When I was anxiously preparing for the start of the World Championships I saw a glimpse of some of the announced runners that would be attending the event. I saw at least 10 athletes that had running times that were so superior to mine, I felt like a JV high school runner at best. I mentioned this to a mentor and friend of mine, Chris Clifford and he said, “remember Spartan Racing is a different beast.” Chris said, “if you had to spend 5 minutes in a boxing ring with one of these 120 lb, 14-minute 5K guys, and then race the Spartan event who do you think would win?”

As I stood on one of the 15-round Spartan stickers, waiting for the start of the 7 AM elite Fenway Park Spartan Sprint, with less than a minute to go Chris’s words came to my mind. I glanced to my right and looked at the 205 pound Alexander Nicholas, then in front at the 200 pound Hunter McIntyre and then I noticed there were also the runners with the sub-140 pound frames and thought the only way Spartan Races attract all of us is because they are battles, not races.  I smirked a small smile as I pictured Alexander Nicholas, with his baggie Moi Thai shorts from his Elite Fitness Club in a MMA ring with Hobie Call and thought, Spartan has created an event where heart, strength, agility, speed, endurance – everything – is needed to win.  

Fenway’s start was a battle; athletes were greeted by an immediate bottleneck and a serious urgency to be the first to the front if they had any desire of being a contender. Grasping the handrail and whipping myself around the turns of the ramp, climbing furiously, I found myself urging to be in first but ebbing in and out of the top 5. As soon as we reached about 300 feet of vertical climbing we quickly grabbed the dual 5 gallon jugs and were performing the farmer’s carry down stairs that brought us back down the vertical only to carry the 60 pounds of water right back up. Only 2 minutes into this race I found my lungs being seared by the crisp, morning air.

After ascending over and through the bungee cords I found myself in the company of Hunter McIntyre and Brakken Kraker. We had a fairly good gap as we entered the rowing machines. I had heard the rowing machines were a 500 meter row in less than two minutes with a pre-programmed message on the screen: less than 2 minutes, “AROO!” more than 2 minutes “Screw You!” Actually, the message said, “30 burpees” but screw you and 30 burpees is quite similar if you’ve ever done a Spartan Race.

I finished the row just in front of Hunter but felt a little timid leading through the ups and downs and lefts and rights through the stadium seating rows.  I felt it better strategy to follow then to lead.  As we continued through obstacles I felt like an MMA fighter exchanging blows as we went count-for-count through the heavy rope, slam balls and hand-release pushups. I found myself on the defensive as Hunter made his move and Brakken made his.  

With a mere 7 minutes remaining in a short 25-minute sprint, I helplessly watched as Hunter and Brakken dropped me through the sandbag carry and would proceed to finish in yet another (Remember Miller Park) finish-line sprint. As I went over the final set of 5-foot walls, followed by the 8-foot wall I saw out of my peripheral on the giant Fenway Screen, Hunter and Brakken going neck and neck on the final box jumps. Hunter would once again beat Brakken by less than a second.

I crossed the finish line and again reflected on being a fighter in a battle and pushing myself beyond my limits. Third place didn’t feel like a victory, it felt more like being on the ropes and not punching back when the time was necessary. However, once again I walk away from my early career as a Spartan Racer yearning for the next battle and planning how I will be delivering the blows and beating the beasts that this sport has given me.

The Bear


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A year a ago a Spartan Race in a stadium sounded a little strange to many Spartan veterans. Many scoffed at the idea of a race without mud, water and fire. Once they were reminded of the whole theory behind Spartan training, to prepare for the unexpected, it began to make more sense. Leading up to Fenway 2012 many were unsure of what lay ahead.

 

How would the course be set up?

What would the waves be like?

What “traditional” obstacles would be on the course?

How much running would there be?

What new obstacles might be out there?

As expected Spartan Race proved that the stadium venue was just as challenging as a sprint out on the trails. In fact many find the stadium more challenging than a Sprint. CrossFit style obstacles are utilized: box jumps, rowing, jump ropes, ball slams and push-ups to name just a few. In addition, the stadium atmosphere makes it friendlier to spectators and easier for many athletes to attend.

 

That first race laid the groundwork not only for more races in the US, but also the first international stadium race in Mexico at Estadio Azteca. Coming in 2014 will be more stadium races including Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

What can you expect to see on Saturday in Boston?  Well the Pro Team will be well represented by Hunter McIntyre and Brakken Kraker. They had a photo finish a few weeks ago at the Miller Park race in Milwaukee. It will be a fierce battle for first with those two on the course. On the women’s side, look for TyAnn Clark, making her stadium debut, and Andi Hardy. In addition, other top talent from New England will be there to give them a run for their money. It should be another exciting weekend of racing at Fenway.

Next up, Malibu!

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by Jessica Wohlen, Member of the New England Spahten Race Team

An OCR at Fenway?! You can’t be serious.  A Spartan Race Time Trial?  No way!

Boston was pretty much my stomping grounds while I was in college (back when I wasn’t so active and healthy).  I spent many weekends on Lansdowne Street checking out bands and enjoying great (and loud) music.  I’ve been to Fenway to see a few games.  I even got to stand on the field and run the diamond this year.   When I heard there was going to be an OCR at Fenway, and it was going to be a Spartan Race, it took all of 2 seconds for me to make up my mind – regardless of the cost – to be there!  It was going to be EPIC!

Being part of the New England Spahtens (pronounced “Spa-tens” for those non-New Englanders out there) we quickly decided we had to make our presence known.   Teams were created for both days, shirts were ordered (ok, really awesome team jerseys were procured from Akuma!).  This was a BIG deal.

I had no idea what to expect, but in the days leading up to the Big Day some sneak shots were taken and posted on Facebook.  I was excited; I was so excited, in fact, my internal dialogue from Wednesday till 11am Saturday was just “EEEEEEE!”

The worst part of any race is always right before the wave is released into the unknown and this was no different.  I think it was actually worse than normal, because I was just…so…excited.

The waves were released a little differently at Fenway, to keep things flowing.  For each wave, every minute on the minute 10 people were released.  This was done by lining up on dots, a volunteer jotting down your bib, and then burpees until it was time.  Rinse, repeat  – until everyone was freed to run their race from that particular wave.  I found this was excellent as there were absolutely NO bottlenecks to be found throughout the course.

So off we went, up the ramps.  Crawling, jumping, crawling, jumping.  I nearly got cleaned out by a sneaky black bungee strung at the top of a ramp – I saw it seconds before and alerted the folks around me with a “Whoa! Bungee!”   I quickly realized this was going to be no ordinary race.  As it turned out it was going to be more like if a CrossFit competition had a baby with Spartan Race…and I was ok with that!

There was some wonderful use of elements in the park.  We climbed over picnic tables.  We hoisted weight much higher than ever before for the Herculean Hoist.  We climbed up (and over…crazy!) beams that support the park’s structure.  We ran what seemed like every square inch of the grandstands, bleachers, concourses, AND the Monstah Seats!  This was amazing!

Like I mentioned before, there were some elements of CrossFit to be found around every corner.  Concept2 rowers – sneaky that you couldn’t see where you were in the 2 minutes of rowing!  Atlas Carry.  Super thick jump rope.  Push-ups. BOX JUMPS!  I really enjoyed all of this.

Our favorite obstacles were found too.  Rope Climb, Spear Throw (Made it for the first time ever!), Traverse Wall (1st time completed as well!), Hobie Hop (up 8 flights of stairs!), O-U-Ts, Carrying Heavy Stuff and walking (water; sandbag) and Wall Climbs were all present and accounted for.

This wasn’t your typical Spartan Race, but it was lots of fun!  I thought I was going to miss the mud, water, and fire – all very much parts of a typical race – but I had so much fun doing everything we had thrown at us that I was ok with them being on a mini vacation!

A part of me wants to warn the newcomers that this is not the norm, but the rest of me is giggling at the thought of seeing them tackle Amesbury in August… with all that mud, water, and FIRE!

Want to get registered for Amesbury?  Click HERE to join the action!

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