As Spartan Race continues to grow, we are excited to announce the arrival of another new Pro Team member, Orla Walsh. Never actually believing she would be rubbing shoulders with established names like Amelia Boone and Rose Wetzell-Sinnett, Orla is a racer to be taken very seriously. A remarkable achievement when one considers the past year is her first in OCR.

Of the signing onto the Pro Team she said, To be on the Pro Team can mean many different things to a variety of people. Soon after I started OCR – less than a year ago – I figured out who was who and what athletes were on the Pro Team. I never thought my name would be on the team roster. In the past year I decided to commit my training and workouts towards OCR.  The hard work and dedication I have put in the last year is being slowly showcased in my performances in the races I have competed in.”

“Being a part of the Pro Team makes me want to work harder, train harder, be stronger. I feel so honored to be a part of an amazing group of athletes and hope to continue to grow as an athlete. Making the Pro Team is surely an honor and I will work hard to prove to the team, to Spartan, and all the obstacle racers out there I belong on the team for a long time.”

But she’s not assuming that she’s “made it.” Like a true professional, she’s taking this as a reason to step up the training and not rest on her laurels. With her training background one of being a sprinter, she’s adapting her training, looking at nutrition, adding weights and transitioning her skills into Spartan Races.

Orla’s explosion on the Spartan Race circuit has impressed many.

Bringing this skill set with her to the races has helped Orla podium at a 50% success rate. This incredible stat of landing a podium position in at least one of every two races she puts down to her strengths at short Sprints.

I believe my strengths are the short sprints, downhill running and I am pretty quick on the obstacles. To be honest, I am still learning techniques to get over obstacles quicker, but that will come with time. I couldn’t even climb a rope or do Monkey Bars my first race! My weaknesses are definitely hills and long endurance as I have a 5k background. Even fueling and hydrating during races is all fairly new to me. It has been a great education learning about all these training additions I was never aware of as a short distance runner! I am willing to push myself and get the miles under me I need to race in the future.”

Looking ahead, Orla is hoping to strike up some banter and fun with the other female elites. While competition is clearly the most important factor, the bond of the team makes the whole thing so much more fun. “I’d have to say we are all friendly rivalries!”, laughs the Vermont-born runner. “The women’s elite is an amazing group of talented and super athletic women! Not too long ago, I never thought I would be able to run and hang with these women. I may not be in the lead yet, but I am closing the gap between us.”

What advice does she have for those starting out in Spartan Race? To not listen to the word “quit.”

“For newbies out there…DONT GIVE UP! I went out for my first race with my friends, I had no idea how to climb a rope, monkey bars or rings. I did my 90 Burpees and vowed I would hit the gym and learn how to conquer them. Be strong mentally, love what you are doing, train for the goals you set in front of you. You can achieve your dreams and goals by believing in yourself and getting after it!”

We are excited to have Orla Walsh on the Spartan Pro Team, keep your eyes on her, she’s making big moves and fast.

See you at the finish line, Orla!

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Written By Pro Team member Glenn Racz

The Colorado Military Sprint at Fort Carson Army Base delivered another solid race weekend for over 8,000 participants.  This Military Sprint adds various different elements as compared to other Spartan races such as the increased amount of obstacles (25+) packed into the Sprint distance of about 4.5 miles and the nose-bleed elevation of over 6,000 feet.  These two aspects of the race proved to be a challenge to all competitors in the race.  The stakes were high on this race as this was one of the Navy Federal Credit Union $7,500 prize purse races – which helped to pull in some of the most hardcore obstacle racers from around the country.

The race conditions were ideal with moderate temperatures throughout the weekend.  However, the temperature was the only moderate feature in this race as once the racers took to the course, they all very quickly realized that this race would truly test how one could manage the extremely “obstacle dense” course along with the short, yet steep hills scattered throughout the course.

For the elite men on Saturday, Pro Team athletes Brakken Kraker and Glenn Racz took an early lead by mile 1, but Glenn Racz soon fell back behind Matt Novakovich and Chad Trammell after the Atlas Carry.  Half way through the race, recent Boston Marathon finisher, Brian Gowiski joined the lead pack.  Then after the ruck sack carry, Chad Trammell powered by Matt Novakovich to take and hold the lead to emerge the victor and take his first 1st place finish for a Saturday race.  But just 14 seconds behind Chad was Brakken Kraker and Matt Novakovich “The Bear” as they battled it out though the final 7 obstacles all stacked up before the finish line to give the spectators a great show with only 3 seconds separating them.  Athletes Brian Gowiski and Isaiah Vidal came in a noteworthy fourth and fifth place.  Then on Sunday, Matt Novakovich wasn’t allowed an easy victory with Isaiah Vidal just 3 seconds behind him for another exciting finish.  Pro Team athlete Elliott Megquier held off Brian Hoover in the final obstacles to take a 3rd place podium finish.

With so many close finishes happening now, it’s clear that the courses on the circuit are highlighting the need for good, all-round training. While some may blitz obstacles and others build leads with running, regular podium placings and good times are now reflected in the fact that working all aspects of the body are clearly yielding better results. The days in which relying on running would see you through are starting to disappear.

The women’s elite Saturday race proved to be just as much of a nail-biter since race came down to the spear throw – which was missed by front runner and returning champion April Dee which allowed competitors KK Paul and Orla Walsh to overtake her for 1st and 2nd place.  April Dee took 3rd place for the Saturday race but then came back Sunday to take 1st among elite women. These 3 women were the only female competitors to complete the course in under 1 hour – a reflection of just how difficult the course was this year. With each year that passes, it seems Fort Carson ups the ante a little more. Looking forward, it makes for a brutal prospect in 2015.

As ever, Spartan Race would like to thank Reebok, Core PowerClif Builder BarsEco VesselSpartanUP! Graphix and Spartan SGX.

Of course huge thanks go out to all the staff at Fort Carson for their help and support for making the Colorado Sprint as epic as ever.

Sign up for the next Spartan Race here and you’ll understand what it means to “know at the finish line”.

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