The spear throw is one of the obstacles at Spartan Race that is generally considered a burpee factory. Along with the rope climb, more people fail this one staple obstacle of the Spartan Race than any other.

But to what many may consider a bizarre circumstance given the threat of those 30 burpees, there are some that rub their hands with childish and cartoonish glee when they see this obstacle on the horizon.

It started out all innocently enough. Steffen Cook, “Cookie” to everyone that knows him, is well known for not taking races and obstacles altogether seriously. Despite being a veteran of 6 Trifectas plus change, he prefers to “mess about” on the course and make light of hills, obstacles and not worrying a great deal in what his recorded time is. His favourite obstacle is the spear throw. As such, one afternoon while trying new throwing methods, he decided to spear an orange from a distance similar to that of at a race.

“There was nothing in it. No challenge, nothing malicious, just me messing around and having a bit of fun. I knew that my aim was fairly precise and just wondered if I could prove it.”

He did. Nailing the orange dead centre, he cheekily walked off camera and thought nothing more of it. His good friend Kevin Kierce, reigning Spartan Race Slosh Pipe challenge champion and also a veteran of Spartan Race saw the video and together they hatched a plan.

“I saw Cookie at a workout he, Michael Ainis and Matt Trinca organised in Lakewood, California and suggested that I spear a peach. During the workout, I though, ‘hey, this is for Cookie, I may as well spear a cookie’”. Kevin went home and couple of weeks later he found the time to set up a camera and sacrificing a girl scout Thin Mint, he completed his video with an even cheekier shrug of the shoulders, titling the video on Facebook, “Your turn, Mr. Cook”.

Knowing what was coming, but not sure how to top it, Cookie decided that the simplest way to put an end to something that had, frankly, got way out of hand, was to land the spear on a penny. For the sake of the video, he stuck the penny to some painter’s tape and then attached that tape to a sheet of paper on the bale. That way, the dark color penny would show against the white of the paper. In inevitable fashion, he again bullseyed the target.

“Kevin is an immense Spartan. He throws accurately, runs like the wind and frankly, should have a license for those guns under his sleeves”, he explains. “We decided to leave it there and call it a tie as, what’s next? A peanut? A raisin? It would prove nothing as the spear end is wider than those targets and it would be like hitting something of the same size.”

“People talk of a rivalry and how we should be outdoing each other and that’s just nonsense. Spartan doesn’t teach that. It teaches how we encourage, support and help, not talk down, belittle or point fingers with cries of “cheat” or “fake”. If somebody does something awesome, congratulate them on it. Whether it’s a PR for a 5K, their first 30 burpees, their first whatever or even a very silly showboating video of throwing spears. There’s always going to be haters, but they can be drowned out with positivity.”

Kevin and Cookie are toying with the idea of doing one last video to end them all and put the matter to bed when it comes to “messing around with the spear throw”. Look out for them at the LA Marathon on March 9th, as they will be running together, each doing one half blindfolded, while he guides the other in aid of Blind Start Of America charity.

How precise is your throw? Find out at your next Spartan Race.

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Recently, Spartan Race posted a picture of 74 year old Linda Barber taking part in the Malibu Sprint.

Many suggested that the picture was photoshopped and indeed faked. “No lady of that age could look as good as she did, complete with beautiful scarf looking fabulous and not at all fazed by what she had gone through up until that point”, could they?

Spartan Race caught up with her and put this allegation to bed.

“I guess that for many people the Spartan Race would be too difficult, but they will never know for sure unless they give it a try”, she shrugs nonchalantly. Cool and collected, Linda points out she’s not new to the idea of pushing herself physically.

Linda ran with her son and grandson

“I volunteer at Operation Gratitude. We send care packages to the troops who are deployed to the middle east and all around the world,( we just sent the 1 millionth box on Dec.7. 2013.)      In 2011 the Merrill down and dirty mud run at Castaic Lake, Ca, donated a large portion of the proceeds to Operation Gratitude. That was the first time I had ever heard of a mud run, I wasn’t quite sure what it would entail, so I declined the opportunity. But soon after seeing what it was all about and the fun everyone was having I was disappointed I didn’t do it. A few months later, my son Kevin Kierce told me about the Spartan Race coming to Malibu and we decided to do it together with the Angry Bird Droppings. We have since participated in 2 other OCR’s the 2012 and 2013 Malibu Spartan Races.”

When asked why she keeps returning, she answers very matter-of-factly, “I keep returning because it is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with my son and in this last Spartan my grandson as well. When I was on the trails in Malibu I was very focused on the task at hand and of course enjoying the camaraderie of the other participants. And of course being with my son and grandson. ”

I am very blessed to have good health with no medical problems.”

Linda doesn’t understand the commotion over her picture. On the course, she bumped into OCR veterans James O’Brien, aka, “The Muddy Suitman” and his running partner Stephen Hulsey, between them racking up in excess of 200 years, but still every bit as lively and as spritely as any other weekend warrior.

“I am a Puppy Raiser for Guide Dogs of America and to keep myself and the dogs in good shape we walk 3 miles every morning 6 days a week. I also work out with 10 and 15 pound weights 3 times a week. I also enjoy geocaching, that gets me out of the house and onto some local trials.  I spend many hours each week working at Operation Gratitude. I am very blessed to have good health with no medical problems”, she points out.

The confident, but modest grandmother points out that we shouldn’t be so surprised.

“I do not think it is any big deal for someone my age to join in the fun and do what I can do. I work with ladies older that I and they don’t seem to have any problems getting the job done.”

Old school thinking. No whining. No excuses.
“Getting the job done.”
If ever there was a phrase that encapsulates all of this, there it is.

See you at the finish line….

Three years in a row.

 

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One competitor laughs of the cold and takes time to tell the photographers that it really isn’t that bad under the water.

You’d have been forgiven for thinking you were not actually in sunny California, but perhaps Chicago, Detroit or somewhere not altogether unfamiliar with ice and below freezing temperatures.
With the typical Spartan Race rain on the Saturday and the malevolent grin of glinting frost and ice beckoning the competitors to the start line on Sunday, the elements had already conspired to make the competitors suffer.

Spartan Race elite male and female podium finishers

With many regular faces descending on Malibu from all corners of the country, the all-too familiar feeling of a reunion in was in full force. However, once stepping over that start line, all friendships were put temporarily on hold. Tellingly, a water obstacle again proved to be the undoing of Hobie Call as he only briefly misjudged a plan of attack. This merest hint of a chance was something Hunter McIntyre exploited and punished by pushing past and snatching first place by only 33 seconds. Brakken Krakker took third place by crossing the line only just over a minute after Hobie, proving just how tight the men’s elite class is now. It seems as though every race is now a guarantee for a nervous and exciting fight for 1st place.

The female elites didn’t fail to add to the tension, either. Rose Wetzel (1st), Lauren Ho (2nd) and Tiffanie Novakovich were separated by only just over 3 minutes. The female elites are crashing through into 2014 with higher rates of training and motivation than ever before, so it was unsurprising that numbers into double figures were finishing faster than some male elite runners. Competition has never been fiercer!

Despite having no legs, Mathew Webb failed only one obstacle – the spear throw.

Away from the professionals the Spartan Race inspiration machine was in full force. Travelling over 7 hours to make the event to represent the ever-present and all-conquering Weeple Army (taking their 8th biggest team win), Mathew Webb crushed the course despite having the “minor inconvenience” of having had no legs since being only 18 months old. Making jokes that the water in the lake was so cold that he couldn’t feel anything below the knee, he powered through failing only the spear throw.“Overcoming Obstacles” was led by Slosh Pipe champion Kevin Kierce. Containing competitors  Michael Aygin, Brian Tom, Michael Yu, Durrell Johnson, James Mogana, Joel Senteno, (who are all hard of hearing or blind) and previous Spartan Race blog subject Misty Diaz who battles Spina Bifida, they all went through the course in a flurry of high-fives from well-wishers and a  volley of “AROO!” chants. Accompanying Kevin was his 74 year old mother, Linda Barber. Together, this one group alone pushing the fact that there are simply no valid excuses.

Linda Barber, 74, has completed every Malibu Spartan Race to date.

Team SISU,led by Daren De Heras made multiple loops of the course over the weekend, choosing to continue their Death Race ethic by carrying logs, tires and wearing elevation masks in order to make “things more interesting”.

From Hollywood, actors Tony Besson – making his third Spartan Race appearance – and Josh Peck ran in a wave shortly before Eric Colley fromTMZ made his debut at the start line.

As 2014 winds down to a close, Texas will see thousands of Spartan descend on Glen Rose where host the last race of year. Spartan Race will see out 2013 with a Beast and the last chance to qualify for a Trifecta before the new season starts in January. Will you be one of them?

 

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