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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On Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, the world stopped and watched in open-mouthed horror at the images shown on TV. For Montana residents Rob and Sassy Giles, that day will be etched in their minds forever, as despite being nowhere near the east coast, that was the day Rob was diagnosed with Squamish Cell Carcinoma on his tonsils. He had cancer.

Advised immediately to find a doctor that specialized in this field, they happily stumbled across Dr. Jeffrey Haller MD, an otolaryngologist who had been working precisely in the field for the past ten years that Rob needed help with. What made everything click that little bit more easily was that he had recently moved from Salt Lake City to Missoula, Montana – practically on the doorstep of Rob and Sassy. The surgery was done at St. Pat’s hospital – a procedure that took 14 hours.

The operation went well and Rob spent the following 4 days heavily sedated in order to recuperate. Another 6 days passed before the decision was reached that he was well enough to go home. The medical team advised him that they wanted to keep him there until he could swallow.

Their remarkable cheerfulness they attribute to their unwavering faith. Even while Rob was having therapy in Arizona, Sassy flew home to have her own fight against melanoma cancer removed from her leg. This impossibly strong couple fighting hard against obstacles put in their way knowing that He was with them the whole time.

Although he was now in familiar surroundings, he noticed that his ability to swallow was diminishing. It turned out that his treatment of chemotherapy and the radiation had destroyed his epiglottis. Sadly, tumors continued to grow in Rob’s mouth, so he was unable to open his mouth. Halfway through his treatment, spots were found on Rob’s lungs. Since then, Rob has now been fed entirely by way of a tube fitted to his stomach.

Reflecting on his nutrition, his wife Sassy explained, “I make all of his food.  Rob eats very healthy food.  I am a fitness instructor as well as a figure competitor and Rob uses the same food as me. So for example for his breakfast he will put in the blender – yes all together- oatmeal, eggs, peanut butter, kale, bananas, strawberries, quinoa.  Puree the whole batch and seal-a-meal it to freeze.  So I made 11 seal-a-meal bags for breakfast lunch and dinner.  Dinner will be fish, beef, chicken or salmon, lots of veggies (broccoli, kale, spinach, etc.), brown rice or quinoa and fruit.  I add avocado or hummus too!  He doesn’t eat sugar at all, no reason too, can’t taste any of the food since it goes directly to the stomach. We put it all in the cooler, frozen and he just thaws them out under hot water and uses a syringe to push the food into his stomach.  Interesting way to eat huh!?”

The treatment hit Rob so hard that he was, for all intents and purposes out of commission in regards to work. This didn’t, however, ever stop him from going to church, even if it meant leaning on a friend or family member so that he could attend. His remarkable humor was evident throughout, especially when he would refer to the outpatient clinic as, “The Recliner Club”. Despite being understandably frustrated, he would never complain to the nurses and would crack jokes and always maintained his jovial sense of humor.

To this day, Rob hasn’t swallowed for seven and a half years and continues to fight battles on all fronts. Anemia, Shingles, foot and hand damage from the treatment he went through have all made life difficult for Rob, but throughout it all, he’s driven on, fought back and continued to smile the entire time. In March of 2007, Rob and Sassy visited Israel where they were baptized in the Jordan river and even renewed their wedding vows in Cana.

It was around November of 2008 when Rob noticed that he wasn’t getting enough air to breathe. He was concerned another tumor was growing. After being rushed to the hospital, a doctor saw that scar tissue had been growing and was effectively closing his windpipe. The treatment for this was to fit a tract tube. Yet another blow to the man already fighting immeasurably high odds.

While what he gained with the tract made breathing easier, his sodium and iron levels in his blood left him feeling weak. After 4 transfusions with iron and salt put into his system he was right back on track. Not long after this, he was presented with a new mountain bike on Father’s Day. Although understandably hesitant given what his body had gone through, he sat on the bike and went for it. His iron counts were good and after a while, finding he had gained 25 lbs. and was feeling a little stronger, his rides now measure between 20-30 miles at a time.

“Suffering comes. It’s bound to happen”, says Sassy, “but it’s how we respond to it that makes all the difference in the world. Rob chooses to remain faithful to God, committing himself to his faithful creator and continuing to do good with as many days as he has.”

Rob’s strength and will of steel will be tested this weekend when he tackles the Montana Sprint. Never one to shy away from something put in his way, he’s ready for a fight. Sassy smiles when she hears people shrug off a Spartan Race as, too difficult. Having already brawled with whatever demon that came across his path, he’s rolling up his sleeves and clenching his fists for another round. He’s already learned what it is to persevere, as Sassy knows.

“He did say to me that the one thing he would like to see from this, is that when people hear the most horrible words you could ever hear, which is “You have cancer”. Rob wants them to know there is always hope, but you have to fight for it and you have to believe.  His motto during his treatment was, “I just have to beat it by one breath and I win! And he did win!”

See you at the finish line…

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Written by guest blogger and Pro Team Elite racer Rose Wetzell-Sinnett

Many people have asked, “what is a Founder’s Race?”

Well for those of you that raced in Montana, you now know what it is. It’s a little less formal that a regular Spartan Race. The obstacles are more like they were “back in the day”. They are made out of what is available at the venue. In the case of Montana, this was primarily fallen pine trees. The feel overall is more grassroots and the basic. But that does not mean less challenging. What else makes a Founder’s Race unique? It is designed by one of the Founders. In this case,  Joe De Sena.

Joe De Sena, you did not disappoint. In the Montana Sprint Founder’s Race preview, Spartan Pro Team member Elliot Megquier predicted that the race would be “brutally awesome”, thanks to the Spartan founder designing it himself, Elliot was right. With over 4,000 feet of elevation gain in under 5 miles, if racers weren’t climbing up a hill last Saturday, they were running down one. On the women’s side, talented racers such as Tiffanie Novakovich, Jenny Tobin, Rose Wetzel-Sinnett, Andi Hardy, and Laura Messner stepped up to the challenge after studs like Matt Novakovich, Chad Trammell, Elliot Megquier, Miguel Medina, Joey Patrolia, and Chris Rutz took off to tackle the roughly 20 obstacles strewn throughout the course. The race started off with a quick jaunt through a pond followed by a steep incline to shoot the heart rate up. Many racers found themsleves power hiking within the first few minutes, thinking, “What did I get myself into?” After flying down the hill, racers landed in front of a new obstacle – the biggest, baddest slippery wall Spartan has ever dished out. As racers headed uphill again, they came across a cute sign that read, “1.5 Mile Hill Climb” and then, underneath “Love, Joe.” And who was there within the first minute or so of this brutal hill climb but Joe himself, cheering racers on and probably smiling at the thought of their impending quad burn.

Over the next 2-3 miles, racers carried logs, flipped logs, waded through ponds, crawled under barbed wire with huge hay rolls in the way, climbed rope and numerous walls, carried sandbags, and of course, threw the Spartan spear, all the while making their way through the rocky terrain and occasional waist-high brush. Joe kept everyone on their toes, that’s for sure. Mountain running expert, Matt “The Bear” Novakovich from Alaska, smoked the course and finished in style, lifting a burning log over his head as he hurdled the fire pit. Next came Chad Trammell flying in, despite nursing a hamstring strain after claiming first place at the Colorado Sprint last week, followed by Lucas Zemlicka, a Montana native. The women’s race ended with a very exciting sprint to the finish after Rose Wetzel-Sinnett was directed off course by a fellow racer, only to run up the initial hill again, costing her a few precious minutes. Faye Stenning, who pursued Wetzel-Sinnett by a minute or two the entire race, also went off course, leaving Jenny Tobin a chance to possibly take the top podium spot. Once Wetzel-Sinnett realized she was back on the course’s beginning section, however, she bolted like a madwoman 150 meters to the last wall, which Jenny Tobin was already ascending. Full of determination, Wetzel-Sinnett flew up the wall, spilled ungracefully onto the other side, shot up and sprinted like crazy to clinch the win. Faye crossed the line in third, with the bronchitis-battling Tiffanie Novakovich just missing the podium.

Once racers tackled the course and earned their coveted Spartan medal, the real party began. Joe De Sena personally congratulated racers as upbeat music blasted, beckoning racers to find a second wind for the dance party. Although morning conditions consisted of clouds and coldness, the afternoon brought sun breaks between short rain showers, warming things up for the loony guys in Speedos. Spartan Races always offer challenging courses and an encouraging atmosphere, though all would agree that the Montana Founder’s Race added a special element of brutal awesomeness.

Sign up for your next Spartan Race right here and you’ll know at the finish line!

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Written by Pro Team member Elliott Meguire

Saturday May 10th the Reebok Spartan Race Series comes back to Bigfork, Montana for it’s second year at the Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge and Ranch. Last year was an excellent event and there was so much interest that Spartan Race couldn’t say no to round two. The course is a challenging one with single track climbs through the woods, over rocks, up cliffs, through the brush and up and down small four wheel trails. Expect to see 15+ obstacles, which may include the new challenging Monkey Cargo Net which debuted in Miami and appeared last weekend in Fort Carson, Colorado.

Rose Wetzell-Sinnett aims to jump to victory

This year, Montana is a Founder’s Race, so Joe Desena has scouted the course and put his special touch on the layout and design of the race so expect something brutally awesome. Last years women’s Montana champion Bev Watson will be back to defend her title. Challenging her will be Rose Wetzel-Sinnett who becomes the favorite due to her blazing speed and equal ability to conquer any obstacle thrown her way. Another favorite for the podium will be former series champion Jenny Tobin who has been doing Spartan Races since 2011 and is always a factor. Other women expected to race include the Barbwire Queen Andi Hardy and Laura Messner.

On the men’s side last year’s Montana champion and former series champion Cody Moat will be the favorite if he shows up. However, Chad Trammell – last weekend’s Fort Carson winner and runner up last year in Montana – looks to improve on last year and take the top spot. Elliott Megquier hopes not to get lost like he did last year in Montana and be able to claim a podium spot. Other men that will contend include the “Tough Training Guy” Christopher Rutz, Joey Patrolia, Matt Novakovick, Shane Mckay and fresh from his being voted as the male “Iron Man” at the recent 35 hour endurance event The SISU Iron in Los Angeles, Miguel Medina.

Pro Team member and elite racer Elliott Meqguire. A veteran of over 80 Spartan Races.

Make sure to stop by the Sportsman & Ski Haus in Kalispell on Friday from 5:30-7:30 PM to pick up you race packets and experience live music and free food. The weather might be a little mild with a high of 53 degrees with a 40% chance of rain, so dress accordingly and bring a water source if needed. However, there will be two water stations on course and one at the finish line. Montana is such a beautiful state and the local people are amazing so even if the race isn’t sunny and warm I can ensure you everyone still will have a wonderful time. See you all Saturday Aroo, Aroo, Aroo!!!

Sign up here for your next Spartan Race! 

Elliott Megquier is a member of the Spartan Pro Team and has been doing Spartan Races since 2011. He hails from Fort Drum, NY and has completed 82 Spartan Races all while on active duty in the United States Army.

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Last year, Spartan Race was embraced by the infinite warmth and hospitality of Kalispell. The inaugural Spartan Sprint that year will forever be remembered by not just the mountains, trees and views that just wouldn’t quit, but also by the generosity and friendliness of the community that welcomed Spartan racers from across the country into its heart.

This is why Spartan Race is so excited to return to Flathead Lodge Road and do it all over again. Arguably the most scenic Sprint on the schedule, but by no means the easiest. Many argued that Montana belied its beauty and hid one of the hardest – and therefore “ugliest” – Sprints in 2013. Remember that the terrain is there to break you. It’s beautiful, but it’s still your enemy.

Never was the term “beware of Greeks bearing gifts” more apt. Study your history, folks.

So what to expect? Hills. Lots of hills. They never seem to end, but it’s balanced out beautifully with that fantastic, lush smell of the trees as they wave to the gentle zephyrs that dance through the branches. Weather-wise, you can expect highs of around the mid 60’s, while lows can give you a sharp slap with a cheeky 39 degrees. Pack accordingly, as it can be a bit of a lottery. You didn’t expect this to be easy now, did you?

There are plenty of hotels to choose from if accommodation is proving to be a headache for you. In Kalispell you have the likes of Best Western, Hilton Garden, Aero Inn and countless others. Some of these hotels may even welcome Spartan Racers with a slight discount, although you’d have to check with them to be sure.

But given that you’ve traveled all the way to Montana, why not savor one or two tastes of the cultural stew that simmers away there? Check out this link for a site that will guide you through Kalispell’s downtown, including the museums, historical interest and what’s going on.

All that running around and rolling through mud mixed with forest debris will make you hungry and as such, you’ll need to know where to eat. Well, you are absolutely spoilt for choice. A quick check on Tripadvisor.com lists nearly 140 in Kalispell and there are no excuses for somewhere to replace everything you burnt off, or, should you need to carb-up the day before.

Are the kids with you? Well how about you take them to Family Fun Center in Kalispell? With Lazer Tag, bowling, inflatables, and everything in between, you can watch the kids wear themselves out and give you a quiet night as they recover. Check out this link that will give you all the information you need. Playing in a Bounce Zone with various inflatable shapes counts as Spartan training, doesn’t it?

This fine town also boasts a number of casinos if you feel that your luck is in. Why not try out a poker room or spin the roulette wheel?

A vast number of bars are also available, so there are no excuses for boredom when the race is over. Check here for a list to get you started!

All in all, if you miss this gem of a race, don’t say we didn’t warn you. One of the most underrated races on the circuit is offering you its hand. It’s down to you to accept and Spartan on.

See you at the finish line…

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In 2006, Luke Opps’ life changed.

The resident of Columbia Falls, Montana was changing a tire of his tool trailer at the side of the interstate when another motorist, while speeding, fell asleep at the wheel. Her car struck the tool trailer he was repairing and threw him over 35 feet away into a ditch. The result was a broken tibia in 7 places, a fibula in half and a shattered ankle. The resulting convalescence and inactivity caused Luke’s weight to increase from 190lbs to 255lb at his heaviest. Additionally, he now has a titanium implant in his left leg that runs from his knee to his ankle with a gear on his ankle end.

 In August of last year, he decided enough was enough and began a new regime. He recalls how it started all too clearly, “over the course of the months and grueling pain in my left leg from the wreck and being out of shape, the weight started to come off and I felt better.. In November I made the final leap and decided to run the Montana Spartan Sprint and jumped right in.”

Using his previous days as a Marine Corps veteran as the mental training that he’d already done as the fuel he needed, it was only the physical side that was stopping him. Along with this, Luke knew the right foods was also very important. “Still eating certain macros and counting grams daily, ie: carbs, fats, and protein and meeting them to the gram for my diet daily, I started to get stronger and healthier, I could run on hard surfaces which I had not done since the Corps. Finally a very dear friend of mine and Professional NGA Bodybuilder came to town from Havre, Montana and my workout and intensity level TRIPLED!”

Luke decided to set a goal that would be a goal weight of 177lbs by his wife’s birthday of April 15th. When that day came, he weighed 174lbs and had lost 15% body fat. A remarkable achievement by any standards. With his last goal set – the Montana Spartan Sprint – he was ready. Choosing not to go for a time, given that the Sprint was an unknown quantity, he and his team attacked the course and finished in 1 hour 21 minutes. “My team finished 24th out of 292 teams and I told myself when I was done with the race I was getting the Spartan Race Logo Tattooed, and that I did and man do I wear it proud!!!! My regime ( this one) is finished, I am stitting at 168 to date and slowly putting on more lean muscle and waiting for the day when I can do the next one and show off the logo with pride! No fitness trainer helped me with this, it was determination.”

Getting to be where he wanted to be was a very simple procedure for Luke. With his focus, he explains how he got to be where he wanted to be, “When it comes to training, I wake up daily at 3:45 go workout and then go to work a twelve hour day running my own construction business here in Montana, I run my own show start to finish, I do log work and building. When it comes to thinking of giving up while training I have severe drive, early on in my training I would think of corporal Todd Love, and actually train for him to keep going and a lot of time I use the simple saying “if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”. I am very determined and driven mentally, like I said, you can tell your body to do anything.
I also contribute alot of my drive and strength to my wife’s support and my faith in Christ”. 

When asked about any advice he may want to give others about where he is and how he could help someone get to that point, he pauses briefly to collect his thoughts. Smiling, he says, “Everyone is tough in their own way…if it were easy everyone would do it…giving up is the first stage of quitting, never give up and push through the pain. I work for a living and find time to train…if you want it you will work for it.”

See you at the finish line…

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