How many times in the life of the average person can they say that they competed at an Olympic-quality venue? When was the last time you were in an event at the same place Olympians were tested in their pursuit of gold? We’d wager that the number would be quite low. But register for the Beast in Utah and you will be scaling the very same hills that competitors from around the world were tested on during the winter Olympic games in 2002. And let’s not make any mistake here, we’re talking about events that needed not just muscle, but will too; the biathlon, cross-country skiing and Nordic combined (the cross-country skiing portion).

Since the Olympics and Paralympics, Soldier Hollow has continued the tradition of ski racing and biathlon, by playing host to the Under 23 World Championships in 2004 and U.S. Championships in 2005 and 2006. Spartan Race takes its choice of venues very seriously. This is the Spartan Beast and you’re going to know and feel it.

In less than an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, just outside of the beautiful Swiss-settled town of Midway, the Soldier Hollow venue sits under the watchful eyes of the Wasatch Mountains. A truly epic venue and one of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes in the Spartan Race calendar. With the weather also expected to reach its usual high 80’s temperature, be prepared for a testing, but memorable day. Naturally, running at altitude in this heat, we’d always advise you to carry your own hydration in addition to the water stations we will have on course.

For the traveler, there are a range of accommodation options very close to the venue in the aforementioned town of Midway.  On the Midway website of the town itself, you will find lodging options there and given the friendly and hospitable nature of the locals, this may be an avenue you’d like to explore. Drink in the atmosphere of the Swiss theme throughout the town, making note especially of the architecture which oozes Germanic charm and overtones.

If you’d prefer the bright lights of the big city, a wider selection of hotels can be found here for options when it comes to accommodation. Given that you’ve made the journey, why not make a long weekend out of it and try out some more fun things to do? There’s go-karting, Seven Peaks Waterpark or even the always fun time of paint-balling.

But naturally, you’ll be hungry. Whether it’s the carb-loading the day before, or replenishing those calories that you burned off, frankly, you are spoilt for choice. There is even a specialized site you can use that is all about the Herber Vally area. Within this, there are drop down menus for the cuisine style, category and even price level, so you can choose precisely the type of experience you like. This very same site offers options for places to stay, and things to do, so be sure to check that out.

If you’d prefer to head back to Salt Lake City, Urban Spoon has listed almost a thousand places for you to choose from. With the same handy drop down menus that can target specific cuisine styles, prices and even the neighborhood local to where you are staying. So, should you decide that something Asian would tickle your taste buds after conquering the Soldier Hollow course, then the options are there. Brazilian, Indian, European… it’s all there.

Salt Lake City always welcomes Spartan Racers.

If a taxi is what you need, Yelp has a great selection and naturally, as is the nature of Yelp, you can read past reviews of their service. Of course, if you’d much rather hire a car and drive yourself, there are plenty of car hire options via Expedia right here.

You may have heard about how alcohol is dealt with a little tighter in Utah than perhaps other states. To make it very clear for visitors, Utah.gov has neatly listed the laws regarding the buying and consumption of alcohol right here. Naturally, Spartans behave appropriately at all times anyway, but sometimes if you’re unsure of local laws, it’s always wise to make sure you know what the situation is.

So get ready for the Beast and make sure your training includes lots of muscle memory. If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.

See you at the finish line…

credit: balladspahr

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Just the words “Virginia Super Spartan Race” sends shivers down the spines of many who witnessed what course designer Norm Koch prepared for them last year. One of the most brutal courses in the history of Spartan Race left many competitors really experiencing what it meant to “know at the finish line”. Those Blue Ridge Mountains just seem to go on and on, don’t they?

Virginia 2013 was also notable for the emergence of Matt Novakovich, who exploded from nowhere to not only win, but dared to beat the legend, Hobie Call, by around two minutes. The Alaskan has since gone on from strength to strength and is now a regular podium finisher and a staple of the Spartan Pro Team.

So, what’s in store this year? Well, let’s just say that while, as per usual, we’re not giving anything away, we’ll just tell you that having good leg muscle memory will be useful to you. With the race being a Super, there will be at least 8 miles of obstacles and trails. We’re going to put down 3 water stations for you, but if you don’t think that will suffice, by all means bring your own means of carrying fluids. Cramping and dehydration aren’t fun things to experience and bear in mind that Nellysford experiences average temperatures in the mid 80’s in August, as with most things Spartan related, if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.

For those making a road trip to the beautiful surroundings of the Wintergreen Resort in Nellysford, the first priority is somewhere to stay. By clicking here, you can have a browse through which hotels tick your relevant boxes. If you’d prefer something a little cheaper, there is a hostel close by that might be able to help you. With the accommodation in the area all boasting good reviews, you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ll be well looked after.

There’s also the option of the good old-fashioned bed and breakfast, should you choose to go down that route. With all the establishments with reviews scoring either 4 out of 5 or higher, it’s clear that making travelers and strangers welcome is something that Charlottesville excels at.

The same goes for when you want to either carb up or replace all those calories you’ll have burned off on the course – because trust us, you will!

There are almost 450 restaurants and places to eat that are featured on Tripadvisor’s site and thanks to their site, you can select the style you are looking for, if you have those pangs for something particular. Whether it be your typical American steakhouse, or if it’s something a little more exotic, such as Greek, Indian or Thai cuisine. With so much on offer and such a broad range available, there will almost certainly be something that will fill whichever hunger hole you have.

Some of the best terrain is waiting for you.

But if having a drink and possibly shaking your stuff is something that is high on your list of priorities, that’s well covered in the reviews section on Yelp for the area. Additionally, you have a selection of wine bars, nightclubs and even “dive” bars, if you prefer that kind of thing. Again, with many scoring very high and positive reviews, having a good time is an almost certainty.

Naturally, the responsible Spartan makes sure there’s a designated driver if alcohol passes the lips, but if not there are some local taxi companies that will be able to make sure you get back to your accommodation safe and sound.

For more information about the area, there is a very useful website that is all about Charlottesville. Have a look here and you’ll find out about things to see and do, just in case you choose to make a long weekend of it after celebrating your Super finish.

See you at the finish line!

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The sun rose slowly over the hills of Southern California Saturday morning. Blue shirts swarmed the hills of Vail Lake in order to bring the Spartan Race to life. Saturday marked the first time that Spartan Race had done both a Super and a Sprint in the same day and the weekend promised to be epic.

Tony Matesi launched the days activities off with the morning Hurricane Heat. The HH is a different kind of event. Not so much a race as a challenge to be taken on. It forces people to work together as a team to overcome obstacles together. Tony took the participants that signed up through his various tortures starting at 6am for a full four hours. For a complete rundown on the HH look for Tony’s report coming later in the week.

Cars filled the parking lot as the Elites began warming up for what promised to be an epic battle. The men’s elite had high-octane racers in Spartan Pro Team members Hunter McIntyre, Matt Novakovich, Miguel Medina, and Chistopher Rutz. The women’s Pro Team showed up in the likes of April Luu, TyAnn Clark, Juliana Sproles, Jenny Tobin and Tiffany Novakovich. The rest of the field outside of the Pro Team was stacked. Rose Wetzel who stormed through Malibu was in attendance as was Laura Messner, and as was expected the legendary Hobie Call came to push the men to their limits and beyond.

The weather on Saturday was sunny, warm, and not a cloud in the sky. It promised to make the course fast, but dangerous as was seen through the day where people cramped up from a lack of sufficient hydration. The Amphib Medics crew, as well as Spartan Race Staff, was there to help those injured on course to safety or to help get them back into the fray.

The Elites took off early for the Super where money was on the line for that event. With the men first out of the gate it was a tight bunch until coming to the first gamble where racers could choose to either take the shorter harder route or the longer faster half of the course. Hobie and Matt “The Bear” Novakovich veered to the right while Hunter took the left shorter route. As Hobie and The Bear came out of their gamble they caught sight of Hunter and the group that went left far up ahead.

Ever the fierce competitor Hobie caught Hunter making it another epic showdown between the two friends. Newcomer John Yatsko form Arizona was right on the heels of the two titans for the men. At the end of the day it was Hobie first, Hunter tacking second, and John in third.

It was universally considered to be one of the toughest women’s fields people had seen in awhile. It seemed to be that only reigning World Champion Amelia Boone, still recovering from a hamstring injury, wasn’t on course. Rose Wetzel and April Luu promised to make this women’s race one to remember trading back and forth on the course until April missed the spear thrown and Rose stuck hers resulting in just the break she needed to take the win. April cruised into the finish line in second place with TyAnn Clark placing third. 

The Saturday Sprint was not a money heat but still saw Laura Messner dominate as she warmed up for the Sunday Elite Sprint. Saturday also introduced the first time Spartan Race recognized the top age group finishers from the open heats. 14 year old Josh Novakovich dominated the Under 20 open taking first place overall while placing fourth overall on Saturday in the open.

Sunday the money heats for the Sprint were run and the podiums didn’t look too different. Hunter took first for the men with newcomer John Yatsko in second and Glen Racz in third. For the women it was a tight race. Kk Paul came through the finish line ahead of Rose Wetzel to take first place. A battle between April Luu and TyAnn Clark decided third place. The epic finish came down to the wire as April barely edged out TyAnn for the last podium spot.

The weekend wasn’t just about the Elite’s however. Families spread out on Saturday to cheer on their loved ones as well as soak up some of the beautiful weather that graced the event. New sponsors Core Power Protein delivered much needed post-race beverages to racers at the finish line. 

Spartan Race began the year trying some new things with team results and rankings. Each team that signed up were ranked according to the average time of the top 4 finishers on their team. P4L Fitness took top in the team standings with an average time of 53:05 with the mighty Weeple Army (who had 269 racers in attendance) in second and Warrior Showdown placing third. Looks like it’s time to get serious about team racing.

Lastly the great medal question of 2014 came to an end with Spartans receiving the new medal and being told they would need to perform an additional round of burpees for their second medal. The second medal being of course the one everyone had come to expect from previous events. No one walked away disappointed, and the beach by the lake was a swarming mass of muddy bodies flying through burpees in order to collect not one, but two medals. Some even wandered around with four.

As mentioned earlier the 2014 SoCal Spartan was the first time racers could take part in not just one race but had the option to run two distances in one weekend. There were those brave souls taking up the gauntlet thrown down by Spartan Race and running both courses in the same day while others chose to run the Super on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday. Either way these brave Spartans are two thirds to their Trifecta with only one weekend of racing under their belt in 2014. As we talked to some that had done both they made it abundantly clear that they would be finishing out their Trifecta before the year is out.

The kids races were amazing to behold, especially the Special Needs kids race. Seeing the families going around the course together made it hard to not feel that pull on your heartstrings. Spectators dried their eyes as these amazing families came rolling through the mud together with smiles a mile wide.

All in all the weekend was a huge success with tons of muddy smiling faces, a few cuts, some bruises, but a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction by those who raced. Next sop on the Spartan Race calendar, Arizona. Will we see John Yatsko make another appearance and if so will Hunter and Hobie be there to take him to the limit? The best way to find out is to be there. Sign up for the Arizona Sprint and we will see you at the finish line.

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Just before this beard craziness all began, I was playing B-ball with one of our athletic, 16 year old African-American kids.  He was trash talking me from the start, and about halfway through he called me an, “old, big, hairy, ugly, white dude.”  He predicted that he was going to, and I quote, “cross me up and break my ankles,” making some comment about it having something to do with his “swag.”

Now, my shooting percentage is terrible, but as the old proverb says, “Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.”  After defeating him, I informed my arrogant opponent, “you just got beat by old, big, hairy, ugly, white dude with bad knees and no fingertips.”  As it turns out, his swag was no match for my beard.

It’s all about the beard. For as long as OCR has existed, beards have held exulted office simply because of the fact that they are beards. As a beard wearer of many years, Zack Paben saw this as a niche that bizarrely hadn’t been tapped into yet.

The morning following the basketball incident, I saw a random post on Facebook about boys having swag and men having beards. Inspired by the quote, I posted a picture of myself coming out of a frozen mud bath with the caption ”Boys keep your swag and I will keep my beard” to the More Heart than Scars (MHTS) Facebook page.  Billy Findeiss (Now forever known as Mr. December) asked me if I was trying to start a beard contest.  Of course, I said, “yes,” then Michael Caudell joined in and started posting all kinds of pure self-loving beard pics.  Jimi Da Beard Hughes  was next to enter his mud-faced masterpiece and then came Steve-o Opie Bones‘ entry.

Zack clearly had people in mind already. While the idea was one of those, “hey, you know what would be cool….?” Moments, things started to take shape, albeit slowly.

“I had hoped for (Spartan Death Race veteran) Steve-o, having seen pictures of him and his beard doing heroic things.  I have heard other men giving praise to my mud beard while participating in various OCRs. I have seen lots of pics of my Facebook friends’ muddy faces.  When I saw a post with a hairy visage I would pester/encourage them to join the competition.”

And so the idea of a “Bearded Men of OCR” calendar, with the proceeds going to charity was born. With Zack having worked for 22 years with at risk youth, it was a natural progression to have an idea and then have charitable causes benefit from it.

“The response was overwhelming once Steve-o entered, I never expected to have the incredible support and involvement that came from the OCR community. As time went on, it was clear that some rather amazing men were entered into this fun contest.  During a conversation with Steffen Cook, (Mr. February), the subject of what the winner gets came up.  Obviously, the first prize for all participants is having a beard, but it was decided that the winner would be awarded the title of “Sir Mud Beard,” with each of the top 12 winning a spot in a calendar. Mr. February said the only thing a Brit could to such an idea, “Brilliant!”

He could tell I was making it all up on the spot but he was still all in, and we love him for it.  He has been instrumental in refining the MHTS calendar vision, as well as being a great person for me to chat with about MHTS projects. It has been great to get to know this amazing group of guys.  Some of our private messages got a little hairy being that we all have a zest for life, and great sense of humor.

It started with just one picture but after a week it was clear we needed an album so everyone could look at the pictures side by side and find them in one place.  The last week, we included a collage along with some more questions to learn about our hairy friends.”

Selecting the final 12 was easily done, as Zack explains, “Once it was clear that our goal was to have a Sir Mud Beard Calendar we decided to have the top 12 guys represent their corresponding month (e.g. January would be the person with the most votes, February would be the person with the second most votes, and so forth…).  You can talk about encouraging others to vote and the vote counting process and so on.”

This throwaway comical idea about beards and OCR quickly became something to take seriously. The final 12 were selected and were even interviewed, so that each page of the calendar has a bio of the person that adorns it.

With the charities of Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge and Spartan Race regulars Operation Enduring Warrior benefiting from the sales of the calendar, the causes are close to the hearts of all involved.

The third and last portion of the proceeds will go to Zack’s own cause, More Heart Than Scars.

“The 3rd portion will go to us to More Heart Than Scars to become an official 501(c) (3) organization and to continue to assist and help individuals overcome both physical and or mental challenges. One of our primary goals is to sponsor John Powers, a full left hip-disarticulation amputee to hike the Appalachian Trail. We plan to list inside the calendar the dates of upcoming OCR events.  We also plan to have some OCR companies support by sponsoring our calendar and giving a one-time discount to a race with proof of purchase of one of our calendars.”

With Spartan Race being well represented within the pages by not only by staff members and even Death Racers, what’s your excuse for not owning one?

Contact Zack via the facebook page More Heart Than Scars Facebook page for more information.

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By guest blogger and Spartan Pro Team athlete Brakken Kraker

This weekend’s Spartan Sprint at Miller Park turned out to be another incredible Spartan experience. Wave after wave of excited competitors left the starting ramp, and wave after wave of sweaty, grinning Spartans crossed the first base finish line. Everywhere you looked there were cheering spectators, smiling athletes, awestruck children, and camera happy tourists. 

The venue was as good as advertised and the course was even better. This race tested the competitors’ running endurance and obstacle endurance equally. I personally loved my first stadium race. I had been a little apprehensive about what was in store for me, but quickly realized that I may have found my favorite type of Spartan event. The course had no let up, beginning immediately with several bear crawls and progressing right into a heavy ball slam. From there started a seemingly endless cycle of ramps, stairs and obstacles. The emphasis was placed on full body fitness, and I felt the burn immediately. I can’t remember the last time my upper body was so dead during a race. 

 

The men’s race was immediately separated out into several pairs of runners, each battling for a podium spot. Up front Hunter McIntyre and I went head-to-head every step of the way, while Alexander Nicholas battled a group of runners including Elliott Megquier, Joey Petrolia, Chris McCorkle and Cody Wright, among others. Ultimately, Hunter was declared the winner, and Alexander held on to the third spot.

On the women’s side, a force of nature by the name of Carlee Whipple put her stamp of this course and came in first and gapping the field by over six minutes. Following her was Laura Messner and Sarah Pozdol, respectively. Our favorite lady in lime green, Andi Hardy just missed out on a podium spot, running a great race. 

We were so proud to have hosted our first Wisconsin Spartan, and cannot wait for the next one to come our way. Bring on the Super and the Beast!

For more event information, click here

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By guest blogger and Spartan Pro Team Athlete Brakken Kraker

 Wisconsin is finally getting its own Spartan Race and there couldn’t be a better place to showcase our state than Miller Park in Milwaukee! I love the fact that Miller Park, known as most of Wisconsin is for how much beer and brats are consumed there, will be the center of such an incredible fitness challenge.
Every Spartan Race provides a unique, incredible experience, but the stadium races represent something truly special. These races give us the ability to actually compete on the fields that America’s top professional athletes compete on. We get to run through, under and around the stadium and on the field itself! Normally if someone attempts to do that, they are rewarded with a $1000 ticket and a night in jail.
As a young boy, I grew up attending Brewer games all summer long. Every night I dreamed of one day competing on that field in front of thousands of people. Those visions may have consisted of home runs and diving catches rather than spear throws and barbed wire crawls, but the fact remains that I am going to be able to fulfill a childhood dream this Saturday.
Thousands of Midwesterners will take the starting line in a few short days, accompanied by the many who will travel hundreds of miles to earn the honor of finishing a Spartan Race. Joining them will be some of the top Obstacle Racers in the country, highlighted by the clash of the only two men to win a Stadium Race: Hunter McIntyre and Alexander Nicholas. In addition other Pro Team athletes in attendance will be Elliott Megquier and Christopher Rutz. On the women’s side, the race is wide open and will feature several Spartan Pro Team members.
I’ll see you all on the field Saturday. Good luck and travel safely!

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“I pretty much create my own schedule”, states Misty Diaz matter-of-factly.

“But thankfully I do have a great coach named Michael Ainis, he helped me with one of the hardest half marathons in New York, which was all hills. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I got my best time on that course. I do a lot of cross training too, I kayak and make up my own routines I use trees and outdoor gyms. Yes – trees!”

She laughs at herself and the incredulity of her last statement and continues,  “I do a lot of hiking and skateboarding. I use walking canes, so I must constantly work out my upper body.”

In itself, this could be almost anyone in America – or the world – today. But Misty pushes harder than most. She was born with Spina Bifida.

Running wasn’t always something that was high on her radar, though. It was only recently that taking to the sidewalks, trails and roads became a way of life for her.

“I started running April 21, 2012. I had about a year under my belt of being sober, and I had so much energy. I remember driving around in Long Beach and seeing a sign for Ronald McDonald 5k walk. They had helped my family in the past so I thought what better way to give back. So I signed up and felt wonderful. Then about a week later, I saw a sign for Seal Beach 5k. I remember thinking If I could walk a 5k, I could run. Not once did I consider the fact I have Spina Bifida and use walking canes. I just signed up; no training, no running buddy. I went home, sat down and Googled training runs and created my own schedule. I went to the gym and started working out. From there, I just kept signing up for races and didn’t stop. As of 10/12 I will have run 32 races. My current goal which I’m almost done accomplishing, was running 3 half marathons in 3 1/2 weeks.”

It’s this passion for running and pushing further that’s seen her set a new goal. In December, Misty will be tackling the Spartan Sprint in Malibu.

“I honestly had been throwing around the idea for a while. Then the Weeple Army invited me to their group and I did two small obstacle races and felt like I didn’t accomplish much. I felt as though I needed something more challenging. So I spoke with a friend who’s affiliated with Spartan, and asked if he knew how to get sponsored. I raise all my funds for my races through sponsors or grants. He thankfully had a code! I just want something that will push me to the edge, push my body further then I have ever imagined. Youd think I would have had enough after 28 operations. I love training and working my mind, so what better way than to get in and try a Spartan race? I want to test my limits, I can’t imagine how I will feel once I finish. The hardest part for us is convincing our minds that we are capable. Many train the body, but forget the mind.”

It’s the mental aspect that is currently proving to be the biggest hurdle. Misty is under no illusions what’s in store for her. When asked if any part of the idea of a Spartan Race scares her or intimidates her, she laughs.

“Yes, the entire thing! But that’s the amazing thing about such an event. Think about that; the fact that we sign up for such events knowing it’s going to be hard and take a lot from us to accomplish and yet we are still willing to sign up and train for such an event. That’s pretty bad ass! I know I can do this, I’m just going to have to turn on a different type of beast mode!”

Misty’s passion for what she does is all too clear when she explains that what she does has now developed further.

“Along my journey I have been able to meet such incredible people, who have been my supporters and cheerleaders. Because of my love for running, I have started my own pending, non-profit, Teamwolfpackfoundation.com.”

“My non profit is to help those with Spina Bifida but not limited to, run 50 yard, 100 yard and 5Ks.  I want these kids and adults to feel a sense of accomplishment, to be proud, and excited just like I do. I want them to know anything is possible, if you have the will. I want to do what was done for me and give back. The Team Wolf Pack name started when I started running 15Ks to train for half marathons. I would have a team of 2-3 people behind me running with me. They held whatever I needed, carried my meds and water. When I got tired, one of the runners would get in front of me as a pace leader, or along my side and helped me keep my pace. This is what I want to do for these kids, and adults. I hope this encourages you to continue to run, to keep trying, and to help others. After many years, I finally feel a part of something. I can’t tell you how much that makes me happy. I’m so grateful to be a part of the running community.”

“I leave you with this friends; never ever give up!”

She will know at the finish line. You can too.

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On July 14th in Pennsylvania, a guy crossed the finish line of the Palmerton Spartan Sprint in an impressive time of 1 hour and 24 minutes. That time placed him 273rd overall. A quick time indeed given *those* hills and the small detail of the fact that in In Sept of 2001, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and given 6-8 years to live.

Jim Mullane explains, “After 12 months of intensive chemotherapy, I briefly reached full remission only to relapse a short time later. After 4 additional years and 4 different types of treatments I finally reached a sustainable remission and enjoyed living cancer-free for 5 full years. During this time my wife Lori and I expanded our family and added our two beautiful daughters: Amelia and Addyson. In early 2011 I relapsed and reentered treatment, a maintenance therapy which I have been on until recently.”

It was around this time that he decided to make some big changes in his life to get his body and spirit in the best shape possible to assist in the battle of his life. “This fight was no longer about just me; it was also about my wife and our beautiful girls. From a nutritional standpoint, I focused heavily on clean eating and added tons of veggies, fruits and lean proteins to my diet. I also gave up alcohol and caffeine, sticking primarily to water and decaf green tea at night.”

“From a fitness perspective, I teamed up with Rob Reddick and we enlisted the support of Jason Moss and his group, N-Motion Fitness. The purpose of this group is to motivate, inspire, and drive people to take control of their lives in a healthy way. A lot of the group members are Spartan Elite: Jason Moss, Heather Powell, Tina Landis, Justin Worthington, Jon Nicholson, Joey Parente, Harry Turner,Dave Leggitt, Brandon Seale and Keith Genko to name a few. The Group also consists of Several VPX Team Extreme members: Dan Krueger, Gretchen Krueger, John Sales and David Homa. With their motivation and support, I put the July PA Spartan Sprint on my race calendar and began the training process. We would get together every Wednesday morning and run the mountains of Valley Forge. Jason and his fellow trainers also put together N-Motion Fitness Camps which are designed to prepare participants for the challenges of OCR.”

“While preparing for my 1st Spartan Race, I was going through treatment for my NHL. All scans were reporting the disease as stable. The Thursday before the PA Sprint I was scheduled for a routine treatment and check-up. Upon examination, my doctor found there were notable lymph nodes in both my neck and groin and they elected to cancel treatment and scheduled me for an emergency PET scan on Friday. The scan was scheduled for 4pm so my pre-race fueling involved an 18 Hour fast! The scan results while showing cancer progression, thankfully also showed slow growth involvement.”

Working on around 2 hours’ sleep for the race and showing support for all his team members that all finished in the top 50, Jim lined up in the 10.45am heat and laid waste to the course. Those that remember the course will agree that it was arguable the hardest Sprint to date. The relentless incline taking no prisoners. But he powered through and placed 39th in his age group after keeping an average pace of 16.36.

“The feeling when crossing that finish line was amazing. It felt great to conquer the mountain and share the experience with some amazingly motivational people. There are parallels between my cancer battle and a Spartan Race… Both are mentally and physically challenging and require an enormous amount of courage and strength and perseverance to overcome.”

Following on from that remarkable weekend and breaking the seal on his Spartan Race journey, he explains where he is now with his treatment.

“My follow-up Biopsy showed that the Non-Hodgkins had spread and I just started a 5 month cycle of Chemo on 8/19. My thanks to the Spartan Family for providing me with the fitness tools clean eating suggestions and overall Motivation to Fight This Fight!!! AROO!!!”

Jim’s positivity is plain to see, his attitude towards everything in his way highlighted perfectly when asked where he draw his mental toughness from. “That is tough to define. There are so many negative emotions to battle with a cancer diagnosis that it’s easy for people, myself included at times, to spiral into a state of depression. I try to surround myself with motivational and positive influences. I feed off of their emotions when I’m out of sorts. By nature I’m a glass half full person, so I inherently try to find the positive in all situations and focus on that. I also understand that this fight I’m battling is no longer just about me; it’s about fighting for Lori, Amelia and Addyson and for them I WILL NOT and CANNOT quit fighting.”

But Jim is quick to make sure that his message of hope is the last thing he shares. We he agrees that any Spartan Race is tough, there is a greater message at stake than just dragging a few rocks and crawling through mud. “These races are designed to test every aspect of your being. Rest assured though, the feeling of crossing that finish line is life changing. For me the Spartan Experience is much more than the race itself; it’s about a living a healthier lifestyle and providing a strong and positive influence to my family and friends.”

No matter what the fight is, he offers a few final words of encouragement and hope. “No matter how tough things may be or how difficult the challenges are NEVER give up. Dig deep within yourself and find that one thing worth fighting for and focus on that during the tough times… Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage and support you through whatever is thrown your way but more importantly, pay it forward. I draw a lot of personal strength from talking to and helping others who are going through what I’ve been dealing with.”

Jim knows what it means to, “know at the finish line.”  Do you?

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“I’m a great believer in finding the things you can do and not worrying about the things you can’t,” smiles Richard Pringle, the impossibly happy Englishman.

Impossibly happy because Richard suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a condition that many people are unfamiliar with. Richard explains, “It’s basically a degenerative spinal condition and attacks the spine and joints. It’s a form of Arthritis and can be very severe – 6 years ago I could barely walk because of it. I even had a disabled permit for my car!”. In 2005 he was taken to hospital and stayed there for 6 months in order to fight it.

“The medication I take is a very rare and new drug called Biological Therapy. It’s called Anti TNF (Anti Tumour Narcosis Factor) and it works by taking away the part of your body that causes the inflammation in the joints. The side effect is that your immune system is extremely depleted and you don’t have ability to fight tumors as effectively.”

Pringle struggles with the condition daily. While the drugs are effective they don’t completely eradicate the symptoms, so he still suffers some pain and discomfort in his back and joints. Yet Pringle persists, carrying on and pushing forward. “You play the cards you’re dealt.”

Pringle also knows that there’s a high probability that the drugs won’t always work and that he will have to stop taking them. This is why he’s always in a rush. He’s in a rush to do as many amazing things as possible and that’s why he desperately wants to do the Spartan Beast to add to his list of things he’s achieved after being diagnosed.”

One huge difference is that the constant training and movement is because he wants to abs or the physique – they happen to be a very huge bonus side effect of what he does. He trains because he wants to live.

“If I didn’t do any exercise I would basically just stop working and my body would shut down. The best thing for my condition is to stay active. In severe cases and a common result of inactivity is that my back will start completely fusing together and not move at all. Whilst most people wouldn’t go to the extremes I have in terms of activity (swimming is the most commonly prescribed form of exercise). It’s so important that you exercise both for physical health and to keep me sane!

Having already conquered the Sprint, Richard is using his training and thirst for life as the fuel for slaying the Spartan Beast in London later this year. Pounding the trails and the dirt is now as much a part of his day as eating and sleeping.

“I’m absolutely buzzing for the Spartan Beast now. In terms of running it’s all about getting the miles in your legs in preparation so we’ve been going on a few longer runs over a fantastic local area called Fairlight Glenn. It’s basically like a ready-made Spartan training ground! It’s all off road with lots of hills there’s streams and tunnels and it’s the ideal training ground.”

Pringle also considers his location lucky, “Where I live in Hastings, is that we have outdoor gym areas on the beach and we have Monkey bars to practice on too so we’ve been doing lots of body weight training so we can get up those ropes and walls. The preparation has seriously started already as I’m looking for a good time and a good place in this. With my personality and regardless of my medical condition I always want to do as well as I can.”

For a man hosting a condition that would see his body literally shut down if he stops moving, he is remarkably upbeat. His positivity shines through in his actions, his attitude and even his work.

“I train over 350 people a week in Hastings through my Combat Conditioning classes I get asked for advice a lot. It normally involves reassurance as the most common thing people have is a lack of confidence and a doubt they can’t do something.”

When asked by those he trains if he thinks they can finish a Spartan he says, “Yes! We had 14 people entered in the Spartan Sprint and none of them had ever done anything like that before and it was the best feeling ever seeing their faces afterwards, knowing what they’d achieved.”

Richard swims, runs, lifts and even regularly wins MMA fights, an astonishing thought, considering the larger fight his carries every day.

“In life I’ve been lucky that I have a second chance, a second window of opportunity to do things I never thought possible and as I always say “never stop chasing your dreams.” If there’s one thing you want to do or one thing you want to achieve then go out and do it! I remember hearing a quote about regret and it said ‘when you’re going in your death bed it won’t be these things you did you’ll regret, it’ll be the things you didn’t do.’  This is so true.”

True to form, the content of his character mirrors so many people that “knew” at the finish line. Waving away questions about himself, his eagerness to help others is none more apparent when he explains,

“If I could give any advice to all those reading this thinking about doing their first Spartan Race, it’s do it! Don’t talk about doing it, don’t think about doing it just get those running trainers on and get out for a run and start training. Start by just running around the block if you have to but you’ll get there. With drive commitment and belief you can do anything you put your mind to. It’s all about your mindset. When I couldn’t walk properly due to my condition I was told I could swim. So that’s what I did. I swam every day and became a very good swimmer.”

What’s your excuse? Find a Spartan finish line HERE.

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“Life was never meant to be easy!” exclaims Tressa Carter. Given her circumstance, it’s difficult to understand why she’s so upbeat about things.

On May 30th of this year, avid jogger Tressa Carter was driving to the gym for her pre-work workout. It was to be a trip that would alter her life forever. She recalls, “the edge of my right tire caught the broken pavement. I gently pulled the truck back onto the road, but the steering wheel felt like it snatched out of my hand and began to spin out of control. I remember the truck going over into the opposite lane and then it ended up flipping several times before I was ejected from truck. I ended up on my stomach with arms and legs stretched out with face up – like superwoman! The truck then flipped a couple more times in the opposite directions once I was ejected.”

She continues, “The lady that was directly behind me, came to my side immediately and stayed with me until the ambulance picked me up.” Carter smiles, “Her name is Nicole Hardy. She asked me if there was anyone I needed her to call and I told her to contact my husband Dewitt and gave her his number. There were a lot of great people who showed up at the accident to help with me and contact my boss to let her know I wouldn’t be able to make it to work that day.”

A few short days later, Carter was in the Intensive Care Unit when her doctor informed her that her infection had spread and that amputation was necessary. “I kinda knew from the beginning that this would have to be done because when I turned to look at my right leg while lying on the highway that day the calf was split open all the way down but was hoping for the best. I did prepare myself for a possible amputation.”

Surgery was scheduled for the following day and surgery went well and the healing was as good as could be expected. Carter was out of hospital and on her way home 11 days later. “My left leg had several injuries. I had broken bones in that leg and ankle and there were several deep wounds. My left knee was also traumatized really bad, so I was in a knee brace along with a boot for about 2 months. I am in therapy now, doing some strengthening to the leg, knee & ankle and have been doing a lot better getting around. I was using a walker until about a week ago and now I use the forearm crutches.”

She has been fitted with a posthetic, but hasn’t been able to use it much yet. “I got my prosthetic leg recently, but my socket is too big and I have problems keeping the leg on so I haven’t really been able to train with it yet. I go again next week and hopefully we have a good fit.”

What is so striking about Carter is her cheerfulness that shines through everything she does. She attributes this to her outlook on life and her mindset.

“I always say, you can do everything that you set your mind to do. Push yourself and never doubt yourself.”

She goes on to say, “Anyone who is having a hard time in life just always remember to be strong, don’t give up and always remember there is someone else out there that is a lot worse off than you are so be very thankful for what you do have.” Carter would like to thank her dear friend Ashley Lodge, for all her support during her accident and her recovery.

Once Carter has become accustomed to using her new leg, she plans on attacking her first Spartan Race. No excuses for her. What’s yours? Sign up today.

See you at the finish line…

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