by Chris Rutz

Money, money, money Part II.  We talked about expenses for Spartan travel in Part I.  Here is more information on how to get to your Spartan destination cost effectively.

There are a lot of different means to go about saving money on travel. Of course the best way to travel on the cheap is bum a ride off of someone, stay with someone you know nearby, or campout at the race. I have done all of these. Some people chose Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz etc… to make their travel plans. For me I have very good success with directly booking with my favorite travel partners. I like to be able to change my mind. You never know when you might get injured, sick, or just cannot make it. I am always looking for the best deals without having to fully commit and make a nonrefundable deposit.  So for those of you that have to buy a plane ticket, rent a car, and stay at a hotel, here are some tips that work for me. My number one tip is to join AAA. For about $55 you get great discounts on top of their other benefits. Second big tip is networking. When I dove into Spartan Racing for 2012 I knew no one at the races. Today, every race I go to I am able to share a hotel room and sometimes a car. I am trying to figure out how to share an airplane seat, lap child anyone?

I do not work for, nor am I sponsored by any of these companies. But we really do need a few official travel partners of Spartan Racing. Is anyone listening?

Airplane –

Southwest Airlines is my carrier of choice. Phoenix is one of their major airports so I can usually find great fares on Southwest. The best part is that there is never a change fee with them. If I rebook, cancel, or change a flight, there is no fee to do so. I book my flights early and typically over the course of time the airfare goes down. I check the flight periodically and if the price has dropped I rebook the flight the same flight, and get credit for the difference. I have had fares drop over 50%. I fly enough with them to be on their A-List so I can get in the express security lanes and board the place first. This makes the travel a little less tiring, which helps come race day.

Rental Car –

It seems I am always able to get great rates with Hertz by going directly to their website. Much of this year they have had a special for $14.99 ($13.49 for AAA) per weekend day for an economy car. I always reserve the least expensive option. Rental companies hardly ever have an ‘economy’ car and you will likely end up with something a little nicer. I typically get a Focus, Cruze, Jetta, or Mazda3. Small cars equal great gas mileage, so this saves money on gas too. I can cancel at any time, or even just not show up, and there is no charge. As a bonus I get points on Southwest.

Hotel –

No favorites here. I have an online resource through my employer that I typically use. I punch in the city I am traveling to and a radius and then it pulls up what is available by price. Similar tools are available via AAA and other travel websites. The key here is similar to what happens with Southwest. Rates change. Book early and check back frequently to see if the rates have dropped. If they have, rebook, no penalty. You will have to decide how much time and effort it is worth to you to keep checking. Always book a double bed room. This gives you the flexibility to share the room as the race date approaches as people look for a room on Facebook. I also know a bunch of people that are willing to sleep on the floor. So you should likely never have a problem filling your room up. Most of the Spartan Races have event pages. You can usually find someone to share a room with, depending on your sense of adventure.

Okay, now that you have framework to help you save some money on your trip, next up we will talk about how to make the most of your trip to the race.

Who is Christopher Rutz?

Christopher is a member of the juwi Solar Obstacle Racing, has 6 top three finishes in Spartan Races this year and is the current leader of 2012 Spartan Race Points Series. He manages a health and fitness blog, www.livethetoughlife.com and a Facebook page, Tough Training.  We’ll be featuring his blogs about how to travel Spartan style over the next few months.

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by Chris Rutz

Last weekend I was off to yet another Spartan Race, my 20th of 2012. I have gotten pretty good at knowing what I need to have with me along the way. I check a few things night before my departure, such as my airline, rental car and hotel reservations. Most have sent me a confirmation e-mail in the past few days, so I just save them on my smartphone. I also map out the airport, Whole Foods/Trader Joes, hotel and race site so I get my bearings for the trip. Once I have completed that I move onto my nutrition packing list.

You can take food and water with you on the airplane. I use one of the Gaspari Nutrition/Spartan Race cinch sacks to carry my food. For my flight today I have packed the following:

  • 2 grilled chicken breasts
  • bell pepper
  • banana
  • apple,
  • fresh raspberries,
  • carrots,
  • cauliflower,
  • a bag of frozen broccoli (keep the chicken next to the frozen broccoli)

Why so much food you might ask? Well, pre-race nutrition is very important and you can never predict what food will be available at the airport or if your flight will be delayed. I would rather have too much rather than too little. Once you get to your destination, you can eat the “leftovers” on your way to the hotel.

I also carry an empty water bottle through security and fill it up at the gate. You need to hydrate before a race especially if you are flying.

Once I land I generally head to the grocery store to pick up what I will need for my weekend. This eliminates the need to figure out restaurants and allows you more time to relax and rest before the race. If you want to eat out, do that after the race. I try to get a hotel with both a microwave and refrigerator so I can stick to my nutrition plan.

This should help you get to the race primed and ready to deliver you best possible performance.

Who is Christopher Rutz?

Christopher is a member of the juwi Solar Obstacle Racing, has 6 top three finishes in Spartan Races this year and is the current leader of 2012 Spartan Race Points Series. He manages a health and fitness blog, www.livethetoughlife.com and a Facebook page, Tough Training.  We’ll be featuring his blogs about how to travel Spartan style over the next few months.

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by Chris Rutz

Money, money, money – Part I

Let us talk about the cost of traveling to the Spartan Races and how to make you and your money go as far as possible. This is going to be a two parter, Part I is going to be how to get the money, Part II is going to be how to spend it wisely. Stick with me through this, I was a finance major in college so this is kind of my area of expertise and a second passion.

Finding money in your budget to travel to a Spartan Race can be tough. We all have obligations that we have made that are necessary expenses and almost all of us have some discretionary income.

Let us first talk about necessary expenses. I have always lived far below my means. My friends often ask, “What are you saving your money for?” I do not always know ‘what’, I just know I like being able to do what I want when I want. I also know I draw much more pleasure from ‘experiences’ than I do ‘things’. I do not have the latest Apple product, the newest SUV nor am I a slave to the latest fashion. I inherit my girlfriend’s ‘obsolete’ laptops, drive a 9 year old car that gets close to 40MPG, and wear boring khakis and button downs to the office. I keep the cost of my necessities low which gives me excess funds to spend on the experiences I enjoy the most. Today I really enjoy Spartan Races. The next time you are making a big purchase think about it twice, do you really need that new ___________, or would you rather take on the challenge, experience and adventure of a Spartan Race in another state or even country?

Discretionary income, what do you spend this on? I am a pretty simple guy. My family vacations are pretty low cost. We usually head off into the woods for some camping. I live in Arizona, which provides many great nearby weekend and week long escapes. Eating out is something I never really enjoyed due to its cost and now with the close focus I have on my nutrition, I hardly ever eat out. This saves a lot of money. I am also a big do-it-yourselfer. I wash and detail my own car, clean my own house, maintain my own yard, and try to fix my stuff when it is broken. All of this frees up cash to do take advantage of experiences. Little things add up to, that magazine, that app/download, or that cup of coffee. So if you really want to carve our some money in your budget, look at your discretionary spending. We are disciplined with our training, time to get disciplined with your money. Redirect some of that into a Spartan Race travel fund.

Up next, in Part II of Money, money, money…how to spend it wisely.

Who is Christopher Rutz?

Christopher is a member of the juwi Solar Obstacle Racing, has 6 top three finishes in Spartan Races this year and is the current leader of 2012 Spartan Race Points Series. He manages a health and fitness blog, www.livethetoughlife.com and a Facebook page, Tough Training.  We’ll be featuring his blogs about how to travel Spartan style over the next few months.

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by Michael Levine

GRIT: Noun-Firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck

GRIT.  A word that has come to embody the sprit of a true warrior.  Today, during a time in society when quitting has become the norm, people need to learn how to “fail well” to gain resiliency.  Angela Duckworth, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, created a metric system that demonstrates how grit can overcome intelligence through effort.  As a leading expert in the field, she demonstrates the standard capacity of people while explaining how GRIT can bridge the gap of inherent skill or knowledge.

Spartan Race is a company that was created at the forefront of the concept of GRIT.  We constantly place people in a state of unfamiliarity in an effort to make them quit.  We strongly believe that our racers are seeking a challenge outside of their traditional lifestyle because they want for something more.  To that end, our esteemed professors of pain and suffering created our own GRIT test.  Burpees, Sandbags, and Burpees.  Racers are signing up knowing that we are going to make you think about quitting, while wanting every person to finish.  The more pain you feel, the more suffering you endure, the more you learn just what your mind and body can tolerate.

How many times in your life have you reached what you considered was your breaking point?  Now how many times were you able to press on beyond that point?  Spartan Race empowers people to reach, mentally, physically, and emotionally.  We hold you accountable for all actions.  If you are unable to complete an obstacle, you incur an immediate penalty.  There are no shortcuts, there are no end-arounds, there is only you and your fellow racers encouraging you as you go.  You arrive at the race uninhibited, and leave as a Spartan.  Aroo!

[Editor's Note: Michael Levine is the newest blogger on the Spartan Race team.  His voice will enrich the story that our blog strives to tell.  We welcome him and look forward to sharing his words.]

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