Discussion came up recently around everyone’s favorite Spartan Race venues. We’ve *ALL* had this conversation, no doubt. But when you sit down and think about it, it’s really not that easy to keep it to a list of just five. Everyone around the office has their own favorites for various reasons, just as racers do. So, in no particular order, here is what we came up with. Our Top 13 Spartan Race venues with some commentary thrown in for fun;

1) Temecula, Southern CaliforniaVail Lake Temecula SoCal Spartan Race

 

Cookie – “It has so many nooks, crannies, little hidden away trails that don’t present themselves unless you go looking for them. It has a lake. A glorious, shimmering, beautifully cold lake that beckons you with a mischievous grin carved across its face. Hills as far as you can see. Terrain? You name it, they’ve got it. So good that it’s the home of an HH12HR, Sprint, Super, and Beast in 2014.”

John – “This is one of my favorites as well. The location of my first Super ever. It was amazing. I remember coming around the hill at mile 7 or so in 2013 thinking I was close to the end only to be greeted by what was essentially a scramble hand over foot to climb up further. I couldn’t believe when Hobie Call finished that race in something like an hour and 13 minutes.”

Tony - “One of the most gorgeous venues I’ve ever seen to date. The hills, the lake, the beautiful weather, the luscious green grass that covers the festival floor. If you are looking for a venue to really soak it all in, this is the one. Not only is the race demanding of all you’ve got but the rest of the venue gives you that reason to stay, hang out and enjoy the most important aspect of it all, the people.”

Jason – My first Spartan Race in 2011. I had just signed on as digital marketer and found myself with a fucking hammer trying to finish obstacles before race time, and breaking down stuff and loading a trailer with Matt M at end. Great hills – my first vision of rugged ridgelines lined with Spartans making their way across the landscape. This was our first Super. It was so brand new. People were like, what the fuck is going on.

2) Palmerton, Pennsylvania

Palmerton PA Spartan Race Sprint Blue Ridge Mountains
Cookie – “For anyone that knows it, let me just say this. The sandbag carry. If you’ve experienced it, then your body will have just sent psychosomatic shivers down your spine. Ever seen grown men in tears because an obstacle has beaten them down so harshly? I have. It was at Palmerton, PA.”

3) Midway, Utah

Midway UT Spartan Race Beast Utah Festival Mountains
John – “Utah is stunning. I had never really been before the Beast there last year. The hills were my favorite, and most hated, aspect of that race. Going up I couldn’t stand them. Once at the top and pausing to take in the view I didn’t want to head back down. It was really hard to leave Utah and I look forward to it now.”

Holly – “This race is awesome! The location provides captivating views to all racers while they trek up and down the mountains.  This helps create a welcome a distraction while the steep inclines seek to wear you out.  This event embodies what a Beast is all about, and dishes out an intense challenge.  I’d have to say this specifica venue boasts one of the most beautiful locations in the US.  It’s truly breathtaking!”

4) Malibu, California

Spartan Race Sprint Malibu California Calamigos Ranch
Cookie – “How about that barbed wire crawl the goes up and around? And when that mist rolls in over the hills and the monkey bars become so wet that gripping them is a challenge in itself? Yeah, Malibu is everything you want it to be. It’s beautiful, but ugly. It’s a great course, but it’ll punish you. The air may be warm, but the water is oh-so cold. Malibu is a total contradiction which, on paper, shouldn’t work, but it does and it’s a superb race.”

John – “Whoever thinks they are going to show up for a ‘fun in the sun’ run is way off base. I don’t think I have seen the sun once in Malibu at a Spartan Race…and I loved every minute of it. The mud on the trails stole a guys shoe off his foot right in front me. The water was cold as hell, and the finish left you feeling like you accomplished something big.”

Tony - “When you think Malibu you think palm trees and sunshine. Someway somehow year after year, the weather has been anything but. However this venue is one of the most challenging and riveting ones you can encounter. The endless climbs will leave you breathless, especially when you get to the top of that cargo climb and look out at all the beauty that Malibu has to offer.”

5) Bigfork, Montana

Spartan Race Bigfork Montana Spartan Sprint Founders Race
Cookie – “You could argue that Montana is the most beautiful race in America today. You could also argue that it’s the hardest Sprint, too. I believe it’s both. There’s something about running through acres and acres of mountains and dense forest that soothes the soul. You might see an osprey, eagle, deer or some other furry or feathered friend. This is the hidden x factor of the Montana Sprint. It’s a little bit special.”

John – “The Founders race was there this year and over 5,000 people showed up to race in Montana. If you’ve been you know why. It’s picturesque on every level. The course is a butt kicker too so if you want a solid challenge Montana is a can’t miss experience. Nicest people EVER.”

6) Washougal Park, Washington – Pacific Northwest

Spartan Race Washington Pacific Northwest Sprint


Cookie – “It will generally take around three or four hours for the barbed wire crawl to reach the point where it becomes like a sheet of glass. The barbed wire crawl – one of the most infamous ones on the circuit – goes upwards at a steep angle. Conquering this crawl is immensely satisfying and a joy that should be shared by everyone. Set in the hills just outside Portland dancing along the Oregon/Washington border, this is another course that boasts beautiful scenery, nature and more trees that you can shake a lumberjack’s axe at.”

John – “Home sweet home. I grew up out here. My family is all still in the PNW. The tall green trees, fresh clean air, and terrain that will keep you honest. Its surprising how many of our female Elites are from this area at first, then you run the course, realize how technical the terrain out in the Northwest is and you gain an understanding of why they are such talented athletes.”

Tony – “What an incredible venue this is. One of my favorites of all time. You arrive and everywhere you looks it’s just green, you’re surrounded by it. When you arrive you realize quickly that there will be a lot of ups and downs on this course, it is built partly on a motocross track of course. The wooded areas are what make this place come to life, birds chirping, wild life running all about. As you drive to the location you can even pull over on the side of the road and pick the freshest blackberries to eat. It’s a gorgeous location that will test you physically and treat you mentally.”

8) Burnet, Texas

Super Spartan Race Texas Sprint Burnet Austin TX
Cookie – “Arguably one of the flatter, ‘easier’ courses on the circuit, but don’t let that fool you into believing it’s one you’ll just waltz through without difficulty. The rocks and tree roots making running very technical and while the surroundings are very easy on the eye, it order to run safely, you spend a lot of time looking at your feet! The jewel in the crown of this site is the river that flows through part of it and water in any course is a surefire winner with any Spartan fan, especially when the course is actually navigating the river. “

John – “There is a reason we have been to this venue for 3 years in a row. Its EPIC. This last year we expanded to both a Sprint and a Super in the same weekend to the tune of 12,500 racers and over 5,000 spectators. The hill top with the cross that over looks the valley provides one of the most amazing views ever. I’m definitely looking forward to going back to Texas.”

Tony - “Texas has become my new home and with that this location has become one I truly cherish. The venue is incredible, held on a ranch that provides you with all types of terrain, from rocks, to grass, to wooded areas, single track trails and sand-filled stretches. Here you can find out what you’re really made of as the terrain will always keep you guessing.”

9) Fort Carson, Colorado

Spartan Race Sprint CO
Cookie – “The thing about Colorado is that the weather is a bit of a crap shoot and that makes for a great race. One day can be gloriously warm and the next the temperature drops 30 degrees and racers will find they’ve suddenly lost the ability to grip and the cold water in the rope climb obstacle steals your breath. If you manage to steal a second and let your eyes drink in the mountains in the distance, you’ll find that the view is very agreeable, too. “

John – “The place of my only DNF race in my life ever. The elevation of the race is 6000 ft. Think about that for a moment. The Rocky Mountains in the distance are incredible. The BBQ joints in the area are really damn good. I owe that place something. I’m going back.”

Tony - “Few things here, the venue is located on a military base, right from the get-go you know you’ll be in for a one-of-a-kind Spartan treat. You’ll be racing at altitude which means you’ll be testing yourself under some of the most demanding circumstances. Though you won’t be running up any mountains just being at 6,000 ft. of elevation will beat you down. My advice, come a few days early, get your body acclimated and prepare for one hell of a race. Be sure to visit the Garden of the Gods after the race is over, what a sight!”

10) Killington, Vermont

VT Killington Beast Spartan Race Sprint WC
Jason – Killington is called the Beast of the East for a reason. One of the best views in New England – one of few places untarnished wilderness surrounds you in a 360 panorama. I love seeing all the Tri state folks – thinking this is a regular type of event – laying down and crying on the side of the trail. All sorts of people suddenly leaving the ‘fun run’ world and facing sheer freezing survival on the side of an inhospitable and uncaring mountain. This is where people come to hear the call of the wild.

Cookie – “Killington is Mecca. There’s a reason why it is the home of Spartan and there’s a reason why it’s considered the hardest Beast and why the Ultra Beast is set there. It’s hard. It’s painfully, frustratingly, will-this-never-end hard. You will swear, in much the same way I did, that you feel that the course spends more time than is geographically possible going up. Why does it feel like you are always climbing? The laws of physics go out of the window in Killington. Just suck it up and enjoy inclines that will make your legs scream for mercy, your lungs burn, but the whole time, nourish your soul.
The densely wooded areas are a delight for nature enthusiasts, so keep an eye out for critters and birds. Famously, there’s THAT lake that you’ll be expected to grapple with in one form or another, too.
Make no mistake, if you like what Spartan is doing and you want to experience the race of all races on the schedule, no list is complete until you’ve done the Vermont Beast at least once.”

Tony - “There’s a reason we use Killington, VT for the World Championship race, not only is it set in the backyard of the original Spartan HQ but it’s also one of the most beautiful mountains in all of Vermont. Do not under estimate the Vermont Beast, it is unforgiving, it will laugh at you as you try to crawl up it’s Black Diamond slopes. Oh, you thought you’d be running this race? Think again, you’re more likely to be crawling on your hands and knees with a 75lb sandbag on your back so long as Norm Koch has anything to do with it. Come prepared. Come hydrated. Hopefully, we’ll see you at the finish line.”

11) Wintergreen Resort, Virginia 

Wintergreen Resort Spartan Race Super VA

 Tony – “Wintergreen Resort is set on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the resort rises from approximately 600 feet above sea level in the valley at Stoney Creek to an elevation of close to 4,000 feet on the mountain. You may have heard murmurs throughout Spartan Nation that the Spartan Super crafted by Race Director Norm Koch is one of the most difficult races in the circuit. If you’re looking to prepare for the World Championship in Vermont, there is no better location than the VA Super to test your mettle. “

12) Marseilles, Illinois  - Chicago

Chicago IL Spartan Race Super Spartan Sprint

Tony – “Arguably one of the most unique Spartan Supers out there, set on an all terrain park where typically there are Jeeps and ATVs tackling the relentless hills this location has recently become home to a permanent obstacle training facility that features many unique obstacles not found anywhere else. When you think Illinois, flat typically comes to mind but that is not the case here. Some way some how this location has some of the most varied terrain of any Spartan Race out there.”

13) Miami, Florida

Spartan Race Miami FL Florida Super

John – “Florida is one of my favorite states. I love the weather there. Miami is as beautiful as they come. It’s a flat course but don’t think for a minute that means it will be easy. The technical aspect of the trails requires some real work. Nice thing is that you get to jump in the water while on course…a few times.”

Holly – “This is the perfect event for the urban Spartan who loves to remain close to the city while still escaping into nature for a challenging event.  With skyscrapers looming in the distance, this course tackles technical root and shale filled trails.  The Florida heat mixed with an onslaught of staple Spartan obstacles makes this course a great challenge!  The best part?  It’s hosted in the perfect vacation destination.”

 14) Atlanta, Georgia 

Spartan Race Sprint Georgia Atlanta GA

Holly – “The Georgia Sprint is the perfect race to give your endurance and elevation skills a test.  While not a flat course, the hills are much more conservative than many of its counterparts, and this combined with the Sprint distance makes this event is a great way to gain confidence towards tackling the longer events which boast greater elevation gains.  The venue is absolutely gorgeous, and although it can be rather cold since this event is held early in the year, it just adds to the overall awesomeness and challenge of this race.”

15) Tuxedo, New York

Spartan Race Sprint Tri-State NY Tuxedo

John – “This was my first year in Tuxedo. It was incredible. The ski hill is no joke either. The soft ground is hiding boulder after boulder waiting to roll your ankle if you get careless. Still it’s a great test of your endurance and honestly the Spartans that showed up there were top notch. I cleared every spider-web on that course with my face Friday night pre-running it. Everyone is welcome.”

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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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Written by guest blogger Ang Reynolds

This Saturday and Sunday Spartan Race returns to Malibu California.  Calamigos Ranch has hosted each year Spartan has come and never  disappoints. The hills and water at the ranch lend for a muddy course  year after year. To honor a three-year tradition, Mother Nature has  promised cool temps and rain again this weekend, so don’t expect to  bask in the Southern California sun.

Hobie Call will be in Malibu this weekend hoping to claim yet another  Spartan victory. His son Hawk will also be racing this weekend,  following in his father’s footsteps. Don’t expect Hobie to walk away  too easily though. Several Spartan men are ready to challenge him.   Spartan elites Matt Novakovich, Hunter McIntyre, Brakken Kraker,  Elliot Megquier, and Miguel Medina are ready for the kill.

Miguel Medina is living in the mountains of Vermont, building his own cabin.

Miguel is  traveling cross-country from his new home in Killington, Vermont where  he spends his days training, hiking up and down Killington Mountain  and trudging through freezing water. (He hopes to build himself a  cabin for the winter before it’s too late to stay warm.) Other notable  men include Spartan Pro Team Elites Chris Rutz, Tony Matesi,Chris Obertlik and Michael Tobin.  Tobin will be making his Spartan debut.

Our Spartan elite woman will be ready to go this weekend. Ty Clark and  Jenny Tobin will go head to head. While Alaska native Tiffanie  Novakovich won’t be slightly bothered by the temperatures this  weekend. Atlas Pro Team member Rose Wetzel Sinnett will make her  second appearance at a Spartan Race. Don’t count out Irene Call. She  just set the world record for lunging a mile, something that will
definitely give her an advantage on the steep hills. Andi  Hardy will be there in all of her green glory ready to rock the barbed  wire. Other notable athletes include Laura Messner and Danielle Ross.

Regular Slosh Pipe event champion Kevin Kierce will lead a team of competitors who are more physically challenged than most.

Ross is ready to rock the slosh pipe and will be joining Weeple Army member Kevin Kierce to lead a heat for Weeples overcoming obstacles. That heat will  consist of blind athletes, several deaf athletes, and Misty Diaz, a woman with Spina Bifida. Weeple Army and biggest team leader Dave  Huckle will race both days after traveling around the world this year courtesy of Spartan Race  and recently completing the Australia Ultra Beast. Dave will finish  his season next weekend in Glen Rose Texas, rounding out  9 Trifectas!

Team SISU leader and Death Race veteran Daren De Heras is looking to break his own record of most laps by attempting 8 loops of the course weighted down with various logs, sledgehammers and other various weights. We wish him the best of luck!

Keep an eye out for the man in blue this weekend, Stephen Sinek and  his talented wife Aeni will be there to debut their oceanic design from  The Painted Warrior’s recent design contest. Whether you are looking  to P.R., have a good time with your team, or run with a friend, you  won’t want to miss the race this weekend.

See you in Malibu!

Are you ready for a Spartan Race? Look through our future events and sign up here.

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“I pretty much create my own schedule”, states Misty Diaz matter-of-factly.

“But thankfully I do have a great coach named Michael Ainis, he helped me with one of the hardest half marathons in New York, which was all hills. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I got my best time on that course. I do a lot of cross training too, I kayak and make up my own routines I use trees and outdoor gyms. Yes – trees!”

She laughs at herself and the incredulity of her last statement and continues,  “I do a lot of hiking and skateboarding. I use walking canes, so I must constantly work out my upper body.”

In itself, this could be almost anyone in America – or the world – today. But Misty pushes harder than most. She was born with Spina Bifida.

Running wasn’t always something that was high on her radar, though. It was only recently that taking to the sidewalks, trails and roads became a way of life for her.

“I started running April 21, 2012. I had about a year under my belt of being sober, and I had so much energy. I remember driving around in Long Beach and seeing a sign for Ronald McDonald 5k walk. They had helped my family in the past so I thought what better way to give back. So I signed up and felt wonderful. Then about a week later, I saw a sign for Seal Beach 5k. I remember thinking If I could walk a 5k, I could run. Not once did I consider the fact I have Spina Bifida and use walking canes. I just signed up; no training, no running buddy. I went home, sat down and Googled training runs and created my own schedule. I went to the gym and started working out. From there, I just kept signing up for races and didn’t stop. As of 10/12 I will have run 32 races. My current goal which I’m almost done accomplishing, was running 3 half marathons in 3 1/2 weeks.”

It’s this passion for running and pushing further that’s seen her set a new goal. In December, Misty will be tackling the Spartan Sprint in Malibu.

“I honestly had been throwing around the idea for a while. Then the Weeple Army invited me to their group and I did two small obstacle races and felt like I didn’t accomplish much. I felt as though I needed something more challenging. So I spoke with a friend who’s affiliated with Spartan, and asked if he knew how to get sponsored. I raise all my funds for my races through sponsors or grants. He thankfully had a code! I just want something that will push me to the edge, push my body further then I have ever imagined. Youd think I would have had enough after 28 operations. I love training and working my mind, so what better way than to get in and try a Spartan race? I want to test my limits, I can’t imagine how I will feel once I finish. The hardest part for us is convincing our minds that we are capable. Many train the body, but forget the mind.”

It’s the mental aspect that is currently proving to be the biggest hurdle. Misty is under no illusions what’s in store for her. When asked if any part of the idea of a Spartan Race scares her or intimidates her, she laughs.

“Yes, the entire thing! But that’s the amazing thing about such an event. Think about that; the fact that we sign up for such events knowing it’s going to be hard and take a lot from us to accomplish and yet we are still willing to sign up and train for such an event. That’s pretty bad ass! I know I can do this, I’m just going to have to turn on a different type of beast mode!”

Misty’s passion for what she does is all too clear when she explains that what she does has now developed further.

“Along my journey I have been able to meet such incredible people, who have been my supporters and cheerleaders. Because of my love for running, I have started my own pending, non-profit, Teamwolfpackfoundation.com.”

“My non profit is to help those with Spina Bifida but not limited to, run 50 yard, 100 yard and 5Ks.  I want these kids and adults to feel a sense of accomplishment, to be proud, and excited just like I do. I want them to know anything is possible, if you have the will. I want to do what was done for me and give back. The Team Wolf Pack name started when I started running 15Ks to train for half marathons. I would have a team of 2-3 people behind me running with me. They held whatever I needed, carried my meds and water. When I got tired, one of the runners would get in front of me as a pace leader, or along my side and helped me keep my pace. This is what I want to do for these kids, and adults. I hope this encourages you to continue to run, to keep trying, and to help others. After many years, I finally feel a part of something. I can’t tell you how much that makes me happy. I’m so grateful to be a part of the running community.”

“I leave you with this friends; never ever give up!”

She will know at the finish line. You can too.

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by Sarah Dubois

A Tribe Called Messed1A little over a year ago I stumbled across the Spartan website and I couldn’t comprehend it.  As in…what the hell were these people doing?  And why were they smiling?  I moved on and didn’t give it another thought.  Fast forward 9 months.  I’ve quit my miserable Fortune 500 sales job (to remain unnamed) taken a couple months off to recoup while getting certified as a personal trainer, got hired as a women’s Bootcamp Instructor and as a Personal Trainer at a fancy gym here in San Diego.  Just a slight unplanned turn in the road from my original plan to follow my International Business degree.  When does life ever go the way you actually planned it anyway right?

At the very beginning of my fitness career I had an interview with another local San Diego bootcamp.  In the interview they asked tough questions that I was pretty used to from the sales world but I didn’t expect in a Bootcamp Instructor interview.  “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”  I had gotten this a million times in past sales job interviews and simply BS’d my way through with some comment even I didn’t believe about management or owning my own businesses blah blah blah.  Cripes can you tell I was in the wrong field?!  At this point in my fitness career, surprisingly I hadn’t given it alot of thought yet.  I answered with the first thing that came to mind that I thought would be fun.  My bold response was “I want to be the Race Manager for a major event”.  After saying it I realized it was totally true.  I love racing and the vibe that surrounds races, expos and fitness events.  I also have a business background so why not mesh the two!

I came across a Facebook ad this past fall that showed people crawling through mud. A Tribe Called Messed Intrigued, I clicked on it, not realizing at the time this was the same website I had pretty much dissed just a few months back.  It’s amazing the things you will try and succeed at with the right mindset.  That same day I sent Spartan Races my email and explained I wanted to work for them and why I would be a great fit (even though I’d never done a race!).  I like to think my business background and new fitness training experience hold some meaning in this odd world of mud and obstacles.  I did my research and learned about the company and their races and within a few weeks I was granted the opportunity to become a Street Team Member.  Sweet!  My first step into the mud. 

I got so excited about the upcoming Spartan Malibu Sprint that like all Spartans, I talked to everyone I knew, friends, family, clients, gym members I knew, gym members I didn’t know, total strangers, you name it.  People were intrigued but no one committed.  I managed to get ONE person to join me in the race, my Bootcamp coworker.  I didn’t let it bug me though.  Upon finishing (and loving every step, climb, crawl, jump, wade, swim, lift and hit), I noticed that people seemed more interested when discussing the race with them.  Maybe they could see the crazy spark in my eye had ignited. 

A Tribe Called Messed2Post-race, I put up my action photos at my upscale gym.  One showed me crawling under the barbed wire while spitting out gravel – something our clients aren’t used to seeing there.  Everyone commented on my drooling as if hinting I should be embarrassed by it.  Seriously?  I’m proud of that drool!  I have Joe Desena, founder of the Spartan Races to thank for that photo – he was behind the hose that was blasting my mug.  I was running Spartan classes at the gym in the evenings, which mind you had ZERO interest leading up to the Malibu race.  Those pictures caused a buzz and instantly my class was full!  Before I knew it I had a team of 23 join me for the SoCal Super this past January as A Tribe Called Messed (represent, represent-sent).  It was a mix of clients, members, and trainers from my gym, clients from my women’s bootcamp, friends, and friends of friends.  Of those 23, eight have became Street Team Members and about 95% of the team has gone on to sign up for next year’s race (whether Malibu, SoCal or both) as well as jump into other obstacle races to train for the Spartans.  The remaining 5% just can’t commit this far out, but I expect will register again.  All of these teammates were great but alas, I couldn’t seem to get my favorite guy, my boyfriend Kurtis to join me in a race….yet (heehee).  I didn’t want to push him too hard to sign up like I did with the others.  I wanted him to join me in my new passion by coming to his senses on his own, which I figured had to happen sooner or later right?  He was really great about spending entire weekends getting up early, coming to the races, and as a photographer in the making, spending hours taking awesome photos of our team before, during, and after the race.  About a week after the race he texted me from work out of the blue “Get your own personal photographer, I’m doing it with you next year”  Upon asking what changed his mind?  “It just looked like too much fun”. 

Aside from racing and running Spartan classes, I continued to do my part as a Street Team member by flyering parking lots of events, and running those races in Spartan gear.  I created spreadsheets of everything to keep organized and shared my info with Kati and Coleen.  My baffled boyfriend wondered why I was doing all of this extra work for free.  My equally baffled response was “um, hello because I love it!”  Next thing I know Coleen and I are discussing bringing me on board as Spartan Race’s first Race Manager.  I couldn’t have been more flattered and excited at the opportunity to pave the way and hopefully set a great example.  My 5 year goal has just happened in one year!!!  Amazing, scary, and exciting all in one.

I emailed home to Massachusetts to tell my family how excited I was and that I would be back in August to do the New England Spartan Sprint.  “So who is joining me!?” One lone Sparkle, my cousin Colleen responded.  We are the same age and she has managed to become an amazing runner of late, after having 2 children.  She has been as excited about the Spartan Race as the day I first started talking about it except she lives so far away that we could only chat over email about it and never train.  She has already succeeded in getting a handful of people to join the East Coast version of A Tribe Called Messed.  I emailed my entire Boston contact list and included my younger sister Caitlin to keep her in the loop.  Caitlin wrote this race off awhile back saying there was no way she could/would do it.  After reading my email, she was suddenly and surprisingly in.  “How would it look if you flew all the way over here to do this race with all your friends but I wasn’t a part of it??” GOOD ANSWER Sparkle!  Peer pressure gets another!  Since that email, friends are coming out of the woodwork, college buddies who I haven’t seen in 10 years are registering, high school friends, elementary friends, old coworkers. 

I’m bringing my love of racing, my dedication to Spartan, and my background have all collided in the perfect job for me.  How’s that for a fairy tale ending… or beginning? 

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by Carrie Adams

Originally posted in Carrie’s blog: www.leavingapath.com

“We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in the darkness” –Unknown

SR_HURRICANE_BadgeAs I exited the hotel lobby at 4:30AM in the dark Southern California morning, I shuddered against the cold and watched my breath escape harshly into the air.  “So much for Malibu sunshine,” I remember thinking.  Hopping in the car with Tommy and Joe we drove over to the venue to kick off an early morning challenge with about 100 people in the earliest Spartan Race Heat – the Hurricane Heat.  Born in the belly of a hurricane it’s a heat that’s about everything BUT racing, it’s about making connections, completing tasks in extreme conditions and Malibu was the newest installment of an experience that was constantly evolving.  In the Hurricane Heat, I’m acting as facilitator not as the participant.  And it’s a new game when you’re on the other side of the ball. 

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