John Yatsko doesn’t have a smartphone, doesn’t care for computers and sleeps under the trees the night before a big race. He’s no frills, no big show and all drive. He’s also the newest addition to the Spartan Race Pro Team.

Coming from nowhere to blaze an impressive trail of podium placings and courses that begged him for mercy, the runner from Flagstaff, Arizona is a fierce competitor with a no-holds-barred attitude is aiming his sights high and doesn’t have any distractions.

“I try to waste as little time as possible on the internet, which isn’t hard since I don’t own a computer or smart phone. I really don’t care what people have to say about the sport. I see a lot of chest pounding and machoism, but few serious athletes. Let the talkers have the internet – I’ll be up on the mountain.”

This focused determination from the long distance runner has already yielded many impressive results. His footprints are on the Spartan Race podium any time he is found at a race, but what is most surprising about him is that he never aimed to be on the Pro Team. Winning Spartan Races was merely his way of paying student debt. He replies honestly, “My aim from the start has been to win Vermont and pay off my student loans, but making the team is an added plus.”

He continues, “I am very hesitant to accept any kind of sponsorship. Accepting support from a company as a sponsored athlete carries with it the expectation of promoting that company and usually helping them to sell some kind of material product. I am decidedly not a salesman and have no interest in promoting consumer culture any more than I have to.

“Working with Spartan Race is different though. As a company, they don’t seem nearly so profit-driven and they’re not asking me to push any product on anyone. I have seen firsthand what an effect these races can have on people’s lives, middle-age women losing 100lbs in training, that sort of thing. Our values seem to be in close alignment, so signing a contract with Spartan feels like a partnership rather than a sell-out.

“I was also surprised at how welcoming the Spartan community has been to a newcomer in the sport, particularly the other top athletes. Signing with the Pro Team feels like making the roster for the first time in college (I was cut my first seven seasons).”

Bouncing back from these cuts shows the resilience and determination of the man whose background lies in running. “Up until the Austin race with Hobie, I wasn’t actually training for Spartan Races – I was training for ultra-marathons. After that, I decided to put trail racing on hold for a while and focus exclusively on OCR. So my training has changed considerably since then.

“I incorporate a lot more obstacle-specific training into my regimen now, with the largest emphasis on sandbags, bucket carries, and tractor pulls. Although, I still maintain my aerobic fitness with a good long run each week and a high emphasis on vertical gain.”

John Yatsko is a man with determination and the drive to win. We’ll be sure to see him in Vermont. He’s upped his game and may have what its take to find himself a cozy spot on the World Championship podium.

We’ll just have to wait and see. See you at the finish line John!

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And just like that, another powerhouse bursts onto the scene leaving a trail of destruction behind him. Spartan Race is proud to announce the newest addition to the Pro Team – Glenn Racz.

Perhaps more recognizable as the man from American Ninja Warrior and the man that can run a 4:12 mile and a 5K in 15:12, Glenn boasts not just an envious running pedigree, but amazing agility and strength. Despite having only ran 5 Spartan Races so far, he has never placed lower than 5th place and with each race has seen his placing rise each time, including the latest – a victory at the Las Vegas Super Spartan. 

“I’m stoked to be given this opportunity to represent Spartan Race! My first Spartan race was just 4 months ago, so I am enjoying the ride one race at a time! The other Pro Team members have been very welcoming to a newbie such as myself.”

Reflecting on how quickly everything has happened and how his background helped him get to where he is, Glenn smiles at the thought of all the work he has put in.

“Growing up in SoCal, I grew up playing roller hockey, snowboarding, and surfing. Then after graduating from UCSB, I began my career as a Mechanical Engineer – but in order to not weigh too much for surfing, I started running, which was about 10 years ago. The next 9 years I surfed less and ran more and trained hard to be competitive at road races primarily at the 1 mile and 5k distance (4:12 mile/14:59 5k PRs). Then last year, just for fun I applied to American Ninja Warrior (ANW) and to my surprise I was accepted to try out the course in Venice Beach.  After failing an obstacle in the preliminary round, I was determined to try it again this year so I began to do some upper body/gymnastics training and started learning about obstacle training and that was when I started to be interested in the Spartan Race – in order to supplement my obstacle training. But once I did the Malibu Spartan a few months ago, I knew that this was the perfect blend of running/obstacles that best fit my skill-set (plus my wife wasn’t too impressed with the skinny runner’s physique!). Then last month when I didn’t get the call back from ANW, I converted my backyard obstacles from ANW to Spartan obstacles and focused solely on Spartan-specific training.”

“I do a lot of the running with obstacles mixed in, but I also have a garage and backyard full of fun stuff to train on, so I feel like the convenience is key since I am able to work out and play with my 3 kids at the same time. I feel like this type of home-gym arrangement is beneficial for everyone since it is cheaper than a gym and it allows for more family time, which is one of the things that takes priority over my training!”

But don’t let the smiling face of the Californian let you think his kindness is weakness. Behind it all is a determined and focused individual.

“I want to be a part of the Spartan Race because:

1) It offers a challenge in both the running and obstacle aspect of racing; plus I enjoy learning and adapting my training after each race

2) Spartan Race is always progressing & evolving to keep every race exciting and new, unlike your run of the mill road race

3) Compared to running, the Spartan Race exposes weaknesses in my overall fitness, which encourages me to become a better all-around athlete as well as a guard against injury

4) Now I can finally beat my wife at arm wrestling!”

“I am planning to focus my training for the Spartan World Championship Race in September. But during the next few months, I hope to have some good battles with some of the other top Pro Team guys who have set the bar high.”

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Spartan Race would like to officially announce the newest member of our Spartan Elite Pro Team, Rose Wetzel-Sinnett. Crashing in from Seattle to take the Spartan Race world by storm, Rose has impressed everyone with her fiery tenacity and her impossibly strong running skills. 

Of the announcement, Rose couldn’t hide her delight, saying, “I feel honored to be welcomed onto the Spartan Pro Team, an amazing group of talented athletes and fierce competitors. Spartan offers the support and community environment I desire in order to thrive and excel. The passion for excellence amongst the Spartan Pro Team is contagious and I’m confident it will propel me to reach my full athletic potential.”

Despite being a relative newcomer to the sport – August 2013 was her first race, one she came fourth in – she has taken the sport by the scruff of the neck and announced her arrival in no uncertain terms. Three wins and twice coming second sends out a clear indication that she is to be taken seriously.

Describing what Spartan Race means to her, she smiles, “Spartan means taking on challenges, breaking out of our comfort zones, and overcoming our obstacles. It means digging deep to find out how physically strong and mentally tough we can be. It’s not about being macho; it’s about being brave. I once saw a quote that said something like, “the world needs fewer people that are tough, and more people that are tender.” I say the world needs more of both, and many of us could use more of both in our lives.”

Feeling most at home when she is moving, it’s no surprise that Rose has already done some pretty major events already. Triathlons, marathons, 200-mile bike rides, and team-oriented overnight running relays have all been done, but lately, her focus has switched back to running tracks, road races and now, as she puts it, “the fun, crazy world of obstacle racing.”

But Rose isn’t going to rest on her laurels and hope that what she can do will be enough to keep her place on the podium. Competition is fierce in Spartan Race and Rose knows this. As such, she is already working through a plan that she hopes will keep her duking it out – metaphorically, of course – with the other Pro Team members on the circuit.

“I plan to increase the speed component of Spartan Races so that races cannot be won based on strength and obstacle efficiency alone. The beauty of Spartan Races is that for one to prevail, they must have the best combination of both strength and cardiovascular ability. Amelia and April, for instance, have impressive strength, and knowing that, I feel inspired and motivated to work incredibly hard to get stronger. If they work at getting faster, knowing I’m now in the arena and coming from a speedy background, hopefully it will cause all of us to push each other to become the best, most well-rounded obstacle racers we can be. Our collective competitive drive will make this year’s Spartan World Championship the most intense and entertaining one yet.”

So please welcome Rose “Wonder Woman” Wetzel to the Pro Team and be sure not to blink when she runs past. Chance are you’ll miss her.

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