Teamwork. The word is drilled into our heads in a number of areas within our lives, from playing sports to working with others in either our professional or academic life. There are very few sports where the individual is more important than their team. Yet how often do we see organizations stack their team in order to win games (Lakers or Yankees anyone)? This isn’t always the answer though, and more often than not, it takes some of the fun out of being a spectator. It’s kind of like watching a movie that you already know the ending to. So how does a sport without any kind of team event start team racing without allowing stacked teams? In the words of Charlie Kelly from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia “WILD CARD…”.

In true Spartan fashion team racing was introduced at the Tememcula California race, with a twist. Instead of allowing Spartan Elites the opportunity to team up with the individual of their choice Tom McCormack, Spartan’s Director of Product Management, came to the line with a deck of playing cards.  When asked about it Tom provided an interesting explanation.

 “Everyone got a card which they wrote their name on and then gave back. The Elites were then matched up by their card, three people to a team. This way no one knew who was on their team and the teams were completely randomized making it way more competitive than say having Hunter team with Hobie and Amelia or April. This means a team with one of those guys on it could still be beaten by a team with three people that finish middle of the pack. It really makes the team aspect fun, interesting, and competitive in a whole new way.”

The idea had received a great deal of positive response from spectators as racers coming across the line in 15th place had a huge impact on the outcome of the team event. Changes to timing on the course coming up will help to make things even more interesting according to McCormack.

“We are updating our timing a little bit. There are some things in the works that will allow us to track people along the course and make updates in the festival area as to where people are. Spartan feels that it will really make the Wild Card team aspect even more entertaining to spectators as we continue to work on making the whole event more spectator friendly.”

Tom and the team have been working to make the Wild Card aspect a well oiled, and entertaining, machine within the race. Testing it in Temecula the organization didn’t do it again in subsequent races but Tom states that they are ready to roll it out again in Georgia and in Vegas with more to be announced soon.

What about the Open Heats you say? Tom has something there as well.

“The Open waves already see people showing up as part of teams. Groups such as NE Spahtens, CornFed Spartans, Weeple Army and others will be entered into the Open Team racing automatically. The four fastest racers will be what determines their teams time and ranking. We’ve seen some fast times from groups such as Camp Rhino and Gut Check Fitness out of Southern California. We expect to see even more of the same through out the rest of the year.”

2014 promises to be a year of new things from Spartan HQ. Each one designed to give racers, and spectators, even more of what they want. Sign up now, either as an individual or as a team, and as always…

We’ll see you at the finish line!

 

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by Jessica Wohlen, Member of the New England Spahten Race Team

An OCR at Fenway?! You can’t be serious.  A Spartan Race Time Trial?  No way!

Boston was pretty much my stomping grounds while I was in college (back when I wasn’t so active and healthy).  I spent many weekends on Lansdowne Street checking out bands and enjoying great (and loud) music.  I’ve been to Fenway to see a few games.  I even got to stand on the field and run the diamond this year.   When I heard there was going to be an OCR at Fenway, and it was going to be a Spartan Race, it took all of 2 seconds for me to make up my mind – regardless of the cost – to be there!  It was going to be EPIC!

Being part of the New England Spahtens (pronounced “Spa-tens” for those non-New Englanders out there) we quickly decided we had to make our presence known.   Teams were created for both days, shirts were ordered (ok, really awesome team jerseys were procured from Akuma!).  This was a BIG deal.

I had no idea what to expect, but in the days leading up to the Big Day some sneak shots were taken and posted on Facebook.  I was excited; I was so excited, in fact, my internal dialogue from Wednesday till 11am Saturday was just “EEEEEEE!”

The worst part of any race is always right before the wave is released into the unknown and this was no different.  I think it was actually worse than normal, because I was just…so…excited.

The waves were released a little differently at Fenway, to keep things flowing.  For each wave, every minute on the minute 10 people were released.  This was done by lining up on dots, a volunteer jotting down your bib, and then burpees until it was time.  Rinse, repeat  – until everyone was freed to run their race from that particular wave.  I found this was excellent as there were absolutely NO bottlenecks to be found throughout the course.

So off we went, up the ramps.  Crawling, jumping, crawling, jumping.  I nearly got cleaned out by a sneaky black bungee strung at the top of a ramp – I saw it seconds before and alerted the folks around me with a “Whoa! Bungee!”   I quickly realized this was going to be no ordinary race.  As it turned out it was going to be more like if a CrossFit competition had a baby with Spartan Race…and I was ok with that!

There was some wonderful use of elements in the park.  We climbed over picnic tables.  We hoisted weight much higher than ever before for the Herculean Hoist.  We climbed up (and over…crazy!) beams that support the park’s structure.  We ran what seemed like every square inch of the grandstands, bleachers, concourses, AND the Monstah Seats!  This was amazing!

Like I mentioned before, there were some elements of CrossFit to be found around every corner.  Concept2 rowers – sneaky that you couldn’t see where you were in the 2 minutes of rowing!  Atlas Carry.  Super thick jump rope.  Push-ups. BOX JUMPS!  I really enjoyed all of this.

Our favorite obstacles were found too.  Rope Climb, Spear Throw (Made it for the first time ever!), Traverse Wall (1st time completed as well!), Hobie Hop (up 8 flights of stairs!), O-U-Ts, Carrying Heavy Stuff and walking (water; sandbag) and Wall Climbs were all present and accounted for.

This wasn’t your typical Spartan Race, but it was lots of fun!  I thought I was going to miss the mud, water, and fire – all very much parts of a typical race – but I had so much fun doing everything we had thrown at us that I was ok with them being on a mini vacation!

A part of me wants to warn the newcomers that this is not the norm, but the rest of me is giggling at the thought of seeing them tackle Amesbury in August… with all that mud, water, and FIRE!

Want to get registered for Amesbury?  Click HERE to join the action!

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