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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Written by guest blogger Ang Reynolds

This Saturday and Sunday Spartan Race returns to Malibu California.  Calamigos Ranch has hosted each year Spartan has come and never  disappoints. The hills and water at the ranch lend for a muddy course  year after year. To honor a three-year tradition, Mother Nature has  promised cool temps and rain again this weekend, so don’t expect to  bask in the Southern California sun.

Hobie Call will be in Malibu this weekend hoping to claim yet another  Spartan victory. His son Hawk will also be racing this weekend,  following in his father’s footsteps. Don’t expect Hobie to walk away  too easily though. Several Spartan men are ready to challenge him.   Spartan elites Matt Novakovich, Hunter McIntyre, Brakken Kraker,  Elliot Megquier, and Miguel Medina are ready for the kill.

Miguel Medina is living in the mountains of Vermont, building his own cabin.

Miguel is  traveling cross-country from his new home in Killington, Vermont where  he spends his days training, hiking up and down Killington Mountain  and trudging through freezing water. (He hopes to build himself a  cabin for the winter before it’s too late to stay warm.) Other notable  men include Spartan Pro Team Elites Chris Rutz, Tony Matesi,Chris Obertlik and Michael Tobin.  Tobin will be making his Spartan debut.

Our Spartan elite woman will be ready to go this weekend. Ty Clark and  Jenny Tobin will go head to head. While Alaska native Tiffanie  Novakovich won’t be slightly bothered by the temperatures this  weekend. Atlas Pro Team member Rose Wetzel Sinnett will make her  second appearance at a Spartan Race. Don’t count out Irene Call. She  just set the world record for lunging a mile, something that will
definitely give her an advantage on the steep hills. Andi  Hardy will be there in all of her green glory ready to rock the barbed  wire. Other notable athletes include Laura Messner and Danielle Ross.

Regular Slosh Pipe event champion Kevin Kierce will lead a team of competitors who are more physically challenged than most.

Ross is ready to rock the slosh pipe and will be joining Weeple Army member Kevin Kierce to lead a heat for Weeples overcoming obstacles. That heat will  consist of blind athletes, several deaf athletes, and Misty Diaz, a woman with Spina Bifida. Weeple Army and biggest team leader Dave  Huckle will race both days after traveling around the world this year courtesy of Spartan Race  and recently completing the Australia Ultra Beast. Dave will finish  his season next weekend in Glen Rose Texas, rounding out  9 Trifectas!

Team SISU leader and Death Race veteran Daren De Heras is looking to break his own record of most laps by attempting 8 loops of the course weighted down with various logs, sledgehammers and other various weights. We wish him the best of luck!

Keep an eye out for the man in blue this weekend, Stephen Sinek and  his talented wife Aeni will be there to debut their oceanic design from  The Painted Warrior’s recent design contest. Whether you are looking  to P.R., have a good time with your team, or run with a friend, you  won’t want to miss the race this weekend.

See you in Malibu!

Are you ready for a Spartan Race? Look through our future events and sign up here.

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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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by Andi Hardy, Spartan Pro Team

One day I woke up and just couldn’t bear it anymore. Somehow I had let life get the best of me and I had tipped the scale to a number that totally disgusted me. It wasn’t just the number that glared at me from that little square thing on the floor beneath my feet, but it was the discomfort of my clothes, the zippers that took an extra jerk to get up, the buttons that pulled a little too far to side of the buttonholes and the tire that wobbled around my middle.

It was April Fool’s Day and I felt like I was the fool. I just couldn’t stand the way I felt in my own skin anymore and I was going to do something about it starting that very moment. Yes, I had tried diets in the past as my weight had crept up in number each year. I tried cutting out certain foods, I tried New Year’s Resolutions, I tried one thing after another. Each attempt ended with a big bowl of ice cream topped with peanut butter and chocolate syrup. Not this time, this was it; I had had it with myself.

In horror I jumped off that blasted scale and into the shower. I hurried to get dressed, fix my hair, and makeup. Then, upstairs I scurried to the deadly kitchen to have breakfast. Or not? Should I try skipping the most important meal of the day again? It worked for some people, but I knew myself. I would be even hungrier by 9:00 AM and then would grab whatever edible thing I could and gorge myself. I decided I had better eat something. So I settled for oatmeal and fresh strawberries, with a bit of sugar. That had to be healthy, right? I ate that down and made myself drink a 16 oz. glass of water. I knew water would help ease the hunger pains. After all, I was used to a big bowl of cereal with my fruit.

I quickly packed a few “healthy” items I found in the fridge for my lunch. I had been a fairly healthy eater up to this point, so chips, candy, and other junk foods were not a staple to my current diet. I had been a vegetarian for several years and fresh vegetables, fruits, and lentils were always on hand, but so were breads, cereals, cheeses, pasta, and potatoes.

I still had ten minutes before having to leave for work. I ran to my computer and googled “online weight loss programs.” I knew that I would not stay committed to Weight Watchers, but thought if I had a program like it that I could easily do at home; I’d do it if I set my mind to it. And my mind was set. I just needed a little help. Many matches were found, oh what to choose in my remaining nine minutes. I clicked on one called “Spark People.” That was it! I quickly entered my name and created a password. This was what was going to save me from obesity!! In those 9 minutes I learned that each day I would have to enter every food that passed through my lips, including chewing gum. I would have to log my glasses of water and every minute of exercise. There were calculators that would help me limit a number of calories, fat grams, carbohydrate grams, and protein grams each day. I would log my weight and body part measurements each week. This would help keep my accountable.

I filled two huge water bottles and took off for work with hope. Finally I was going to do something about this uncomfortable skin I was in. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I was determined. I ate my measly lunch at noon, resisted junk food that was around the office, and threw out emergency snacks stored in my desk. I drank water like I was a camel preparing for a trip across the Sahara. The hour long commute back home seemed forever as I was anxious to enter all of my info into the “Spark People” program.

I started out exercising three days per week for 30 minutes a session. I walked, rode bike, lifted a few weights, each time logging my exercise and time into the program. It was only a few weeks before I increased those days to five and sometimes even to 45-60 minutes. I was super religious about logging my food intake. It didn’t take me long to realize that my favorite food of mashed potatoes was not helping my diet. I learned that squashed cauliflower gave my tongue a similar experience without all of the carbs and starch. Bread and pasta were soon replaced with veggies. Cereal and oatmeal was replaced with Greek yogurt. Ice cream was now being measured to ½ cup even. I bought a little food scale and carefully weighed each portion of veggie chips, cheese, or whatever it was I wanted to eat. Going out to eat at restaurants was difficult. I stuck to salads without cheese, dressing, or croutons.

Not going to lie, it was incredible difficult. The hunger pains were miserable. It was so hard watching others around me eat my favorite things while I chomped on carrot sticks. But the weight was dropping. My confidence in myself was increasing and I started feeling better and better in my skin. Three months into this new me, I decided to step it up and sign up for a triathlon, something I’d always wanted to do. I had been biking and swimming, as well as walking and hiking, so I knew I could complete the event. But knowing myself, and knowing how much of a competitor I am, I wanted to do well. I started training harder, but still accounting for every calorie I took in. Three months later I did that triathalon, and placed in the top ten in my age group, of over a hundred. I wasn’t completely satisfied, but tried to reason with myself; after all I had “bad knees” and hadn’t run for years. That day was the first I had run, and my 5K time wasn’t all that bad for my first time running. I celebrated the success of my goal at IHOP allowing myself to eat anything I wanted. Eggs, pancakes, and hash browns it was. Then home to recover.

Upon returning home I had a lot of energy left, I got online and signed up for a local 5K mud and obstacle run for two weeks later. I got back on my “Spark People” plan and ran 5 kilometers every day until the race. I placed first in my age group of 129 women. I was so excited and felt so good, too! I am so happy to be able to race in spandex shorts and not be too embarrassed by my reflection in the mirror. That day I heard about Spartan Race, supposedly it was the “best of the best of obstacle races.” I just had to find out. I went home and signed up. Training for that first Spartan Race was not easy either. I knew that I had to train hard, but also really had to watch what I put into my body. I kept learning about food and portions.

It has now been over two years from that miserable April Fool’s Day. I no longer count calories on a daily basis. However, I do watch what I put in my mouth very carefully. But I do not deny myself the foods that I still love and thoroughly enjoy. I am comfortable in my skin. I am not the skinniest woman, nor do I have the body of a model, but I wear what I want and race in a skimpy outfit and don’t feel embarrassed by my skin (or what used to jiggle around under it.)

Remember, losing fat is not easy for most people, especially when this thing called the aging process happens. But it is something that can be done naturally. You must give it time, you must be patient, and you must be diligent!!! Don’t give up, even if you have a cheat day here and there.

What’s your excuse?  Find a race for yourself!

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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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by David Magida, Spartan Pro Team

The 2013 Reebok Spartan Race regular season is over. The Spartan Super in Vernon, New Jersey marked the final race of the year before the World Championships in Vermont. New Jersey provided the athletes with one last chance to make a statement before the biggest race of the year.

That statement would have to come on the long slopes of Mountain Creek Ski Resort, which tested the grit and fitness of each competitor there. Contestants were relieved to find the course had been shortened from nearly 12 miles last year to a more standard 8 miles in 2013. Although not quite as steep as the Virginia course from two weeks earlier, the race opened with a 1.25 mile climb, an early spear throw and swim, then added another big ascent three miles from the finish that stole the legs of even the most fit participants.

Newcomer Elise Fugowski continued to take the Spartan women’s circuit by storm, winning her third race in a row, including her second consecutive Saturday victory on a mountain course. Her time of 1:32:35 gave her a comfortable victory and put the rest of the women attending the Vermont Beast on notice. She is a force to be reckoned with at World Championships.

Finishing second for the women was Debbie Moreau in a time of 1:36:10. Moreau sealed a successful weekend with a victory over Fugowski on Sunday. It was Moreau’s second consecutive Sunday victory, having won on Sunday in Virginia as well. In third place was Karlee Whipple, who claimed her sixth podium finish of the year in a time of 1:38:17.

On the men’s side, in a back and forth race, Spartan Pro Team racer David Magida edged out fellow teammate Alec Blenis by 12 seconds to win one of the closest finishes of the year. The two competitors passed each other half-a-dozen times during the race. With less than 600 meters to go, Blenis yielded the lead on the final climb. The athletes finished in times of 1:15:06 and 1:15:18 respectively, giving Magida his seventh consecutive podium finish.

Blenis went on to win the elite wave the following day, marking his second consecutive Sunday victory. Third place was claimed by Junyong Pak, Runner’s World’s featured athlete for the month of September, in a time of 1:18:41.

Overall, nearly 10,000 participants finished the last Spartan Super race of the year. The tune-ups are finally over. Who will continue on to conquer the Beast in Vermont? We will know in 5 more days.

What’s your excuse? Sign up today.

Saturday Men’s Results:
1. David Magida – 1:15:06
2. Alec Blenis – 1:15:18
3. Junyong Pak – 1:18:41

Saturday Women’s Results:
1. Elise Fugowski- 1:32:35
2. Debbie Moreau – 1:36:10
3. Karlee Whipple – 1:38:17

Sunday Men’s Results:
1. Alec Blenis – 1:16:07
2. Elliott Megquier – 1:18:10
3. Brian Hoover – 1:19:05

Sunday Women’s Results:
1. Debbie Moreau – 1:31:24
2. Elise Fugowski – 1:35:29
3. Shaun Provost – 1:40:45

About the Author: David Magida is a member of the Spartan Pro Team who has competed in 18 Spartan Races this year.

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by Leslie St. Louis, Spartan Pro Team

The Tri-State New Jersey Reebok Spartan Super has big shoes to fill this weekend at the Mountain Creek Waterpark. It is just a few weeks after a brutally tough Spartan Super in Virginia and just a few weeks before the Vermont Spartan Beast Championship.

However, if you are one of the lucky participants in New Jersey this weekend: don’t fret. The Tri-State Super is sure to stand its ground and make its own epic impression this 2013 season. There will be some serious challenges from the natural terrain on the ski hill, water park features and man-made Spartan obstacles.

While every Spartan Race is its own unique event, if last year is any indication, this course will likely take at least three hours and have you trekking up and down the mountain, scaling the infamous Tyrolean traverse, tromping through forests, swimming lakes, jumping cliffs, wading lazy rivers…oh and likely heading up and down the mountain a few more times! There are flotation devices available for all the swimming portions and four on-course water stations planned. Also, you may have some obstacles from Mother Nature too, as in 2012 there was plenty of rain, which helped create some extra mud and post-race stories.

In addition, the New Jersey Super will be the very first event offering a Special Needs course designed for individuals with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (IDD), where “considerations have been set in place to accommodate the sensory profiles, physical and cognitive limitations, and behavioral issues associated with the challenges” faced by these racers.

In both the Open and Elite Heats, points are also at stake, as this is the last Spartan Race until Vermont. Not to mention there are added cash incentives in the elite heats.

Expect strong showings from Spartan Pro Team Members Rose Marie Jarry, Andi Hardy, Juliana Sproles, David Magida, Alec Blenis, Alexander Nicholas, Elliott Megquier and Christopher Rutz. Alexander recently took 1st in Hawaii, this will be Elliott’s 34th Spartan and David and Alec will be riding the momentum of podium finishes in Virginia. Last year in New Jersey, Rose Marie and Andi took 1st and 2nd on Saturday and Christopher placed 3rd on Sunday. On the women’s side, other elite racers to watch will be Tri-State New York winner Melinda Branch and past podium finishers Danielle Ross and Gretchen Krueger. On the men’s side, look for Kevin Donohue and LeEarl Rugland to likely place in the top 10.

There should be a few other showdowns this weekend too: in the Team Division between Mud and Adventure and VPX Team Xtreme, and in the 2013 Open Points Division between Stu Klaas and “The Painted Warrior” Stephen Sinek. Current 1st place point earner Sinek is sitting out in preparation for Vermont, but Klaas is only 20 points behind and is registered for the 10am heat.

In every Spartan Race, you need to summon your courage and expect the unexpected. Especially at the New Jersey finish line, you’ll know why!

About the Author: Pro Team Member Leslie St. Louis raced the New Jersey Spartan last year, placing 3rd and 1st on Saturday and Sunday. You can read about her 2012 experience HERE.

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Since arriving in Pittsfield on in late July, Danny Rodriguez is undergoing a full body transformation! On August 7, Danny weighed in at 374 pounds, a 36 pound loss from his initial arrival. The 10 days prior, he lived in a stone hut only accessible by foot, without power or running water. He was living on apples and water for his initial food detox.

He’s now down in the village doing daily workouts and work and living on a raw diet managed by Spartan founder Joe De Sena and spartan staffers and professional athletes. As of this week, Danny is weighing in at 345 pounds and taking on challenges he never thought possible. On August 24, Rodriguez completed a 10+ mile hike and has been tackling his workouts, nutrition, and healthy way of living with a vengeance.

We first met Danny at the Midwest Spartan and he has already come a long way. Then, he weighed in just over 400 pounds. That makes his total weight loss 65 pounds. He has a long way to go, but we know he will continue to make progress and push through to find new heights in his training and full mind-body transformation.

What is your excuse?  It’s time to get off the couch and outside in the mud!  Find a race near you HERE. 

Go #TeamDanny

[Photos courtesy of Marion Abrams, and Mad Motion]

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by David Magida, Spartan Pro Team

Before the race began, competitors were all smiles. Eager to take on the course at Wintergreen Resort in Virginia, participants had no idea what they were in for. Hours later, when they finally finished the hardest (and steepest) Spartan Super in race history, the only smiles were those of relief.

Race Director Norm Koch gleefully told me before the race that this course was going to be the hardest Spartan Super ever and I laughed at him. After the race, I told him that he’s a, “sick and twisted man.” The eight mile course included 8,600 feet of elevation change, countless ski slope climbs and descents, a barbed wire crawl from hell and some fun wrinkles. A great deal of the course was off-trail through waist high grass and bushes that both impeded running strides and hid the hazardous rocks and holes that downhill racers fear so much. The mile-long descent down the mountain through a rocky riverbed spread out the competitors, as did the new log flip obstacle and of course, the seemingly endless log carry.

But what really shook up the race was the dark horse competition that arrived on the start line. Enter mountain runner and former professional cyclist Matt Novakovich. First of all, the guy lives in Alaska, so he’s automatically the toughest guy I’ve ever met. He looks like he lives off a diet of nails and caribou jerky. He also ran cross country at BYU and gets the majority of his climbing ability from hours of daily training at a 40% incline on a specialized treadmill in his garage.

Novakovich took over the race after the first descent, pushing all racers to their limit on each climb. He and Hobie Call raced side by side for the first ¾ of the race before Novakovich took off to win in a time of 1:50:14. That marks the first loss in a Spartan Race for Call this year, who finished in 1:55:51. Spartan Pro Team Member David Magida crossed the line in 3rd place with a time of 2:01:30.

On the women’s side, relatively new racers are beginning to dominate. Elise Fugowski continued to make her mark on the racing circuit with her second consecutive victory. Previously the winner of the Sunday heat at the Pennsylvania Sprint, Fugowski cruised to a finishing time of 2:22:51. She was followed by Debbie Moreau (2:26:32) and Kristen Zielinski (2:30:54). Zielinski was also a double podium finisher in Pennsylvania.

The event also featured an appearance by Olympic Steeplechaser Anthony Famiglietti, who did not reach the podium but left the race with a profound respect for the sport of Obstacle Racing and its athletes. After the race Famiglietti said, “That was the toughest race I’ve ever run,” and added, “Any road racer or marathoner who refuses to run a Spartan Race is just scared.” He plans to spread the word. Spartan Race is no joke.

Adding to the gravity of the day was the re-emergence of Operation Enduring Warrior. After 10 harrowing hours on the course, the team of men and women donning gas masks and including several Wounded Warriors and a team of community athletes crossed the finish line. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

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You’ve logged the miles and scaled walls.  You’ve done burpees until you’ve dropped!  You even signed up for the Spartan WOD so that you could prepare and changed your diet so that you were race day ready!  As the day approaches, one thing looms in your mind…

What do I wear?

Ah, the quintessential question asked by every OCR athlete who ever first toed a Spartan Race start line.  Here we will give you the basics of what you wear and what to bring on race day from members of our Spartan Race Pro Team.

First and foremost, take care of your feet!  Members of our pro team strongly suggest a pair of trail running shoes. You will need the added traction that a trail shoe offers. You will also want to look for a shoe that provides adequate drainage when it get wet. A waterproof shoe is not a good idea, once the water gets in, and it will, it will have trouble getting out.

Socks: Look for a thin sock, preferably with individual toes slots. Got to have these. When your feet are getting wet and muddy its nice to have each toe cradled in its own little slot.

Shorts: If you’re going to wear shorts, most of our pro team prefer 5″ or 6″ running shorts or compression shorts. When they get wet there is a lower likelihood of chaffing. Looks for shorts with minimal to no pockets so you don’t collect extra mud and debris along the course.

Pants: If pants are more your speed, find compression wicking gear – NO COTTON!  The last thing you want is something heavy weighing you down.

Shirts: Many of our male pro’s really prefer to run without a shirt. Depending on the material, shirts add very little warmth and/or protection. Skin dries a lot quicker than any fabric. If it’s cool before your heat, get to the start line with an old shirt or garbage bag for warmth. Ditch it (responsibly in a trash can) right before the start. You may also have an old pair of socks on your forearms or hands to keep them warm before the start.  Many of our elite women opt for just a sports bra for many of the same reasons men go shirtless.

If you plan on donning a shirt: Most of the pro’s agree that a thin long sleeve compression shirt is best. Again, do not wear cotton! Remember, whatever you wear will get wet and will not likely dry out. If you are cold sensitive you may want to wear a windbreaker that does not absorb water. Remember once you start running you will build up a lot of heat.

Head Gear: Most racers generally do not wear anything on their heads except some sunscreen. If you like to have something on your head to manage sweat and keep the sun off you may want to try a bandana. It is easy to put around your neck when a hat might get lost in an obstacle.

Hydration: Typically one can rely on the support at the race for hydration if the race is under 3 hours. If you think you will be out there for a while and/or prefer your own beverage, a backpack with a hydration bladder is ideal.

Gloves: Gloves are a personal preference.  Many people prefer to feel the obstacles with their hands.  If not, a good pair of wide receiver gloves is great for managing the monkey bars and carrying objects.  Just remember, they will get wet!

Eyewear: Sunglasses are only going to muddy and will be useless after the first mud obstacle. Our recommendation, if you need them and have them wear your contact lenses. The swims are generally short enough that you do not need goggles.

Sunblock: Don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun. The mud will help, but apply sunscreen before the race. I like a SPF 50 spray for the body and a lotion 50+SPF for “the face”.  Otherwise you might end up with the ever-fashionable forehead race number sunburn.

RACE DAY CHECKLIST

Essentials:
• Trail Running Shoes
• Socks
• Shorts
• Sports bra
• Race bib pinned with four safety pins to your shorts
• Timing chip on your wrist
• Identification
• Directions to and from the race/ transportation schedules
• Cash for Parking
• Registration receipt
• Signed waiver

Food:
• Caffeine shot (if you like a little kick at the start)
• Water bottle for start line
SNAP Infusion Super Candy for energy
• Food belt
• Pre-race Food
• Post-race Food

Optional:
• Backpack/Duffle bag
• Hydration pack
• Shirt
• Hat/visor/hair tie/headband
• Contact lenses
• Sunscreen
• Camera/GoPro
• Change of Shoes/Shorts/Socks
• Towel
• Plastic Bag
• Bandages
• Ibuprofen
• Anti-chafe gel
• Cash for bag drop
• Extra Cash
• Soap/shampoo
• Wet Wipes
• Watch

*Suit and ties, tutu’s, wedding gowns, monkey suits, and superhero capes are also optional.

Now you have the essentials! The last thing you’ll want to bring with you out on the course is a smile! You’ll need it!

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