When Johny Hendricks and Jamie Varner took on the Reebok Spartan Race in Texas, they had no idea how touch the course would be!  Varner had already conquered a Spartan Race course in Las Vegas earlier in the year, but now he had some stiff competition from Hendricks.  FoxSports.com captured the action of the two athletes in action as they navigated the course and ultimately finished the challenge.

With six wins in the Octagon under his belt and musings that he should have a long overdue shot at the Welterweight championship over Georges St. Pierre, Hendricks, “Big Rigg” took on the challenge with a gusto. “This is a training opportunity.” says Hendricks of his taking on the course.

Check out the video from FoxSports.com to see who came out on top when Varner and Hendricks went head to head in the Texas heat.

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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.

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The Texas Reebok Spartan Race is set to pit two UFC fighters, Jamie Varner and Johny Hendricks in a head to head match-up on the heels of both athletes getting sponsored by Reebok Athletes. The course will consist of more than 4 miles of grueling obstacles and challenges. While both men can adminster a beat down, how will they fare on our course? Between the two, only Varner has experienced an actual Spartan Race taking on the Super in Vegas and finding a high finish in the open heats saying after, “It was probably one of the toughest things I’ve done in my entire life.” Then quickly added, “But it was so fun…crossing that finish line was one of the most rewarding things ever.”

Competitive in nature, Varner is setting his sights on Hendricks in Texas and in a statement to Fighters.com, said, “I anticipate the Texas course to be very tough and am hoping I can beat the hometown favorite Johny Hendricks with my experience.”

Varner plans on using his first race experience to help him in Burnet explaining, “The first event I competed in was a Spartan Super (about 8 miles), this will be a Spartan Sprint (about 4 miles), and I look to finish off the trifecta with a Spartan Beast ( about 13 miles) later this year. Staying in the competitive mindset between fights is big for me. I hope to finish in the top 5-10% of the field.”

Fighters.com recently published a story indicating that Hendricks’ next MMA test comes in the form of a title fight for the sports biggest prize, but he has to get through UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre to collect it. To stay in shape, and support his sponsors, Hendricks says he is really looking forward to the course. “This is going to be a great experience. We have been training hard for this event and I even have a few teammates from my gym set to compete in the race. I have heard nothing but great things about these events and I look forward to the course kicking my ass, says Hendricks. He concluded, “Jamie might be one up on the experience but I have got the home cooking!”

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by Shawn Feiock, Spartan Race Pro Team Athlete

Spartan Race is gearing up for another Texas showdown that you won’t want to miss. It is time for the Spartan Sprint at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet Texas, a favorite venue by many top racers. Expect to see last year’s winner Hobie Call there to defend his title from last year. Hobie says, “I love this venue. Gentle rolling hills, single track and dirt roads. And……warm weather guaranteed!” Hobie finished in less than 45 minutes last year, with most racers having a hard time coming in under one hour. It was highly anticipated to see him go up against Quentin Ledbetter who won the race only one year before, this time falling short against the seemingly unbeatable champion. It is unknown whether Quentin will return for another chance.

Texas is also home for Spartan Elites like Isaiah Vidal and Ella Kociuba, as well as the infamous Spartan Race couple Shawn Feiock (me) and Sue Luck. Isaiah dominated the most recent Spartan Sprint in Colorado getting onto the podium both days. He was able to pull off a second place finish Sunday at the Texas Sprint last year, and also at the Texas Spartan Beast in December. He will likely be one of the strongest competitors on the course against Hobie, with the advantage of the well-known terrain that Texas has to offer. With a very similar record to Isaiah, Elite female Sue Luck (aka Mini Beast) just came from two inspiring finishes at the Spartan Sprint in Colorado, and also had a podium finish Sunday at the Texas Sprint coming in second-place female last year. Ella Kociuba and Shawn Feiock will be at the Race to cheer on fellow racers and to meet new faces at the “Meet the Spartan Team” tent, be sure to stop by and say hi after you’ve crossed the finish line!

Other Spartan Men Elites and favorites to watch for are Elliot Megquire, Michael Mauk, John Taylor, Joe Kauder, Brian Hoover, Evan Williams, and the father & son team Andrew and Eston Jones (aka Thing 1 & Thing 2). Spartan Woman Elites and favorites attending include TyAnn Clark, Jackie Rust, Corinne Kohlen, Janice Ferguson, Tonya Stogsdill, and Juliana Sproles. There is also speculation that Ultramarathon Jungle racer Johnson Cruz will be appearing for his Spartan Race debut, and first race on American soil. Many of the racers already listed can testify that he is a strong competitor after racing against him on Isla de Ometepe earlier this year.

Don’t forget that UFC Lightweight Contender Jamie Varner and Welterweight Contender Johny Hendricks will be on-hand to Fight It Out at the event. Look for sparks when they collide.

Last year the Texas Sprint sold out quickly and it looks again like the course will be full of people looking to get a taste of the Texas mud. There will be some favorite obstacles and some less favored returns like the deadly Boa Constrictor tunnels that got our attention last year. But be ready for new surprises too as the Spartan organizers never fail to bring a good challenge, and an amazing course wherever they step foot. If you and your friends haven’t already registered, sign up now on the events page while there is still time! Adventure, competition, camaraderie, accomplishment… this is a race that can change your life!

Connect with Shawn Feiock, Spartan Race Pro Team Athlete and create your own Spartan Page HERE.

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