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

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

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

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

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

Veteran Earl Granville deals with a wall with ease.

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

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

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

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

See you at the finish line!

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by Pro Team member Christopher Rutz

This is it.

It is what Spartan’s across the US have been waiting for all year long, the first Beast of 2014. This means an opportunity to finally earn that 2014 Trifecta and get the green ‘piece of the pie’.  Spartan Race will return to Monterey, California this weekend at Toro Park for it second year. Look for new obstacles, like the Monkey Net, and challenges like a couple of Rope Climbs, as if the terrain were not challenging enough.

The course starts and ends on a beautiful lawn in the midst of Monterey’s inland wine country. Once out of the gate, however, you are almost immediately met by some of the nastiest, steepest hills we have seen-3,500ft elevation gain and loss. Over the course of 13 miles you will wind your way through dense forest and wide open plateaus, gnarly single track and large fire roads, ponds and creeks.  The trails are all made of hard packed clay, which can be a dream when dry, but a nightmare when wet. No rain is in the forecast, but who knows; maybe the Spartan gods will wet the trails. Look for an early morning temperature of 50 warming to the low 80s as the later waves kick off. There is plenty of sun in the forecast.

Many of our best racers will be at the Tri-State Sprint on the East Coast this same weekend, but that does not mean the competition in the Elite Heat will not be fierce. Expected to come from the Pro Team are some of our Top Masters racers, Jenny Tobin from Boise, ID and Christopher Rutz from Scottsdale, AZ. Also slated to appear is UK Tough Guy, James Appleton.

If you are a Spartan in California you are likely aware of the Weeple Army. Back in 2012 the Weeple Army had the largest team at any Spartan Race, Malibu. The army has continued to grow in size and geography. In Monterey there will be a group of Weeples, “Weeples Overcoming Challenges”. This team combined with the team of Amanda Sullivan, Steffen “Cookie” Cook , Misty Diaz, and Matt Pevoto will be completing the course with some Wounded Warriors in the shape of Eddy Lychik and Earl Granville. Spartan Pro, Alexander Nicholas will crew/help along the course. Rumor has it that Joe DeSena will also be making an appearance. If you see him at the venue he will want to see your Spartan Up book. If you do not have it, the penalty will be 30 burpees.

Rest well Spartans and come prepared for glory!

Sign up here for your next Spartan Race and we’ll see you at the finish line!

 

 

 

 

 

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by Steffen “Cookie” Cook
James Appleton’s accent cut through the press conference room like a shaft of bright light. “My background is in the UK Tough Guy competition.” He paused and smiled wryly, “I’m here because it’s tougher than Spartan Race.” With his last comment, he glanced at Spartan Race founder, Joe De Sena who chuckled.  The comment reflects his his deadpan British humor, rushing to the surface, and catching the pre-Vermont Beast press conference unaware. James Appleton lets a fleeting, impish grin dance across his lips before it’s lost again. Blink, and you would have missed it.

Appleton continues, “Spartan was kind enough to fly me out here on the Wednesday prior to the race, about 16 hours of travelling, to allow some time to adjust to the different time zones, so I’d feel right on the day. It was a great chance to get a feel for what was in store beforehand too. I’ve never raced a Spartan Race, let alone the Killington Beast, so it was good to put the landscape in my mind and prepare for what was in store.”

Ever the polite English gentleman, James deliberately makes no mention of his finish (placing 7th) ahead of many recognized and veteran names within the Spartan Race series. “It’s been a real honor to come and race against the guys here as a competitor from a totally separate race, and I’d like to personally thank the guys that helped make that happen – Scott, Robert, Carrie and obviously Joe. I hope that my involvement helped add to the race, in however small a way, and I’d love the chance to come back stronger, wiser, and faster. I’d like a podium finish next time around.”

Appleton has an incredible back story. Born in Manchester, England, but now living in London, he was the only elite competitor from the UK at the Vermont World Championships, but of many from across the world to have taken on the Beast. Something he was very excited about as the sport continues to grow.

“This sport is clearly growing, which is fantastic, and it’s not going to be a passing phase – there’s clearly huge interest, enjoyment and challenge from these races and the adventure that comes from having to really develop all-body strength, agility and endurance. That, and that I hope I did them proud in my first ever chance to represent my country in this new race – I learned a lot on the course, sometimes through making mistakes, and I’d love to come back with greater experience and understanding and apply that, see if I can’t do better than I managed this first time round.”

The three-time winner of the UK Tough Guy competition was keen to see the parallels and to test what he’s learned in England against what is now the biggest obstacle race championship in the world. Comparing the two, he sees parallels.

Photo courtesy of Scott Keneally

“They’re similar in so many ways, but ultimately it’s quite a different experience, at least to the Winter Tough Guy, which is my background in the UK. In terms of calories burned and elevation gained, the Spartan Beast is further and higher. That said, the site in the UK is a permanent one, so the obstacles there have been built over years and years and they’re pretty epic. But most of all it’s a temperature thing – the first year I won the UK Tough Guy I collapsed on the finish with severe hypothermia and spent four hours being slowly warmed back to life by medics. It takes you to such a level of physical destruction in such a short amount of time, and the electrocution side really kicks you in the teeth, that even for the best runners it’s a case of surviving to the finish, let alone racing. But the sense of comradeship, of sharing the experience with the other contenders, is very similar, and it’s a real family of people there, and it was awesome to see that same sense of loyalty and family with the Spartans at this series. That, and the journey each person goes through – you learn about yourself and your abilities, and always come away a stronger and better person for it – that’s a universal thing with obstacle racing and it’s such a huge part of why people come back time and time again.”

With Spartan Race experience under his belt, James will come back armed with better training next time. Pondering his plan of action, he says, “I’ll definitely be adding a lot more rope work to my training, both traverse type and climbing – both for the upper body development and also the grip strength, along with the technique of moving quickly across this challenge. I want to come back next year and nail that particular obstacle.”

Beyond the physical, Appleton remarked on the mental challenges he faced on the course. “I think the most mentally difficult obstacle was the gravel carry. That felt more like a Death Race task rather than a racing obstacle since there was a fair amount of luck involved – one small slip and your race was ruined, having to restart, refill the bucket and carry on, as opposed to just re-picking up something like a sandbag.”

The race involved suffering for all the competitors, for James, it was the newness of an obstacle he’d never faced. “On a personal level, the obstacle I suffered with the most was probably the Tyrolean Traverse, purely because I’d not come across something like that and the strength/technique/speed required to get across underneath was new to me. I didn’t get it right first time, and that was frustrating to deal with and the subsequent loss of time.”

With so many aspects of the race still fresh in his memory, he thinks back and that wry smile plays on his face again when he tries to pick his favorite moment. “It’s hard to pick a highlight for the whole weekend, there were so many different moments, people, and performances that I saw that were just incredible. But personally for me, on a slightly selfish note, it was being called up to the start line on behalf of my country right before the race – as the names of some of the best obstacle racers from all around the world were called. I took great pride in stepping up for the UK. In my opinion, that list of names and countries really showed how far this sport has come and will hopefully continue to go, and was a real benchmark for taking this sport forwards to new and exciting levels.”

But it’s his closing statements which prove that despite his only having done one race so far that prove that he quickly learned what Spartan Race is all about.

Congratulations to James and his 7th place finish.  We look forward to seeing him on more of our Spartan Race courses.  His parting thoughts are with those who he watched cross the finish line hours after his impressive 4 hour finish time.  “Switching from all the talk that comes in about who’s going to make top ten, I always feel that some of the truly hardcore people are those that are at the other end of the scale – the guys and girls out there for way longer than everyone else who take a much higher dose of pain and suffering.  I always have great respect for them and their mental determination to plug on despite the long hours out in the elements taking a beating – they take way more punishment than we do at the front.”

Now it’s your turn.  Sign up today.

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