By Pro Team Member Tiffanie Novakovich

Brace yourselves, Nutmeggers! Spartan Race will make its Connecticut debut June 28, 2014. Hosted at the Mohegan Sun resort, a lavish Vegas-style hotel and casino, this Spartan Sprint will prove to be a first-class muddy event. The tourist town of Uncasville is located in the foothills of Eastern Connecticut, along the Thames River, adjacent to Trading Cove. As it’s less than 100 miles from Boston, MA, Hartford, CT, Providence, RI, and just a 2.5 hr drive from New York City, the race is expected to draw visitors from all over New England. Approximately 8,000 competitors and 5,000 spectators are expected to attend the Saturday-only Connecticut Spartan event.

As with all Spartan Sprints, the race will include 15+ obstacles over 3+ miles, run through the breathtaking Connecticut woodlands of the Mohegan Tribal Reservation land. The venue includes a variety of terrain, including single-track and Thames River-view trails. With the Trading Cove body of water so close by, I’m sure you can expect to get wet and muddy at this race!

Being held on a Native American Reservation will give the race a special feel, marrying the warrior philosophy of Spartan Race with the warrior heritage of the land. Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council says, “I am very glad to hear that our reservation land has been chosen for the Reebok Spartan Race.  Let’s face it – the Mohegan Tribe traces a lineage and a heritage of brave Native American warriors who lived, worked, and fought in these Eastern Woodlands. The race will bring a modern challenge into historic territory – it’s a great fit.”

Some familiar faces are expected in the men’s Elite race.  Expect Elliott Megquier to be racing for a podium spot. He’s coming off of an impressive showing in the Tri-Cities New York Spartan event, where he raced four times in nine days, pulling in two second- and one fifth-place finish. Also expected to show some dominance is Spartan Pro Team member and Ninja Warrior extraordinaire Alex Nicholas, who pulled off an impressive 12th place finish at the highly-competitive NBC-televised Tri-Cities Sprint. Expect some speedy New Englanders to fight their way into the top 10 on this low rolling-hills course.

With the Utah Beast (held on the same day as the CT race) drawing the attention of many left-coast pros, several top spots in the women’s elite race are up for grabs. Some East-Coast race favorites include Karlee Whipple, who took first place in the first Saturday race of the Tri-Cities Sprint and eighth place in the NBC-televised second Saturday race. Don’t be surprised if Orla Walsh, who recently moved to Vermont to train, shows up to test her grit. She’s had impressive finishes lately in the Colorado Springs Military Sprint as well as the NBC Tri-Cities Sprint.  Don’t forget East-Coast staples Laura Messner and Amanda Ricciardi, who may throw their hats into the ring this weekend. And you never know what pro-team members might decide at the last minute to show up and dominate!

Also on the docket for Saturday are the Spartan Kids Race and the Special Needs Spartan Course. The Kid’s race includes two distances for younger and older kids and always proves to be one of the many highlights of every race. The Spartan Special Needs Course is a new addition being included at several events this year. There will be a course designed especially for intellectually and/or developmentally disabled individuals who want to challenge themselves against Spartan obstacles and also want to challenge what is “normal.” Spartan Pro Team members will be participating as mentors and volunteers in the Special Needs Race. As Spartans, we defy the perceptions of “normal” at every race, while our special needs competitors do the same everyday in a way that is highly impressive and honorable.

If you haven’t already registered, do it now!  You don’t want to miss the beautiful scenery and punishing obstacles of Connecticut’s first Spartan Race. Put yourself to the test and . . . You’ll know at the finish line.

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Meet Keala Boncie Machin of Glenville, NY. She’s 6 years old, the only girl of 4 children, and in school, she’s quiet, not a fan of noise and commotion and is prone to bouts of shyness. Teachers will tell her parents that often she will sit in the corner of the class, coloring in books and keeping herself to herself. It could be argued she is your typical all-American little girl.

One day, she came home with a permission slip for a school talent show, expressing an interest in taking part. Surprised, her parents asked her what she wanted to perform, knowing that singing or dancing wouldn’t be something she would be at all interested in. She wanted to show her school what Spartan Race was all about. Her mother pointed out that dumping a truckload of mud in the school would not please the principal, so she decided that her act would be that of a Spartan Race workout she would design herself. Keala is a Spartan Racer.

The back story of this started when she witnessed her folks take part in an OCR that didn’t have a race for children. Her eyes widened and she knew that’s what she wanted to do. Her mother Rayn explains, “The first time she ran, it was as though she was born. Though she enjoys dressing up and wearing glitter, Keala does not fit into any sort of typology, but instead, finds comfort in areas which allow her to be herself. Though it would be easier for her to fit into a mold, Spartan Race is who she is, and who she is is beautiful.”

And so Keala embraced the lifestyle and threw herself into what the Spartan Race ideology is, she found a new kind of happiness. Not only does she do burpees alongside her mother, but helps out with her non-profit as Rayn explains, “I run a non-profit for children that have experienced extensive abuse and/or neglect, and those in at-risk situations. Spartan Race donates their entry fee so that we may teach these children that what they have endured, does not define who we are. It had not occurred to me that the same run may work with non-abused children, who may not fit into stereotypical demands, but may instead, flourish in situations not typical of their classmates”.

And Keala is a part of that. Rayn continues, “due to the economic downturn, Keala has, per her own desire, spent her out of school hours, helping children in emergency situations. She has given up her racing “career” (for a month or two), until we can raise money to get them to a Spartan Race.”

Keala explains how she sees it, “Bad people can’t hurt them at Spartan Race.”

And it’s all too evident when you see Keala when she is at her happiest – working out – that Spartan Race is a very important part of her life. When asked what Spartan Race has done for her, she points out, “They helped me….like cheering…they gave us a medal….Momma cheered, Dada took pictures…the other people say yay…they are nice…they are kind. I was happy in school and it was a great time, but everyone is loud. Everybody is really noisy they are just all loud. They always be like that, there is a lot of talking. I am the only one who is quiet. I am not shy at Spartan Race”.
And why is this? “Because the people are nice…they smile….they like me for me, and I like them.”
What do you worry about in school? “Sometimes I am kind of like bad at coloring and my class is a loud class….at Spartan Race, they have nice people….they like me even if I can’t color good….”

Why do you do this? “Cause it’s fun…they keep cheering at all the people…they give people high fives”

Is there any one person you remember from a Spartan Race? “Kim (McDonald; she was a volunteer at Tuxedo). She is kind. She gave us medals. They are cool. She likes kids. I like her.”

And so on the day of the talent show, Keala did exactly what she wanted to do. Something she would be comfortable with. Rayn smiles, “She performed without pretending she isn’t comfortable. She did exactly what she wanted to and knew that no matter what her classmates said, Spartan Race and its athletes would be behind her”.

Since they had been learning about the environment in school, she decided to do a Spartan Green Workout, using only items that were already around the house. A school bus tire that was used as a swing was recycled , a length of 2×4 from a building project was utilised and a piece of wood that had been cut from a stump would be used for flipping.

Letting her younger brother introduce what she was about to do, she prepared, came out and being careful not to scratch the auditorium stage, Keala went through her workout to a stunned audience of open-mouthed teachers and students.

Pausing only to take a bow, Keala bounced off the stage to cheers and applause.
When asked how Spartan Races and training makes her feel, see briefly ponders, “Well…it was fun to go in the mud”, then smiling cheekily, “and I do burpees better than Mom”.
Want to see how your kids will do at a Spartan Race? Sign them up now.

See you at the finish line…

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Kaitlyn Cain, age 8
Richmond, KY

On April 27th, 2013 I had a ton of fun running a Spartan Kids Race!

I was a little nervous in the beginning, but soon I forgot all about it. After standing at the starting line for what seemed like a long time, I wanted to start running because I was cold! There were some adults that led the kids out onto the course, but I wanted to run past them all! There was the male and female winner of the adult race, another male racer and my dad. Before the race I got to meet Amelia Boone, the female winner, and I got the first poster signed by her.

It said “To Kaitlyn, To a future Spartan Superstar!”

The race started and everybody took off running as fast as they could. There were lots of obstacles. We had to run up and down a bunch of hills, climb up a net, crawl under a bunch of ropes, and crawl under a long black net. We had to jump in lots of deep mud holes and then climb out over a big mushy, muddy hill. It was really fun because normally, us kids get in trouble if we jump in the mud with clean clothes on! We had to jump over some small walls and climb through the middle of one. There were some small triangular walls that we ran up and over and they were easy.  We had to walk across balance boards and try not to fall off. That was only half the race. Then they made us run the whole thing again to complete one mile.

I got tired during the race and there were a couple of times when I wanted to stop, but I didn’t! In the middle of the race my dad ran with me for a couple of minutes and then he went ahead to hand out the medals at the finish line. I felt really good when I finished, even though I could barely breathe because I was so tired!

My dad gave me my medal when I finished and said, “Great job! I’m so proud of you!” At the end I was muddy and had to wash off. The weird thing was that I wasn’t at my house, so I had to wash off with cold water, something else that us kids aren’t used to. I got most of the mud off, but I still wasn’t that clean, but that was okay. I am happy that I finished and I can’t wait until the next Spartan Race! I’m happy that I’m a Spartan racer!

At Spartan Race, our mission is to inspire children to develop a love for fitness at an early age. Our “Jr. Spartans” obstacle course races for kids 4-8 are about a 1⁄2 mile and our 1 mile kids spartan races are for older “Varsity Spartans” aged 9-13. Both kids races are filled with obstacle styles and amounts tailored just for them.

Each child will receive a T-shirt and Finisher’s Medal with 100% of the Jr. Spartan Adventure proceeds benefiting the Kids Fit Foundation. As a leader in the movement to help children learn life-long health and fitness habits, the Kids Fit Foundation strives to raise awareness and develop programs that educate, empower and inspire kids to become and stay fit.

So remember, Spartan Races are not only limited to adult fun! Bring your kids ages 4-13 and they can participate in their very own Jr. Spartan Race. Just like you, they will enjoy the thrill of the run, a variety of scaled down obstacles and their own mini festival area filled with games and children’s challenges!

Sign your kids up for a Spartan Race – it’s for the whole family!  Click HERE to find one near you!

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We sat down with Mitch H., Navy Federal Credit Union User Experience and Design Manager and his daughter Lucy, 1st grade student to get the inside scoop on how they stumbled upon the obstacle course style race and their training tips.

Navy Federal: What got you interested in running the Spartan Race?
Mitch: The end of 2011 started my fascination with obstacle course racing, and the Spartan race series easily bubbled to the top of my list. I admire the comraderie and motivation you find in the Spartan community and from the people you run along side. They also have kids races, which lead me to the idea of having my daughter, Lucy, partake in a race too.
Lucy: I like mud!!

Navy Federal: How many Spartan Races have you both run?
Mitch: My first Spartan race, and only one I have completed thus far in my racing endeavors, was the 10.5 mile Mid-Atlantic Super in Virginia. The course was littered with what felt like over 50 horse jumps on top of the typical 20+ obstacles of a normal Super. I have already signed up to run this event again this year. My goal is to complete the trifecta, which includes running a Sprint, Super and Beast in one calendar year
Lucy: Just one, I was 6 then.

Navy Federal: How far out from a race do you start training?
Mitch: Training for these types of races becomes more of a lifestyle. The races challenge you both physically and mentally. Keeping yourself motivated and in relatively good shape is hard to do on a moment’s notice, so adapting your training to your normal routine is the best approach.
Training doesn’t always mean hours in the gym, it can be as simple as staying active as much as possible. I did make an effort to better condition myself for the challenge of the Super Spartan due to the longer distance and more physically challenging obstacles.
Lucy: I sometimes train, but I play all the time. Playing on the playground really helps me get ready for the race.

Navy Federal: What are your training tips for those new to the obstacle course style race?
Mitch: After competing in 12 races, I have found the most important thing to have in your training routine is cardio. Endurance easily will outweigh strength in the longer races. Many obstacles are about moving your own body, so strength is important, but being able to complete the races require endurance.
My personal tip is to have a wonderful significant other, like mine, who will keep you motivated and enjoy training and racing together.
Navy Federal: awwwwww
Lucy: You have to train and be strong. Don’t give up, you’ll miss out on the fun and mud if you give up!

Navy Federal: What’s been the hardest obstacle during a race?
Mitch: For me the hardest obstacle has been the rope climb. The Spartan rope climb (at the final obstacle) was the first obstacle I was unable to complete. After 10.5 miles of running and obstacles I had very little strength left and was unable to make the rope climb. It has become my goal to accomplish in my next Super Spartan this year.
Lucy: The mud pit. But it was also my favorite.

Navy Federal: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done to prepare for a race?
Mitch: I think many would consider doing these races to be weird on its own. Grown adults romping around in mud and pushing our bodies to the limits even more than we did as kids, with no fear of death. I don’t partake in any ritual aside from trying to get sleep the night before. Oddly enough that’s weird for me.
Lucy: I practice wrestling to stay strong. My dad said that’s a good answer. I don’t think it’s that weird to practice wrestling though.

So, there you have it! Hopefully Mitch and Lucy have helped give you some ideas on training for race day.

As a proud sponsor for Spartan Race this year we look forward to seeing you out on the course!  Sign up TODAY!

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