Photo courtesy of Clint Kelley, Globe Hotshots

I encountered Spartan Race on a social media site where the banner link showed up on the right hand side. I’d never heard of Spartan Race, neither had my friends. I am a Firefighter on an IHC (Hotshot) crew. I felt confident and I registered with three months to train for the AZ Spartan Super.

Ten days from the race I found myself lying on the floor of my room wondering how someone could feel so bad without being dead. Food and water hit my stomach and reversed direction and I spent eight days trying every medical and holistic remedy known to man to beat the flu. Two days until race day and I felt pretty good but I was experiencing full body cramping. I hydrated as best as I could and when race day arrived I felt good. I wasn’t 100% and I knew that the 10 days being sick would take their toll but I had a team that I was not going to disappoint and I WANTED this bad.

The event was crazy. I’d never seen anything like it. Music blaring, the announcer shouting encouragement and challenges, and in the middle stood the cargo net climb and five other obstacles. I’d never seen so many motivated and determined people before. There was a definite air of intensity but it was coupled with a feeling of community; a oneness. My team lined up at the rear of the starting area and the excitement quickly dispersed every thought of the flu and the last ten days. It was impossible to keep still. When our heat surged forward we moved slowly at first but it was at the first obstacle that we scrambled passed several groups and began to make our way towards the front. I was in my element and I was having fun; pure joyful fun that made me smile. I loved jumping over walls and slogging through the mud. As the race progressed, my friend paced me until we hit the monkey bars where I started feeling a cramp in my calves. I deliberately slowed down to try and conserve my energy and deal with the cramping. By the time I got to the tire flip I was cramping in my calves and hamstrings. I nailed the tire flip, rang the bell on the rope climb, and failed the spear throw. 30 burpees and the cramping hit every leg muscle. I was starting to use a morphed jog/hobble with periodic stops to stretch cramping muscles. By the time I waded in the canal, the cramping had moved to the forearms and abdomen. 30 more burpees at the balance beams. I wanted to die. I slipped and fell into the canal before the Hercules Hoist and my entire body cramped up. I laid partially submerged in the water, body seized up in cramps.

A volunteer wearing a blue medal tried to motivate me, but seeing that I was in pain, he told me “You can make it, man. It’s only a mile left.”

I thought about quitting. I thought about telling this young man, “I quit.” But that medal. That medal was right in front of my face and it wasn’t even wanting the medal but wanting what that medal stood for that helped me motivate myself to get up and keep going. The cargo net was a challenge. I seized up again at the top and stood there with the volunteer for a few minutes as a spasms passed. I made my way down the net, made the sign of the holy cross and hobbled my way towards the gladiators who took pity on me and only hit me a little bit and not full force. I got my medal around my neck, the shirt on my shoulder and I had never eaten a more delicious banana than the one at the finish line. I immediately collapsed from another body cramp but I was aware of that medal around my neck, felt the coolness of the metal and the weight as it hung. I survived the course. Through every ounce of pain and cramp-ladened step, I finished and accomplished more than what I thought I could. I wasn’t ashamed of my desire to quit because I knew that when it came right down to it, I didn’t. And the medal proved it.

Editor’s Note: Keeyoul Cha works as a six year veteran firefighter for an IHC (Hotshot) crew based in Arizona. He is a 24 year martial art practitioner in Muay Thai/JKD and Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He has two cats.

Tags: , , , ,

by Elliot Megquier, Spartan Elite Athlete

As I prep for this weekend’s Reebok Spartan Race Military Sprint in Fort Carson, CO, I like to think I have an advantage. I am a Soldier in the 10th Mountain Light Infantry Division at Fort Drum, NY. There are obstacle courses all over Fort Drum. Although I don’t take advantage of them as much as I should, I practice on military obstacles regularly. In fact, today at work we had to do buddy and litter carries which we complete in full gear. I’ll tell you what, carrying a 230 lb guy with gear when you weigh around 175 lbs is surely a great workout. There are ropes, ladders, and cargo nets within a quarter mile of each other. Then the pull up bars, they are everywhere. There are dip bars, tires to flip, Humvees to push, and millions of dollars of gyms and equipment at our disposable.

Not only am I representing myself, my family, friends, and fans, but I represent the 10th Mountain Division. I would like more than anything to get my first Saturday win this weekend at the home of the 4th Infantry Division, one of our rival division in terms of friendly completion. They are the Ivy/Iron Horse, while we are the Light Fighters who Climb to Glory, and that is what I plan to do. I anticipate my main competition will come from LeEarl Rugland and Miguel Medina, but there is always the unknown racer that always seems to show up.

Will you be there?

Find a Spartan Race near you.  Click HERE for a calendar of events.

Tags: , , , , ,

by Carrie Adams

Building the sport of obstacle racing has been a passion of Spartan Race since we began.  As the only event with world rankings, points, and chip times, we rely on our timing to be the best in the business, particularly at championship events such as the recent Ultra Beast.

Our friends at J-Chip USA, who have been timing Spartan’s US events the past two years and recently shared with Spartan Blog their results from their experiments with obstacle split times (similar to swim/bike/run splits in triathlon) at the New England Sprint and Mid-Atlantic Super, have combed through the data collected from six timing checkpoints at the Ultra Beast and now offer their unique perspective on the Spartan Ultra Beast – By the Numbers.

UB Applications Accepted: 400
Athletes Who Showed Up:
366 (92%)
Athletes Who Finished:
156 (39%)
Fastest Time: Cody Moat (7:01:29)
Slowest Time: Spartan’s own Steve Halstead (17:59:52) who started at 4am with Chris Davis!  Don’t worry Steve, we know it was your birthday AND you were told to stay out there for a while to help with operations.

Average Time (Overall) – 11:11:35  (11:02:29 excluding “The Lost Tribe”)
Average Time (Loop #1)  – 5:01:58   (4:52:18 excluding “The Lost Tribe”)
Average Transition Time – 0:15:28   (0:15:09 excluding “The Lost Tribe”)
Average Time (Loop #2)  – 5:54:09   (5:56:23 excluding “The Lost Tribe”)
Average Ratio (Loop 2 vs. Loop 1) – Loop 2 was 18.5% slower than Loop 1 (22% excl. “The Lost Tribe”)

*NOTE: Stats are presented excluding the 24 “Lost Tribe” runners who went off course and lost 60-90 minutes in Loop 1.  Since many of them went on to “negative split” their 2nd loop, the UB stats are much more accurate excluding them.

Extremes in Transition:
*Fastest Transition: David Chandler (Cary, NC) – Only 25 seconds!
*Slowest Transition: Michael Sandercock (Milwaukee, WI) – 43 minutes, 16 seconds
*Junyong Pak completed Lap1 with over 26 minutes to make up on Brakken Kraker (then 2nd Place in the UB).  Kraker, who came in from Lap1 in under 3 hours  (earning 3rd in the Elite Beast behind Cody Moat and Hobie Call) took over 16 minutes in transition before heading out for Lap2.  Pak cleared transition in 3:07 – gaining 13 minutes on Kraker, which proved to be the difference between 2nd and 3rd, as Pak only edged out Kraker by 9 minutes.

Notable Ratios:

*Ultra Beast champion Cody Moat was 40% slower on his Lap2 (3:58:13) than his Lap1 (2:49:37).  After pushing so hard to complete his 1st loop in front of Hobie Call, Cody just needed to “coast” through his 2nd loop to maintain the 30-minute lead he’d opened.
*Joseph Nuara was 17% faster on his Lap2, since he carried 26.2 pounds of extra weight with his team (The Burning Muckmen) on Lap1.  When his teammates opted not to continue on after spending over 6 hours on Lap1, Joseph went out on his own and blazed through Lap2 by himself in 5:06:16!

In addition, the J-Chip timing crew caught two cheaters (who shall remain nameless) who cut out the 4-mile loop (out 2 miles from transition then back 2 miles to the festival area) on the 2nd lap.  J-Chip had strategically placed a mat to capture the time that it took everyone to leave transition and return to the 4-mile checkpoint.  Split times for this 4-mile loop on Lap1 ranged from Cody Moat’s 45 minutes to The Lost Tribe’s 2 ½ hours.  On Lap2, J-Chip noted two 4-mile splits under 10 minutes, meaning the runners headed out on the loop and immediately turned around on the return trail and proceeded through the checkpoint.  Both runners were promptly DQ’d…so let this serve as a notice to anyone who thinks of cheating at a Spartan Race – WE WILL BE WATCHING.

Like our course builders and race directors, our J-Chip timing crew is among the first to arrive on race day (4AM for the Ultra Beast) and last to leave (11PM departure), and for championship events, they take hours to audit the results before they are posted.  This year’s Ultra Beast results were delivered at 4:30am, then the crew went out and did it again Sunday.  Above are J-Chip’s (L-R) Disco Stu, Kurt, Andrew, and Russ.  Thanks guys, you ROCK!

 

Tags: , , ,

by Carrie Adams

Our first ever Spartan Ultra Beast has come and gone.  More than a marathon on three mountain peaks in Killington, where 325 would begin and only 162 would finish.  There are a multitude of reasons why the DNFs were so prevalent, including a crew who have since dubbed themselves, “The Lost Tribe” who got lost on the first loop that added an additional six miles to their trek.  There were those who were admittedly ill-prepared and those who developed injuries, there were those who just simply didn’t want to continue, the thought of returning for another loop or taking another step too much to bear.

Image courtesy of Timothy Burgher

We’ve recounted the high points and the winners, the ones who can call themselves finishers who can wear their glow-in-the-dark medals with pride, who conquered the Ultra Beast, met the time cut-offs, survived the storm, and crossed the finish line.   And that story is inspiring.  But there is another story, the story of the 163 others, the ones who left the mountain without a medal, who had no ceremonious step over the finish line… the story of those with the designation DNF: Did Not Finish.  A painful designation that many had never experienced, the agony of something started that will remain unfinished and whether they were three miles or a full loop from the end, a DNF is just that; something that is left to be completed.  A DNF leaves a mark not easily overcome.

There are those who will rail and rant against it, who will excuse it away and who will make it a reason to never return.  And the emotional reaction is wrapped up in a moment that almost was… but never will be, and it’s not easy to reconcile.  For some, the DNF has come to represent something else altogether… something to redeem.  It has become the ignition of a fire that won’t easily burn out.  Because the only thing worse than living in the past is not recognizing that there is a future ahead.  And for many of them, that future is set on finishing what eluded them in Vermont.  A Spartan Ultra Beast finish.   Redemption.

Here are their stories in their own words.

I originally pictured the finish line as a goal.  But the real finish is so much further than the finish line.  It’s at the Pickle Barrel for the after party.  Its Sunday when those racers take the field.  Its next month when people are still asking “Well how bad was it?  Really.”  Its next year at the Amesbury Sprint.  The NJ Super and at the Death Race.  The finish will be every single day after the race, whether its training for another race or just having a run.  It will be that sense of pride when I talk with these other crazy Spartans and we smile at the word “Crazy”.  The finish line is so much more than an inflated arch.  It’s that accomplishment of completing the task, whatever the task maybe.” – James Horgan (read more from James HERE.)

“DNF’ing a mere 3.5 miles from the finish and missing the time cutoff by minutes is a bitter pill to swallow.  One can’t help but look back at the race and see where minutes could have been easily shaven off had they truly gone 100%, which would have turned this failure into success.  It’s painful to fail and fall short but to fail knowingly that you didn’t lay it all on the line and could have prepared better is worse because it’s almost lie cheating yourself and squandering an opportunity.  It was a valuable lesson and given the chance at redemption, which I do crave, I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that I’d come out on top.” – Paul DiMarino

“I’ve been racing for a year now, both in road races and in five Spartan Races.  I have succeeded and suppressed my goals in every race I’ve tackled.  My goal for the UB was to simply complete it.  I did not meet that goal.  What was going to be a crowning achievement in maiden year of racing was a failure. I’m settled on redemption.  I feel this is a great lesson, not only for me but for my children.  I want to show them that when life challenges you, you don’t just curl up in a ball and give up.  You take your past experience and use it to train tougher than you ever did, fight harder and go get what you want.  I’ll be training everyday with my green wristband to remind me of this.” – Tanya Logan

“It was supposed to be a representation of how much I have changed my life.  I was supposed to leave my old self on one side of the finish line and hold my UB medal on the other side.  Getting lost was my own fault, I didn’t push hard enough, I didn’t train on enough hills, too many diet cheat days, doubt after doubt… and it hurts.  How much more of my old self do I still carry with me?  How much of my old life is still weighing me down?  My old self constantly accepted failure.  This current me cannot and will not.  I need to know that I am no longer who I was.”  -John Pollock

“DNF Ultra: No regrets, no excuses, no more words about the past!  SR better give me a tougher course and the chance for redemption because I will not be defeated twice!” – Chad Weberg

“This is my first ever DNF.  The disappointment is still lingering today.  All I can think about is signing up for next year’s race to earn the redemption I feel I need.  I did not quit, I was pulled at the 10 mile check point on my second lap.  I now know that even though I could have finished it if allowed, I need to move a little faster.  I can only hope that I will be allowed to redeem myself.” – Jason Ross

“I left a piece of me on those mountains, I want it back.  Plain and simple.” – Hector Puente.

Tags: , ,

by Carrie Adams 

As a co-editor of a blog like Spartan’s we are lucky enough to get emails from our community about what inspires them to run.  More often than not, the stories are not about the ones contacting us at all, instead, they opt to tell us the story of fellow Spartans and how they themselves have been inspired by another.  I recently received an email from Jen Morgan who along with Sam Stark and her husband David Morgan met a fifteen year old boy named James at the Tri-State Super Spartan (his first race) and his heroic finish of the race. 

The Super Spartan, one of our most brutal to date, was James’ first obstacle race and even as he struggled through the course, the debilitating burpee penalties, and the worsening weather conditions, James managed to find it inside himself to finish the race and claim his Super Spartan medal and the pride that only Spartan finishers know.  

For those who witnessed his efforts, it was humbling and inspiring.  So, here, in Sam, Jen and David’s words is the story of James, the relentless young Spartan. 

James recently turned 15, and has never done any obstacle course… ever.  He chose the Tri-State Super (the mother of all Super Spartans) to be his first race.  We met James early Saturday morning as our team was sitting down in the festival area stretching and waiting for our start time.  A woman asked if anyone had a sharpie marker.  She was James’ mother, and visibly worried about her son’s decision to take this race on. A teammate offered up a marker and started up a conversation with this mom and her young son.

He was obviously new to the sport.  He had on a gray cotton tee shirt, shorts, no camel back, energy bars, or energy gels. She told us that he was racing alone and had never done an OCR before. It was at that moment that our teammate told the worried looking mom, “He will race with us.”   And so it was!   Our group snatched him up and stayed with him for the entire race.   His performance was nothing short of amazing.  Not once did he complain, whine, say that he wasn’t going to make it, or say he wanted to quit.  He was excited about the cliff jump and jumped off the 24 foot jump without hesitation.

At the pancake carry he struggled but never once gave up and only accepted just enough help to get him through it.    At the monkey bars he fell after a few rungs.   He was told to complete his burpees.  Wide-eyed he asked us innocently, “how do I do a burpee?”

The hill climbs were brutal.  Grown muscle men were lying on the ground, dropping like flies around him, but James kept going.  Putting one foot in front of the other, he just got the job done.  When we rounded the corner and saw the cargo net attached to the trees the look of excitement on his face was priceless.  When one of our group member’s legs cramped up and had to rest, he sat down next to him and waited with the rest of us to make sure he was ok.

The weather was also deteriorating quickly around us.  When the storms rolled in with the thunder and lightning, he was only worried that he would not have the opportunity to finish.  We had already gone 10 miles and only had one mile left to go.  He was determined to finish and wouldn’t let anyone or weather conditions stop him at this point.   It was the most inspirational, and motivational thing we have seen in a long time.   His mother was able to see him at the last of the obstacles that were open.  She was beaming with pride.

James crossed the finish line in just over seven hours. What did he do after?  He commits to running Super Spartan in NJ again next year and the Tri State Sprint in Tuxedo with his mom in 2013.  A true Spartan! James Signed Up! Showed Up! And Never Gave Up!

*Photos by Sam Stark and Denise Byrne

Tags: , , ,

by Carrie Adams

10,000 competitors and spectators from across the U.S. and several foreign countries representing every walk of life, age and stage and varying degrees of athletic abilities converged on Mountain Creek Waterpark (200 Route 94, Vernon, N.J.) to tackle the Super Spartan 8-mile obstacle race, presented by Dial For Men and Gaspari Nutrition on Sat., September 8 and Sun., September 9, 2012.

Team Braveheart

This race was hardly normal even in the Spartan world.  The theme seemed to be hills and water – the water coming by way of the course and the skies!   In the week leading up to the race, there were several bear sightings by the build crew and as the race edged closer, the weather reports indicated that it would be a story weekend of races.  Let’s talk about the course itself… 11 miles long and with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain over the grueling course it was not for the faint of heart.  Touted as one of our most challenging Supers of all time, the course spanned three mountains, the fastest time of the weekend clocking in at 1:47.  That’s almost 10 minutes per mile indicating the course difficulty.

Our friends at Gaspari Nutrition were on-hand in a big way.  Coming with their Team Gaspari Braveheart crew, of over 77 individuals they represented one of the largest teams of the year at a Spartan Race.  We told you about their story in a blog post last week leading up to the race.  Gaspari has been a sponsorship partner for Spartan Race throughout 2012 and Official Gaspari Nutrition® has handed out over 50,000 FREE drawstring mesh bags to our racers throughout the year with samples of their products.  We’ll have more on them later this week!

Jim Miller, UFC fighter and Sparta, New Jersey native who we told you about last week in this post, also made an appearance at the epic race.  He competed with the 10 A.M. heat and taking on all eleven miles with  a smile and a sense of humor, even joking on Twitter about taking the infamous 24 foot cliff dive instead of burpees!  The cliff dive was a notable part of the course this year.

There was another Spartan first, a “Tornado delay” brought by a massive storm system in the Northeast.  The tornado inducing storms struck Saturday, forcing some of the racers in later heats to leave the course early, one obstacle Spartan Races did NOT plan.  Despite the wild weather, what is being called a mini-Beast course, as well as the bear sightings, the 3,000 feet of elevation, and the 24″ free fall into a waiting pool, the Spartan Race was deemed a huge success.

September 8th Storm Cloud
Photo courtesy of NJ.com

Huge thank you to our brave and awesome volunteers!  We can’t put on our races without you!   Also, a big thanks to our other sponsors for the Tri-State Super: Air National Guard, Inov8, Newton Medical Center, Franklin Sussex Auto Mall & Dodge RAM, Zico, and Body Armor.

Looking for results: Click HERE.

Photos from Race Day?  Here are two FB photo albums.

Super Spartan Tri-State: Saturday Race Day

Super Spartan Tri-State: Sunday Race Day

Your FREE Race day images coming soon from our friends at Nuvision Action Image.  

Can’t wait to race again?  We understand.  Click HERE and find your next Spartan finish line.

Tags: , , , ,

by Carrie Adams

In the spirit of never standing still and always taking our competitions to the next level, we are introducing a team challenge to the Vermont Ultra Beast.  The first of its kind, The Ultra Beast will be the world’s first marathon(ish) distance Obstacle Race.  It will feature two loops of the main Beast course.  Racers will face the toughest course Spartan Race can bring TWICE before finding the finish line.  It’s not for the faint of heart but it does come with a pretty sweet payout for the fastest team… to the tune of $15,000.

 How it works:

Working in teams provides advantages in finishing a grueling course, working in teams in the Ultra Beast comes with additional risks and inherited challenges if you choose this route.  No Ultra Beast participant is obligated to run in a team, it is entirely voluntary and comes with conditions.  

If you elect to race with a team, you will have to abide by the following:

  • No one can apply as a team.  You must apply as an individual.  Once accepted into the event, individuals may form a team if they choose.  There will be opportunities to network in the group with other accepted UB runners.
  • Teams will be in sizes of THREE only.
  • There is a maximum of 100 teams being allowed entry. 300 individuals.  Once full, the team heat will close.
  • Team UB wave will kick off 15 minutes after the individual Ultra Beast heat.
  • Teams can be all male, all female, or co-ed, in any distribution.
  • Teams must have ONE person carry their support gear for the entire team at any given time.  That person can change, but one person must carry the load for the entire team at one time.
  • No bag drop at base camp for teams.
  • Spartan reserves the right for gear checks during the race at any time.
  • Teams start and finish together.  One DNF, all DNF.  Teams must also remain within 100m of one another.  The last person to cross the finish line will determine team time.
  • Teams will have to carry a team object that weighs MORE than 26.2 pounds.  This is an Ultra after all.  (We are partial to logs, sandbags, and rocks but it’s your decision.)  Choose wisely.  Only one person can carry it at a given time and it must be carried for the entire Ultra Beast course distance.  Weights will be evaluated and weighed before the start. 
  • Fastest team wins.  
Forming Teams:
Individual applications for acceptance must be sent to ultrabeast@spartanrace.com.  Include:
  • Race Resume
  • Three sentences on why you want to take part in the Ultra Beast.
Team formation requests for accepted individual racers must be emailed to carrie@spartanrace.com.  Include:
  • Names
  • Emails
  • Team Name
Welcome to the Ultra Beast, team style.  
Read more about the Ultra Beast HERE. 

Tags: , , ,