By Brakken Kraker

Spartan Race returns to Miami this weekend, ready to break in a new and exciting venue. Oleta River State Park will host it’s first iteration of the Super Spartan, featuring 8+ miles of hot, humid racing. For the first time, Miami Spartans will be able to enjoy Spartan Race staples such as the spear throw and fire jump. Unlike past years, the new locale will allow such obstacles on the premises! The course is rumored to traverse through a mix of wide dirt fire roads, beaches, deep canals, technical single track mountain bike trails, and lots of swamp. The forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-70s for the first heat, with possibility of low 80s by the time the final heat takes off. The humidity isn’t going to be taking it easy either, so the promise of frequent water crossings may be a life-saver for anyone descending from above the Mason-Dixon for this race. Three aid stations are to be provided, but this may be a race worth carrying extra water.

With two Spartan Races this weekend (Citi Field once again plays host to a Stadium Sprint), competitive racers have a decision to make as to which location they will be attending. As of press time, both the men’s and women’s fields are wide open. There is rumor that Shawn Feiock, Joey Patrolia, and Isaiah Vidal will be joining me at the starting line, but whether or not any other big names will throw their hat into the ring remains to be seen.

The women’s race has the potential for a big throwdown, as both April Dee and Amelia Boone may show up to resume one of the best rivalries in the sport today. Amelia is coming off a tough 2nd place finish via Spear Throw in Las Vegas, while April is looking for her first victory of the year. Which women will show up to challenge these two champions remains to be seen. There is always fast, homegrown talent in Florida, so it would surprise no one if some local speed materializes come race day.

As always, the can’t miss event of the weekend will be the Kids’ Race. With 6 different race times and both a 1-mile and ½-mile version, there is sure to be race perfect for the future Spartans in attendance. If you are 13 or under, don’t miss this chance to run a race with Spartan Pro Team members!

Make sure to show up extra early for the Miami event, as parking is located off-site. There will be a shuttle service ferrying racers to and from the course, but it is first-come first-serve. Allowing extra time for this will ensure a stress-free check-in process on the day of the race.

See you at the finish line!!

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On the Las Vegas Strip, opulent waterfalls, sky scraping hotels and lush retreats abound.  On The Strip, you could almost forget that this bustling city began simply as a dream in a desert.

Yes, a desert.

This Saturday, thousands of Spartans will invade the infamous Sin City for the second-ever Las Vegas Super, which make no mistake, while conveniently located, is taking place on the outskirts of the metropolis, away from the ringing bells of casinos, the air conditioned biomes of pink clouds the billboards of lights, lights and more lights.

Spartan Racers should expect nearly nine miles and nearly two dozen obstacles in the dry, dusty plains of the Nevada desert.

With a new locale from last year aptly called the “Gravel Pit,” course designers are promising all the Spartan staples — spears, ropes, walls, pits, tires — amid both the natural, rocky topography and new, man-made terrain.  There will be muddy portions, but true to the setting, very little water, except for the planned three stations and one at the finish. If last year is any indication, participants should also expect some down and uphill climbs. At last check, the weather predictions called for sun with highs in the 70s and a slight wind.

The Racer Athlete Guide suggests everyone bringing an ID for check in (and any post-race drinks), arriving at least an hour before the wave start, carrying personal hydration and nutrition. If starting at 2:00pm or later, it’s also advised to carry a headlamp. Click here for the Las Vegas Athlete Guide.

Just like the desert itself, the elite heats will be scorching, with athletes from the around the nation all vying for spots on the podium and top ranking in the 2014 World Points Series, especially since this is a one-day event.

In the men’s elite, look for 2013 top-ranked Brian Hoover and the Spartan Pro Teamers Elliott Megquier, Chris Rutz, David Magida, current points leader, Hunter Mcintyre and Charlotte’s first place winner, Matt Novakovich.

Last year’s Vegas 2nd place winner TyAnn Clark and Spartan World Champion Amelia Boone are both expected to take the start line in the women’s heat, as are Leslie St. Louis, making her first 2014 return from injury, and Pro Teamers Andi Hardy, Juliana Sproles and Tiffanie Novakovich.

Beyond the Super Spartan, there are other events taking place on Saturday: the not-to-be-missed Kids’ Races, the 6:00 am Hurricane Heat and the 12-hour Hurricane Heat (HH12HR), which serves as one of the qualifying events for the Peak Death Race.

While all of the events promise to challenge racers, the festival area will offer some Spartan-Style entertainment and fun, including food and refreshments, an SGX Warm up every hour starting at 7:30am, an SGX tutorial on rope climbing every hour starting at 9:00 am and Pull-up, Traverse Wall, Slosh Pipe and Tire Flip challenges happening throughout at the day starting around 10:00 am.

Amid obstacles, sweeping desert views and rousing “Aroos!” racers at the Spartan Super this weekend will likely discover something new to remember about Las Vegas, a city founded on dreams and a desert.

Click here for more information.

 

Leslie St. Louis is a trail runner, obstacle racer and mom of two mud-loving girls in Morrison, Colorado. She is currently ranked 9th in the Spartan World Points Series and the founder of a local obstacle group, resource and blog, Colorado Obstacle Racers, http://coloradoobstacleracers.com/.

 

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Those butterflies, that gentle “bubbling” right down there in the pit of the stomach. That nervous energy that consumes you leading up to your first Spartan Race. The electric tingle that buzzes over you the night before and despite your best efforts, your mind won’t shut off.  You’re trying to imagine what the course will be like, but naturally, you have no idea – no one does. Your clothes are already laid out, your bag is packed, the alarm set (both of them) and even though you checked and re-checked (and then checked again just to make sure), you’re worried you are missing ID, dry shoes, the waiver, whatever the case may be. Sleep isn’t coming, it’s just too exciting. It’s every single Christmas and birthday rolled into one ball of glorious, happy energy. We’ve all been there and right now you’re smiling, nodding your head as you read along. It’s ok. We all are.

This nervous energy isn’t exclusive to Spartan racers however. Don’t forget that there are legions of kids that are watching what mommy, daddy and Auntie Sue are doing. They want to be like Uncle Steve rolling around in the mud. They saw Grandma Lilly climbing over wooden walls and they want to do it too. Spartan, forever leading by example.

Meet Faith Ensminger. Faith’s world changed when she saw Spartan Race for the first time. She knew that was what she wanted to do. Such was her determination and enthusiasm for the images she saw, when she went to Arizona race she made the event her own. This started with capturing the hearts of everyone she met.

Quickly coming under the wing of festival manager Laura Ploude, she found herself volunteering at the merchandise tent all day Saturday, rapidly outselling all other staff and volunteers with her high-octane enthusiasm. This continued well into the following day, but the whole time, her eyes would shoot a glance over to the Kids Race area, knowing that her time was soon approaching. The 12 year old was ready, amped and was pacing the merchandise tent like a caged animal, ready to be released.

At her scheduled run time however, as she and her father Andy went to the staging area, they were dismayed to find that the course was already dismantled and being packed away. A breakdown in communication meant the Kids Race was closed. Faith was crushed.

“Faith immediately was in tears and this was quickly becoming a disaster,” Andy recalls. “One of which I had no control over and felt helpless. We were able to speak with some staff members to see what they could do. The staff got onto their radios, that’s when Dylan Plante and Alexandra Avellino showed up.”

It was decided that Dylan and Alexandra would chaperone Faith not over the course that kids had conquered, but the full adult course. “Then just like that, it went from a catastrophic event to an unforgettable memory that both Faith and I will cherish forever. Faith got onto the course and climbed walls, low crawled through mud and water, and took on the gladiators. None of this could have been possible without the support of the Spartan staff”, recalls Andy.

Alexandra remembers how Faith’s smile shone brighter than the Arizona sun that day, “She is one of the strongest 12 year old girls I have met. Her ability to run up a hill she wasn’t prepared for, climb over a cargo net that was twists to a height taller than most prefer and then do the barb wire crawl/dunk pit section 6 times, all with a smile, was beyond words and truly inspiring. I felt so unbelievably lucky and privileged to get to run the race with her and I want to say thank you so much for the memories and the conversation.”

A sentiment echoed by Dylan, who also came to her aid, as he had already been working with her at the merchandise tent and had seen how much it meant to her.

“She handled at least 3 miles – 2 miles further than the Kids Race – plus did all the final five obstacles of the barbed wire, crawl up a muddy hill, under the muddy wall dunk, then up the slippery wall, over the firepit, which she actually decided to do 5 times, and through the gladiators, which she actually did twice.  It was an honor and a pleasure to help make some first time memories for Faith. I enjoy helping people thru the courses and its part of who I am, The Weeple Army (my running team), and Spartan Way!”

Angela Overstreet, another staff member that was heavily involved with Faith’s weekend also recalls the impact one little girl’s enthusiasm made on not just her, but the event as a whole.

“Strength. Beauty. Inspiration. Perseverance. These words are powerful.  As adults we shoulder the responsibility to inspire future generations. However in this case as much as I have hoped to inspire and impact this young lady….truth is, it is she…it is YOU Faith who has managed to appear as a beautiful light shining upon us all. The passion within you bursts out of you with your every movement, your smile is infectious, your handwork is unparalleled, your drive and determination is difficult to put into words. YOU Faith are a force that one day I truly hope and pray you understand the greatness of. Sometimes it is difficult to see ourselves as others do. YOU Faith have the universe at your fingertips. Know that regardless of what you are going through today, it is YOU that has the choice and the power to infuse every part of your beautiful being into making it your mesmerizing reality. Not only for you but for others. YOU are an amazing young woman that has every quality to be a great leader and fulfill every dream you have. Know what you possess is a gift. Know that you are loved. Keep shining your light on those around you, be an inspiration to those around you. BE YOU. Run with it. Embrace It. Own It. Because although you are small in stature your spirit is larger than life itself. THANK YOU for coming into our lives. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for being YOU. YOU are Strong, YOU are beautiful, YOU are an inspiration and YOU will always persevere Faith.”

When it comes to drive and enthusiasm, or perhaps just the sheer joy of loving what she does, the bar has been set higher than it ever has at any Spartan Race before and it came from a little 12 year old girl. She already had a good idea way before the finish line and when she did get there, it only reinforced what she already knew.

Will you? Sign up now and change your life forever.

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