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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by Carrie Adams, Spartan Staffer
The Beginning

On a cold, dark, wet morning in February of 2011, over a thousand miles from home, while horribly under-dressed and with a fractured foot in the mountain trails of Southern California, I raced my first Spartan Race.

It became part of an experience that would ultimately change the course of my life dramatically. I didn’t know the significance of that when I boarded the plane in Nebraska the night before or even that morning when the gun went off. Eight miles in the mountains and I was a Spartan, it was even captured on film. I was the “Single mom from Omaha, Nebraska.” When I finished, I was exhilarated with the course and I didn’t know in that moment that I was also about to take on the role of a lifetime as a Spartan Race employee.

Call me Crazy
When I took the job at Spartan, everyone said I was crazy. It was crazy to join a new company with this “obstacle racing” events that were still considered “mud runs” for “weekend warriors.” There couldn’t possibly be a future in that. Spartan HQ was so unlike anything I had known – we were, and still are, a small shop with limited resources. Most of us are athletes, all of us are hard workers that believed in this idea that Spartan could change lives. And it does. I’ve seen it. It’s undeniable.

After accepting Joe D’s offer of branding and content in early 2011, my life became about plane rides and finish lines. But in between the frequent flier miles I racked up and the medals I put around the necks of those who crossed a Spartan finish line, I’ve made a lifetime of memories I’ll never forget. I’ve done Bikram yoga in a California and almost missed a flight out of Vermont after getting into a fender bender blocks from the airport. I got stuck in a blizzard in Massachusetts, navigated UP a double black diamond slope in Pennsylvania, crawled through culverts in Staten Island, and climbed trees in Texas. I took on a Beast in Killington. I spent six hours stranded at a Park and Ride in Red Hooks, NY with two of my best friends. I’ve seen the sunrise in 17 states in the last two years.

From 2011 to now, I’ve also logged time in Vermont, Malibu, Temecula, Boston, New Hampshire, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Massachusetts, Missouri, Glen Rose, Dallas, and Colorado. I’ve been coast to coast and gotten excellent at packing and sleeping anywhere – including the floor of a barn and on a rock at the top of a mountain under the stars. And this week will mark my last days at Spartan Race. It’s overwhelming to say that out loud. It almost sounds impossible, considering all I’ve done and seen in the time I’ve been here.

When I started we had less than 30,000 FB fans and now we are well over 3 million. In 2011, we had 26 events and in 2013 will have over 65 worldwide races and nearly 750,000 people will cross one of our finish lines before the New Year. I could tell you enough to fill books about this company, stories of how the Beast was born while Joe was hiking with a few staffers in Vermont and how it took us four hours to pick the right shade of green for the first Beast medals in 2011. Our leader, Joe De Sena is the kind of man you’d go to war for. His brilliance with a shade of crazy has made this company great, special, and always thinking of the people who come to our races first. Everything has always been so organic and always with our racers in mind. Don’t ever doubt how much love goes into the details, even as we’ve grown to such a huge size. When I tune into the NBC Sports special that will cover our most recent World Championship event, its amazing to consider how far we’ve come. I’m proud to have contributed to that in my own way. So, if that is all crazy, go ahead and call me crazy.

Thank You, Spartans
This isn’t about what I learned about me in the last two and a half years, its what I’ve learned from the Spartan community. It’s about what I’ve been given in the process.

I’ve stood for hours at finish lines watching the faces of those who would finish – from the first place finishers to the last, all crossing the same line and the transformation is immediate. The relief in their bodies, a relaxing in the face – sometimes in tears, sometimes a smile, often both. There is the physical acknowledgement and realization that they are, in fact, DONE. The medal goes around their neck and they all take a moment and stare at it’s sheen – some with shock and disbelief, but all with pride of what has been earned on the course. You have all shown me what the best and brightest exists in all of us, that there is so much good, that there is still much to have high hopes about in this life.

There are too many stories I’ve told from this blog and other places to recount “favorites.” You’ve all meant something to me. Something incredible and something that has left imprints on me that I will happily carry with me always.  From the elite athletes that breathed a new and competitive life to this sport, to those who have overcome personal obstacles… those of you running for a reason bigger than yourself, and those who are running for the first time – you’ve all made me better.  You’ve made Spartan better.  So many of you have become more than subjects of a story line, you’ve thankfully become my friends. That keeps me in excellent company and always expecting more of myself.

My co-workers are the best in the world. I will miss you all deeply.  I’ve benefited from the hard work of the Spartan staff, the commitment to excellence, and a work ethic that would shame most.   I am not leaving your family, just the walls where we’ve shared sleepless nights and early mornings.  I never had a cup of coffee in my life until  I joined Spartan.  How is that for proof?  And as Joe told me last week, “You never really leave Spartan.”  This is true.

Many people don’t know where our tagline, “You’ll Know at the Finish Line” came from. It was something I wrote on a piece of paper in our old office in Boston after accepting my Spartan role and after doing a race myself.  It has been repeated back to me hundreds of time since we adopted it and its something that unites anyone who has done a race.  You can’t explain it, it’s just something you know once you’ve had the experience.

It couldn’t have come more full circle than when I saw my two daughters, Taylor and Cate, cross the finish line in the Nebraska Kid’s race this past weekend.  A race in my home state, a race I had asked for since I began so long ago was how my Spartan story ended.  And welcoming my girls to the Spartan finisher family of finishers, was a privilege.   It was a perfect send-off.  They knew at their finish line, they’d been a part of the story too.  They’d seen me travel to far off places and always return home with stories and muddy laundry.  Now, they could feel it for themselves.  It was one of the greatest gifts I could have given them. Their delighted faces were the greatest gifts they could have given back.

I look forward to the next chapter for me and my girls but am so, so, so very thankful to have such a prolific chapter of Spartan Race in my life story.  I’ve loved every moment of the ride, I’ve grown personally and professionally, found love, friendships, and will always be grateful to be part of such a motivating and inspiring community.  As a woman who regularly writes about 10,000 words a day, here are two that I can’t say enough to everyone I’ve encountered along the way: THANK YOU.

#spartanforever

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It has been a week since the Vermont Championship Beast. Arguably the hardest Spartan Race this side of the Ultra Beast. We had a chance to catch up with some of the Pro Team to get their feedback on the race. Despite their toughness, training and experience, they suffer the same mental and physical challenges along the course. Here is some of what they shared with us.

Elliott Megquier, who has completed more Spartan Races this year than any other Pro Team athlete, shared his thoughts.

“It was about of mental and physical toughness. It was not about who was the fastest runner (a two time NYC Marathon Champion quit), not about hype. It was about determination and plugging away. I was discourage after doing 30 burpees for the spear and then for the Tarzan swing. But I brushed it aside and ran through cramping.”

Jenny Tobin, finished in 4th place and was the ProTeam’s top placing women.

“I had three goals: goal C was to finish, goal B be in the top 10 and goal A be in the top 5. I felt like I could at least accomplish my C goal but I had thought that in Vegas too and did not finish…Anyway, I lined up a few rows back and started very slowly not knowing how I would feel and knew it would be a long day so no sense in going anaerobic from the get go.” She went on to say, “The obstacles were tough but the mountain seemed like the biggest obstacle. I also felt like there were as not as many obstacles as the year before other than the mountain this year, however, the killer obstacle was the 60 lb sand bag carry straight up hill and down that seemed to go on forever!!! I would have liked to have seen Morgan Arritola carry that thing being that she probably doesn’t even weigh a 100 lbs.”

Ang Reynolds, one of the most experienced Spartan Pro Team women on the course had her own finishing doubts along the way.

“Coming back down that mountain I rolled my ankle on a rock under some grass. I went down, picked myself back up, and made the decision to walk off the course. At this point, I realized my will to finish could not supersede my lack of training. I was completely spent. I limped down the mountain and finally caught sight of my fiancé. I told him I
was going to quit. I told him that it was the smartest thing I could do at that time to avoid further injury. He looked at me and said, “Well, let’s make sure. Why don’t you pick up that sandbag and start climbing while you think?” I grabbed the sandbag and headed back up the mountain. I have since heard that those sandbags were between 65-75 pounds, more than my 7-year-old son, and well over half of my body weight. That wasn’t very fun.

Miguel Medina, who has seen the podium many times this year, most recently at the NorCal Beast had his own personal triumph on the race course.

“Dealing with an injury less than halfway through the race hampered my efforts and shattered any hopes of achieving a top finish, at this point the race was completely mental; finish…adapt or die. I refused to be beaten by this beast, regardless of my placement I was going to finish this race, and I reject the idea of quitting so almost 6 hours later, it was all over…beat up, tired, weak and weary…but not defeated.” and “Adversity tests our will and asks us to do more, so I’m answering the call…next year The Beast won’t know what hit it.

Cody Moat, last years winner and this years 4th place man almost DNF’d. Here is what went through his head at that point and how he came back to finish strong. After a failed attempt at the Tarzan swim

“Half way through my burpees my legs began to cramp. Instead of the burpees taking 2 minutes they took around 3 minutes. I knew at this point that it would be hard to regain the lead but I thought perhaps there was still a chance. So I took off again and only made it 200 meters and my leg really cramped. I sat there on the ground while Matt Murphy ran by. I didn’t know what to do, I’d never had a cramp that bad. So I began hobbling back to a DNF when I decided that I was going to find a way to make my cramped quad bend. So I pushed down on the ground as hard as I could to make my knee bend and it finally bent and released the cramp. By this time Matt had probably gained 5 minutes on me so I knew that it would be tough to catch up with anyone ahead of me. So off I went through the woods but I couldn’t really get going again because I knew any minute my cramp may return. After about 2 more miles of running I had worked out my cramped muscles but there was no catching anyone up ahead so I finished the race in 4th place.”

Christopher Rutz, the Tough Training guy and the oldest man on the Pro Team hit a huge obstacle at the Tyrolean Traverse.

“Coming into the Tyrolean Traverse I was in a good position in the course. So I aggressively decided to traverse under the rope. In hindsight, this was a big mistake for me at this point in the race. I should have been more conservative and used the ‘on the top’ approach. I attempt the traverse 3 times, and each time I failed. Once trying on the top, but without a shirt the impact of rope burn on my chest was unpalatable. Pumping out thirty burpees after each attempt really zapped my strength, but not my spirit. I was determined to finish the race despite the impact this would have on my time and placement. You can be sure I will have revenge on the Traverse and The Beast next year.”

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Top 3 Males

The Ultra Beast began at 6AM in the dark, when there was fog rolling sharply up the mountains. Lined up were Ultra Beast participants as well as Peak Team Death Racers who had been racing all weekend and would be forced to finish their event side-by-side on the unknown miles ahead. All told, it was roughly 27 miles, sharing 14 of those miles with the Beast course itself. It was a wet, cold, and brutal day on the mountain with a finisher rate hovering at 43%. For an ultra marathong Obstacle course race, the only of it’s kind, there is no shock that the numbers fall as they do.

By the numbers:
585 Registered
252 Finishers
- 43% Finisher percentage

First Place Female, Morgan McKay

108 Elite wave finishers
144 Open wave finishers
15 Female finishers (Last year there were 19 female finishers.)
237 Male finishers

Note: Two of those 15 women, Jackie Rust and Heather Knowles Cammarata raced the Beast the day before. Jackie Rust finished in third place female for the Ultra Beast and Heather placed 4th. Less than a dozen Spartans finished both the Beast AND the Ultra Beast last weekend.

Male winners:
1. Junyong Pak 8:36:28
2. Olof Dallner 8:43:03
3. Ben Nephew 8:54:58

Jackie Rust, 3rd place Female

Female Winners:
1. Morgan McKay 11:31:45
2. Nancy Levene 11:46:07
3. Jackie Rust 13:03:45

Are you ready to tame the Ultra Beast?  Pre-register today!

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Under sunny, blue skies in central Vermont, before an international crowd of 15,000, the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships crowned new male and female World Champions. Utah’s Hobie Call, 36, and Amelia Boone, 30, of Chicago, finished first and each earned a $15,000 payout. The hotly anticipated season finale with over $290,000 in cash and prizes, featured some of the world’s most talented professional obstacle course racers, Olympians, professional triathletes, and world champion trail runners. NBC Sports was on hand to capture all the action for a television special airing October 19, 2013.

The men’s competitive heat featured the winner, Hobie Call, emerged from the daunting 14 mile course with a time of 3:35:56. Finishing in second place was Australian Spartan Champion Matt Murphy, 28, in 3:44:15, and Spartan Pro Team member Hunter McIntyre, 24, now residing in Pittsfield, Vt., who finished a close third with a time of 3:44:42.

On the women’s side, Amelia Boone, who came in second last year, took the top spot this year with a time of 4:09:52, nearly 15 minutes ahead of the second place female finisher, Australian Spartan Champion Deanna Blegg, 44, who clocked in at 4:24:10. Rounding out the top three was Canadian National team biathlete, Olympic hopeful and 2012 Spartan Race World Champion Claude Godbout, 27, of Quebec City, with a time of 4:34:52.

At the finish line, still caked in mud, Hobie Call, of Erda, Utah, said, “The course is absolutely crazy. I had to do it carefully and pace myself. I’m still in denial that I won. I’m sure I’ll be crying in a corner in a couple of hours,” he jokes.

Female champion Amelia Boone, an attorney at Skadden Arps, says, “It really could have been anyone’s race. That’s what is great about these events. I went out not knowing what to expect. It was the toughest competition I’ve ever faced in a race.”

The Reebok Spartan Beast race, in Killington, Vt., which will attract over 9,000 competitors and 6,000 spectators this weekend, is infamous for a half marathon worth of steep inclines, technical terrain, and challenging obstacles such as carrying 65 pound sand bags, climbing walls, and crawling through mud under barbed wire.

“We continue to push athletes to new limits with our races,” said Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena of Pittsfield, Vt. “This is the toughest race we’ve designed to date, most definitely. We can’t wait to show the world what we have in store for 2014.”

In addition to the elite heat, the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships featured a charity challenge, an inaugural Vermont Spartan Sprint, and an Ultra Beast that began early Sunday morning on a cold, and windy morning.  More to come on an epic weekend of racing.  Congratulations to all our winners and all our Spartan World Championship weekend finishers!

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It all comes down to Vermont.

Spartan Racing reaches its pinnacle this weekend in Killington, Vermont. There are many opportunities to race, a Sprint or a Beast on Saturday and a charity Sprint, Beast and Ultra Beast on Sunday. Each course will present a challenge with the professional and Olympic level athletes expected to take about four hours to complete the Saturday Beast course. The weather in Killington on Saturday is expected to be cloudy with a high around 70 and a chance of rain. In other words, like in any Spartan Race, plan for anything. The majority of our racers will be out there most of the day and will need to be self-supported. Killington Mountain is no joke. Top elevation is 4,241ft with a vertical gain of 3,050ft. You can expect Spartan Race will make full use of this mountain.

All eyes will be on the World Championship Race Saturday morning. Top athletes from around the world will be present for what will be the most competitive race in Spartan history. In addition to the podium spots and cash purse available for the Saturday Beast, the US Spartan Elite racers will also be racing for their final placing in the 2013 Points Series.

So who will be racing in the Elite wave at the World Championship Beast on Saturday?
On the men’s side:
Australian Spartan Racers on their way include Matt Murphy, Will Lind and Shaun Phelps. The top 3 ranked racers from down under. From the USA you can count on seeing most if not all of the Spartan Pro Team and other Top 10 ranked racers including Hobie Call, Isaiah Vidal and Brian Hoover. Currently 7 of the Top 10 US Points Spots are occupied by Spartan Pro Team members, Elliott Megquier, David Magida, Brakken Kraker, Alec Blenis, Hunter McInytre, Cody Moat and Alexander Nicholas. Mexico will be represented by New York Marathon winner German Silva and Tavito Oliveros.

On the women’s side:
The Top 10 ranked US women are also dominated by Professionals. Olympic Cross-Country skier and professional mountain runner Morgan Arritola will be tough competition for returning champion Claude Godbout, a Canadian National Team biathlete and Olympic hopeful. Spartan Pro Team members. Top ranked April Luu will be racing to maintain her number one position and a number one spot on the podium. Battling it out on the course with her are expected to be Rose Marie Jarry, Hannah Orders, Leslie St. Louis, Jenny Tobin and TyAnn Clark. Beyond these Spartan Pro Team women other Top 10 to look for include Ameila Boone, Shaun Provost, Karlee Whipple, and Elise Fugowski. Mexico will be represented by Olympian Fabiola Corona.

New for 2013 are awards for the Master’s men and women in the Points Series. While some are also competing for a spot in the Top 20 overall, they will also be recognized for their performance as Master’s athletes. Brian Hoover, Christopher Rutz and Tadd Morris will be racing for the top 3 Spots for the men. Jenny Tobin, Andi Hardy, Jolene Wilkinson and Juliana Sproles will be battling on the women’s side.

Beyond these seasoned Spartan Racers look for some new faces and familiar faces from other sports to show us what they have to conquer Killington and the Spartan Race Sprint, Beast and Ultra Beast. There will be many high powered athletes looking to claim the title of Spartan Beast World Champion.

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Tim Morris, 32 grew up in Windham and now lives in Hudson, NH, is and incredibly inspirational and motivational human being. At the age of 26, he suffered a devastating accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.  The severity of his injuries hasn’t slowed Morris down or changed his health and fitness goals. Morris represents dedication and perseverance through constant hard work, passion, and turning a negative situation into a positive lifestyle.

Prior to his accident, Morris had just finished his master’s degree in Kinesiology-Pedagogy (Physical Education) and was a personal trainer. He spent a month in a medically induced coma at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit recovering from brain swelling and near-fatal pneumonia, punctured lungs, dozens of broken bones and suffering a T4 “complete” injury (complete loss of function and sensation below the chest-level injury). But Tim has never taken that diagnosis to be anything but a label. He wakes up at 4 a.m. to do self-taught water therapy or get a cardiovascular workout in for an upcoming marathon. Morris also works with Erin Crossman, an exercise physiologist friend, several times a week and together they have produced incredible returns in function for an injury this severe.

In the six years since his accident, Morris has redeveloped the ability to crawl, regained partial movement through his hips, and is working on the ability to stand hands-free. He is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, a Fitness Nutrition Specialist, a successful Motivational Speaker and trying to help others through opening a neurological recovery facility called “NextStep Fitness – New England”.

Morris strives to be “the hardest working person you know” and inspires people along the way in believing anything is possible. In 2013, despite his paralysis, he completed OCR races and  will compete in the 13-mile Vermont Spartan Race “Beast” World Championships as captain of Team “NextStep Fitness – New England” and just a few weeks later will race in the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC!  Morris works to inspire others that experience any hardship, but specifically any similar traumatic neurological injuries, and their families, to comfort and know that a spinal cord injury is not the end.

There are roughly 450,000 people in the United States living with spinal cord injuries, with about 12,000 new cases each year. 80 percent SCIs are in males and the average age for injury since 2005 is 40. SCI results in average annual expenses of $66,000 and a lifetime cost of more than $2 million dollars. There are approximately 500,000 people in New England alone suffering some form of neurological dysfunction.

We look forward to hosting Morris and Next Step Fitness at the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships September 21 and 22, 2013.  Be sure to tune in to the coverage October 19 in a 90 minute special airing by NBC Sports.

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Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

Standing in front of the fire jump flames rising towards to sky, Lance Bombardier James Simpson, 27, made a decision. “I’m just going to jump over it myself.” With just a few friends as support, one of them tasked with ensuring he didn’t start on fire in the process, James leapt over the fire and finished the Reebok Spartan Sprint in Ripon, North Yorkshire September 8, 2013 becoming the first British double amputee to accomplish such a feat!

“I kept my medal on for hours after!” he joked. “We thought it was a 5k… I found out afterwards it was actually 7.1k!”  Arguably the toughest Sprint in the UK line-up, the course was rugged and the obstacles difficult, but Simpson insisted on doing each of them without assistance.  ”It was just me and a few friends.  I did everything myself.”

The charming redhead from Yorkshire had been training for the event for four months and was prepared for most of what was going to face him on the course, until the mud towards the end. “The mud was so thick, I was afraid my leg would come out of the socket. That part took the longest!”

Simpson heard about the event from some of his American friends who finished a Spartan in the States in 2012 and knew he had to do one for himself. He told the Huffington Post, “I did not do it to break a record. I did it because I wanted to and hopefully it will encourage more people to do it and more amputees to try it in the future.”

Simpson was a part of the 5th Regiment, Royal Artillery stationed in Helmand, Afghanistan in November of 2009. While he was on foot patrol in Sangin and was the seventh man in line and stepped directly on an IED. He lost both legs above the knee and sustained injuries in both arms in the blast. “I remember just not looking down. I knew my legs were gone, but I just kept talking to myself to keep myself calm until the helicopter came.”

Simpson has also decided that he’s not quite done with his Spartan Racing adventures either. He’s found two friends to take on the upcoming Spartan Super in the Midlands on September 21st. “We’re going to give it a whirl!” he says.

With nearly double the distance and more obstacles than his recent Sprint experience, Simpson expects it to take a lot longer to complete. “I’m excited… and nervous… this means we’ll have to try the Beast as well!”  With a trifecta on his mind, Simpson will be taking on the Midlands course this weekend, two months after he may also be tackling the London Beast, and possibly even an event or two stateside in 2014.

L/Bdr Simpson has another exciting adventure awaiting outside Spartan Races.  He’s leaving the military for a new life as a University student studying film this fall.  He is also raising money as part of Spartan Journey for the Armed Forces charity SSAFA. You can find his website HERE to learn more and donate.

We’ll see you on the course this weekend, James!

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by Cody Moat, Spartan 2012 World Champion and Spartan Pro Team member

The Road to becoming a Spartan Champion Part 1 –Before Spartan Racing
After a lifetime of being involved in competitive sports, I decided to take a break after my fifth and final year of college running. I was burned out and ready to conquer goals other than running. I got a teaching job and started a family. I had a burning love of the great outdoors and I spent many hours up in the hills. I wanted to spend more time at home with my family and still be able to roam the mountains. I realized the only way to make that possible would be to run the mountains instead of hike them. Then I could be home in a quarter of the time and still see the same outdoors. So that’s what I decided to do. I would run the trails and sometimes “bush-wack”, facing a lot of natural obstacles along the way. After a few years of this kind of training I realized that I was in pretty good shape and set out to get signed up for my first trail marathon (also my first marathon). After my first trail marathon I was hooked on racing and would have done more but was hampered by a bad case of plantar fasciitis.

The Road to becoming a Spartan Champion Part 2
“Do you want to be on my team for the Utah Spartan race?”
That is how I got started racing Spartan races. My friend, Wade Poulson, called and wanted me to join his team for the Utah race. I told him I would try to train, but that I’d been battling a foot injury for two years and there were no guarantees that I’d be able to run on race day. This answer seemed to suffice and he signed me up for his team.

I still didn’t know what a Spartan race was so I looked it up online and was thinking, “This is not really what I had in mind.” But I’d already agreed so I started training. I mostly trained for that 1st race by running, doing push-ups, pull-ups, and making natural obstacles on my trail runs. I ended up taking 2nd place and Spartan called a few days later and I haven’t stopped since. Thanks, Wade, for that first invitation!

The Road to becoming a Spartan Champion Part 3
My next experience with Spartan after the Utah Beast in 2012, was the World Championship race in Killington, Vermont. I was invited me to come, but I wasn’t sure what would be covered. I had been training, just how I knew how, running lots and some natural obstacles. I knew I was the underdog coming into the race, which is how I like it. I had, after all, only run one Spartan race.

This was the first time Spartan had ever done an “Ultra” Beast (26+ mile OCR race) and it was to be done right after the “Beast”. I was entered in both races but I was really gearing my sites on winning the “Ultra” Beast. I wanted to be in the top 3 for the Beast and then come back and win the Ultra, so I wasn’t planning on going out fast. After the start of the race, though, I realized the pace wasn’t too fast, so I just stuck with the Hobie, visiting with him the majority of the time. The last 3 miles he had about 100 yard lead but we hit a huge mountain that was straight up and I caught back up with him. Then about 800 meter from the top I started to leave him. I took off down the other side which was 1.5 miles straight off to the finish line.

That is my story on becoming the World Champion Spartan racer for 2012. In 2013 I’ve been on the podium several times and joined the Spartan Pro Team as well. The 2012 Race was a great experience and I loved the course. It was a beautiful area to run a race, in the middle of fall. I’m looking forward to the upcoming World Championships in Vermont September 21, 2013. Join me! Register HERE.

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by Josh Strakos

“Thing 1 and Thing 2” lined up before the Texas Spartan Beast in Glen Rose, December 8, 2012

Meet the Joneses. Andrew, Stephanie, Eston, Caymin, and Madison. They live outside of Houston, Texas. They are not your average American family…

Americans in general do not get enough exercise. Childhood obesity is on the rise, and being overweight is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Family time together is eroding as we work longer hours, endure more job related stress, strive for material success, and sacrifice our time, our health, and ultimately our well-being chasing after an upper-middle class dream. We live to work, and it shows. Think you can solve all these issues with one remedy? Well, maybe there’s no such thing as a silver bullet, but there is a “cure” for this American-made malady.

If you mention Thing 1 and Thing 2 to any Spartan racer who’s been around, he or she will know you’re not about to read them a children’s book, you’re talking about father and son Andrew and Eston Jones.

L to R: Stephanie, Andrew, Eston, Madison, and Caymin before the TX Sprint in Burnet, May 19, 2012

“The Unbreakable Joneses” as the family is known to their friends and Facebook fans, have been racing together for about two years now and in that time have run about 10 races between the five of them. These races include the Spartan Trifecta, local marathons, Obstacle Course Races, and the Iron Warrior Dash. Andrew and Eston compete in the elite waves, and Eston has placed as high as 7th in a Spartan Race and is still striving toward the podium.

An average day for the Jones family includes jobs for Mom and Dad and home-schooling the kids, with one exception: P.E. time is anything but average. The afternoon begins normally enough, then around 3 PM daily, the fun starts. Usually, an afternoon workout for the family consists of 1-1/2 to 2 hours of non-traditional strength training using routines the family has developed and tailored over the past 5 years. Exercises with names like the “body mauler” and “Bubkas” are used to build core, leg, and upper body strength. The heart of the workouts focuses on developing stamina needed for obstacle racing.

But it doesn’t end there. For over one year now, the Joneses have been conducting a boot camp…free for anyone who is willing to show up and take on the challenge. A grueling mix of circuit training keeps boot campers moving. From a simulated obstacle race including an 8 foot wall, 15 foot climbing ropes, and a traverse rope strung between two perfectly spaced trees outside their home, the 25+ obstacles on this 3/4 mile “track circuit” will challenge even the seasoned veteran…but it’s the newcomers who keep them going. Since they started the boot camp, over 100 people have passed through, and there are usually 25+ in attendance on any given Tuesday or Thursday night. The mix includes competitive obstacle racers and newbies who have never run a race. You’ll see fathers, sons, husbands, wives, old, and young at the boot camps – usually multiple members of the same families. People are being inspired to change their lives. They’re showing up, and then signing up for a Spartan race they never dreamed of doing until they see that everyone started just like they did – with a few burpees and a lot of determination. The obstacle race style training is just plain fun for everyone – just look at any child on a playground, and you’ll see “it’s the way we we’re intended to move”.

Andrew and Eston 5 years ago and then in December 2012

A neighbor even built a Spartan-style traverse wall in his garage to add to the fun. As boot campers come to the halfway point in the “track circuit” as it is affectionately known, they divert from the track and head into “David’s garage” to tackle the Spartan-style obstacle. Other circuits include tire flipping, low crawls, a tire drag (with my 6 year old riding in the tire, at no extra charge!), sledge hammers, and a particularly punishing workout appropriately dubbed “El Diablo” – the only way to describe it is “lots of core work”, and lots of soreness the day after, especially for first-timers. The boot camp happens twice a week every week, rain or shine…people learn about it through word-of mouth, Facebook posts, and the quirky but interesting videos posted on the “Unbreakable Joneses” YouTube channel.

Oh, and did I mention the boot camp is not a substitute for their daily workout – its extra family fun. On the non-circuit days, their normal workout is typically followed by a 5-7 mile trail run in the state forest conveniently located behind their home!

In the end, though, it’s about more than the fitness and competition. This is the way the family spends time together. The fitness is a side effect of a strong bond and family togetherness. So, if you think you don’t have time to work out, or spend time with your family, maybe it’s time to re-prioritize. Maybe it’s time to try a Spartan Race…just get off the couch and do it. You’ll be glad you did. And if you need an example of how it’s done, look no further than the Joneses. Whether it’s training, racing, skateboarding, wave riding, playing paintball, or helping others to achieve their fitness goals, the Jones family is “Unbreakable”.

Follow the Joneses on their Facebook page.  Click HERE. 

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