“I’m a great believer in finding the things you can do and not worrying about the things you can’t,” smiles Richard Pringle, the impossibly happy Englishman.

Impossibly happy because Richard suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a condition that many people are unfamiliar with. Richard explains, “It’s basically a degenerative spinal condition and attacks the spine and joints. It’s a form of Arthritis and can be very severe – 6 years ago I could barely walk because of it. I even had a disabled permit for my car!”. In 2005 he was taken to hospital and stayed there for 6 months in order to fight it.

“The medication I take is a very rare and new drug called Biological Therapy. It’s called Anti TNF (Anti Tumour Narcosis Factor) and it works by taking away the part of your body that causes the inflammation in the joints. The side effect is that your immune system is extremely depleted and you don’t have ability to fight tumors as effectively.”

Pringle struggles with the condition daily. While the drugs are effective they don’t completely eradicate the symptoms, so he still suffers some pain and discomfort in his back and joints. Yet Pringle persists, carrying on and pushing forward. “You play the cards you’re dealt.”

Pringle also knows that there’s a high probability that the drugs won’t always work and that he will have to stop taking them. This is why he’s always in a rush. He’s in a rush to do as many amazing things as possible and that’s why he desperately wants to do the Spartan Beast to add to his list of things he’s achieved after being diagnosed.”

One huge difference is that the constant training and movement is because he wants to abs or the physique – they happen to be a very huge bonus side effect of what he does. He trains because he wants to live.

“If I didn’t do any exercise I would basically just stop working and my body would shut down. The best thing for my condition is to stay active. In severe cases and a common result of inactivity is that my back will start completely fusing together and not move at all. Whilst most people wouldn’t go to the extremes I have in terms of activity (swimming is the most commonly prescribed form of exercise). It’s so important that you exercise both for physical health and to keep me sane!

Having already conquered the Sprint, Richard is using his training and thirst for life as the fuel for slaying the Spartan Beast in London later this year. Pounding the trails and the dirt is now as much a part of his day as eating and sleeping.

“I’m absolutely buzzing for the Spartan Beast now. In terms of running it’s all about getting the miles in your legs in preparation so we’ve been going on a few longer runs over a fantastic local area called Fairlight Glenn. It’s basically like a ready-made Spartan training ground! It’s all off road with lots of hills there’s streams and tunnels and it’s the ideal training ground.”

Pringle also considers his location lucky, “Where I live in Hastings, is that we have outdoor gym areas on the beach and we have Monkey bars to practice on too so we’ve been doing lots of body weight training so we can get up those ropes and walls. The preparation has seriously started already as I’m looking for a good time and a good place in this. With my personality and regardless of my medical condition I always want to do as well as I can.”

For a man hosting a condition that would see his body literally shut down if he stops moving, he is remarkably upbeat. His positivity shines through in his actions, his attitude and even his work.

“I train over 350 people a week in Hastings through my Combat Conditioning classes I get asked for advice a lot. It normally involves reassurance as the most common thing people have is a lack of confidence and a doubt they can’t do something.”

When asked by those he trains if he thinks they can finish a Spartan he says, “Yes! We had 14 people entered in the Spartan Sprint and none of them had ever done anything like that before and it was the best feeling ever seeing their faces afterwards, knowing what they’d achieved.”

Richard swims, runs, lifts and even regularly wins MMA fights, an astonishing thought, considering the larger fight his carries every day.

“In life I’ve been lucky that I have a second chance, a second window of opportunity to do things I never thought possible and as I always say “never stop chasing your dreams.” If there’s one thing you want to do or one thing you want to achieve then go out and do it! I remember hearing a quote about regret and it said ‘when you’re going in your death bed it won’t be these things you did you’ll regret, it’ll be the things you didn’t do.’  This is so true.”

True to form, the content of his character mirrors so many people that “knew” at the finish line. Waving away questions about himself, his eagerness to help others is none more apparent when he explains,

“If I could give any advice to all those reading this thinking about doing their first Spartan Race, it’s do it! Don’t talk about doing it, don’t think about doing it just get those running trainers on and get out for a run and start training. Start by just running around the block if you have to but you’ll get there. With drive commitment and belief you can do anything you put your mind to. It’s all about your mindset. When I couldn’t walk properly due to my condition I was told I could swim. So that’s what I did. I swam every day and became a very good swimmer.”

What’s your excuse? Find a Spartan finish line HERE.

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Take a venue with rugged terrain, forests and water obstacles. Sprinkle over this a liberal number of obstacles that test your skill, strength, agility and determination. Stir in thousands of Spartan Racers then bake under a hot Texan sky for a weekend. The result? A delicious Reebok Spartan Sprint from which many people took a bite.  And boy were they hungry!

With the course boasting both shaded and sunny trails, elevation changes, water crossings, mud, rocks and even dry and sandy riverbeds, there was more than enough to keep everyone on their toes.

The elite heats boasted many familiar faces rubbing shoulders with not one, but two UFC fighters; Jamie Varner, fresh from his conquest of the Vegas Super, joined by Johnny Hendricks to see how a Spartan Sprint shapes up next to a fight in the octagon.

Jamie came through first of the two, coming in at 56m 44s, with Hendricks not far behind on 1h 10m 3s – both extremely impressive times. Hobie Call added another win to his already expansive resume with a time of 38m 17s. Second and third place were claimed by Chad Trammell and Brakken Kracker respectively. The ladies saw TyAnn Clarke romp home in 52m 18s, with Janice Ferguson and Jillian Kenney not very far behind in second and third place.

And sure as night follows day, like tock follows tick, stories of inspiration poured forth from the event like the feel-good machine a Spartan Race is. Elizabeth Rivera, putting behind her the issues of excess weight, diabetes and even spine damage, employed the same fiery passion that changed her life and crossed the finish line. Robert C. Wood put to bed the memory of his broken vertebrae after falling 25ft in a freak accident some time before. Turning his life around with his wife and young daughter behind him, he sees no fear anymore. Steve Carlisle rose from reconstructive back surgery to finish, despite knowing that, “if my doctor knew I was doing this, he’d kill me.” Many people were lucky enough to spot “Thing 1” and “Thing 2”, otherwise known as Eston and Andrew Jones, a father and son team that decided to do 6 laps of the course.

One of the biggest cheers of approval from the event spectators was when they saw they young Spartan Jake DeFiley struggling with the rope climb. In true Spartan Race tradition, fellow competitor Jeffrey Parish climbed the rope and leaning away, allowed the younger competitor to use his shoulders, hands and even his head as a “stepping stone” in order to ring the cowbell.

Even before stepping out of the course, many people brought battles with them, but refused to bow to them. David Villareal, who traveled from Monterrey, Mexico in order to take part, didn’t let the issue of his Celebral Palsy affect his attitude or performance, cheerfully pointing out that, “I’ve still got one good arm!”. On the course, Dereck Johnson repeatedly shooed away offers of help despite fracturing both ankles. Simply grabbing a nearby branch and making a rudimentary walking stick/staff, he completed the course in 5h 57m, punching the air in delight at having beaten 6 hours.

Staff Sergeant Jonathan Leal of 6 10th Security Forces Squadron, Fort Worth, was running for his charity “Running For A Cause”. Deliberately weighing himself down with an elevation mask, weighted vest and extra bricks that would symbolize the struggle injured veterans go through on the road to recovery, he successfully powered through every obstacle and burpee that presented itself.

Matthew Pevoto of Louisana – a sufferer of Spina Bifida since birth – was inspired by the video and pictures posted by Spartan Elite Ella Anne Kociuba and decided that he was going to take the Spartan Race head on. Failing only two obstacles, he pointed out that, “there’s nothing you can’t do if your mind can keep up with you”.

And if ever there was a fitting line that perfectly summizes what Spartan Race is about, that’s it.

As such, it was announced over the weekend that next year’s event in Burnet has been upgraded to a Super with a harder, longer course. Judging by the reaction of those grinning and rubbing their hands in glee at this news, it will be yet another event that the Spartan Race community will attend by the thousands. Will it be another punishingly hot weekend? Will it break people? Will it produce yet more stories of heroism?

You’ll know at the finish line…  get signed up today!

Check out more race day photos HERE.

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Pro’s vs. GI Joe’s, Punishment Training  Center and Spartan Race are bringing you a special Spartan WOD for May 20, 2013!   MMA Superstar, Tito Ortiz, former five times Light-Heavyweight UFC champion takes us through a brutal WOD Punishment Training Style with this special video filmed in Huntington Beach, CA.

Ortiz does a countdown style workout with troops in Okinawa, Japan on a live feed with this special edition Spartan WOD. Do you have what it takes to finish?

by Tito Ortiz

10 Rounds of push-ups, burpees, sit-ups, jumping jacks and sprawls.

#  of reps per round

1st – 10
2nd – 9
3rd – 8
4th – 7
5th – 6
6th – 5
7th – 4
8th – 3
9th – 2
10th – 10

Advanced: Start with 20 reps each and go down to 1 (20 sets total)

Get it done!

What is PRO VS. GI JOE?

PRO VS. GI JOE is a 501(c)(3) support-the-troops non-profit that sets up real-time video-game competitions, online and in-person, between professional athletes and celebrities, and troops stationed all over the world. PRO VS. GI JOE connects the two through online gaming and webcam chats, made possible with the help of long-term partner the USO, who facilitates the events for the soldiers overseas.
Since it’s inception in July 2008, they’ve connected troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Dubai, Korea, Japan, Germany, and Cuba as well as those here at home with professional athletes in the NFL, NBA, MMA, WNBA, PGA, NASCAR and IRL. Pro vs. GI Joe facilitates gaming competitions with the world’s most popular and attends the biggest sporting events throughout the year.

About Tito - Jacob “Tito” Ortiz (born January 23, 1975) is a Mexican American participant of the sport of mixed martial arts, or ‘MMA’. Ortiz’s career has been mostly within the UFC organization. A former Light-Heavyweight UFC champion, Ortiz has become one of the sport’s most shining stars, headlining several Pay Per View championship undercards, and appearing on the covers of various magazines, such as Black Belt Magazine. He is a native of Huntington Beach, California. Tito Ortiz is recognized as a charismatic, if controversial and highly-criticized fighter. Whatever the opinions of Ortiz, he undeniably is both a showman and a talented fighter.  He is currently a trainer at Punishment Training Center.

Want to get signed up for the daily Spartan WOD?  Sign up HERE!

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The Texas Reebok Spartan Race is set to pit two UFC fighters, Jamie Varner and Johny Hendricks in a head to head match-up on the heels of both athletes getting sponsored by Reebok Athletes. The course will consist of more than 4 miles of grueling obstacles and challenges. While both men can adminster a beat down, how will they fare on our course? Between the two, only Varner has experienced an actual Spartan Race taking on the Super in Vegas and finding a high finish in the open heats saying after, “It was probably one of the toughest things I’ve done in my entire life.” Then quickly added, “But it was so fun…crossing that finish line was one of the most rewarding things ever.”

Competitive in nature, Varner is setting his sights on Hendricks in Texas and in a statement to Fighters.com, said, “I anticipate the Texas course to be very tough and am hoping I can beat the hometown favorite Johny Hendricks with my experience.”

Varner plans on using his first race experience to help him in Burnet explaining, “The first event I competed in was a Spartan Super (about 8 miles), this will be a Spartan Sprint (about 4 miles), and I look to finish off the trifecta with a Spartan Beast ( about 13 miles) later this year. Staying in the competitive mindset between fights is big for me. I hope to finish in the top 5-10% of the field.”

Fighters.com recently published a story indicating that Hendricks’ next MMA test comes in the form of a title fight for the sports biggest prize, but he has to get through UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre to collect it. To stay in shape, and support his sponsors, Hendricks says he is really looking forward to the course. “This is going to be a great experience. We have been training hard for this event and I even have a few teammates from my gym set to compete in the race. I have heard nothing but great things about these events and I look forward to the course kicking my ass, says Hendricks. He concluded, “Jamie might be one up on the experience but I have got the home cooking!”

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by Shawn Feiock, Spartan Race Pro Team Athlete

Spartan Race is gearing up for another Texas showdown that you won’t want to miss. It is time for the Spartan Sprint at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet Texas, a favorite venue by many top racers. Expect to see last year’s winner Hobie Call there to defend his title from last year. Hobie says, “I love this venue. Gentle rolling hills, single track and dirt roads. And……warm weather guaranteed!” Hobie finished in less than 45 minutes last year, with most racers having a hard time coming in under one hour. It was highly anticipated to see him go up against Quentin Ledbetter who won the race only one year before, this time falling short against the seemingly unbeatable champion. It is unknown whether Quentin will return for another chance.

Texas is also home for Spartan Elites like Isaiah Vidal and Ella Kociuba, as well as the infamous Spartan Race couple Shawn Feiock (me) and Sue Luck. Isaiah dominated the most recent Spartan Sprint in Colorado getting onto the podium both days. He was able to pull off a second place finish Sunday at the Texas Sprint last year, and also at the Texas Spartan Beast in December. He will likely be one of the strongest competitors on the course against Hobie, with the advantage of the well-known terrain that Texas has to offer. With a very similar record to Isaiah, Elite female Sue Luck (aka Mini Beast) just came from two inspiring finishes at the Spartan Sprint in Colorado, and also had a podium finish Sunday at the Texas Sprint coming in second-place female last year. Ella Kociuba and Shawn Feiock will be at the Race to cheer on fellow racers and to meet new faces at the “Meet the Spartan Team” tent, be sure to stop by and say hi after you’ve crossed the finish line!

Other Spartan Men Elites and favorites to watch for are Elliot Megquire, Michael Mauk, John Taylor, Joe Kauder, Brian Hoover, Evan Williams, and the father & son team Andrew and Eston Jones (aka Thing 1 & Thing 2). Spartan Woman Elites and favorites attending include TyAnn Clark, Jackie Rust, Corinne Kohlen, Janice Ferguson, Tonya Stogsdill, and Juliana Sproles. There is also speculation that Ultramarathon Jungle racer Johnson Cruz will be appearing for his Spartan Race debut, and first race on American soil. Many of the racers already listed can testify that he is a strong competitor after racing against him on Isla de Ometepe earlier this year.

Don’t forget that UFC Lightweight Contender Jamie Varner and Welterweight Contender Johny Hendricks will be on-hand to Fight It Out at the event. Look for sparks when they collide.

Last year the Texas Sprint sold out quickly and it looks again like the course will be full of people looking to get a taste of the Texas mud. There will be some favorite obstacles and some less favored returns like the deadly Boa Constrictor tunnels that got our attention last year. But be ready for new surprises too as the Spartan organizers never fail to bring a good challenge, and an amazing course wherever they step foot. If you and your friends haven’t already registered, sign up now on the events page while there is still time! Adventure, competition, camaraderie, accomplishment… this is a race that can change your life!

Connect with Shawn Feiock, Spartan Race Pro Team Athlete and create your own Spartan Page HERE.

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by Carrie Adams

Jim Miller
Photo courtesy of KOreps

If you hale from Sparta, NJ like UFC light-weight fighter Jim Miller, it would seem almost necessary to find your way to a Spartan Race start line.  And Jim Miller is doing just that!  When I asked the 28 year-old fighter who holds a 21-4-0 record why he wanted in on the Obstacle Racing scene, he said, “These types of races have always intrigued me.   It sounds like a fun challenge.”   Not one to shy away from a new adventure, the race is something he still admits is outside his normal.  ”It will be a fun test and something that is probably going to beat me up!”  And beating up Miller is no easy task.  He has 12 of his wins coming by submission and three by knockout.  With eight of his last ten fights resulting in a win, he’s about as tough as they come.

The location of the race also appealed to Miller.  The fighter will be in his home state of New Jersey to take on the Super Spartan Race in Vernon, NJ at Mountain Creek Waterpark September 8th.   Spartan courses are known for brutal hills, barbed wire, fire jumping, wall climbing, sandbag carrying… not exactly the kind of opponents Miller is used to squaring off against.   So how does a UFC fighter train for a Spartan Race?  ”More miles,” says Miller.  “Four, five, or six miles before my normal training.”

The mileage is a good strategy given the grueling course distance of roughly eight miles in the ski slopes, not to mention the 20 or more obstacles he can expect.   “The distance traveled is my biggest concern,” says Miller.  ”I’ve been running a lot before workouts and it feels good.”  However unknown the course and longer distance, Miller,  who says that in recent years he has developed into more of a sprinter type, is still confident about his performance in the event.  ”I think the all-around athleticism to be a well-rounded fighter is going to help; the ability to do physical things for an extended period of time.”

He’s also excited to interact with some of his fans. “MMA fans are doers,” says Miller.  ”There aren’t many sports where fans actually go out and do what the athletes are doing.  MMA fans do.”   And those fans will get to see Miller take on the infamous hills of the ski slopes and imposing obstacles that Spartan is ready to serve up.  The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt known for his choke techniques has a few nerves.  ”I know there will be hills,” he laughs.  ”That’s going to hurt.”

In addition to his race, Miller, whose fight calendar is currently open is hoping for a fight by the end of the year.  But the Spartan Race is giving him plenty to think about.  When told about the global rankings and chip timing that Spartan Race boasts as part of our World Class level of racing he said simply, “That’s what I like to hear.”

Want to join UFC Fighter Jim Miller in the Tri-State Super Spartan Race?  Get signed up today by clicking HERE.


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