by Jason Rita

Reports are surfacing this afternoon that an elite two person special forces unit has been deployed from Quebec City and is marching on Vermont, with the mission to take Killington Mountain by storm.  Trained in the skills of cross country skiing and target shooting, this crack team (which American sources believe represents the entire strike force of the Canadian army) is made up of biathletes Marc-André Bedard and Claude Godbout.  The best intelligence available suggests their arrival at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning.  What does this mean for the country?

On the Men’s Side:  If confirmed, this will be the first major battle since last year’s Spartan Killington Beast between Hobie Call and Marc-Andre Bedard when the Canadian shocked the world, vanquishing the previously unbeaten Hobie.   Marco did not compete in the 2011 Spartan Championship Race in December at the Spartan Super in Glen Rose Texas, as Hobie fought off a strong challenge from Xterra and Teva Mountain Games Champion Josiah Middaugh to claim the title of Spartan Champion.  It is this title which is on the line this weekend.

A minor skirmish at Spartan Pennsylvania in July this year allowed Hobie to gain a measure of satisfaction when he defeated Marco, but insiders close to Bedard note he was a last-minute entry to that event and was not properly recovered from a heavy schedule of Winter Olympic training preparation.  No such excuses will matter this weekend as it is all on the line for these two Spartan heavyweights battling for the right to be crowned World’s Best Obstacle Racer.  Marco is coming fresh off a win a few weeks back at the Spartan Race in Slovakia.  And again, Hobie comes to Vermont as undefeated in the year, and carrying the burden of huge expectations.  But as previewed on Monday here, they will face serious challenge from the strongest field of obstacle racers ever assembled including Junyong Pak, Alec Blenis, Chris Rutz and Sebastien Monette, just some of the many Spartan300 elite athletes who are determined to upset the status quo.

With the Canadian threat level increasing to Defcon-5 status, US Army 1st Lieutenant Elliott Megquier must race in Vermont to reinforce the American line.  As of press time, we are given to believe that it is possible that Megquier could be on hand in Killington.  Elliott has been competing in Spartan Races since 2011, always on the podium and is sure to be amongst the leaders – if he can make it.  We call on Megquier – do your Spartan duty, sir, and race!

On the Women’s Side:  A similar border-war dynamic is in place in the women’s division.  2011 Spartan Champion Jenny Tobin will now have to defend the attack of Canadian Claude Godbout, as well as hold off challenges from the likes of Amanda Czapla and Ella Ann Kociuba.  Both Jenny and Claude have reached the heights of success in their professional athletic careers – Jenny in the world of Xterra and Ironman triathlon, Claude in biathlon; as the youthful vanguard of obstacle racing, Amanda and Ella have it all to prove in Killington.  The sport of obstacle racing requires all-around athleticism, and these Spartan women have adapted to the challenges from a variety of sporting backgrounds to claim their spots as major OR stars.  The match-ups between Tobin, Godbout, Czapla, Kociuba and all the elite Spartan women athletes were highlighted in our Women’s Race Preview here, and CrossFit star Bobbie Jo Hackenbruck will also have be out to prove her impact on proceedings.  Now that Claude is on her way south, the already fascinating race has another plot-line to follow.

What had promised to be an epic race is now certain to reach legendary status.   The racers are all chasing their share of the $150,000 cash and prizes on the table in the single biggest purse offered in obstacle racing history to date.  But it isn’t the money that motivates these competitors.  It is the chill up the spine as the cries of AROO echo in the Green Mountain morning Saturday when they charge up the mountain for glory, and battle stake their place in Spartan Race history.  One thing is sure:  they, and we, will know at the finish line!

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by Jason Rita

There are no favorites in the Vermont Beast except maybe Mike Morris and Russell Cohen.  Whatever the result, those two are guaranteed to be laughing at the start of the race and the end.  No, they are not members of the Spartan300, they are not obstacle racers, they are the Race Director and Course Designer for the Vermont Spartan Beast and Ultra Beast, and they are promising that this race will be unlike any other Spartan Race in the past.

Throw out the stats, the results, the preconceptions, and the betting lines.   Anything can happen and probably will.   There will be carnage, devastation, tears, swearing, prayers to deities, and bargains with demons.  At the end, someone will emerge victorious; someone will earn the crown as Spartan Champion and be called the World’s Best Obstacle Racer.  The question is “Who?”

Marco Bedard

Last year’s victor was Marc-Andre Bedard, the Canadian Olympian biathlete.  Being a biathlete coming to race Killington is actually a handy skill because you might encounter both snow and wolves on race day.  Marco recently represented Spartan Race in the first Spartan event in mainland Europe, where he showed his class and dominated in the Slovakia Spartan Race.   But Marco’s Canadian national team coaches have Marco on a tight training schedule as he prepares for the 2014 Winter Olympics, and as of press time, he is not entered and not expected to race.  A cryptic Facebook post on Sunday night hinted that a Canadian storm might be blowing in from the north, so don’t be surprised if a man on skis with a rifle emerges from the Green Mountain forest on Saturday morning, grabs a bib number and toes the line.  It could be Marco.

2011 proved that Hobie Call could not master the Killington course.  The pre-race favorite was shocked by the length and toughness and finished a disappointing 9th.  But last year’s race was barely a month after the Death Race, which saw Call put in a 40 hour ultra-effort as he chased Joe Desena’s $100,000 Holy Grail

Hobie Call

for anyone who could win 15 Spartan Races andthe Death Race in one calendar year, and recovery might have been an issue.  Call severely bonked about 2 hours in to the Killington challenge.  He still ended up winning 15 races last year, including the year-end championship held in Texas.  But so far the scoreboard reads:  Vermont 2, Hobie 0.  Call has continued to dominate the Spartan Race series this year, racking up an amazing ten wins.  Call has been winning easily, winning in style, winning even while wearing a 10-lb weight vest.  The only event where he participated but didn’t take top spot was the Super Spartan in Arizona, that one he ran tethered to his wife, Irene.   She was last year’s third place female in our World Championships in Texas. Call

has focused his training over the last month specifically to redeem his performance from last year.  But the Beast doesn’t care about resumes.  If Hobie is to be this year’s champion, he will have to do something he hasn’t done to date, and that is win in Vermont.

Junyong Pak

With the defending Killington winner uncertain of racing and Vermont being Hobie’s Kryptonite, the race does shape up as an open question.  In 2011, Junyong Pak finished 2nd to Marco in Vermont, and 3rd in the Texas Championship Race, and since then has not rested in his quest to become a Spartan Champion.  Winner of the Spartan Sprint in New England, JYP has also proved his long course pedigree by finishing 2nd at the 2012 Spartan Death Race, an amazing result considering he was moving as fast at hour 60 as many were at hour one.  Junyong is one of the most passionate and dedicated competitors in the field, as well as one of the most honorable, and must be counted as one to watch.

Alec Blenis

One of the youngest competitors in the Spartan universe, Alec Blenis, has quickly become a star endurance athlete.   Already sponsored by Amazing Grass, the organic green superfood company, this 17 year old vegan has racked up some impressive road racing and triathlon wins at:  the Callaway Gardens Marathon – 1st place, Chattahoochee Challenge 10k – 1st place, Historic Roswell 10k – 1st place, Lake Lanier Sprint Triathlon, 1st place, and Red Top Roaster 15k, 1st place.

Often racing with 67 year old dad Robert, Team Blenis, usually takes home the Spartan age-group prizes.  Alec’s passion for the sport of Spartan obstacle racing is legend through his extreme workout videos on the Spartan Race Facebook page showing his commitment and athleticism.  A former pole vaulter in high school, Alec is second in the Spartan Point Series, showing amazing consistency, trailing only Hobie Call himself in the Points Competition, which runs through to the end of the year.  Is it possible that Alec could pull an upset and vault over Hobie?

Chris Rutz

As captain of Team Juwi, Chris Rutz can also be counted on to provide a tough challenge.  One of the world leaders in large-scale solar photovoltaic projects, juwi solar Inc. is the first company to sponsor team of Spartan athletes and has provided a great model for far-sighted corporations to engage with the fast-growing sport in the world.  Along with Chris, fellow Team Juwi athletes Nick Maynard, Mark Husted and Elliott Megquier have all featured on the Spartan podium in 2012.  Elliott is one of the top Spartan racers and would be expected to challenge in Killington, but this 1st Lieutenant in the US Army is on a training exercise that prevents him from being at the Killington Beast – unless he goes AWOL.  His teammates are sure to represent him well.  Chris is on pace to earn an amazing seven Spartan Trifecta medals in 2012 and plans to complete seven Supers (five done) and seven Beasts (one done) to go with ten Sprints (eight done).  (Rest assured Chris, Spartan will honor you with a medal for each Trifecta you earn.)  As Chris writes on his blog, Live the Tough Life:  “Some think I am a little crazy for doing all of these races, but hey it is what I love to do and like the saying goes “Do more of what makes you happy”, and Spartan Racing makes me happy.”  An avid CrossFit athlete, Rutz has been training and racing for over 20 years, including triathlons, bike racing, yoga, surfing, canyoneering, rock climbing, and backpacking.  According to Scottsdale Health magazine:  “I could see the progress I was making with CrossFit, but I was still missing something. I didn’t know what I was missing.”  Rutz discovered his missing link when he signed up for the Spartan Race in February 2011.”

Sebastian Monette

While Canadian Olympic coaches might keep Marco north of the border, another threat from the land of the midnight sun, Mounties, moose and poutine (look it up) is Sébastien Monette.   Sponsored by women’s race favorite Rose-Marie Jarry’s Kronobar company, Sebastian has proven he can win at home – Ottawa Sprint, Montreal Super, Toronto Sprint – and away, recently crushing the Americans at the tough Tri-State NJ Super Spartan.  Don’t lose track of this fierce competitor.

Cody Moat

Who else can challenge?  Cody Moat who finished 2nd to Hobie in the Utah Beast is a dark horse.  Don’t underestimate this high school teacher despite him only having only one Spartan event in his resume: Cody comes to Spartan as winner of the Mid Mountain Marathon, an incredibly torturous high altitude race that will give him great confidence in the Killington mountains.  Did we mention that Killinton is a ski resort?  That means lots of vertical…  A great mountain runner like Cody is sure to be there at the finish to upset the Spartan regulars.

Team Inov-8 sponsored athlete Ben Nephew might also have something to say about who walks away with

Ben Nephew

the top prize of $5,000 at the Killington Beast.  Notable results for Ben include 6th at the IAU World Trail Championship and 11th at the IAU World Road 50k Trophy in 2011.  He holds the course record at the Escarpment Trail Race, FKT’s for the Great Range Traverse in the Adirondacks, Devil’s Path in the Catskills, and the Pemi Loop in the White Mountains.

What is amazing about the Spartan Race series is that so many great athletes are competing.    As last year’s race showed, the winner might come from anywhere so stay tuned.  In tomorrow’s update, we will preview the women’s race where the field is deep and talented.

Less than one week until it all goes down.

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Spartans Invade Slovakia!

by Carrie Adams

No location is too far, no venue to obscure for Spartan to make an appearance.  And September 1st, we are invading Slovakia for the first EVER Spartan Race in that location.  Our international team who made landfall in Slovakia earlier this week, let us know that it is a very Spartan friendly place with a few things that our own Vermont HQ can’t claim… namely, a lot of castles…

In addition to our Spartan staffers, we brought the Vermont Beast winners from 2011, who also happen to by Olympic Biathletes from Canada, Maco Bedard and Claude Godbout to get their take on the location and introduce Spartan properly to the good people of Slovakia.

More to come!  Are YOU registered for a Spartan Race?  What are you waiting for?  Click

HERE

and find one near you… especially if you are in Slovakia!

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