By: Tony Matesi

Welcome to Atlanta where the Spartans play, and we hang on them traverse walls like every day. Big Heats, fit Elites, see Spartans roamin’ and the festival starts at eight in the mornin’.

Kicking off another extraordinary Spartan weekend for the 2014 season we saw another grueling Hurricane Heat that pushed participants beyond their limits. Wasting no time getting down to business the event started with a 100+ burpee penalty in response to a collection of late arrivals.

This weekend we saw some familiar faces from the Spartan Pro Team ready to tackle the Spartan Sprint. In attendance for the men we saw David Magida, Christopher Rutz, Elliot Megquier and Georgia Native Alec Blenis. Alexander Nicholas was also in attendance but did not race competitively this weekend. For the women we saw TyAnn Clark, Juliana Sproles, and the Barbwire Queen Andi Hardy. Other Spartan Elites who made their way out for this incredible event included Cody Wright, John Henderson, Tony Matesi, Margaret Schlachter, Amanda Ricciardi, Kristine Iotte, Amie Meyer, Valerie Smith, and Sarah Pozdol.

Johnny Colt of Black Crowes and Lynyrd Skynyrd takes a moment with race director Mike Morrris

The men’s Elite saw tough competition for the top three spots resulting in podium finishes for David Magida, Alec Blenis, and Elliot Megquier (finishing first, second, and third respectively). As if that wasn’t enough for the trio they suited up for battle again on Sunday crossing the finish line once again in the same order as the day before.

The women’s Elite however saw both familiar, and new faces, take the podiums. On Saturday Pro-Team member TyAnn Clark came in first with close to a seven minute lead over second place SGX Coach Sarah Pozdol while Emily Fowler took third. Unlike the men the women’s Sunday podium looked different than Saturday. New comer Kristine Iotte took the lead in the first minute of the race on Sunday and never looked back. Like TyAnn the day before, Kristine held nearly a seven minute lead over second place finisher Amanda Ricciardi. The third place women’s Elite finisher went to Valerie Smith who on Saturday participated in the grueling and mentally tough Hurricane Heat.

Alicia Keys evaluates the next obstacle

Taking care of our racers with post race fuel was the Core Power Team with their delicious Core Power Protein drinks awaiting finishers after they battled the Gladiators. Mellow Mushroom kept everyone fed with exceptional discounts for all Spartan Racers. Eco Vessel was on site with their eco-friendly water bottles. Our friends from Obstacle Racing Media were on site providing coverage of the day’s events and SpartanUp! Graphix offered up their impressive wall graphics made straight from your favorite race photos.

Not only did we see familiar faces but there was even a celebrity on site as well. Alicia Keys came with a group of friends and tackled the course. Crossing the finish line in true Spartan fashion covered in Georgia clay, Ms. Keys was all smiles over becoming a true Spartan. Another music guest included Johnny Colt of Black Crowes and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

After a long and exciting weekend of Spartan-filled, fun, mud, sweat and maybe a little blood, we’re signing off. We’ll see you at the next one. The Spartan Team will be invading Charlotte, North Carolina in a couple weeks. If you haven’t signed up yet, what the heck are you waiting for? Sign up, show up, and never, ever give up! We’ll see you at the finish line. AROO!!!!

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Margaret Schlachter, of Dirt in Your Skirt has been racing with Spartan since the beginning. She took on our first race in Vermont, was in the original Spartan Chicked network, and has since traveled the country racing with Spartan. The Vermont native, now living in Utah, talks about what makes her the woman she is today and how Spartan helped her find a new kind of happiness.

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by Margaret Schlachter, guest blogger

2010 may have been the start of my Spartan journey when I was one of the original Spartans racing in the first Spartan Race in early 2010. 2011 marked my first podium and an invitation to join Spartan Chicked from the beginning, but it’s 2012 that will forever go down in the history books.

2012 was an incredible year, little did I know that in June when I started my 2012 season I would race nineteen official times and a few laps to help out, amass seven podium finishes and never out of the top 15. Little did I know I would travel throughout the country, race countless miles, make lasting friendships, and change careers all because of Spartan Race. I could write novels about the year but instead condensed it down to my Top 10 Moments in Spartan for 2012.

Top 10 Moments in Spartan Race of 2012

10.       The Perfect Race – finishing my first race with a single penalty burpee in Amesbury, MA Sprint.

9.         Finishing 3rdboth days in the Mid-West Super Spartan. It was an incredible weekend where two great races happened.

Margaret Schlachter and Juliana Sproles

8.         Watching the Spartan Chicked movement grow over 9,000 members. We started with a dozen women brought together with an idea by Carrie Adams and today it’s grown beyond what any could have imagined a year and a half ago.

7.         A Book Deal – Because of OCR and Spartan Race I am working on my first book due out in Spring 2014, dedicated to getting more people into racing and getting over the hurdles that stand in the way.

6.         Racing in Fenway Park – I went to college in Boston and that’s when I first got into baseball. Racing in Fenway was a surreal experience, hugging the Green Monster, burpees on the warming track, and seeing parts of the park otherwise closed to the public was priceless!

5.         The People – The Spartan Community is unlike any other in sport. The bonds and friendships formed are closer than many friendships I have had for years. Some of my biggest competitors are my best friends. The conversations on the trails during races are what sometimes got me to the finish.

4.         DNF’ing the Death Race after 25 hours of racing – More was learned in about myself in that DNF than I could have ever known.

3.         Finishing the Ultra Beast – it was more than a race for me, a goodbye to Killington, Vermont where I started my fitness journey. My last time on “my” mountain before moving to Utah, it was a race that transcended the rest.

2.         Chris Davis – Meeting and helping Chris to train for the Vermont Beast was an experience that not only allowed me to help train another Spartan but more importantly I got a great friend out of it. The first time he got over the 8ft wall in my backyard is a treasured memory of 2012

1.         Turning “pro” – In July, I quit my day job and simultaneously became the first female professional obstacle course racer. My life is my website, Dirt in Your Skirt, racing and training.

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by Jason Rita

Should an Armageddon or Apocalypse ever threaten the human race, I am expecting that the Spartan Women survive and lead us back from oblivion.

The Spartan Race at Blue Mountain Pennsylvania in July was billed as a marquee match up of the best female Spartans, the sport’s top obstacle racers, battling it out for glory and cash, at one of the toughest Spartan courses on the circuit.  The poster proclaimed: “We Like Our Women Fast,” and the Spartan chicks proved it that day.    But at Killington, fast definitely won’t be enough to claim the 2012 Spartan Championship and the prize money on offer.   The toughest of all Spartan courses will demand a combination of speed, agility, strength, endurance, mental toughness and acuity – all these qualities and more will be required to be crowned as Queen of Sparta.

Jenny Tobin

At the PA race, former pro Xterra and Ironman triathlete Jenny Tobin came in unbeaten, fresh off a close win at the Pacific NW Spartan Sprint Race, and carrying the expectations that went with her clear victory at last year’s Spartan 2011 Championship in Texas.   But Canadian national team biathlete and Olympic hopeful Claude Godbout took 1st place.  (What is it about Canadian biathletes anyway? Maybe it’s the Timbits?)  Make no mistake; this loss motivated the take-no-prisoners Jenny to refocus her training in the mountains near her home in Boise, Idaho, in a calculated and determined mission to reclaim her title at Killington.    Both Jenny and Claude finished in the Top 10 overall in PA proving that Spartan women racers can challenge their male counterparts.   Jenny’s professional career in Xterra and Ironman proved that she is a money player, and she really likes collecting checks.    She has declared that she is aiming for 1st place in both the Beast and UltraBeast distances.


Claude Godbout would be expected to challenge Jenny for pre-race favorite, but like her compatriot and fellow national biathlete

Claude Godbout

Marc-Andre Bedard, Claude (and just like Marco, coming fresh off a win at Spartan Slovakia) is not racing Killington this weekend, removing one of Jenny’s biggest obstacles to a back-to-back Championship repeat, but the multisport veteran will still face strong challenges from an amazing group of racers.

Jacklyn Rust

Included in that group is the woman who finished second to Jenny at the Texas Super Championship Race last December, Jaclyn Rust. An All-Conference collegiate runner, Jackie was slowed down in Texas because she had to do 150 burpees.  Jackie decided on her strategy last year to train secretly and Killington will be her only Spartan Race since then, and she is going all-in to pull off an upset.

Ella Ann Kociuba

Another Texas challenger is the 19-year-old phenom Ella Ann Kociuba.  Ella’s athletic talent was obvious when she debuted in the Spartan Texas 2011 race clocking a time faster than champion Jenny Tobin in Glen Rose but in an open heat, not eligible for the cash prize.  For all her promise, Ella has had to show more grit than grins as she has battled injury after injury.  Sadly it is a common theme for Ella.  We featured Ella’s battle back from a debilitating horseback riding injury as a teenager to become a true Spartan competitor.   But Ella had to pull out of the 2012 Spartan Death Race in June with a leg injury, and when she recovered to race in Pennsylvania, another injury derailed her quest when she crashed on the trail soon after the race started breaking her shin open on her already injured leg.  Despite the pain, and with blood gushing from her wound she battled on to finish fifth, surrounded by some of the same women who came to compete against her.  Ella has warned she is fully recovered, and now sponsored by Flag Nor Fail clothing, she is determined to show the doubters that the only thing between her and the podium is a race without catastrophe.  Fair warning to Ella and all other racers:  that may not be possible in Killington.

Amanda Czapa

Another young-gun who hails originally from Texas, Amanda Czapla has in fact won more races in the USA 2012 than any other Spartan woman: first-place in Miami, Carolinas and Texas, so she could establish herself as the best female obstacle racer in the world with a win in Killington.  But she admits that she doesn’t know how to swim, in which case some of the Killington obstacles might prove more daunting and distressing than otherwise.  Amanda is one of the strongest runners in the field, but the now resident of Florida could be undone by the mountainous course – not a lot of hills to train on in the Sunshine State.  We hope she was able to find a tall office building with a staircase to the roof!


No such dilemma for Margaret Schlachter of  Margaret has home field advantage, as

Margaret Schlachter

she is a Killington local, and she showed her endurance bona fides with a third place Beast finish in 2011.  Margaret has dedicated herself unlike many others to the sport of obstacle racing, and her ultra-distance training for this year’s Death Race will mean that she will be undaunted by the Killington distance and terrain.   One of the most popular obstacle racers in the fastest-growing sport in the world, Margaret has taken a leading role in the transformation of Chris Davis as he also toes the line at Killington in his quest.  We acknowledge Margaret’s dedication to another Spartan athlete.  The Spartan Code tells us that a Spartan gives generously, and Margaret demonstrates that quality like no other.

Rose-Marie Jarry

The only racer with more wins than Amanda Czapla is Canadian Rose-Marie Jarry, who has an amazing four wins in 2012, three north of the border capped off with an impressive showing at the recent Tri-State New Jersey Super.  Rosie’s pedigree is competing as a national 800 meter runner, representing her country on the international stage, so for sure she has the speed, and the second place finish at the Ottawa Beast coupled with winning in New Jersey Super show she now has plenty of endurance.  Rose is also leading the 2012 Spartan Race Points Series competition and is determined to maintain her standing with a strong showing in Vermont.  She is well known as the owner of all-natural sports nutrition brand Kronobar and now is sharing her healthy food recipes for training and living on the Spartan Blog.  Amazingly she has run 21 Spartan Races since 2010, earning at least a cake at Killington, maybe?   Knowing her, the competitive fire that has fueled her athletic success will not be satiated with cake; her sights are more set on devouring her competition.

Andi Hardy  has had a real breakout season, registering multiple wins and multiple podiums, but

Andi Hardy

more than that, transforming herself to a serious contender at every race she contests.  Her enthusiasm for the sport of obstacle racing has seen her embark on a veritable Summer of Spartan tour, a self-funded road-trip that included 8 races across the map, with more on the calendar, and made her into a one-woman roving Spartan ambassador.  She is currently 2nd on the Spartan Points Ranking table but more than results, Andi represents the best of Spartan racing and what makes our Spartan athletes incredibly special, always pushing herself to the limit, pursuing her passion to new realms of performance, and proving in action what is possible when you decide to change your life.

Grace Cuomo Durfee

For all the favorites above, we know there will be surprises to come to challenge the experienced racers?  Grace Cuomo Durfee suffered though 40 miles of brutal tests over 2 days during the 2011 Death Race, showing incredible physical and mental strength to finish 4th overall and 1st female. At Killington, she is expected to compete ferociously during the 26-mile challenge of the UltraBeast, and could blaze her way through the Beast field as well.

First time Spartan racer and recently retired professional Ironman triathlete Kate Pallardy is confident about her chances.

Juliana Sproles

And last year’s first female finisher at the World’s Toughest Mudder, Juliana Sproles has been preparing for the Vermont race by scouting and training runs at Spartan PA and MA, and the long course format of the Beast will suit her well.  Now a bona fide member of Spartan Chick’d Nation, Juliana is sure to leave it all on the course as she pursues Spartan glory.

Some other names that could shake things up include Spartan300 athletes Liz Law, Leyla De Cori, Sue Luck, Angela Reynolds, Corinne Kohlen and Irene Call.  All have raced well in 2012, and they too will be out to tame the Killington Beast and claim their place in the pantheon.

An intriguing battle awaits.  Any of these women will be worthy Spartan champions.  We know that the Amazons were a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology and Classical antiquity.  But for my money, it is modern Spartan Race Women that carry the battle to new heights of accomplishment and inspiration.


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by Carrie AdamsBuilding the sport of obstacle racing has been a passion of Spartan Race since we began.  As the only event with world rankings, points, and chip times, not to mention all the cash and prizes, we rely on our timing to be the best in the business.   And we are getting even better!  Our friends at J-Chip, our fantastic timing company have been experimenting with some timing elements to capture how transitioning between obstacles can make all the difference at the finish!  We told you about the Amesbury sandbag carry bringing Andrew Hostetler a second place finish with his scorching fast 1:16 ascent in this recent blog post.  This week, it was all about the ladies!  The women’s competitive heat that saw some major action!  Today’s elite heat featured some familiar faces and it was an exciting finish in the female elite Spartan Race today - at the race’s halfway point (monkey bars), our timing mats picked up Dirt In Your Skirt‘s Margaret Schlachter in 5th Place, with Andi Hardy cruising through the monkey bars and catching  up in 6th. With less than 2 miles to go, our splits again picked Margaret up in 5th, with a 3-minute gap to the 2nd/3rd place women.  Margaret then FLEW through the last portion of the race, sticking the spear throw and moving into the last obstacle (rope climb) in 2nd place, with the 3rd place female (Regina Farinholt) just seconds behind. After a strong climb and run through the gladiators, she finished in 2nd (final results below):

1. Teresa Murphy 1:52:27.9
2. Margaret Schlachter 1:56:08.3
3. Regina Farinholt 1:56:34.3
1. Jason Hann 1:29:45.9
2. Adam Jurcisin 1:32:05.7
3. Chris Rutz 1:34:07.9
Now it’s your turn!  When are you signing up?  Find an event HERE.

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Originally posted in Dirt in Your Skirt

by Margaret Schlachter, Spartan Chick

It is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed… But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical will live the relation to another as something alive.“ ~ Rilke

In life sometimes we are presented with opportunities. These opportunities may only present themselves once so when given the chance you can either continue along with your life or take the opportunity and see where it goes. A couple of months ago I was in a conversation about a new program starting through Spartan Race called the Certified Spartan Coach Program. I was lucky enough to make into the first certification weekend. This is how I found myself in Pittsfield this past weekend, experiencing a life changing two days surrounded by truly incredible people. But it all started with the application…


Not just anyone can apply to be a Certified Spartan Coach, the mandates include training specific from one or the major organizations (ACSM, NSCA, NASM or ACE) or a four year degree in Exercise and Sports Science. Yes, this is a no joke certification. It was even asked for proof of this certification. All applicants were required to have five years working experience and a resume to back this up. We were each required to write two different essays the first of many more essays to come regarding our ideas on coaching and training.

To prove we weren’t just gym rats we were asked if we had completed in the last five years this short this: 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge, Marathon or longer, Century bike ride, or 50 mile mountain bike ride, 2 mile swim,  Super Spartan or greater. Again here we needed to include proof of results from races. A major part was do you live by the Spartan Code which included a list of several aspects of life.

Finally, the most rewarding part of the application was the letters of recommendations, eight from former or current athletes and an additional five character letters of recommendation. This was the most rewarding for me. I had letters of recommendation spanning from 10 year olds up through one of my former athletes who is now a Division 1 college athlete. It was wonderful to get to read what they all had to say about what they had learned from me. The most rewarding aspect was finding out the pieces that stuck with them the longest were the other pieces for many it was the emotional support I gave them and this struck home with me.

Dr. Jeff Godin who is in charge of the process I thanked as I submitted my 30+ page application for the exercise within itself was reward enough for me. However, I found out I would be making the initial cut and thus I found myself packing my bags on Friday and heading down the road.


Dr. Jeff is a veteran of the Death Race so when I got the packing list for the weekend I was not surprised at the randomness of some of the items. Our packing list included many basics; notebook, pens, pencils, snacks, workout attire, extra socks, calculator, copy of your consent form, jump rope, resistance band, and extra socks. None of these things stood out in my mind as strange items for a certification weekend.

The came the items that had the Death Race and Spartan Race flair to them; backpack, sleeping bag, headlamp, swim goggles, duct tape, first aid kit. But still being a Wilderness EMT and living in Vermont all of these items still seemed logical. Although this was the point where I was thinking we were going to be spending more time then they were letting on outside (sleeping bag).

Finally, the items that made you say WTF and scratch your head; “extra rope” no detail for what it was for, Aluminum foil, oven mitt (my thought cooking might be involved), and finally a copy of your favorite non-exercise book.  It was at this point I started to think carefully about what this weekend would actually entail. I sent Jeff an email:

Hi Jeff,

Not sure if your packing list is DR style or if you are actually going to give me a helpful answer. I spend far too much time around Joe. In the things you need list I had a question or two. 

1. Extra Rope – are we talking paracord like for rescue scenario or are we talking more like climbing rope or something like that. Also what lengths? I don’t need to begin to know what we are doing just want to have the right thing.

2. Aluminum Foil – For cooking or survival as in a foil wrap or heat blanket. I am assuming cooking but want to be sure.

3. Backpack, full on camping pack or light pack used for training.

His answer, DR style. So it was going to be one of those weekends. I packed with this thought in my head the whole time knowing it was a weekend which would most likely include very little sleep, high stress physically and mentally, and you would be judged at all stages of the weekend.


Nothing with Spartan Race is easy nor is it ever a straight line. A weekend in Pittsfield is also never as it seems on paper. As I pulled into Trailside Lodge just 5 miles from my house armed with all I would need for the weekend I knew it was on. Quickly I got to meet my fellow candidates, an impressive group of people. We had trainers who work with college and professional athletes, CrossFit trainers, strength guys, MMA specialist, gymnastics backgrounds, Parkour Trainer, Movement Specialists, and many more. Over thirty people applied for the certification only seven were picked from this pool and an additional seven were invited based on experience and expertise. We had a highly knowledgeable and diverse group of individuals.


The weekend started off nice with some time to chat and get to know one another. At dinner we had a lively round table discussion regarding nutrition and supplements. This was the most relaxed the weekend would be. After our discussion the first of three tests began. We had two hours to answer over 350 multiple choice questions. Remember those scantron sheets you had in high school, yup it was one of those tests. The test was comprehensive to say the least, detailed questions regarding the all aspects of the body function and how it applies to fitness were asked. If you want this certification you better know all about ATP, the respiratory system, muscle development, how to train children, VO2Max and many more topics. The topics were diverse and at the end of two hours I found the questions blending together. I was also still about twenty short of the last one when we had to hand the test in. Yes, wish I had studied more for that one! Only two people in the room actually answered all the questions and one is a current doctoral student finishing his PhD in exercise science.

After the test we met as a group and were informed that Bikram Yoga would start at 6:00am and we had two options A) Run (5 miles) to yoga or B) Run back to breakfast after the yoga session. This was the easiest decision of the weekend. Yes it cut into sleep time but knowing Bikram running home was not the better option. Also the run there was all downhill. We were then told we could go to bed. Knowing Spartan Race I felt as if we were going to be messed with overnight. I slept in my yoga clothing with shoes and essentials less than a arms reach away.

(More to come from Margaret on Spartan Coaching weekend)

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by Carrie Adams

In 2010, Margaret Schlachter ran her first ever Spartan Race in Killington, VT and was hooked.  Also an original member of the Spartan Chicked movement, she’s been rocking the Chicked gear since the Beast in Vermont last August where she took home a third place finish.  Nearly two years after her maiden race, she’s risen to unseen heights by any female obstacle racers before her securing sponsorships with such names as CW-X compression gear, and Road ID and even winning an award for her blog Dirt in Your Skirt in 2012.  Her journey has taken her even further… she’s now an official Team Gaspari Athlete.

Spartan has been proudly partnering with Gaspari Nutrition in 2012, even featuring296910_584207022430_14900272_32382720_1878816575_n once weekly WOD posts from Gaspari Athlete James Villepigue.  Their supplements are game changing in the training game and we’re happy to have them on hand in custom bags at several of our 2012 races.  This new sponsorship of Schlachter marks a new turn in obstacle racing where female athletes are getting support and recognition for the emerging sport.  Step by muddy step, she’s blazing trails for other female athletes and writing about her experience. 

We congratulate Margaret, one of our own, and urge you to keep your eyes on this up and comer.  She has an ambitious race calendar in 2012 and we look forward to seeing her perform and compete!   Follow her blog Dirt in Your Skirt to hear all about her training and racing adventures!  We’ll be posting her blogs and her Team Gaspari updates on our wall too, so stay tuned!

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by Carrie Adams

margo2“I sit here and sip my coffee the sun has yet to rise over the Green Mountains. An electricity is in the air, a feeling in the house, it’s race day.” – Margaret Schlachter

It’s been a whirlwind of a year for Vermonter Margaret Schlachter.  Recent winner of the 12th Annual Bloggies award for Best Sports Blog with Dirt in Your Skirt, the 28 year old has been  writing, training, racing, and coaching in the backyard of the infamous Death Race she’s set to take on this summer. 

Says Schlachter, “The Death Race is in my backyard, why not try it. Several friendsmargo have finished the race in past years. I could write profound words but really I am doing it because, why not!”

Schlachter launched her own blog Dirt in Your Skirt to track her training heading to the Death Race in June and has accumlated both a following and a nice crop of sponsors along the way.  She has grown up with the burgeoning sport of Obstacle Racing.

Introduced to Obstacle racing and Spartan in the Spring of 2010, she raced and realized she’d found a fit!  The collegiate athlete in her was reignited and she began a vigorous training routine captured in her blog writing.  She’s traveled over the past two years and competed in over a dozen races across the U.S. including a 3rd place finish at the inaugural Vermont Beast and earning a spot in the cash prize heat in Texas at the end of 2011. 

margo1Schlachter boats a top ten finish in every race she completed in 2011.  No small feat!  Schlachter credits the community with keeping her coming back for more and she was one of the original members of Spartan Chicked, a women’s movement in obstacle racing geared towards inspiring women and girls to get outside and get active.

Schlachter also finished her first ultra marathon in 2011 and is running her first 50 mile race in May of 2012, the Peak 50. 

Says Margaret, “Peak Races and the Death Race in particular offer something most other races don’t the unknown. It is the unknown that is appealing and well like I said before, why not?” 

Having the Death Race in her back yard doesn’t hurt the appeal of the event, and Margaret trains regularly withmargo3 Joe Desena in between coaching and running admissions for Killington Mountain School.   Her training is intense and non-traditional, like many Death Racers.  She isn’t often found on a treadmill, more likely on a trail with a rock or a log or scaling the walls of her local rock climbing gym. 

Never a dull moment for Margaret, nicknamed Margo the Great by her close friends.  When she’s not on the mountain she volunteers as a firefighter and EMT in the community she loves.  She’s also a loving aunt and part-time graduate student. 

She’s looking forward to June and her Death Race challenge.  “I try to live life to the fullest each day and I thank all those who help support me in my endeavors both athletically and personally.”

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by Carrie Adams

Screen Shot 2012-02-27 at 7 42 58 PMSpartan friend and blogger Margaret Schlachter recently won a Bloggie for Best Sports Blog after a worldwide vote.   Margaret is a regular on the Spartan racing circuit and one of the original members of Spartan Chicked, a movement that began at last year’s Spartan Beast, where Margaret took third place female! 

On this Spartan Chicked Tuesday, we thought we’d give her some love and let her choose a WOD for Spartan Nation.  True to her Spartan core, she chose one that dirt in your skirt 2.cdrinvolves a workout partner… a rock. 

Congratulations Margo and here’s your WOD Sparta, brought to you by none other than Ms. Dirt in Your Skirt herself, Margaret Schlachter! 

117-Margaret-1561This is a WOD I came up with right after Hurricane Irene hit Vermont and left my town an island. I couldn’t go on the trails and I had to stay off the road due to construction. When life throws a kink in the chain, you work it out. Choose a rock or weight that is manageable for multiple sets. Live in snowy climates?  Do it with snowshoes on!

Grab a Rock find a hill and get ready to go…

15 Minute – Warm-up -jog, bike, jump ropeIMG_0773

Training: 5 Rounds

Uphill throws to top of the hill

50 Clean and Jerks

50 Squats

400 Meter Run

Here is a link to the video of the workout:

Check out Margo’s blog, Dirt in Your Skirt at!

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by Margo the Great

Originally posted in Margo’s “Dirt in Your Skirt”

[Editor’s Note: Margaret Schlachter aka Margo the Great recently placed third at the Spartan Beast and is sharing her pearls of wisdom from her year and a half as an obstacle racer regarding how to prepare for a Spartan Race day.]

Spartan Race 2010, Burlington, VT
The First Spartan Race Ever!

1. Do Not Wear Cotton!
I made this rookie mistake my first obstacle race wearing a pair of cotton capris, cotton undies, and cotton shirt. Repeat do not wear cotton, especially if you are doing an event with water obstacles. It will weigh you down, and not a happy camper. Those cotton capris were rolled up so high by the time I finished that course and I won’t even go there with cotton underwear. I learned my lesson quickly.
2. Do Not Wear White
Know going into a race everything, I mean everything will and does get dirty. Anything white will never be the same again. If you plan on keeping those socks, well they will forever be gray

3. Do Not Race With Your Car Keys, iPod, Sunglasses
Seems simple, you would be surprised how many people I see at their first race have an iPod in or sunglasses, even once saw a dude with his keys clipped to his shorts. Leave any valuable belongings at home. iPod’s will get ruined in water and mud, sunglasses you will most likely loss in an obstacle, and well keys and wallets leave them in the car! Most races now have bag check so you can check all that stuff. I personally like to leave it in the car then to a hide a key

4. Do Not Clock Block
Clock blocking, quoted from -
“What is Clock Blocking?
Clock blocking is when a person either deliberately or inadvertently disrupts another racers flow or stride causing their pace to slip and thus directly hurting another racer’s overall and/or average times for their respective event.”

What this means is if it’s your first race, you might not want to push your way to the front with people who do this all the time. Also if a running in your heat and a later heat competitor is barreling past you or you are barreling past them, PLEASE get out of the way for the faster runner. They may be going for the win, in truth if you are the slower one they will probably between breathes ask you to move. If you are the faster one please say thank you when you pass. I tell each person who moves out of my way thank you!

If you decide to run in a full on costume. Do not line up at the front of the line to start, Guy in the wedding dress you aren’t going for the win, back off. Let the racers who want to PR race!

5. Do Not Run Bandit

Sign up for the race and pay for it like everyone else. It’s really not cool to have someone at an event get a finisher medal when they didn’t sign up to race in the beginning. Support Obstacle Racing and sign-up for the events. Help grow our sport!
Okay, so we covered all the things you shouldn’t do on race day, lets focus on all the things that can help you achieve your goals.


Depending on how long the race is, depends how far out you start hydrating. for a race like the Spartan Sprint or other 5K distance obstacle race, a day or two before is a great time to hydrate, make sure you are drinking water the day of and maybe a half electrolyte drink (Gatorade)/ half water mix if its hot out. For the Spartan Beast I spent the week walking around with a gallon water bottle, I call my water baby. Best if you leave the beer unopened. 

2. Have a Race Pack

Have a pack of stuff for race day. My pack always includes:

2 – Gallon size plastic bags

1 – Sunscreen

1 – Small Towel

1 – Beach Towel

1 – Travel Size Bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Biodegradable Soap (may sure it’s biodegradable)

1- Shammie

1 – Full Change of Clothes

1- Sweatshirt

1 – Pair of flip flops or extra shoes

Post Race Snacks – I prefer Luna Bars, and Clif Builders Bars, and other Clif Products

1- Gallon of Water

1 – Other Gallon of Water

Now is where you have your sunglasses and wallet. OK, I know that sounds like a lot of stuff, try to get to the venue early so you can just leave it all in the car and get it out after you finish. Plastic bags are for your dirty clothes after you race and your small wet towel. Sunscreen well that should be self evident. The first gallon of water is for if the showers suck at the race you can just go to your car and use the small towel to wash off with the Dr. Bronners. The Shammie will help you dry off and the large Beach towel will help you change in the parking lot. A skill I picked up from surfing. (Underwear first, then pull the clean sports bra over the towel and pull the towel down you are dressed again! Full change of clothes including underwear, I have forgotten the extra change before and been pretty unhappy standing around in muddy undies. Even if it’s 100 degree after a race sometimes your body will feel off from exerting the energy, so bring layers. I like to wear flip flops after a race but you need a second pair of shoes. The last gallon of water drink up after your race. Your free beer will not rehydrate you!

3. Do Wear Trail Running Shoes

Post Spartan Beast 2011

I have raced in many different shoes over the last year and a half, whether you choose Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) (done it) or heavy old trail shoes (done that) make sure you can run in them over varying terrain. I personally wear the company Inov-8 now when I race, they are super light and are made specifically for trail running. I have seen many in VFF’s crumble as they are not use to trails in them. Best if to go out and run some in the mud before a race see how the shoes are. If there is swimming a heavy hiking shoe is not going to be the answer. But I think footwear is extremely personal. Just know they are going to be muddy and dirty when you finish whatever you wear.

4. Bring Nutrition 

For a 5K you will probably not need any nutrition, but anything longer than that it’s a good idea to store a gel pack or gummies in a pocket. All races have water stations and some give you bananas as well but just know you may be in the woods for over a mile or two without any options. If you are worried bring some water with you but for the Spartan Beast (Over 12 miles) I only carried a couple gel packs. If this is your plan take the extra time at aid stations to hydrate before moving on, the seconds you take there will pay dividends when you need the calories later.

5. Learn to Love Spandex

Remember how I said don’t wear cotton, so you might we wondering what do you wear then. Simply I wear as little as possible my race day attire is a sports bra and shorts. This is why, the more clothes you wear the more it will weigh you down when wet and muddy. Not comfortable in just you bra, choice a form fitting tank top in a wicking fabric. Wicking fabrics are as key in cooler races are they are in warmer races, like the Spring climate, they help move moisture away from the body to keep your core temperature up. In the summer it will draw away the sweat from your body. Find wicking underwear as well. I know I keep going back to underwear but its important.

For shorter races (5K) I wear shorts, longer races, I switch to capri’s mostly for chaffing reasons. Learn where your bodies hot spots are so you can lube up before a race. A cheap lube that works great is baby diaper rash cream A&D. Also my personal color of choice for clothing is black, it shows no mud or blood you may have incurred along the course.

When you get home dry the clothes out first, shake off excess mud then wash them. It saves you having to wash them a second time when they aren’t clean at first!

Final Thoughts…

These races are not your average 5k, 10 mile or even half marathon. If it’s your first race throw out all ideas of what a 5k time should look like. Some races might take under 30 minutes others might take an hour for the same distance. The terrain in these races can be gnarly and unforgiving, you maybe running up a mountain or in a state park depending on your geographic location, each race venue is different. Obstacles are meant to slow you down, they will, it’s OK. You will get better at them the more races you do. Use your instincts on them, if an obstacle is intimidating take a deep breathe then try it again. It took me 3 times to get over one of the walls at the Spartan Beast and I still finished the race well.

Go into race day with a clear mind and ready to expect the unexpected. Most importantly run YOUR OWN RACE, results in the end don’t matter as long as you know you pushed hard. Don’t get caught up in what all the crazy people are doing around you before a race. Just because the guy next to you decided to do 100 burpees before the race doesn’t make him any faster than you. Or conversely the guy who shotguns a beer with his buddies to show how cool he is on his gopro video. Let him try to prove he is a badass. Have a plan and stick with it. I run a lot of races where the testosterone is so high at the start my ovaries hurt.

My warm-up varies race to race. For a short race it might take me 45 minutes to warm-up for a 5K, where as the Spartan Beast (12+ miles), I just walked up to the line and relaxed into what would be just under a 4 hour race for me.

Overall, have a great time, meet new people who share your interest in this amazing sport. If you are lucky enough to have a group to race with cheer each other on. If it’s your goal maybe you bring home a cool sword at the end of the day! But overall, its about you and finding out a little bit more about yourself and you will have some bruises and cuts to show off at work on Monday!


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