Oftentimes we hear of the “race within the race” referencing some intriguing subplot. Nowhere was this more true than in Killington, VT the weekend of the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships.  But, the story is from a different race that had quietly started Friday afternoon without fanfare and with very few spectators – the Peak Team Death Race.  The Peak Team Death Race and the athletes who participated are a rare breed.  Numbering less than 60 and competing in teams of four they would be out in the Vermont wilderness for three days in a desperate attempt to earn a coveted Death Race finisher skull.

Born in 2004, the Death Race is the Spartan Race origins.  The DNA of where Spartan Race was founded in this epic endurance challenge that sees a finish rate just over 10% in most events.  A summer, winter, team, and traveling version, the Death Race is a very different event that the obstacle course races in the Reebok Spartan line-up.  Lasting several days and with no idea what challenges and tasks will be required to finish, it’s brutalizing.  Founder Joe De Sena says, “Spartan Race in a baptism into this life, the Death Race is an exorcism.”  This Death Race would prove to be one of the most difficult to date.

When the Death Race’s annual Team competition kicked off in nearby Pittsfield (well, not so “nearby” when you have to hike the whole way, in the rain, through your second night of zero sleep, deep in the woods, with your wrist zip tied to a long rope shared by several dozen other racers) and included steep climbs, frigid rivers, moving massive loads on slippery paths, all with no idea what was coming next or how long it would all last.  

This spectacle arrived in the resort town just before midnight Saturday, out of the cold, dark, wet night, as groups of four filthy runners came off the highway and towards the Wobbly Barn. Inside, the party was rocking, with hundreds of athletes dancing and celebrating with their finisher medals proudly dangling from their necks, earned on the Saturday Spartan Race courses in Killington. Soon, many of them were drawn to the front door to gawk, open-mouthed at the Death Racers amassing to bang out hundreds of burpees in the muddy parking lot. And these weren’t the glorified squat thrusts that so many people try to get away with, either. These were chest to deck, jump with a clap overhead, full-blown burpees.

And when everyone else went back to their after-after-parties in condos with hot tubs, these Death Racers sat in the rain on the gravel by the registration tent, waiting for their bibs and chips for the UltraBeast kicking off the next morning at 6 AM. Yes, after 48 hours of brutal work, freezing cold, and no sleep, they were told to complete the hardest obstacle race ever staged and with their packs and the same time cutoffs as the rest of the field.

If you think this story could be no more incredible, it’s time you meet Noah Galloway. In 2005, Noah was stationed in Iraq where, during his second tour of duty, he lost his left arm and his left leg in an IED attack. Now, 8 years later, he was huddled in the cold with his fellow racers. In the two full days prior he had neither asked for nor received any special treatment. He lifted the same rocks (ok, even bigger), climbed the same hills, took the same abuse as everyone else. With one arm, one leg and am indomitable spirit.  He’s no stranger to Spartan Race courses, either.  With two finishes in Virginia, most recently Wintergreen, and Carolina in 2012, he dons a blacked out gas mask and runs along with Operation Enduring Warrior, an organization aimed at empowering and motivating injured veterans.

Plenty has been written on the insane difficulty of the Ultrabeast and the low finisher rate, hovering around 42% on the day with chilly temps, and muddy tracks making the course even more challenging than designed.   While most people would never, ever, EVER even consider taking on the Ultra Beast, much less the Ultra Beast after 48 grueling hours, Noah is clearly not most people. Nor are his teammates, Nele Shulz (2013 Winter Death Race Champion), Andrew Hostetler, and Eric Matta of team Reload Fitness.

At the outset of the Ultra Beast, the racers were told that finish position would be determined by combined team times. So it made sense for the fastest runners (in this case Andrew and Eric) to go out hard, and for Nele and Noah to do their best to keep up.

Over 12 hours later, David and Eric had arrived at the end of the course and were looking for their teammates.  They could certainly be forgiven for looking for a chair in which to wait – after all, they’d been up for about 60 straight hours and had covered countless mountain miles. Instead, they set off backtracking the Ultra Beast  course so they could all come across the line as a team.

Fast forward to 8pm. Long after dark,  all four are working together. Nele’s legs swollen painfully, but still moving forward. . Noah’s prosthetic leg had broken and was barely able to support any weight, forcing him to practically hop the balance of the race on his other leg. They each credit the other with having gotten them this far, and now Andrew and Eric shouldered the extra load, supporting their friends while they moved as a unit towards the finish.

There are countless stories from this year’s Team Death Race that will stand out in the minds of those who were there to bear witness. Mark Jones’ superhuman performance throughout.  Vermonter Jane Boudreau Coffey’s inspiring finish,  earning her coveted skull.  People helping one another along the way, sharing food, water, and encouraging words. The sight of 60 year olds racing alongside 20 year olds in one of the most difficult Death Races ever delivered, everyone suffering as a unit to finally cross the Ultra Beast finish line and be told, “You’re done.  It’s over.”  Hearing those words and knowing that it was finally time to stop, was like music to their ears.

And among the finishers at the sushi restaurant after the race, a team of four, Nele being carried in unable to walk, barely able to keep their eyes open, Team Reload Fitness celebrated their finish as a team clutching their hard earned finisher skulls.

Tags: , , ,

by Carrie Adams

“For those of us who lived through these events, the only marker we’ll ever need is the tick of the clock at the 46th minute of the eighth hour of the 11th day.” – President George W. Bush

Roughly fifteen minutes before 9 AM on September 11, 2001 Spartan Race founder Joe Desena glanced up from his desk on the 59th floor of an office building across the street from the World Trade Towers and then immediately dropped his phone to the floor.   “I didn’t even feel myself let go of it.” He remembers.  “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

What he was seeing was the final seconds of Flight 11 as it careened towards WTC 1 and then violently slammed into the North side of the building.   “I couldn’t speak,” says Desena.  “I could hear my buddy Bobby yelling for me from the phone on the floor, but it was like my brain couldn’t process what I had just seen.”

The horror would repeat itself shortly after 9 AM when, alongside the rest of the world, Desena watched Flight 175 enter the landscape and strike the south tower (WTC 2) as the North Tower continued to burn.  “I pressed my hands up against the glass, everyone screamed… and then it was just…silent.”

Desena and his coworkers watched, stunned, as the buildings lay ablaze and ultimately collapsed; each one sending a billowing cloud of dust and debris all that could be seen through the glass, “Everything went gray… and the rumbling of the collapse was like a train roaring through the building.”  And even though the collapse(s) took only 12 seconds Desena says, “It felt like eternity.”

New York City wasn’t the only target, Flight 77 struck the Pentagon that day, and United Flight 93 crashed into an empty field in Somerset County, PA, when the passengers defied their hijackers.  It was a dark day with victims from 115 countries.

And Desena left the office that afternoon with some co-workers and was met by debris and an eerie sight.  “We were walking in ankle deep soot,” he recalls.  “The coffee vendors cart was sitting there, coffee still percolating on the pot, money on the counter, but there were no people.  It was like a gray ghost town.”  Desena slowly made his way to his Midtown apartment where his motorcycle was waiting.  He was lucky to get out of the city and head to his dad’s house in Queens.  “That day changed everything, “says Desena.  “But there were other changes that came from it.  People were looking one another in the eye again.  People were remembering how it felt to be human.  And we can never forget what happened that day.”

Lower Manhattan would burn for 99 days after that, 20% of the US population would know someone who was killed of the nearly 3,000, and it would cost nearly $600 million just to clean up the wreckage from the Twin Towers devastation.   And the United States mobilized swiftly to the threat.  Less than one month later, the United States was on the ground in Afghanistan and we haven’t left.  “Our military has been putting their lives on the line because of that day, and it hasn’t stopped,” says Desena.  “That isn’t lost on us at HQ.”

And in building Spartan Race, Desena kept that day in mind.  “We were in a new place as a country.  We needed hope and we needed to believe we could have a new life and embrace healthy, hopeful things,” says Desena.  “And even though life was moving forward and we needed to move forward, there are still men and women in harm’s way.”

Spartan Military Series
Fort Carson, CO

Since our inception, Spartan Race has been committed to the Armed forces.   In 2012, a portion of all Spartan USA revenue has been donated to Homes for Our Troops, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that assists severely injured servicemen and servicewomen and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and to coordinate the process of building a home that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently.

Spartan also launched a Military series in Fort Carson, Colorado in May of 2012.  The Military series was a huge success and it was coordinated through the Army Department of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR), a comprehensive network of support and leisure services designed to enhance the lives of soldiers (active, reserve and guard), their families, civilian employees, military retirees and other eligible participants.

In keeping with the longstanding Spartan Race tradition of giving back, a portion of the proceeds from the Spartan Fort Carson event was donated to direct military nonprofits including the Green Beret Foundation.  Future military series events will do the same and will donate to other organizations to help address the unique needs of each respective host installation.

In Leesburg, VA Spartan Race was joined by Team X-T.R.E.M.E.   Team X parachuted in Wounded Warrior athlete  Sgt. Noah Galloway

Team X-T.R.E.M.E.
Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography

and then their eight person team that included two other Wounded Warrior athletes Todd Love and Jonathan Mozingo, took part in the first every Heroes Heat in one of the most memorable appearances in our history.  They are set to be a part of the upcoming Spartan Beast in the Carolinas October 13th and 14th.  The team is a non-profit organization with an ongoing mission to Honor, Empower and Motivate our nation’s wounded heroes and it was started by Jeremy Soles, a United States Marine Corps and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.  Known for donning blacked out gas masks for endurance events that restrict 25 – 30% of oxygen intake, Team X-T.R.E.M.E. completed the brutalizing 10.5 mile course and all the obstacles on Saturday.  With over 75 obstacles to speak of, it was no small task.  The gas masks are worn as a symbol of encouragement and inspiration for their fellow wounded brethren and to honor the sacrifice of our nation’s wounded veterans.

There is always more we can do, because the fight continues every day.  The fight to preserve liberty, to honor the fallen, to move forward with grace and deliberation; all the while never forgetting where we’ve been and what’s been given to get here.  And at Spartan Race HQ we’re remember September 11th and recommitting to changing lives for the better with our race series and giving back where we can.  So, today, on a day that we all remember so well, we want to say, “thank you” to all who have paid a price for our precious freedom, and we assure our community that we’ll never forget.  And to Desena it’s a simple idea, moving forward from such a tragedy, “We can’t let it break us.  Never quit.  Never surrender.”

Team X-T.R.E.M.E.
Photo courtesy of Nuvision Action Image

Tags: , , , , , , ,

by Carrie Adams

Rounding down the hill to the Super Spartan Mid-Atlantic sandbag carry with the Team X-T.R.E.M.E. crew, eleven year old Junior Marine Luke Sliwinski was offered the option to take one of the the lighter 20lb bags in lieu of the men’s 40lb bags that were stacked in piles at the base of a quarter mile loop over halfway through the 10.5 mile course.  He immediately declined the offer with a polite, “No, thank you.” And without another word stooped down, his slim build struggling slightly under the weight, hoisted the bag up to his shoulder, and kept moving forward.

When Luke Sliwinski was five years old, he drew a picture of the twin

photo courtesy of Heather Sliwinski

towers ablaze, an image all too painful and familiar from the morning of September 11, 2001.  Too young to remember it in person, he’d grown up seeing the images and as he drew in the details, he knew that all he wanted was to be a Marine.  At that same tender age of five, he saw an air show demonstration from Marines at a nearby airfield, and was even more determined to join the service.  His mother, Heather, had to explain to the young Sliwinski that he’d have to wait until age eight before he could join the next closest thing – the Junior Marines Program.

According to their website, “The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character building, leadership, and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.”

Luke, the youngest of six waited, however impatiently, until he could enlist and the now eleven year old who is about to enter sixth grade holds the rank of Sergeant and calls the Young Marines in his unit brothers. “I am the person I am today because of them.”   And that person is the youngest Spartans to take on our VA Super Spartan course alongside Team X-T.R.E.M.E. last Saturday, August 25th at Morven Park.  He toiled with the team for the 5.5 hours it took to complete finishing every obstacle and taking every step of the 10.5 miles course.  Says his mother Heather, “The accomplishment on Saturday blew me away.”  But her pride extends far beyond the Spartan course.  She goes on to say, “I am most proud of him humbleness through all of this.  He’s the kind of kid that stands up for what is right, even if he’s the only one standing.”

Luke was first introduced to Team X-T.R.E.M.E. and their mission in 2010 when he met USMC Cpl. Todd Love at Walter Reed Medical Center in Ward 57.  Cpl. Love, who also completed the Spartan Race on Saturday, was newly injured having lost both his legs above the knee and his left arm below the elbow in a violent IED explosion in Afghanistan.

Photo courtesy of Heather Sliwinski

Heather Sliwinski recounts the moment that Luke first saw Todd, “Even as a case worker for injured soldiers for six years, to see him that soon after injury took my breath away.  Luke didn’t see it, he just saw a hero. He climbed right up onto the bed with him and started talking.”  That first meeting was an encounter that would turn into a lasting friendship.  ”They call each other brothers,” says Heather.  And what kind of Marine does Sliwinski want to become?  ”A Recon, just like Todd.”

And Luke has not only spent the last seven years visiting wounded veterans at Walter Reed, he’s been raising money for them – nearly $10,000 worth.  And he’s not done.  ”I just want to do more.”  His appearance at the Spartan Race he hopes can draw attention to not only the team he loves, Team X-T.R.E.M.E. but to the work of Operation Ward 57 an organization he is closely connected to personally.  Known as “the amputee ward”, the orthopedic Ward 57 at WRAMC houses some of the most severely injured patients for weeks or even months and is a place that Sliwinski and his family have spent a great deal of time.   His plan until he’s old enough to join is to keep educating kids, raising money, and ultimately joining the Marines when he graduates high school.

Team X-T.R.E.M.E. member Todd Love says of Luke, “Luke has been with me since the beginning of my recovery. He is one of heroes, and we stay in touch with each other. I see him as a little brother but he full of what this country needs more of.”

When asked about how he feels about his heroes of Team X he said, “They are the most amazing people.  What they do, how they treat people.  They just keep fighting, even injured… Freedom isn’t free.”  And of his sandbag carry in Virginia he admits it was his biggest test of the day, the toughest obstacle for him to complete.  ”If they could do it, I didn’t want to let them down.  I didn’t want to take the easy way out.”

Spartan Race offers Kid’s Heats at every US Domestic Event.  Find one near you by clicking HERE and get you and your kids ages 4 – 13 signed up!  Proceeds to to benefit the Kids Fit Foundation

Find Luke Sliwinski on FB HERE.  To find out more about Team X-T.R.E.M.E. click HERE.

To find out more about the Young Marines Program, click HERE.

To find out more about Operation Ward 57, click HERE.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

by Carrie Adams

When Team X-T.R.E.M.E. approached the start line, dramatically proceeded by a bagpiper, and followed by members of their community, the crowd couldn’t help but be captivated by the scene.   They moved as a unit almost indecipherable in identity when donning their masks and kits.  With the rest of the festival spectators I watched them silently, and as they filed past me I glanced down and noticed arm patches with a single word on each, a “call sign” derived from the 14 leadership traits that designate the embodiment and symbolism of the mission to that indoctrinated team member.  They are worn by each athlete during the events.  As they passed I saw Endurance, Sacrifice, Vigilance, Honor, and Courage and then, Justice...  I paused when I saw the word.  Powerful and dignified, I was curious to know who had chosen that designation and for what purpose.

Earlier in the week I asked Team X founder Jeremy Soles about the patches.  He explained, “We each wear a name tape indicating our “call sign” on the shoulder of our uniforms.”  He went on to describe how the wounded athletes and the rest of the team are identified.  “In the mask, our Warriors Athletes are always identified as “Sacrifice”.  Out of the mask they are the only ones that we allow to reveal their identity publicly.”

The athletes that support the mission are always kept secret, staging and donning their masks and also de-masking in a private location.  Soles says, “This is keeping with the intent of the focus being on the wounded warrior and their empowerment instead of us as able body athletes.  In the mask we are all a collective, living, and breathing representation of each of these leadership traits.”

When the masks came off and the team entered the festival grounds I was finally able to see the faces of the team members.  Who we’d only known as “Justice” was at the back of the group, the 31 year old veteran of two deployments to OIF in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps was not only physically capable, mentally tough, and committed to the mission, but, I saw for the first time that Team X-T.R.E.M.E. member “Justice” also happens to be female.  The only female that ran with the Team in Virginia.

“Justice”
Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography

Justice, whose real name will be withheld out of respect for the anonymity of the team and the commitment to their focus on their wounded comrades, has been a member of Team X since January when she went through the INDOC process.  She was asked to join after 48 grueling hours of physical and psychological testing.  The INDOC testing phase was the third and final stage of Team X-T.R.E.M.E.’s intense indoctrination process.  The first step Justice underwent was the submission of a two minute video.  Upon acceptance of the initial video submission there is an invitation to join the athlete community to show a candidate’s dedication to the organization by raising money and awareness.  If proven in the community, the candidates are invited to participate in the Richmond, VA 48 hour test.  The most recent INDOC with seven candidates actually resulted in no new team member invitations, a nod to the difficulty and exclusivity of the process.

Justice not only succeeded, she excelled, and has been a remarkable addition to the team.  For her first Team X event and weighing in at just over 120 pounds she carried 45% of her body weight for 26.2 miles through the New Mexico high desert while wearing a gas mask at the 2012 Bataan Death March.  At the Spartan Race in Leesburg she carried almost 90% of her body weight with wounded warrior athlete USMC Cpl. Todd Love on her back throughout the course rotating with the rest of the male-based team every half mile.  Not once did she miss her turn to carry the weight, not once did she falter or complain.

Justice isn’t a stranger to hard work.  After seeing part of an OCS exercise while interning for a government official, the South Carolina native knew that the Marines was the place for her.  And after joining the summer after 9/11 she ultimately would serve two deployments as a marine officer.  Her first deployment in 2004 was as an Air Support Control Officer near Ramadi, Iraq (Al Anbar province). Her job was to coordinate and direct fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft for troops in contact (air support) and MEDEVACs/CASEVACs.  Her second deployment was in 2006 to Al Qa’im, Iraq, near the Syrian border where she served as an Air Support Element Officer-in-Charge in support of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines.

“It does not make physiological sense how she does it, how she endures…  that is why she is perfect for the Team X-T.R.E.M.E. mission,” says Soles.  “Her actions defy conscious logic and her power source is passion for her wounded brethren.”

When asked about the Spartan Race in Leesburg, VA and the incredible performance of the collective team she said, “You don’t think about it you just do it.  We had the equipment and we had each other.  There was never a point where we couldn’t get it done.  Time wasn’t a consideration, it was completion.  We completed our mission.”

In choosing her call sign, Justice stood out in her mind because of the veterans from past and current generations who haven’t seen the justice she believes they have deserved.  “So many wounded Veterans from so many generations haven’t seen justice to the extent we wish we could have provided them when they came home.”  She goes on to say, “That one we need to keep in the front of our minds; getting them the support that they deserve and are taken care of by a grateful nation.”

She says she was aware of the impact the team had on the crowds as they passed, but that it was emotional on many levels. “There were points where I was more aware of it than other times.” She paused, “When Todd climbed up the hill… and with everyone around the start and finish.  Hearing the cheering, the kids waving at us, people watching us pass by…  that by itself was exciting and motivating.  I wish I could take it all in, but it was almost sensory overload.”

Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography

Justice will be back in the mask in a couple weeks at the Heartbreak Ridge half marathon at Camp Pendleton.   Her day job keeps her on the move as well so she strives for balance as she supports the team and the wounded warrior athletes.  Married to a former Naval officer, she stays active in her off time and is humble about what she’s done and will continue to do with her dedication to the mission of the Team.

Soles sums it up best when speaking of Justice, “Like the rest of the team, when pain veils itself over her, it is then that she finds the core of our mission and endures with one intent:  To honor the sacrifice of wounded warriors and to set a precedent that will be contagious to all who bear witness. ”

Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

by Carrie Adams

The plane in the sky was hardly visible in the clouds, but circling overhead was 30 year old double amputee Sgt. Noah Galloway and he was less than 60 seconds away from a tandem parachute landing in the Spartan Festival grounds to kick off the first ever Spartan Heroes Heat.

The jumpers came in hot, just past a small tree line in an open field, a dramatic beginning to what would be an inspired day of racing.  Galloway immediately left an impression on the eager crowd.  Galloway was introduced to the Spartan community in a prior blog post , you can read more about his story HERE.

The 30 year old Alabama native is missing two limbs, his left arm above the elbow and his leg above the knee.  He would be the first ever Spartan Racer to parachute his way into the race but when he landed, in the open field in Leesburg, VA he wasn’t alone.  A team was waiting, Team X-T.R.E.M.E., a group of incredible individuals that includes Sgt. Jonathan Mozingo, amputee of the left leg below the knee and United States Marine, Cpl. Todd Love, trimembral amputee of both legs above the knee and left arm below the elbow.  In addition to the three wounded warrior athletes, the team had an additional five members including Team X-T.R.E.M.E. founder, Jeremy Soles who had a bagpiper usher them over to the start line for their heat.

No loud music blasted for the start, and the normal speech to pump up the athletes was a replaced by a simple quote about service, dedication, and gratitude and an acknowledgement of what was about to take place.  Over the course of the next 10.5 miles and nearly 5 and a half hours, Galloway, Love, Mozingo, Soles and the others would battle the course alongside  warrior athletes, community members, volunteers, and other Spartans who took part in the historic heat.

USMC Cpl. Todd Love

Team X-T.R.E.M.E. is not stranger to endurance challenges.  The team is actually a non-profit organization with an ongoing mission to Honor, Empower and Motivate our nation’s wounded heroes and it was started by Jeremy Soles, a United States Marine Corps and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.  Known for donning blacked out gas masks for endurance events that restrict 25 – 30% of oxygen intake, Team X-T.R.E.M.E. completed the brutalizing 10.5 mile course and all the obstacles on Saturday.  With over 75 obstacles to speak of, it was no small task.  The gas masks are worn as a symbol of encouragement and inspiration for their fellow wounded brethren and to honor the sacrifice of our nation’s wounded veterans.  The venue in Leesburg, VA is a unique location, normally reserved for horse racing, but it wasn’t horses that were unleashed on the landscape this weekend, it was people who would ultimately hurdle, climb, crawl and run their way to the finish line.

The course was rugged and muddy, each obstacle posing a unique challenge to the team who took turns carrying Team X-T.R.E.M.E. member, USMC Cpl. Todd Love who weighs in around 100 pounds.  Love was carried throughout the course but regularly completed obstacles solo including a heroic hill climb near the halfway point of the race, the cargo nets and rope climbs.  Love is a 22 year old Marine who in August of 2010 nearly lost his life and all but one of his limbs in a devastating explosion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  He would not only battle back from his injuries on the battlefield, but set out to push himself in all things physical, proving that overcoming obstacles isn’t just something you attempt, it’s something that you embrace.

From hoisting cinder blocks, to wall climbs, cargo nets, spear throwing and taking on the infamous finish line gladiators wielding pugil sticks, the team ensured that each member of the team completed the obstacle before moving forward, always together.  Another notable addition to the group was Junior Marine, Luke Slowinsky.  Soft spoken and polite at his eleven years of age, Slowinsky will one day join the Marine Corps, but currently raises money and awareness for wounded warriors as a sign of respect and admiration.  He also completed the 10.5 miles alongside his heroes and earned his Super Spartan finisher medal.

Spectators, racers, staff, and volunteers gathered to watch the team work their way through the course and the images of the athletes completing the obstacles was inspired, humbling, and a reminder of all the reasons why so many of us run; for reasons that are bigger than ourselves.  When the team was nearly finished, a crowd had gathered and more would come and congregate near the finish line where they would ultimately cross the same way they began, as a team.  As the team rushed the finish line and medals were placed around their necks, there was a roar of cheers and clapping from the festival grounds.  Many faces were lined with tears.

Leading the final charge at the finish was Galloway, Love, and Mozingo, now soaked and dirty, their gas masks speckled with mud earned on the course.  After rinsing off and demasking, the team entered the festival grounds and thanked the crowd who had remained to shake their hands, offer encouragement, and thank them for their service.   In an unexpected twist, Jeremy Soles, alongside Team X-T.R.E.M.E. presented Spartan HQ with a hand carved log with the names or their wounded warrior athletes in the side, a physical reminder that will reside in Spartan HQ in Vermont, and will undoubtedly make rounds up and down the training mountain with our founders and staff.  Our way of honoring the such a gift.

Mike Morris graciously accepted the gift saying, “You have all honored us with your presence here today.  There isn’t much we can say that you guys didn’t show out there on the course.  There wasn’t a dry eye out there when you guys went by.  Thank you for all you do.”

Masks removed, the men (and one woman) are revealed to be mortal, not the superheroes that seems far more likely.  Humble and gracious, they spent the remainder of the day with the people who were so touched by what they accomplished.  And at the end of the race we all were moved and inspired by what we saw, and what they accomplished.  And the words that were uttered just before they began seemed even more true now, “This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, not matter the odds or consequences.  When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself lie a tree besides the river of truth, and tell the whole world – no, you move.”

What are you waiting for?  Find an event and get signed up TODAY.  If you want to learn more about Team X-T.R.E.M.E., their mission, and support their cause, visit their FB page or websitehttp://www.team-x-treme.org/.  For information about Warrior Athlete Noah Galloway, visit his FB page or his website, www.noahgalloway.com.  To learn more about Todd Love, visit his FB page.  Find more photos of the Heroes Heat HERE on the Spartan Race Facebook page.

[Editor’s Note: Rarely does a story resonate so deeply and touch so many as the story of Team X-T.R.E.M.E.’s involvement in Saturday’s Leesburg, VA Super Spartan Race.  Personally, I was so thankful to bear witness to such a heroic feat by such remarkable men and women.  Weeks of preparation came together in an open field in a non-descript part of our racing venue in front of thousands of waiting spectators.  From start to finish, the feats of heroism demonstrated by the team and their community were monumental.  Spartan Race was honored to host Team X-T.R.E.M.E. and their warrior athletes and community for the first ever Heroes Heat where warrior athletes ran alongside Spartan runners.  Spartan Race has long been dedicated to the armed forces and the men and women who serve and protect.  We look forward to the inclusion of more Heroes Heats in upcoming Spartan Races and we wish to thank Team X-T.R.E.M.E. for gracing our event with their presence, for their positive message of support, inspiration, and courage and for joining our community of athletes and our Spartan Race family.  We will never be the same for what we witnessed on the course in Leesburg, and we will also never forget.]

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,

by Carrie Adams

With Mid-Atlantic rapidly approaching, we are excited to get the festivities kicked off and we have a lot of great causes to talk about in Virginia.  With the parachuting entrance of  Noah Galloway from Team X-T.R.E.M.E., a first at Spartan Race, at 9:30 AM on Saturday and the first ever Spartan Hero Heat taking place there will be a lot to see and appreciate for those lucky enough to be onsite.  We told you the story of Team X-T.R.E.M.E. in a blog post last week and of Retired Sgt. Galloway, a double-amputee from Alabama will be racing alongside Team X to honor the wounded warriors and in gas masks no less!

As always, the Kids Fit Foundation will kick off the kids race at 12:15 on Saturday and our smallest Spartan warriors from ages 5 – 13 will have their shot at their own mud-filled Spartan course and Spartan finish line with a medal to earn.  The Kid’s Fit Foundation’s

mission is to inspire children to develop a love for fitness at an early age.  The course is about a 1⁄2 mile filled with junior obstacles for Jr. Spartans and 1 mile for Varsity Spartans. Each child will receive a T-shirt and Finisher’s Medal with 100% of the Jr. Spartan Adventure proceeds benefiting the Kids Fit Foundation.

Virginia also has something special on tap for the Spartans over 21.  The beer garden for the Mid Atlantic Race in Leesburg, VA. will be featuring a beer especially made for the Spartan Race. It’s called Spartan Red Ale. It is being made by Vintage 50 Brewery. All operations of the beer garden will be conducted by the Loudoun Youth Rugby Organization, and all proceeds from the sale of beer in the beer garden will go to this Youth Organization.

In addition to the special brew, The Spartan Agora Grill will be serving up some healthy and delicious food in the festival area.  They will be serving CHICKEN KABOBS with quinoa, VEGGIE KABOBS with quinoa, and PULLED PORK SANDWICHES with pickles, and chips.  It’s cash only, so come prepared and there will be Gatorade and water  for sale along with HOME MADE specialty lemonade and ice tea.

So, come on out and support some great causes, get a little muddy, and then refuel with some Agora grill food and some Spartan Red Ale!  There is still time to get registered!  Click HERE!

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

by Carrie Adams

Noah Galloway

When Sgt. Noah Galloway regained consciousness on Christmas morning in 2005 at Walter Reed Medical Center he was given news that would change his life forever.  The then 23 year old was just a few months into his second tour in Iraq when a roadside bomb attack four days earlier nearly killed him; and now he lay in a hospital bed fighting for his life.   He’d volunteered to drive the lead vehicle in a convoy that would ultimately drive directly into a death trap, a tripwire rigged to detonate a roadside bomb.

The injuries were devastating.  The active and athletic Galloway lost his left arm above the elbow and his left leg above the knee amid other injuries to his face and jaw.  The recovery was a long and difficult one, but not only did Galloway recover, he set out to redefine how amputees recover, train, and even compete in endurance challenges.  Today, he’s taking on monumental challenges, training like a machine, which is coincidentally his tagline, “Train Like a Machine” and redefining what is possible for disabled veterans.

Noah Galloway and Team X-T.R.E.M.E.
Photo courtesy of Leah Zeitler

One of those challenges Galloway is taking on, is the upcoming Mid-Atlantic Spartan Race in Leesburg, VA.  But Galloway isn’t coming alone, he’s got a team behind him, Team X-T.R.E.M.E.  Team X-T.R.E.M.E. is a non-profit organization with an ongoing mission to Honor, Empower and Motivate our nation’s wounded heroes.   Started by Jeremy Soles, a United States Marine Corps and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, the team is known for participating in endurance challenges while donning blacked out gas masks as a symbol of encouragement and inspiration for their fellow wounded brethren and to honor the sacrifice of our nation’s wounded veterans.

Retired Veteran Sgt. Noah Galloway himself will be making a grand entrance to the Festival area in Leesburg, VA.   Team X-T.R.E.M.E. tandem master, Mike Elliott will skydive Galloway into the venue on Saturday Aug. 25th at 9:30 am.  The Team will then participate in the Spartan Race Hero Heat beginning at 9:45 am.  Similar to the mission of Team X-T.R.E.M.E., The Spartan Race Hero Heat is designed to honor, empower and motivate wounded veterans to push beyond physical and mental obstacles through teamwork and perseverance.  Team X-T.R.E.M.E. and their Warrior Athletes will don the gas mask on Saturday and to lead the assault.  Spartan Race participants and Team X-T.R.E.M.E. welcome wounded warriors from across the nation to join them as they swim, crawl, walk, run, climb and even carry one another across the 8-mile Super Spartan course.   To register to be a part of this memorable heat, to be held at 9:45 A.M. Saturday (space is limited) contact Tom@spartanrace.com.

Team X-T.R.E.M.E. Bataan Death March Re-enactment
Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography

The Team X-T.R.E.M.E. Wounded Warrior Athletes participating in addition to Galloway are United States Marine, Sgt. Jonathan Mozingo, amputee of the left leg below the knee and United States Marine, Cpl. Todd Love, trimembral amputee of both legs above the knee and left arm below the elbow.  Teamwork and brotherhood will be on tap for the day as the athletes work in unison with Cpl. Todd Love and other wounded heroes to conquer the Mid-Atlantic Spartan Race and triumph over adversity.

Inspired yet?  There is still time to register click HERE.

About Team X-T.R.E.M.E. Founder Jeremy Soles:  Jeremy Soles is a United States Marine Corps and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.  While in the Marine Corps Jeremy served on an anti-terrorim team.  Jeremy is a graduate of both FBI SWAT and Sniper schools and has done extensive tactical training for local, municipal, state and federal tactical teams.  He has worked as a combat tactics instructor for Naval Special Warfare and SOCOM.  In 2009, Jeremy founded Team X-T.R.E.M.E. in the wake of losing his mother to cancer.  Today, Jeremy leads Team X-T.R.E.M.E. while contining to work as an independant contractor supporting the global war on terror.  Many ask, why the gas mask?  His vision was to take an inadtimate object indigenous to all military services and transform it into an anonymous living breathing icon of hope.  Jeremy’s vision has evolved into a mission to honor, empower and motivate wounded warriors to overcome insurmountable odds.  Together, Jeremy and Team X-T.R.E.M.E. continue their mission with events and programs designed to rehabilitate and inspire wounded warriors to never give up and to live life to the extreme.”

Follow Team X-T.R.E.M.E. on Facebook.  Click HERE.  The Team X-T.R.E.M.E. website  can be found HERE.

Follow Noah Galloway on Facebook.  Click HERE or go to his website www.noahgalloway.com.

Follow Todd Love on Facebook.  Click HERE.

Tags: , , , , , ,