave their time, talent, and brute strength to give back.

Said one Spartan Race veteran and volunteer Eric Sperrazza, “Saturday’s Spartan Racers Muck Out Queens event was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done!  The staff of New York Cares were so accommodating and passionate about their mission and meeting new Spartan Race friends, while helping a needy community, was created a camaraderie that I am confident will carry over beyond this event. Further, the neighbors that were out, within the community, were so appreciative of our work that it really quantified the purpose for us being there and galvanized us a team to see through all of our tasks.”

Keri Foley gave us a recap of the day that served as a reminder of how much work is still left to be done and how a group of people can make a difference when they set out to help out those in need.  Here is Foley’s story.

On Saturday, January 12th, myself and several other Street Team members boarded a bus in Manhattan headed for the Rockaways.  None of us had ever done a Muck Out, nor did we know what we would be getting ourselves into, but we were all eager to help out those who homes had been ruined by Hurricane Sandy.  We arrived at “Base Camp” in the Rockaways, and were given the basic gear for our protection; a mask, a hardhat, gloves, goggles, and a Tyvec suit.  Everything we were given was to protect us from debris, dust, and the toxic black mold that now overwhelmed each home.  After listening to a brief explanation of some of the conditions out there, we re-boarded the bus and headed to our location for the day.

On the drive, we passed washed away sidewalks, homes with sand past their doorways, and arrived at beachfront condos that were across the street from what used to be the boardwalk.  Now it was just pylons.  Our leader, Jeff, informed us that the condos we would be working on had already had their drywall gutted, and that we would be ripping up the floorboards and preparing for future detoxing of the black mold.  We donned our gear, and entered the first condo, not knowing what to expect.  Jeff gave us a basic demonstration of how to tear apart the floorboards, and we set to work.  The first condo was our “learning home”; we learned which tools worked better, which way was easiest to tear up the mold infested floorboards.  We trudged through each room, working faster and harder as we went.  By the time we reached our second and third condo, we had each found a rhythm, and the work, though physically challenging, became easier with each sledgehammer and chisel slam.  The day was as exhausting and challenging as many Spartan Races are, but I was so humbled by the experience and the strength of those whose homes had been destroyed.  A couple of the homeowners treated us to pizza, but their gratitude for our being there was more than any ‘thank you’ I could have imagined.  At the end of the day, Jeff told us that we worked faster and harder than any team he had ever worked with.  Our response…  “Of course, We’re SPARTANS!”
A sign over one of our condos read, “No Retreat, No Surrender, Not NOW, Not EVER, Rockaway Forever”.  I felt that captured the essence and strength of the people and the spirit of any Spartan.   I left that day being ever so grateful for Spartan Race giving me this opportunity; I am hoping to be able to do it again in the future.

[Editor's Note: The Spartan Race Times Square Challenge is set for Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., at Broadway Plaza between 42nd and 43rd Streets, in Manhattan come down and see Spartans in action!]

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by Carrie Adams

Robert Duyos /Sun-Sentinel 

Even as Hurricane Sandy continues her rampage, the damage already done is staggering.  Forty deaths are being attributed to Sandy in the US, but 108 are reported dead as far south as Haiti and as far North as Canada.  Hundreds are being evacuated from New Jersey, the shore is devastated, almost seven million are still left without power in 15 states, and transportation has come to a standstill.  The Holland tunnel is still flooded, La Guardia, one of the busiest airports on the planet remains closed.   The people of the east coast are suffering and at HQ, we recognize that the immediate need of the people of New York, New Jersey and surrounding areas, not to mention the rest of the coast and as far inland as Wisconsin who are feeling the effects of the super storm.

In light of that, Spartan Race HQ has made the official determination that we will not be holding our Times Square Demonstration event November 1st as scheduled, rather, we will have a “Super Storm rain check” and hold the demonstration at a later date when New York is well on its way to recovery from the devastation.

Spartans are resilient, and we have a storied history with hurricanes and overcoming obstacles, but the decision to continue in light of the circumstances would not put the safety of the citizens of New York and the participants of the challenge at the forefront and that is unacceptable.  Furthermore, to detract media attention from so many people in need would not be in the Spartan code.

We look forward to announcing a new date in the near future but we want to help the situation NOW.

Photo from redcross.org

How we and YOU can help:

The Spartan Code avows, “Spartans Give Generously” and with so many of our staff,  fellow Spartans, and friends affected and so many Spartans worldwide wanting to help we’ll be directing donations to the Red Cross to ease the suffering and lend a Spartan hand.  It’s easy to donate, simply click HERE or you can Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

According to the Red Cross, blood donations are needed.  PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The storm has already caused the cancellation of Red Cross blood drives in the region, and more cancellations are expected. This has resulted in the loss of several hundred units of blood and platelets so far. The Red Cross has shipped blood products to hospitals in the affected area in advance of the storm as patients will still need blood and platelets despite the weather. If anyone is eligible, especially in places not affected by the storm, they are asked to please schedule a blood donation now.  To schedule a blood donation or get more information about giving blood, people can visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health.

Every little bit helps and the most important thing we can promote right now at HQ is the safety and security of all those, up to 60 million who have been and continue to be in the line of Sandy’s fire.

More details on an upcoming “Super Storm rain check” date coming soon.

To the people waiting out the storm, picking up the pieces of the aftermath, or still waiting in harm’s way, we’re thinking of you at Spartan HQ, and with operations out of Boston and Killington, VT we’re also weathering the storm by your side.

Stay strong and safe, Sparta.

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by Carrie Adams

With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the entirety of the East Coast and already effecting 50 million people, at Spartan Race HQ, we’re paying attention.  In New York, Sandy is flooding Battery Park, leading to mass evacuations, and excessive storm surge threatening to run rampant in lower Manhattan at high tide tonight.  As New Yorkers are preparing for power outages and possible food shortages Spartan Race is preparing to put on our first public demonstration of Spartan Race in Times Square Thursday, November 1st from 11AM – 2PM.

With billions of dollars of damage possible, markets closed, and schools and businesses on hold,  Hurricane Sandy, a Category 1 Hurricane being dubbed a “Super Storm” is proving to be a formidable weather event for the heart of the East Coast.  And Spartan is no stranger to Hurricanes.  It’s how our infamous Hurricane Heat was born and it nearly destroyed our Headquarters and town of Pittsfield, VT, not to mention the home of our new HQ presence in Boston, MA.

Amesbury 2011 Hurricane Heat

Our experience with hurricanes is storied.  When news of the impending landfall of Hurricane Irene began to circulate in the summer of 2011, Spartan HQ worked diligently to keep race doors open for the weekend of our first ever two-day event at that time in Amesbury, MA.  When the State of Massachusetts shut down the site and the venue for Sunday’s August 28, 2011 day of racing, and declared a state of emergency we were forced to cancel the heats.  Amidst the disappointed racers and staffers, no one was more upset than our own owner, Joe DeSena and the crews, course designers, and builders ready to race in Amesbury.

Plans for possible Sunday heats evaporated when we were notified that streets would be shut down and the Sunday permit would no longer be valid.  A new plan was necessary.  Phone calls, site visits, and last minute adjustments were made and SR staffers managed to negotiate an alternative for a few Spartan athletes brave enough to take on the challenge.  By noon on Friday, an invitation went out to all Sunday racers giving them the chance to try Spartan’s course with a unique twist.  An early morning run through the course led by some of the Founders of Spartan Race.  And just like that, Running with the Founders: The Hurricane Heat was born and has thrived ever since.

Hurricane Irene then descended on the East coast and ravaged Spartan HQ in Pittsfield, VT and nearby Killington, VT where the Spartan Race World Championship Beast and Ultra Beast race was held in September 2012.  The towns became islands, stranding the people who ultimately were helped by the Air National Guard, (one of Spartan’s partner sponsors) who assisted 14 other towns in the same stranded circumstances that were they were airlifted supplies and supplied necessities as the roads were being repaired to allow access into the battered towns.

K-1 Baselodge In Killington 2011, Post Hurricane Irene
It has since been repaired

As you can see, the lodge at K1, where a thousand Spartans earned their green medal, collapsed due to the effects of Hurricane Irene.  The Pickel Barrel, where hundreds of athletes gathered with their turkey legs and celebrated their completion of the BEAST, has suffered flooding. The bridges up and down Route 100 have collapsed, making it impossible to travel through the heart of the Green Mountains, by car or by foot. In fact, Pittsfield has become an island because of the destroyed bridges, entering and exiting the town line.  The destruction of the bridges in Pittsfield has made the town unreachable, for there is absolutely no way to get in or out, except by helicopter!  In fact, one of these collapsed bridges was located just outside of our office.

Vermont and our HQ hunkered down and rebuilt, though effects from the storm were still visible at our 2012 Beast and Ultra Beast event.

The New York Times had some good news early Monday morning about Times Square, saying: “…even an impending monster storm like Hurricane Sandy has not kept the tourists away from Times Square. In a post, one of its reporters says, “The approach of Hurricane Sandy may have shut down Broadway theaters on Sunday night, but it did not blow all of the tourists out of Times Square.

Late into the evening, hundreds of people milled about in the cool, fresh air, bathed in the glow of electronic signs and giant TV screens.”

It will be a rough few days for the East Coast and Spartan Race wishes all residents and visitors to the East Coast a safe week with the impending storm and storm surge.  We are vigilantly watching the “Super storm” at HQ for all those in the path and hope to be out en mass in Times Square on Thursday as scheduled to bring some Spartan spirit to the people of New York.  Our entire organization has been trained in Hurricane event management over the last two years, Sandy will be no different

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