By Pro Team Member Tiffanie Novakovich

One of the main aspects of the Spartan Race that is hammered home time after time is that if you choose to take part, you should expect the unexpected. You can watch past videos, you can check out the dozens of online photo albums and you could even talk to experienced racers. It will give you a vague idea of what to expect. Bring those expectations to the start line and you’ll immediately be on the back foot. If the race isn’t what you were expecting, the terrain wasn’t what you thought it would be or the obstacles are not how you envisioned them, you were not prepared for the unexpected.

Bearing that in mind, the inaugural Connecticut Spartan event, held in the beautiful town of Uncasville, is now in the books, with medals around the necks of thousands of competitors.  Hosted at the Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino, the race seemed to stay more true to the resort’s lavish atmosphere, with just a modicum of Spartan torture.

The course started and ended in the resort parking lot, between zig-zagging through the parking garage, along flat stretches of small-town streets and highways, and through picturesque leaf-covered trails.  The course was mostly flat and favored speed runners, totally flying in the face of some events where mountains, hills and incline after painful incline tested the Spartans.

However,  many staple Spartan obstacles were present, including over & under walls, tire flip, atlas carry, rope climb, slick wall, barbed wire, herculean hoist, and traverse wall. Conspicuously absent was mud!  The barbed wire crawl was shorter than what is considered “normal” and was on grass. This surprised many racers who thought they knew what to expect. The water pits under the rope climb and the slick wall were lined with tarps, preventing any grime on the rope or mud in the eyes obstacles.

The course was no cake-walk though. The sand in the buckets/bags at the Herculean Hoist was saturated with water, making the obstacle significantly and surprisingly heavier than usual.  Several top racers failed this usually doable obstacle, resulting in unexpected burpees near the end of the race. Complacency and thinking you know what to expect again catching people out.

In the end, racers enjoyed a spectacular scenery in a beautiful place, but were still tested to their limits on a course that was a little different than most Spartan events, but just as grueling. In the men’s elite race, Matthew Kempson ran away with a narrow victory of only 7 seconds over Junyong Pak. Elliott Megquier completed the podium in third place. On the women’s side, Elise Fugowski bested the field by over two minutes, with Karlee Whipple finishing second and Orla Walsh in third.

As with all Spartan races, you never know what you might or might not encounter when you sign up, show up and never give up.

But one thing’s for sure: You’ll know at the finish line!

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By Pro Team Member Tiffanie Novakovich

Brace yourselves, Nutmeggers! Spartan Race will make its Connecticut debut June 28, 2014. Hosted at the Mohegan Sun resort, a lavish Vegas-style hotel and casino, this Spartan Sprint will prove to be a first-class muddy event. The tourist town of Uncasville is located in the foothills of Eastern Connecticut, along the Thames River, adjacent to Trading Cove. As it’s less than 100 miles from Boston, MA, Hartford, CT, Providence, RI, and just a 2.5 hr drive from New York City, the race is expected to draw visitors from all over New England. Approximately 8,000 competitors and 5,000 spectators are expected to attend the Saturday-only Connecticut Spartan event.

As with all Spartan Sprints, the race will include 15+ obstacles over 3+ miles, run through the breathtaking Connecticut woodlands of the Mohegan Tribal Reservation land. The venue includes a variety of terrain, including single-track and Thames River-view trails. With the Trading Cove body of water so close by, I’m sure you can expect to get wet and muddy at this race!

Being held on a Native American Reservation will give the race a special feel, marrying the warrior philosophy of Spartan Race with the warrior heritage of the land. Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council says, “I am very glad to hear that our reservation land has been chosen for the Reebok Spartan Race.  Let’s face it – the Mohegan Tribe traces a lineage and a heritage of brave Native American warriors who lived, worked, and fought in these Eastern Woodlands. The race will bring a modern challenge into historic territory – it’s a great fit.”

Some familiar faces are expected in the men’s Elite race.  Expect Elliott Megquier to be racing for a podium spot. He’s coming off of an impressive showing in the Tri-Cities New York Spartan event, where he raced four times in nine days, pulling in two second- and one fifth-place finish. Also expected to show some dominance is Spartan Pro Team member and Ninja Warrior extraordinaire Alex Nicholas, who pulled off an impressive 12th place finish at the highly-competitive NBC-televised Tri-Cities Sprint. Expect some speedy New Englanders to fight their way into the top 10 on this low rolling-hills course.

With the Utah Beast (held on the same day as the CT race) drawing the attention of many left-coast pros, several top spots in the women’s elite race are up for grabs. Some East-Coast race favorites include Karlee Whipple, who took first place in the first Saturday race of the Tri-Cities Sprint and eighth place in the NBC-televised second Saturday race. Don’t be surprised if Orla Walsh, who recently moved to Vermont to train, shows up to test her grit. She’s had impressive finishes lately in the Colorado Springs Military Sprint as well as the NBC Tri-Cities Sprint.  Don’t forget East-Coast staples Laura Messner and Amanda Ricciardi, who may throw their hats into the ring this weekend. And you never know what pro-team members might decide at the last minute to show up and dominate!

Also on the docket for Saturday are the Spartan Kids Race and the Special Needs Spartan Course. The Kid’s race includes two distances for younger and older kids and always proves to be one of the many highlights of every race. The Spartan Special Needs Course is a new addition being included at several events this year. There will be a course designed especially for intellectually and/or developmentally disabled individuals who want to challenge themselves against Spartan obstacles and also want to challenge what is “normal.” Spartan Pro Team members will be participating as mentors and volunteers in the Special Needs Race. As Spartans, we defy the perceptions of “normal” at every race, while our special needs competitors do the same everyday in a way that is highly impressive and honorable.

If you haven’t already registered, do it now!  You don’t want to miss the beautiful scenery and punishing obstacles of Connecticut’s first Spartan Race. Put yourself to the test and . . . You’ll know at the finish line.

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Written by Pro Team member Elliott Megquier

Spartan Race really outdid themselves again, serving up the best course Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center has hosted in 4 years. The course was relentless with constant climbs of the mountain, carries of heavy obstacles, and crawling up a never ending hill under the barbed wire. Over 11,000 people completed the race over the course of Saturday and Sunday. You couldn’t ask for better weather, both days it was sunny, no rain, with a mild breeze. Not too hot and not too cold. Racers were also treated with a new obstacle. This obstacle entailed climbing a vertical wall out of the water without foot holds until you got out of the water and halfway up the wall. The monkey bars were also modified to provide racers with more of a challenge. They went up and down throughout the obstacle, even some elite racers were falling off. Another fairly new obstacle that debuted in the Northeast for the first time was the Monkey Cargo Net, which is all about grip strength as you traverse over a pit of water to ring the bell on the other side.

In the elite heats Saturday Matthew Kempson ran away to victory winning by over two minutes in impressive fashion for his first ever Spartan podium. He was followed by Elliott Megquier and Miguel Medina. For the women New York City resident Karlee Whipple claimed the win, with Laura Messner taking second, and Helene Dumais rounding out the podium in third.

Sunday Matthew Kempson repeated his winning ways, with Elliott Megquier closing the gap just one minute and nine seconds behind, and Dennis Smith rebounding from a fourth place finish Saturday to finish third. For the women Laura Lunardi rebounded from a fourth place finish to win Sunday’s race, with Debbie Moreau – hailing from the great state of Maine – placing second, and Helene Dumais of Canada placing third again.

Other great stories were Ilene Boyer who battles from brittle bones marking her one year anniversary doing a Spartan Race, over a thousand plus children who completed the Kids Race, and countless other untold stories of people overcoming tough times in life to kick butt at a brutally demanding Spartan course. The best part, is Spartan is serving up another round, on June 7th and 8th Tuxedo willing be rocking again with over 10,000 Spartans preparing for glory. Don’t miss out! NBC will also be there on Saturday to film and share all this amazingness with the world.

Till Saturday live a Spartan life, Spartan Up, and prepare for greatness.

Sign up now and we’ll see you at the finish line! 

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Written by Pro Team member Elliot Megquier

Reebok Spartan Race will kick off the first of two race weekends in Tuxedo, NY which is just north of New York City by 45 miles. To say this is going to be a big event is an understatement. Tuxedo is the only race in the USA Spartan circuit that is a double back to back weekend. Last year Spartan Race held 3 races in Tuxedo over the course of 8 days. This year they’ve bumped it up to 4 races in 9 days.

Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center is the venue and you can expect numerous climbs to the summit that has an elevation of 1200 feet. Set in the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, be prepared to see ascents and descents through the woods, challenging obstacles after your legs are destroyed from climbing, one of the hardest uphill barb wire crawls on the circuit and of course lots of mud in and around the finish line.

Hunter and Glenn share a joke in Vegas.

For the men look for points leader and championship contender Hunter “the Sheriff” McIntyre to continue his recent dominance of the series, his top contender looks to be Glenn Racz who beat the Sheriff in Vegas, mountain man Matt “the Bear” Novakovich will look to maul the pretty boy from Malibu. Other Spartan Team men that could contend include David Magida, Isaiah Vidal, Elliott Megquier, Cody Moat, Miguel Medina, Brian Hoover, and Alexander Nicholas. However you can never count out the locals to include 2013 Week 1 Champion Patrick Grevalding, runner up Randy Feeley, and Kevin Donoghue.

On the women’s side look for reigning champion Amelia Boone who is coming off a win in Indiana to be the favorite, however Rose Wetzel-Sinnett has been hot on her heels and is coming off three straight wins in Texas and Montana, and look for TyAnn Clark to return from a recent battle with illness to build on her impressive win in Las Vegas the last time she raced. Other women who will contend include April Dee, Ella Kociuba, Tiffany Novakovich, Karlee Whipple, and Laura Messner.

Amelia Boone will look to assert her authority in NY.

Most of the stars will only be present for the second week of racing, so look for a possible dark horse to shock the field. You can never count anyone out and sometimes it is the person who you do not know that is gunning for you that is most dangerous. Other events to look forward to include the Kid’s Race and all the festival challenges where you can win an entry into an upcoming race. Looking for other ways to get a free race? Volunteer one of the days or even a half day. These wonderful events cannot happen without you help, Spartan Race Staff members are amazing and tireless workers but they cannot do it all without you! This is going to be an amazing two weeks you’ll you kicking yourself if you don’t come and experience at least one of the races…

The 2014 Tristate Tuxedo Sprint marks the start of guest blogger Elliott Megquier’s fourth year doing Spartan Races. Back in 2011 when Spartan Race first hosted a sprint in Tuxedo NY, he toed the line for the very first time, now he’s completed 85 races and is still as hooked as he was during his initial experience. It’s true Elliott’s a junkie.

Sign up for your next race today and you’ll understand what it means to “know at the finish line…”

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By Pro Team member Miguel Medina

Last weekend over 12,000 Spartans scurried over and under shock cord, flew over walls and ascended an onslaught of stairs at the second Stadium Sprint in Citi Field. The weather was absolutely pristine as wave after wave of participants tested their strength and fortitude to overcome the obstacles in their path. In just over three miles racers were faced with over 20 obstacles at a blistering pace, mixing some old favorites such as the Traverse Wall and Spear throw in addition to the stadium themed obstacles like Farmer Carries and Ball Slams. The Monkey Bars had a challenging twist, as they were widened and elevated in addition the Hawaiian Squats making their debut on the mainland. 

Both the men’s and women’s elite waves were stacked with competition as some of Sparta’s best came out to battle for a spot on the Podium. Among the men Spartan ProTeam members Hunter McIntyre, Miguel Medina, and Elliot Meqcuier lined up with an impressive array of elites such as Dennis Smith, Brandon Dupont, William Ferullo and many others. The women’s elite shared an impressive throng of athletes as well such as Shaun Provost, Karlee Whipple, Laura Messner, and Elise Fugowski to name a few.  On Saturday, Hunter McIntyre held a strong lead throughout the stadium finishing first for a second year in a row. With two spots left on the podium Miguel Medina, Brandon Dupont and William Ferullo battled for the lead until the very end.  Ultimately it came down to who moved down the cargo net fastest and sprinted to the finish. Medina took 2nd place with William Ferullo seconds behind in 3rd and Brandon Dupont finished 4th. Among the women, last year’s winner Shaun Provost finished 1st as well with Karlee Whipple and Laura Messner rounding out the women’s podium.

Sunday the men’s elite went out with break neck speed as Spartan Pro, Miguel Medina finished in 1st , followed by Brandon Dupont in 2nd and Dennis Smith in 3rd. Among the women, Laura Messner set a swift pace, meeting an emotional sprint to the end and finishing in 1st with Elise Fugowski in 2nd and Julia Falamas in 3rd.

Citi Field also hosted the first Special Needs Spartan Race within a stadium for Spartans with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (IDD).  These athletes along with their guardians and volunteers met adversity head on. Blazing a trail for increased awareness and collaboration within the Spartan community and shattering the status quo once again, showing the world that Spartans from all walks of life can overcome obstacles to be more active, fit and healthy. The course was a 1/2 mile long and took into consideration athletes sensory profiles, physical and cognitive restraints associated with IDD. However, they rose to the occasion and overcame the challenges of the race triumphantly. Spartan Race looks forward to holding many more IDD courses in the future.

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

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By Brakken Kraker

Spartan Race returned to Hawaii this past weekend, arriving for the Aloha Stadium Sprint in Honolulu. As advertised, the weather was beautiful and the course was excellent! Navy Federal Credit Union continued to show their unbelievably generous support for our sport, providing a $7,500  purse for the top 3 men and women. They also had a wonderful tent set up with lots of free gifts and smiling employees! It was a great experience to have such a committed, supportive partner for Spartan Race. 

The big cash prizes, combined with sunny beaches, brought out some great competitors, both local and mainlanders. We even had some athletes from across the pond show up and compete. On the men’s side Brakken Kraker, Alexander Nicholas, Joey Patrolia, and Christopher Rutz made the trip, while Miguel Medina left his dungeon for a few hours to throw his hat into the ring.  Newcomer McCauley Kraker also showed up, ready to test his running and athleticism against the Spartan veterans on this exciting three mile course.  Several new obstacles made their appearance on this course, including a tire hoist and a bleacher squat series.

The relatively new but already universally despised football throw returned. Preliminary reports indicate that more than two people actually completed the obstacle this time. On the women’s side the pre-race favorites of KK Paul, Oahu’s own Lauren Ho and Karlee Whipple lived up to their hype, as all three finished within 21 seconds of each other. The battle for first came down to the final obstacle, where KK Paul edged out Lauren Ho for a two second victory. The men’s race stayed packed together for the first half of the race, until burpees ultimately broke it open. The Kraker brothers finished 1-2, with Joey Patrolia claiming the 3rd podium spot. 

We’d like to thank all of the sponsors, volunteers, and workers at Spartan Race Hawaii, as well as the people of Oahu! Every single person we met was so unbelievably kind and supportive. It made our trip and race fantastic. We can’t wait to head back for the next race!

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