By Pro Team Member Chris Rutz

“Everything is bigger in Texas” is phrase that Spartan Race was determined to live up to in Austin. The race returned to Reveille Peak Ranch for its third year and drew in excess of 12,000 athletes. New this year was the Super distance. In past year only the Sprint distance race was run. This year the Super was added. All racers on Saturday ran the Super and all runners on Sunday ran the Sprint. This created the opportunity for 2/3 of the Trifecta in one weekend. It also creates the opportunity to earn a Trifecta without leaving the state on Texas. The Dallas Beast will be later this year on 11/1.

The Sprint course was essentially the first 1/3 and last 1/3 of the Super course. The Super course added a number of challenges not seen by those that ran the Sprint. The highlight of the Super course was a hill climb on slick rock that reminded many of the runners of sections of trail near Moab, UT. Much of the added distance of the Super included off trail bushwhacking and stream crossings. In addition the Super racers had an Atlas Stone carry and double the distance on the tractor pull to name a few of the additional challenges.

Both courses had some significant challenges. The climbing ropes seemed to be especially slick. Perhaps it was the Texas mud. The Spear also seemed to have a higher failure rate than normal. In a twist which runners hate and obstacle racers love, most of the “burpee” obstacles were clustered at the end of the course. The Traverse Wall, the Hercules Hoist, the Rope Climb and the Spear were all within the last ¼ mile of the race. Just before entering the festival area where these obstacles were clustered, racers were challenged with a 150 yard swim section. PFD and a bypass were available for non swimmers. This definitely is a favorite venue by most the Spartan faithful.

The Elite heats on each day were won by the same athletes,  John Yatsko of Flagstaff, AZ and Rose Wetzel of the Spartan Pro Team from Seattle, WA.  They each took home $2,500 for their victories, $2,000 on Saturday and $500 on Sunday. Prize money for Saturday’s race was funded by Navy Federal Credit Union. Rounding out the top 3 on Saturday were, Hobie Call (Utah) $1,000 and Chad Trammell (Washington)  $500 and Chikorita De Lego (Mexico) $1,000 and KK Paul (Arizona) $500. On Sunday’s Sprint, home town racer Isaiah Vidal and Elliott Megquier, both on the Spartan Pro Team placed second and third, with Chikorita De Lego and Laura Lunardi taking those same positions for the ladies.

It was a perfect weekend for a race in Texas. The weather was just right, the racers were pumped and the course delivered on the promises of Spartan Race. Next up are the Tri-State Sprints.

See you at the finish line! 

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For the fourth time, Spartan Race brought the Spartans to the sunny, hot, ever scenic Oleta River State Park for the Miami Super Spartan.

It wasn’t just about surviving the heat in Miami. Competitors were thrown for a loop, encountering our newest iteration of the Monkey Bars obstacle, or should we say “Monkey Net”? That’s right – Miami introduced a version of the monkey bars obstacle which fashioned cargo webbing that began with an incline and ended with a decline traverse. The rule of the obstacle was no feet, just hands, and was meant to be performed in the same manner as you would the traditional Monkey Bars. All this, but over three feet of water. Fall off, and you know the drill. Burpees.

As per usual, the Hurricane Heat launched the weekend’s activities. Tony Matesi and John Ziegler took over 100 participants through demanding and sometimes seemingly impossible challenges that were developed to build camaraderie and teamwork. From team carries through the obstacles to being the first to test the new obstacle, this group of early morning Hurricane Heaters came together to figure out what it means to be a Spartan.

At first glance, the course may have appeared to be simple and flat given the nature of the Florida region. Assuming the lack of hills equated to an easier course would have been a massive faux pas. The course had unique terrain that acted as the ultimate obstacle in itself. Hard rocks, switchbacks and open waters delivered an exciting and exhilarating course which amplified the difficulty and created a course that was not to be taken for granted.

On Saturday the intense heat made for a very interesting day – never forget that hydration is key in these conditions. Drinking plenty of water the night before, the morning of and during a race with over eight miles and more than 20 obstacles, it is crucial to preventing yourself from cramping while out on the course.

Spartan SGX Coaches were on site leading warm-ups and cool downs. These highly educated coaches are there to assist racers in race prep and recovery of the taxing course. Joe Di Stefano, Co-Founder of the SGX lead the charge along with Coaches Sarah Pozdol and Casey Eischen. The Spartan SGX team will be traveling the Spartan Race circuit, so be on the lookout for the warm-up and cool down area near the start line.

In our elite heat, Spartan Pro Team members, April Dee, Isaiah Vidal, Brakken Kraker, also Founding Pro Team members Chris Rutz, Shawn Feiock and Hannah Orders were all in attendance. Other elite competitors included Arizona native and 2nd Male at the Vegas Super, John Yatsko, Chris McCorkle, Debbie Moreau, Valerie Smith, Sue Luck, Amanda Ricciardi and Sarah Pozdol.

Saturday’s men’s elite heat came down to the difference between making the Spearman Toss and having to complete a set of 30 burpees. Brakken Krakker successfully nailed the spear throw taking the top spot over John Yatsko. Coming in third for the men was recent Spartan Pro Team addition, Isaiah Vidal. April Dee of the Spartan Pro Team dominated the women’s division taking first place over Debbie Moreau and Founding Pro Team member, Hannah Orders.

On Sunday April Dee returned to once again take the top spot on the podium with a demanding lead over Debbie Moreau taking the number two spot and Geishel Valverde grasping a third place finish. In the men’s division, John Yatsko returned with determination after practicing his spear toss and captured a first place finish. An extremely friendly second and third place finish was taken by Isaiah Vidal who showed a tremendous amount of sportsmanship as he waited to cross the line with Joey Patriola after running a majority of the Sunday Super Spartan together.

Close to 10,000 Spartans came and conquered the course this weekend at the Super Spartan in Miami, but there was one very special set of finishing scenes that played out under the relentless Florida sun. Remembering that being a Spartan is about overcoming adversity, finishing what you start, and never giving up no matter the circumstance, it was a joy to behold the newest member of the Spartan family – a young man called Sean. His “Best Buddy”, Tripp Prevatt, has been running races for some time now, making sure to always do one lap for himself and one additional one so that he can give that medal to Sean. You see, Sean has Cerebral Palsy. After telling Sean countless stories about the races he conquered, he wanted to find a way to give Sean the opportunity to join him on the course so they could both earn Spartan Finisher medals, together.

Naturally, the Spartan Kids course again showed that same fighting resilience. Climbing over walls, crawling under neon green “barbed wire” and zig-zagging through a web of bungee cord providing a glimpse of the future Spartans of the world. Be on the lookout; one day these young ones will be standing atop the podium. Just you wait and see!

All of these incredible experiences are made possible with the support of our incredible sponsors, Reebok, ZICO Coconut Water, CorePower, Clif Bar Builders Bars, the U.S. Navy, Eco Vessel, Air Force Reserves, Nestle Water, and DeliverLean. With their support Spartan Race showed Miami once again what we mean by “you’ll know at the finish line.”

Congrats to everyone who Spartan’d UP in Miami. Next up, Spartan Race is headed to the Midwest for the Indiana Sprint. What started as a Founders Race has become a staple of the Spartan tour, it you’re not signed up yet, what are you waiting for?

Go ahead, sign up. We’ll be waiting for you at the finish line.

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A lesson learned for those that took the race lightly – make sure you hydrate!

Spartan Race’s second visit to the glitzy atmosphere of Las Vegas delivered more surprises that you could shake a roulette wheel at. Under the relentless Nevada sun that was as unforgiving as the rocky terrain, over 8000 Spartans – veterans and newbies alike – earned their medals and the right to call themselves Spartans.

Heat, rocks, dry and sandy landscapes that seemed to go on forever, even sudden and violent sandstorms – it didn’t matter. The people were here to be tested and to thumb their noses at whatever stood in their way. A move to a different venue didn’t change the attitude or the desire of staff or racer and the relentless terrain certainly did its job, but what it didn’t know was that it was dealing with a different breed of person – The Spartan Racer.

The elite waves threw up some surprises, as new boy Glenn Racz powered his way through a field of established elite veterans to grab number one spot. John Yatsko’s background in running helped him to grab second place, while the familiar sight of Hunter McIntyre on the podium, albeit in third place, made up for the lack of familiarity. Tyann Clark breezed to a comfortable first place, with Amelia Boone in second and the always-smiling face of Rose Wetzel-Sinnett taking third spot. With so much talent, skill and power now bristling within the elite Pro Team, it’s becoming harder and harder to predict podium placements, let alone winners. With this competition being so fierce, races are only going to become faster and tighter.

The winner’s podium at Las Vegas 2014

As ever, the day started with the Hurricane Heat, but it was a special one as it would morph into the first ever class of the new 12 Hour Hurricane Heat. Under the usual guidance – abuse? – of Tony Matesi and a back-up of three extra Spartan Race staff, the competitors were treated to dips in cold water as early as 6am, crawls, squats and endless burpees.

As the regular Hurricane Heaters broke away after around 3.5 hours, the HH12HR – as it is now known – were bombarded with all manner of horrific crimes against the body, one of which being the punishing ordeal of finding, rescuing and returning to the start line with a tire that they would then learn they would cover the course with the whole time. From this, one of the highlights of the event was born. Despite understanding that there was a strict time cut off for the lap with the tire, Kyoul Cha of Arizona (and Weeple Army/Team SISU member who again won the biggest team title) chose to forego his official finisher title and instead stay behind in order to help another competitor that was struggling with his run.

Those unaware of Kyoul’s background will not know that his profession is that of a Hotshot firefighter. Covering long distances with the added pressure of time constraints and intense heat is his normal day. Any other day he would happily have been able to complete the distance in well under the time allowed, but remembering the Warrior Ethos that is taught during the Hurricane Heat, he adhered to the last line which states that, “you will never leave a fallen comrade”. Kyoul sacrificed his official finisher title and patch in order to help his colleague – unwittingly embodying everything about Spartan Race in one selfless gesture.

Kyoul Cha sacrificed his own qualification of the 12 Hour Hurricane Heat to help a fellow competitor finish their race.

In the event village, Spartans were treated to the sight of not one, but two weddings. Well, it wouldn’t be Spartan Race without one, especially given that it was Las Vegas. Amongst deafening cheers and a volley of “Aroo!”’s, Spartan Race and thousands of racers applauded those starting a new chapter in their respective lives. As with the famous phalanx, the coming together of a couple showing that a unit can be stronger than the sum of its parts.

Those with marriage furthest from their minds of course, were the Spartan Kids. As ever, the tremendous and vibrant energy that could be felt from the aura that followed them was magnificent. Caring not that the heat was climbing higher with every minute that passed, they ran through mud pits, over hills and crawled over the ground with reckless abandon. In an age where technology suggests that a good time could and perhaps should be had indoors and beckoning a finger of a blander, more sedentary lifestyle, to see thousands upon thousands of children climbing, running and ultimately, playing their way to a healthier way of life, one would believe that perhaps that there is still an ever increasing pocket of resistance to the malevolent shadow of an unhealthy lifestyle.

With the always supportive Reebok, Eco Vessel, Core Power, National Air Guard and the Navy Credit Union helping bring Spartan Race to the fore time after time, Spartan Race showed not just Las Vegas, but everyone associated that yet again Spartan Race delivered.

There’s a time when you realize what it means to wear that medal and feel that pride and we say it often.

You’ll know at the finish line.

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By Anthony Matesi

Just outside of Phoenix, AZ there was a disturbance in the normally desolate lands near Fort McDowell. The Spartans had arrived. Marking the second Spartan Race of 2014 the obstacles were erected all throughout the week to bring to this cactus filled paradise an event that would challenge all walks of life.

To kick things off, Hurricane Heat leaders devised a relatively creative plan for the brave souls looking to participate in the event which began in the early hours of the morning before the sun had a chance to rise up over the mountains off in the distance. Teamwork is essential in finishing one of Spartan’s challenging HH events. New Hurricane Heaters were put through everything from learning animal movements and body weight exercises that are the foundation of the Spartan SGX training program to having them dig up a treasure chest filled with zip ties only to be zipped together right arm to the next person’s left ankle and forced to inchworm as a one unit through a tunnel that went under the highway. The suffering these participants endure together takes a group of strangers and creates a bond like no other.

While those crazy Hurricane Heaters were suffering together in the festival area the Elite racers began to storm the grounds. Some of the top racers from the Spartan Pro Team were in attendance. For the men, Matt Novakovich from Alaska, mountain man Miguel Medina left his cabin in Vermont, with Christopher Rutz, Shawn Feiock and Elliot Meguier also in attendance. On the women’s side there was TyAnn Clark, Juliana Sproles, Jenny Tobin, and Ang Reynolds. Outside of the pro team there was an impressive showing from Sarah Pozdol, Laura Messner, and Rose Wetzel as well as the local newcomer to Spartan Race, John Yatsko. The early hours of the morning were a bit brisk but things heated up very quickly as the race day began. The course was fast and hilly with all the usual obstacles to test the strength, endurance and agility of the racers. As the temperatures rose the cramps began to set into racers who didn’t take the time to properly hydrate. The Amphibious Medics team led by, David Gonzalez, was on site helping the Spartan Staff to help those who were injured on course back to safety or fixed them up to continue their journey.

The Elite wave took off early Saturday morning fighting for the prize money offered by Navy Federal Credit Union with a total of $7500 up for grabs. The competition was incredibly fierce. In the men’s division there was a grueling battle that brought had the top 3 finishers all finishing within a minute and 30 seconds of each other. At the end of the day it was John Yatsko, Glenn Racz, and Chad Trammel taking the first three spots and Matt Novakovich coming in fourth.  The elite women’s field was equally grueling with Kk Paul, Rose Wetzel and TyAnn Clark battling it out for the top 3 spots coming into the finish in that order with Rose and TyAnn finishing within seventeen seconds of each other. The Sunday Elite crowd was stacked once again with some of the top elites and Spartan Pro Team members. It was another tight battle with Matt Novakovich taking the first place on the podium followed by fellow Spartan Pros Miguel Medina in second and Elliot Meguier in third. For the women we saw the importance of counting your burpees out loud when Sarah Pozdol was bumped from what could have been a second place finish to fifth place. Kk Paul took first again on Sunday, Jenny Tobin came in second and Sue Luck saw her way back to the podium taking third. Spartan Pro Team member Shawn Feiock saw a top ten finish taking 7th and Christopher Rutz in 9th.

Spartan Weekends are about more than just the elites of course. There were a lot of families, Spartan Singles, and couples alike mingling, racing, and enjoying the warm touch of the Arizona sun. In the festival area the Spartan SGX tent was providing warm-ups and cool down exercises as well as stretching by the crew from Power in Motion CrossFit. Our sponsors Core Power Protein delivered some excellent post race recovery drinks, E-Boost kept everyone energized, Clif Bars took care of feeding the taxed muscles of everyone who crossed that finish line, and Zico covered the much needed hydration to keep up with the desert sun.

In addition to all the first timers and those looking to begin their quest for the coveted Trifecta there were some inspiring people out on course defining what it means to push beyond your limits. We saw the ever glowing smile from Misty Diaz, who conquers her Spina Bifida by traveling the country running half marathons and Spartan Races chasing after that double trifecta. On Sunday a racer by the name of Joel Brown was spotted on course making it happen. At only 54 years young Joel is a former Para-Rescue and has been a Krav Maga instructor since 1978 receiving all his training in Israel. In 1981, he lost his right leg in a motor vehicle accident. Regardless of this accident Joel has continued to train, instruct, and push himself. His journey to the Trifecta began here in Arizona will continue at the Super in Vegas and conclude with the Beast in Monterey.

As always the Spartan Kids were out in force to light up everyone’s day with their beaming smiles and mud covered bodies. Many of the elites including Miguel Medina, Matt Novakovich, Sarah Pozdol and Rose Wetzel came out and helped play the role of the rabbit that the kids try to catch on the course.

Another incredibly successful Spartan weekend filled with fun, smiles, mud, and even a little blood has come to an end. Next up Spartan Race will be invading Tampa with the first Special Ops event of the year taking place at Raymond James Stadium. This Special Ops Race will offer a combination of the traditional outdoor obstacles alongside some of the signature Spartan Stadium obstacles.  Sign up to earn your very own unique Special Ops Spartan Sprint medal andwe’ll see you at the finish line!

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