Take a venue with rugged terrain, forests and water obstacles. Sprinkle over this a liberal number of obstacles that test your skill, strength, agility and determination. Stir in thousands of Spartan Racers then bake under a hot Texan sky for a weekend. The result? A delicious Reebok Spartan Sprint from which many people took a bite. And boy were they hungry!
With the course boasting both shaded and sunny trails, elevation changes, water crossings, mud, rocks and even dry and sandy riverbeds, there was more than enough to keep everyone on their toes.
The elite heats boasted many familiar faces rubbing shoulders with not one, but two UFC fighters; Jamie Varner, fresh from his conquest of the Vegas Super, joined by Johnny Hendricks to see how a Spartan Sprint shapes up next to a fight in the octagon.
Jamie came through first of the two, coming in at 56m 44s, with Hendricks not far behind on 1h 10m 3s – both extremely impressive times. Hobie Call added another win to his already expansive resume with a time of 38m 17s. Second and third place were claimed by Chad Trammell and Brakken Kracker respectively. The ladies saw TyAnn Clarke romp home in 52m 18s, with Janice Ferguson and Jillian Kenney not very far behind in second and third place.
And sure as night follows day, like tock follows tick, stories of inspiration poured forth from the event like the feel-good machine a Spartan Race is. Elizabeth Rivera, putting behind her the issues of excess weight, diabetes and even spine damage, employed the same fiery passion that changed her life and crossed the finish line. Robert C. Wood put to bed the memory of his broken vertebrae after falling 25ft in a freak accident some time before. Turning his life around with his wife and young daughter behind him, he sees no fear anymore. Steve Carlisle rose from reconstructive back surgery to finish, despite knowing that, “if my doctor knew I was doing this, he’d kill me.” Many people were lucky enough to spot “Thing 1” and “Thing 2”, otherwise known as Eston and Andrew Jones, a father and son team that decided to do 6 laps of the course.
One of the biggest cheers of approval from the event spectators was when they saw they young Spartan Jake DeFiley struggling with the rope climb. In true Spartan Race tradition, fellow competitor Jeffrey Parish climbed the rope and leaning away, allowed the younger competitor to use his shoulders, hands and even his head as a “stepping stone” in order to ring the cowbell.
Even before stepping out of the course, many people brought battles with them, but refused to bow to them. David Villareal, who traveled from Monterrey, Mexico in order to take part, didn’t let the issue of his Celebral Palsy affect his attitude or performance, cheerfully pointing out that, “I’ve still got one good arm!”. On the course, Dereck Johnson repeatedly shooed away offers of help despite fracturing both ankles. Simply grabbing a nearby branch and making a rudimentary walking stick/staff, he completed the course in 5h 57m, punching the air in delight at having beaten 6 hours.
Staff Sergeant Jonathan Leal of 6 10th Security Forces Squadron, Fort Worth, was running for his charity “Running For A Cause”. Deliberately weighing himself down with an elevation mask, weighted vest and extra bricks that would symbolize the struggle injured veterans go through on the road to recovery, he successfully powered through every obstacle and burpee that presented itself.
Matthew Pevoto of Louisana – a sufferer of Spina Bifida since birth – was inspired by the video and pictures posted by Spartan Elite Ella Anne Kociuba and decided that he was going to take the Spartan Race head on. Failing only two obstacles, he pointed out that, “there’s nothing you can’t do if your mind can keep up with you”.
And if ever there was a fitting line that perfectly summizes what Spartan Race is about, that’s it.
As such, it was announced over the weekend that next year’s event in Burnet has been upgraded to a Super with a harder, longer course. Judging by the reaction of those grinning and rubbing their hands in glee at this news, it will be yet another event that the Spartan Race community will attend by the thousands. Will it be another punishingly hot weekend? Will it break people? Will it produce yet more stories of heroism?
You’ll know at the finish line… get signed up today!
Check out more race day photos HERE.
Tags: Burnet, Jamie Varner, Johny Hendricks, MMA, Reebok Spartan Race Texas, Spartan Super, UFC