Dear Joe,

My oldest brother Bill Speeg died of a massive heart attack while at the gym training for his first Half Ironman that he was gonna do in March in San Diego.

He was in the navy for 10 years and retired out in San Diego after meeting his wife Kelly of 23 yrs. He worked at the family business where he was the VP. Bill and Kelly feel into a cycle of constant work and let their weight go by eating what ever was easy.

In late 2011, they sold the business and found themselves retired at 44 years old. Bill and Kelly made a pact with each other to get their lives back by eating healthy and working out together. In 2012 Bill discovered Spartan Race and took on the challenge full steam ahead. He completed 6 or 7 Spartan Races in 2012 and attempted the Ultra Beast in VT Sept. 2012. That was when I was finally able to reconnect with my big brother that I had lost touch with, living so far apart as I live in Connecticut. After the Ultra Beast, Bill came down to Connecticut to visit us and if not for Spartan Race, I maybe would have not reconnected with my brother and been able to share the past year and a half with him.

His love for Spartan racing swallowed me whole and we did our first race together in April of 2013 at Citi Field, NY. I was hooked and we signed up for the Beast in Vermont together in 2013. That will be my most cherished memory with my brother as we embarked on our journey and completed the Beast side by side after 12 hrs and 38 mins of pure awesomeness. The Beast was Bill’s Trifecta, as he also completed 2 back to back Supers and a Sprint in, I believe January of 2013 in CA. I was hoping for my Trifecta as well but was unable to pull of a Super in time for the Beast.

My brother was a true example of a Spartan and embodied everything that Spartan stands for. We were going back and forth about doing the Beast again this year, but I wanted him to focus on his Ironman training and he had bought 2 lottery tickets for the Kona Ironman, which is 2 weeks after the beast and wouldn’t have been able to do with me if he get picked. I decided I would train for a Full Marathon this year and we would re-visit the Beast again next year.

Bill (left) with his brother Adam

Ironically, Bill had passed away on Tuesday and on Thursday of that same week I received my email that the VIP reg for the Beast was closing at midnight that night. After a good cry I registered and will be running it with hopes of beating our time from last year and maybe even be able to pull off my Trifecta while finishing.

Bill and his wife Kelly also had a goal in 2013 of completing 13 half marathons, which they did side by side. Bill usually wearing his Spartan shirt and carrying and American Flag the whole way or spare tire.

I am still in shock and disbelief that my brother is gone and will forever be grateful to Spartan Race for not only changing both of our lives but also bringing Bill and I back together. The service was in San Diego and I was excited at the chance of him being recognized as the Spartan he was.

Sorry for being so long and drawn out, but this was a challenge for me as he has done so much and I wanted to tell his story. My sister in law made arrangement for Bill to be driven on the Ironman race course that he would have competed on and will be laid to rest with his IM finishers jersey and bib number that he would have worn on race day. I will be wearing my Spartan Beast shirt while being a pall bearer for him.

Thank you again DJ and I hope to meet you one day soon and be able to thank you face to face!

AROO AROO AROO!!!

Adam J. Speeg

Sign up for a  Spartan Race now and make memories that you will cherish.

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By Carrie Adams

With the inclusion of the World’s first marathon distance obstacle race, the Spartan Ultra Beast, some incredible athletes are throwing their hats in the ring to be a participant.  With limited spots to fill and an application process, the Ultra Beast is going to be one of the most unique and challenging events on the planet.   You can read more about the event and how to claim one of the prized spots in this once-in-a-lifetime experience HERE.

One of the participants is using a non-traditional, traditional approach to train for the Ultra.  An Ironman.  Spartan Beast finisher in 2011, Rick Kraics will be using his Ironman training and ultimately his Ironman event in Madison, Wisconsin 13 days before the event as his training for the Ultra.  Listen to his story and wish him luck in his quest to go beyond the unknown in Spartan’s Ultra Beast September 22, 2012!

Ironman Training: Rick Kraics

My first Spartan Race was the 2011 Spartan Beast in Vermont.  I think the average time out there that day was 5-6 hours on the 13ish mile course.  So I felt pretty good about my 3:35:56 finishing time.  That said it was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done.  In fact, the Spartan Beast was mile for mile tougher than any other race I’ve ever done.  When I finished the Beast my body was trashed, I was completely exhausted, my legs were cramping, my stomach was nauseous and I was just glad I didn’t have to climb up that damn mountain again.  So earlier this year when Andy (one of the co-founders of Spartan Race) asked me if I wanted to step up and race in the Spartan Ultra Beast this year I had a decision to make.  It took about 2 seconds.  I said, “Of course I’m in.  What do you need from me?”  It turns out he wanted a lot out of me before I would officially be accepted into the Ultra Beast but I’ll tell you more about that later.  First a little background on me.

As a kid I ran a number of road races and even a half marathon.  Then I took a 15 year break from running.  I didn’t have a reason why I

Peak Ultra 30 Miler

stopped running other than I had other stuff going on in my life and running itself wasn’t a priority.  But in 2004 I started running again.  I liked it.  So I did my first marathon in 2005.  Then I started doing triathlons in early 2007.  I liked those too.  So in late 2007 I did my first Ironman.  I started trail running in 2010. I really liked trail running.  So I started ultra running in early 2011.  And then in late 2011 I ran my first Spartan Race – the Spartan Beast in Vermont.  I loved competing in the Spartan Beast.  So here I am again trying to prepare myself for what will again be mile for mile tougher than any other race I’ve ever competed in.

What exactly is the Ultra Beast?  The Spartan Web page states, “The Spartan Ultra Beast will be the world’s first marathon distance Obstacle Race.  It will be ONE heat that will feature two loops of the main Beast course.  Races will face the toughest course Spartan Race can bring, TWICE, before finding the finish line.  It’s not for the faint of heart!  For your own safety and for the competitive nature of the event, you will have to apply for acceptance in the Ultra Beast Marathon.”

So, how does one prepare for the toughest course Spartan Race can bring, twice?  Well, the bad news about training for the Ultra Beast is there are only two things I really know about the course.  First, it will involve lots of elevation gain so I’ve got to train by running some hills and living in a place at sea level with no real elevation change doesn’t make that easy.  And second I’ve got to increase my endurance because this race is going to take a long, long time.

The good news is what Andy wanted from me in order to be accepted into the Ultra Beast was for me to compete (again) in the Peaks Ultra, which is a race in Pittsfield, VT. If you know Pittsfield (the location of the infamous Death Race), then you know there are plenty of mountains to run.  I ran the 30 mile race and in doing so felt like a slacker.  You see the morning I started running a fella by the name of Willy had just won the 500 mile Peaks Ultra race.  It took him just over eight days.  Other course options included a 50, 100, 150 and 200 milers. So you’ll understand when I tell you that my 2nd place finish in the 30 miler still feels kind of hollow.  On a positive note though, that race started my hill training again so I’m on my way to being better prepared for the Ultra Beast.

So now with hill training out of the way (wink, wink) I need to focus on endurance training.  The Ultra Beast is going to be the toughest race I tackle this year for sure but that doesn’t mean it is going to be the longest.  According to  Wikipedia  ”Endurance (also called Sufferance, Stamina, Resilience, or Durability) is the ability for a human or animal to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.”  That sounds exactly like what I’ll need for the Ultra Beast!  The part I can train for is the ability to remain active for a long period of time.  What better way to do that than to do another Ironman?  For me I’m guessing an Ironman should take approximately twice as long as it will take to finish the Ultra Beast.  And as it happens Ironman Wisconsin is exactly 13 days before the Ultra Beast in September.  Sounds like the perfect, last long training day before I set my sights on the muddy mountains of Vermont.  Who knows maybe I’ll try to go unsupported and carry all my fuel and water on the run to emulate the Ultra Beast?  Nah, that is just crazy talk.  But seriously finishing an Ironman by itself is no joke.  I know, I bonked and DNF’ed the last one I entered 2 years ago.  I don’t plan on repeating that performance.  Instead, I plan on finishing the Ironman to have fun, race hard and prepare myself both physically and mentally to compete in the Spartan Ultra Beast.

So that’s it.  I’m a runner, triathlete, obstacle racer and Spartan that is dead set on taming the Ultra Beast in Killington this September.  My logic is simple.  I figure if I can handle 140.6 miles of Ironman swimming, cycling and running on Sept. 9th than I should have enough gas in the tank to finish a grueling 26.2 miles of untamed Ultra Beast on September 22nd.  And if I don’t, then you can carry me home on my shield.

Arooo!

If you find yourself on Cape Cod this summer and need someone to train with shoot me an email or send me a message on Facebook.  I’m always up for an adventure!

 

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by Carrie Adams

All too often we spend our waking hours trying to find and stay comfortable in our own lives. We look for short cuts, gadgets, and processes to make things easier, seeking what we consider personal fulfillment. We believe that there are things we can do and things that we can’t, and we become conditioned to that distinction. It creates our everyday reality and it makes us feel secure, because we think we know what to expect of the world and what to expect of ourselves. Enter Joe DeSena, the man who will turn that world upside down.

Growing up in Queens, Joe’s mother valued healthy eating and living and passed on that value system to Joe.   It’s been well-documented that he worked hard growing up and ultimately got to Wall Street, where he made his mark and made himself a small fortune.  He moved his family to Pittsfield, Vermont and quickly entrenched himself and his family in the local landscape.  Joe moved to Vermont in an attempt to get back to the way things used to be.

It’s also well-documented that Joe turned an interest in endurance racing into a passion.  His racing resume is the stuff of legends – over 50 ultra-events overall and 12 Ironman Events in one year alone.  Most of his races are 100 miles or more with a few traditional marathons in the mix.  (He once told me that my running a 26.2 marathon distance was “adorable.”)

To put it in perspective, he did the Vermont 100, the Lake Placid Ironman and the Badwater Ultra… in one week.  For those that don’t know or just don’t want to hear the gory details, the elevation climb for Badwater is over 8,500 feet up to Mt. Whitney and temperatures soar into the 120’s.   Joe also rode cross-country to the Furnace Creek 508 which has been coined “The Toughest 48 hours in sport.”  It’s no wonder his favorite quote is, “Death is the price we pay for life, so make it worth it.”

Montage of Joe racing

In 2005, Joe decided that the world needed a new race, something that had never been done. And so, together with Peak Races, he created The Death Race, a 24-hour mental and physical test filled with unknown obstacles.  Racers couldn’t and wouldn’t

know what to expect.  The fear of the unknown would either break or motivate, and all they could do was try to survive.  The race waiver consists of three words: “I may die.” It doesn’t get any more real than that.  No way to train, no way to prepare, just show up and make it to the end.  And don’t expect any love from

Joe or the volunteers.  They want to break these people, make them quit.  Joe’s been quoted as saying, “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re basically holding your hand to help you quit. The same way life does, right?”

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by Carrie Adams

[Editor's note: In just 12 hours, Jason Jaksetic, Spartan's legendary Barn Beast, begins the 150-mile McNaughton Ultra in Pittsfield, VT run by Spartan's sister company Peak Races.  Stay tuned to the blog, twitter, and facebook for live updates.]

Stumbling in the barn at 2:15 A.M. March 7, 2011 after 62 hours of effort, Jason Jaksetic had accomplished his mission: 100 miles on snow shoes in the books after 30 days of training.  Thus was born the Barn Beast.  Defying the naysayers and the experts, he accomplished the seemingly impossible–but that’s nothing new to this alternative athlete.  To Jason, there is no such thing as “normal.”

As a boy growing up in Stanhope, NJ, no one would have thought that the self-proclaimed “band dork” would become the athlete he is today.  As a traveling musician who both performed and taught, Jason didn’t enter his first long distance event until age 22.  With no training, he was immediately in over his head.  His first event was the esteemed Boston Marathon.  But there was a catch: he entered on a dare, he ran it bandit (and for you who always follow the rules, that means you crash the event and run the course), and still managed a 4:20 finish.  He’d previously never run more than four miles at one time.

Boston was the catalyst, and Jason wanted more.  Setting his sights on the Ironman, he got serious about training, and completed five Ironman events in two years.  At age 24, he qualified for Kona with a 10:23 finishing time in Lake Placid.  Jason seemed on the fast track and trained hard for a big showing in the Louisville Ironman in 2010.  Then, during a long training run, Jason felt a slight hitch in his hip.   Alarm bells went off in his head, but he dismissed them, not realizing that at that moment that he had suffered a stress fracture.

No injury could stop him.  He planned to destroy the Louisville swim and bike and then get through the marathon as best as possible given the hip injury.  The swim went well, but after pounding the bike for 70 miles, Jason bonked.  At mile 101, he woke up in an ambulance suffering from what appeared to be cardiac arrest due to exhaustion and dehydration.  This, his first DNF, weighed far heavier on his mind than on his body.  He escaped to Swaziland, Africa to reevaluate his training, his goals, and his expectations.  In the airport, he found a passport belonging to Joe Desena, owner of Spartan Race.  It was a turning point.

Not long after, Jason impulsively packed up and moved into the training facility, aka “the Barn,” in Pittsfield, VT, to work for Joe and to train for several ultra-distance races, including the infamous Death Race.  Abandoning his militant Ironman training style, he adopted a more non-traditional approach in the rugged mountains just outside his back door.

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Reaching New Peaks: Andy Weinberg

by Carrie Adams

Growing up in Peoria, IL, Andy Weinberg, 41, always loved the water.  He swam competitively in high school and college, and when he did his first triathlon in high school, he fell in love.  At the time there weren’t many people doing them, and after college Andy spent a couple years really hitting the triathlon circuit.  He burnt out with swimming after a few years and decided to focus on running instead.  Admittedly never “super-fast,” he trained consistently and did 11 marathons in one year alone.

Read the rest of this entry »

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by Carrie Adams

Limitless Living: Joe DeSena

All too often we spend our waking hours trying to find and stay comfortable in our own lives.  We look for short cuts, gadgets, and processes to make things easier, seeking what we consider personal fulfillment.   We believe that there are things we can do and things that we can’t, and we become conditioned to that distinction.  It creates our everyday reality and it makes us feel secure, because we think we know what to expect of the world and what to expect of ourselves.  Enter Joe DeSena, the man who will turn that world upside down.

Growing up in Queens, Joe’s mother valued healthy eating and living and passed on that value system to Joe.   It’s been well-documented that he worked hard growing up and ultimately got to Wall Street, where he made his mark and made himself a small fortune.  He moved his family to Pittsfield, Vermont and quickly entrenched himself and his family in the local landscape.  Joe moved to Vermont in an attempt to get back to the way things used to be.

It’s also well-documented that Joe turned an interest in endurance racing into a passion.  His racing resume is the stuff of legends – over 50 ultra-events overall and 12 Ironman Events in one year alone.  Most of his races are 100 miles or more with a few traditional marathons in the mix.  (He once told me that my running a 26.2 marathon distance was “adorable.”)

To put it in perspective, he did the Vermont 100, the Lake Placid Ironman and the Badwater Ultra… in one week.  For those that don’t know or just don’t want to hear the gory details, the elevation climb for Badwater is over 8,500 feet up to Mt. Whitney and temperatures soar into the 120’s.   Joe also rode cross-country to the Furnace Creek 508 which has been coined “The Toughest 48 hours in sport.”  It’s no wonder his favorite quote is, “Death is the price we pay for life, so make it worth it.”

In 2005, Joe decided that the world needed a new race, something that had never beendone. And so, together with Peak Races, he created The Death Race, a 24-hour mental and physical test filled with unknown obstacles.  Racers couldn’t and wouldn’t know what to expect.  The fear of the unknown would either break or motivate, and all they could do was try to survive.  The race waiver consists of three words: “I may die.” It doesn’t get any more real than that.  No way to train, no way to prepare, just show up and make it to the end.  And don’t expect any love from Joe or the volunteers.  They want to break these people, make them quit.  Joe’s been quoted as saying, “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re basically holding your hand to help you quit. The same way life does, right?”

The winner of the fourth installment of the Death Race was Richard Lee.  Richard, Joe, and the other members of the “Founding Few” wanted to create another event, something that captured the extreme spirit of the legendary Death Race, but was modified and accessible to a much wider racing audience.  And so the Spartan Race was born.  Spartan intends to wake up the world up and save humanity, one racer at a time if need be.  It’s a race meant to challenge, to push, to intimidate, to test and even to break those brave enough to try, and it was designed by seven people who know what that feels like.  “Fun run” doesn’t apply here.  It’s about being uncomfortable, overcoming obstacles and finding out what’s possible when what you expect of yourself is everything.   In the words of Joe himself: “The phrase ‘I can’t’ doesn’t mean anything to me anymore, not because of my ego but because I know anything is possible.”

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