Just the words “Virginia Super Spartan Race” sends shivers down the spines of many who witnessed what course designer Norm Koch prepared for them last year. One of the most brutal courses in the history of Spartan Race left many competitors really experiencing what it meant to “know at the finish line”. Those Blue Ridge Mountains just seem to go on and on, don’t they?

Virginia 2013 was also notable for the emergence of Matt Novakovich, who exploded from nowhere to not only win, but dared to beat the legend, Hobie Call, by around two minutes. The Alaskan has since gone on from strength to strength and is now a regular podium finisher and a staple of the Spartan Pro Team.

So, what’s in store this year? Well, let’s just say that while, as per usual, we’re not giving anything away, we’ll just tell you that having good leg muscle memory will be useful to you. With the race being a Super, there will be at least 8 miles of obstacles and trails. We’re going to put down 3 water stations for you, but if you don’t think that will suffice, by all means bring your own means of carrying fluids. Cramping and dehydration aren’t fun things to experience and bear in mind that Nellysford experiences average temperatures in the mid 80’s in August, as with most things Spartan related, if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.

For those making a road trip to the beautiful surroundings of the Wintergreen Resort in Nellysford, the first priority is somewhere to stay. By clicking here, you can have a browse through which hotels tick your relevant boxes. If you’d prefer something a little cheaper, there is a hostel close by that might be able to help you. With the accommodation in the area all boasting good reviews, you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ll be well looked after.

There’s also the option of the good old-fashioned bed and breakfast, should you choose to go down that route. With all the establishments with reviews scoring either 4 out of 5 or higher, it’s clear that making travelers and strangers welcome is something that Charlottesville excels at.

The same goes for when you want to either carb up or replace all those calories you’ll have burned off on the course – because trust us, you will!

There are almost 450 restaurants and places to eat that are featured on Tripadvisor’s site and thanks to their site, you can select the style you are looking for, if you have those pangs for something particular. Whether it be your typical American steakhouse, or if it’s something a little more exotic, such as Greek, Indian or Thai cuisine. With so much on offer and such a broad range available, there will almost certainly be something that will fill whichever hunger hole you have.

Some of the best terrain is waiting for you.

But if having a drink and possibly shaking your stuff is something that is high on your list of priorities, that’s well covered in the reviews section on Yelp for the area. Additionally, you have a selection of wine bars, nightclubs and even “dive” bars, if you prefer that kind of thing. Again, with many scoring very high and positive reviews, having a good time is an almost certainty.

Naturally, the responsible Spartan makes sure there’s a designated driver if alcohol passes the lips, but if not there are some local taxi companies that will be able to make sure you get back to your accommodation safe and sound.

For more information about the area, there is a very useful website that is all about Charlottesville. Have a look here and you’ll find out about things to see and do, just in case you choose to make a long weekend of it after celebrating your Super finish.

See you at the finish line!

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If you’re struggling with the J-Hook, here’s another way you can conquer the rope climb and avoid those penalty burpees!

Remember that using your feet and legs will always help you. You legs are generally stronger than your arms, so let’s make use of them! “Standing” on the rope is so much easier than hanging from it!


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How many times have you stared longingly at those people at Spartan Races that effortlessly scamper up those climbing ropes and ring the cowbell with effortless ease?

There you are, hugging that rope with your hands clenched around that knot, hoping that if you can get just above the one in front of you, you’re part of the way there. Then what happens? You slide back into that muddy water and curse the whole thing to Hades.

How do they do it? It looks so easy when they do it!

Never fear – the Spartan Race Pro Team are here!

In this episode of “How to…” the Barbed Wire Queen of Green, Andi Hardy, is going to show you how to employ the “J-Hook” technique when climbing a rope. Gone are those frustrating times of shaking an angry fist at that cowbell you can’t reach.

Just watch this tutorial video made on course at a Spartan Race and all will be revealed!

Learn the technique and sign up without fear of failing it again!

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Joe Desena isn’t keen on lethargic attitudes and procrastination. Putting something off because you, “just want to see the end of this episode of Storage Wars” doesn’t cut it. Get out. Move. Do what a human is supposed to do. Work, sweat and get dirty.

The Spartan Race founder shakes his head when he sees the state of not just America but of the world today. He observes how mankind as a race has allowed itself to become accustomed and content with comfort, quick fixes and the easy option.

Fast food may be quick, but it’s no good. Sitting around and not moving may be easier than going outside and getting things done, but it hides one fast track you don’t want; the fast track to a heart attack. Avoiding a struggle or something that is difficult is largely the root of what we today see as the biggest problem. Not wanting to work for something is how we got into the mess we’re in. As Flogging Molly once sang, “…and we find ourselves in the same old mess, singing drunken lullabies”.

Having had his fill of what he has seen, Joe has written a book that reminds us what it means to be human. It’s time to revert back to what mankind did before. What we were built for. What we were actually meant to do. As he puts it, it’s time to “Spartan Up”.

Sign up right here for a race and start living, not just existing. 

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Jo Pearson doesn’t recall very much of her life before she turned 27. It’s not that she suffered a terrible accident or violent traumatic experience, it’s simply her coping mechanism.

“All the days I spent before that life-changing year are cloudy memories that I have stored in the recesses of my mind.  I’ve locked them away from others and myself because they are just too painful to remember and they do not bring any light or love to the life that I lead now”, she explains.

Deciding to change her life has not just made Jo a new person on the outside, the one within shines a thousand time brighter, illuminating her outlook and focus.

“The life I have now is one worth fighting for – it is one filled with joy, success, love, energy, zeal, and passion.  However, it also one that forces to me to suffer at times, to feel the pain of defeat and the frustration of setbacks, and to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.  The old me would have cowered at these type of tribulations and hid among the darkness.”

That new found radiance has permeated her attitude and zest for life, but also her mentality of how she approaches life.

“That woman that cowered is gone.  I have evolved into a warrior – a woman who will fight for what is right, just, healthy, and good in this world and who believes in her ability to make a difference in her own life and the lives of others.  I am proud of my journey for the small steps I have taken along the way are the ones that help me stand strong at the foot of mountains and keep me poised to carry on with strength, courage, grace, and honor.”

There was a point in her life when Jo weighed around 415lbs and wore a size 28. Despite being a young woman in her prime, she felt that she hadn’t even begun to live and experience life. Travelling anywhere by flight wasn’t an option because she couldn’t fit into an airplane seat. Amusement rides provided the same difficulty. This meant she rarely went out to enjoy happy times with her family or friends. This led to a vicious circle of staying indoors. Accusatory and mocking looks, pointed fingers and stares led her to feel isolated, with only family and a tight, small circle of friends being around her.

“Physically, I can remember not being able to walk up the 16 stairs at my parents’ house without feeling like I had just ran a marathon.  And, I never ever contemplated setting foot into a gym because it would have been too embarrassing.  I had become a person that wasn’t truly alive and that was sad and depressed.  I knew that I ate poorly and that I didn’t get any exercise, but for years I wasn’t ready to make any changes. I chose instead to eat huge amounts of fast food, sodas, sweets, and processed foods and then not exert any type of physical activity.  I had fallen into a black hole lifestyle that kept me shackled underneath hundreds of pounds of weight – taking a toll on my body and my soul.”

Her epiphany came one day as she looked back at the woman that greeted her in her mirror. Tired of feeling so sad all the time and craving something better, the blanket of doubt that had stifled her for so long was beginning to lift. Jo began to move. Slowly at first, but it was a start.

“I began walking late at night around my parents’ neighborhood so that no one would see me walking.  I was too afraid of being made fun of to actually do my exercise in the light of day.  I was still hiding in the shadows, but I was making my way out – slowly, but surely.  I cut out sodas and fast food entirely and began researching ways to eat healthy.  There wasn’t one magical diet or workout plan that I followed in the beginning.  I was just taking baby steps to becoming healthier.  But, changing the way I ate and incorporating moderate physical exercise, helped me shed pounds over the first couple of months.  I kept up my walking and healthy eating for about 6 months and I ended up losing about 60 pounds.  Once that initial weight came off and I could begin to see a different face and body in the mirror, my whole attitude changed. I knew I could do it. I knew I could make even more progress.”

Home workouts were the next phase. Scheduling set exercises to work out to gave her something to work with. Still fearing what she believed to be the glare and audience that was a gym, she avoided the gym. This was one fear she wasn’t ready to face – yet. Not before long, she’d shed 100lbs. She took this as the signal to employ a trainer to help her push further.

“I found a local trainer, Jonathan Smith, to help me continue on my journey.  He incorporated muscle confusion, strength training, cardio, boxing, and outdoor exercise.  I lost nearly 115 pounds by combining training like this, along with another BeachBody program, P90X, in about a year.”

By the end of her turnaround, Jo had lost around 215lbs and dropped from a size 28 to a 10. The confidence this journey gave her then shifted to another aspect of her life. The classroom. Harnessing the willpower she’d shown throughout her weight loss journey, obstacles were no longer things to fear, but opportunities to conquer. While she attended law school, she knew that the stresses and strains she experienced in an academic sense could be alleviated with a good diet and continued physical exercise.

“So, in my last year of law school, back in 2013, I decided to get another trainer.  I was able to find Jason Johnson, through Independence Gym in Scottsdale.  Jason has helped keep me in shape and believe that I am more than just a woman who has lost weight.  I am an athlete that has been hidden for so many years.  He incorporates high intensity interval training with both boxing and heavy strength training.  I have defined muscles now that I never knew even existed! Through his training I felt poised to take on a challenge that I never thought I would ever have a chance to even think about. The Spartan Race.  I decided that my law school graduation present and the best way to celebrate passing the Arizona bar exam and becoming an attorney was to finally compete in the Spartan Race!”

Training for it with the same precision and determination she had shown throughout her weight loss victory and graduating from law school, she prepared herself for what lay ahead. She was ready.

“On February 8, 2014 I approached the starting line of the Arizona Spartan Sprint ready to face my biggest physical challenge ever.  My fiancé, Jules Demetrius, who is battling Stage 3 colon and liver cancer, had hoped to be in those spectator bleachers cheering me on, but due to his diminished physical capacities, he was unable to do so.  But, he voiced his support all over social media, touting his love and admiration for what I have accomplished.  Every day he endures horrible pain as he fights against cancer and his strength and courage only spur me to continue to face my fears and give 100% to everything in my life.”

“As I crossed the finish line I began to cry.  It had been the biggest physical challenge I had ever faced and subsequently conquered.  Years of hard work, determination, and struggles had culminated in the completion of this 4.5 mile race.  And as Arisotle penned, ‘We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.’ I have truly embraced the Spartan code of never quitting and never accepting defeat.  I will carry those virtues with me for the rest of my days, for I am, and always have been a fighter.  AROO!”

Jo knows now what it means to know at the finish line. Do you?

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By Isaiah Vidal & April Luu

Nestled in the mountains of Santa Ana Jilotzingo, 5,000 plus participants were anxiously waiting to conquer the first International Spartan race of the year in Mexico.

Surrounded by a spectacular view of the valley as the sun hit the horizon the day promised to be a day for the ages. Racers came from all over to take on this amazing course cut through some of the most rugged, and amazing, terrain the area has to offer.

The Elite heats promised to be truly entertaining as Spartan Race Pro Team member April Luu traveled to Mexico for the race. Ready to face off once again Spartan Pro Team member April Luu & the Spartan chicks of Mexico, Chickorita de Lego and Olympian Tri-athlete, Fabiola Corona. Its a friendly rival match and last time these ladies raced against one another, Fabiola took first as April Luu placed 2nd, followed by Chickorita in 3rd in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

On the men’s side was Spartan Pro Team member Isaiah Vidal making the trip down from the US, the Spartan Mexican Junior Olympian steeplechase competitor Angel Quintero and Junior Olympian Tri-athlete Octavio Oliveros. The rest of the field was packed with competitors looking to podium and find Spartan glory.

As the race got under way little did the participants know how obstacle heavy this event would end up being. To top it off the elevation was 2400 feet, which promised to play a factor in the 5 mile, 25+obstacle event. Starting the race off was a brutal 100 meter maze barb-wire crawl, followed by a run through water, climb over a cargo net and immediately faced with another barb-wire crawl. It was interesting to see some participants succeed while others struggled in overcoming these back-to-back obstacles in the first quarter of the race. The start of this race was merely the beginning as the competitors started to descend into the valley of Santa Ana.

There were many elevation changes along the narrow paths through tall grassy terrain and wooded areas. Around every corner stood another obstacle yet to be faced. Over – under- throughs, walls of varied heights, moats with mud & water, balance beams, inverted walls, hurc hoist, monkey bars, tractor pull, rope climb, and a 400 meter sand bag that was absolutely punishing.

Leading the race Isaiah fought Angel for the lead after descending into the woods followed by the sand bag carry with Octavio was closing in. Angel maintained his lead by making the spear throw. Octavio in second missed, followed by another miss from

Isaiah, giving Octavio a thirty second lead. With a mile left and 5+staggered obstacles the top podium spot went to Angel, followed by Octavio in second and Isaiah in third.

The battle between the women was settled as April paved the way with a 2 minute lead over the Olympian Fabiola. Missing the spear, caused her to take the thirty burpee penalty, but was still able to maintain her lead. Just when Fabiola thought she had closed the gap, missing her spear throw pushed Fabiola back to third as Chickorita over took the Olympian by dominating the spear. In the end the top spot went to April, followed by Chickorita and Fabiola in third.

After the elite men & woman the 9:30am race participants took over in packs of 100+ every 15 minutes until 2:30pm, many fighting to earn a part of their Spartan trifecta medals. The Spartan Kids race took 4 – 13 year olds on their very own course, earning their unique Spartan medal.

The first Mexico Spartan Race of the year was an outstanding course designed by the Spartan Race Mexico team. They will be taking a similar design approach for the next event, the Spartan Super in Puebla, Mexico on April 5th & 6th where the venue will sit at 9,400 feet and allow the people of Mexico to continue their quest for the Spartan Trifecta.

Sign up for your next Spartan Race today! 

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When it comes to equipment for working out with, one often overlooked item is the humble splitting axe. There are huge physical benefits of chopping wood and the obvious end product also being useful fuel, but which axe specifically should you choose for the task in hand?

In recent times, Fiskars have become immensely popular. Having that balance of being a good, sturdy axe along with being a reasonable price for what it offers, it’s understandable why so many choose it.

So let’s look closely at it.

The Fiskars axe is designed to be as effective as possible in one-strike chopping. What they have tried to do is get that perfect balance of power-to-weight ratio in the same way a baseball bat has. It comes with an extremely sharp blade with a low-friction coating on the head, so it’s ready for use as soon as you get it. Along the blade it has a bevel convex coming out of the head so that it pushes the wood away when splitting. Hence the fact it’s a “splitter”. As silly as it may sound, many people confuse a chopper with a splitter. Two different tools for different purposes. Make sure you understand the difference before you commit to buying!

One claim they make is that it has a “stronger than steel” Fibercomp handle that won’t break through overstriking, ie, missing the head and hitting the log with the handle. They go on to point out that the Permahead insert-molded axe head will not loosen or fly off. If you’ve ever attended the Spartan Death Race in Vermont, you’ll see a graveyard of broken Fiskar axe heads and handles. Now, whether this is through poor striking, bad aim or shoddy quality merchandise is up for debate. The art of chopping wood is something learned over a little time. Not many souls take instantly to picking up an axe and getting right into the groove. Another good thing about Fiskars is their lifetime warranty.

Something else you’ll get with the axe is the head/blade locking case for when it’s stored away when not in use. A nice touch.

Signup today for a Spartan Death Race or 12 hour Hurricane Heat at Spartanrace.com and don’t forget to bring your axe.

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By Anthony Matesi

Just outside of Phoenix, AZ there was a disturbance in the normally desolate lands near Fort McDowell. The Spartans had arrived. Marking the second Spartan Race of 2014 the obstacles were erected all throughout the week to bring to this cactus filled paradise an event that would challenge all walks of life.

To kick things off, Hurricane Heat leaders devised a relatively creative plan for the brave souls looking to participate in the event which began in the early hours of the morning before the sun had a chance to rise up over the mountains off in the distance. Teamwork is essential in finishing one of Spartan’s challenging HH events. New Hurricane Heaters were put through everything from learning animal movements and body weight exercises that are the foundation of the Spartan SGX training program to having them dig up a treasure chest filled with zip ties only to be zipped together right arm to the next person’s left ankle and forced to inchworm as a one unit through a tunnel that went under the highway. The suffering these participants endure together takes a group of strangers and creates a bond like no other.

While those crazy Hurricane Heaters were suffering together in the festival area the Elite racers began to storm the grounds. Some of the top racers from the Spartan Pro Team were in attendance. For the men, Matt Novakovich from Alaska, mountain man Miguel Medina left his cabin in Vermont, with Christopher Rutz, Shawn Feiock and Elliot Meguier also in attendance. On the women’s side there was TyAnn Clark, Juliana Sproles, Jenny Tobin, and Ang Reynolds. Outside of the pro team there was an impressive showing from Sarah Pozdol, Laura Messner, and Rose Wetzel as well as the local newcomer to Spartan Race, John Yatsko. The early hours of the morning were a bit brisk but things heated up very quickly as the race day began. The course was fast and hilly with all the usual obstacles to test the strength, endurance and agility of the racers. As the temperatures rose the cramps began to set into racers who didn’t take the time to properly hydrate. The Amphibious Medics team led by, David Gonzalez, was on site helping the Spartan Staff to help those who were injured on course back to safety or fixed them up to continue their journey.

The Elite wave took off early Saturday morning fighting for the prize money offered by Navy Federal Credit Union with a total of $7500 up for grabs. The competition was incredibly fierce. In the men’s division there was a grueling battle that brought had the top 3 finishers all finishing within a minute and 30 seconds of each other. At the end of the day it was John Yatsko, Glenn Racz, and Chad Trammel taking the first three spots and Matt Novakovich coming in fourth.  The elite women’s field was equally grueling with Kk Paul, Rose Wetzel and TyAnn Clark battling it out for the top 3 spots coming into the finish in that order with Rose and TyAnn finishing within seventeen seconds of each other. The Sunday Elite crowd was stacked once again with some of the top elites and Spartan Pro Team members. It was another tight battle with Matt Novakovich taking the first place on the podium followed by fellow Spartan Pros Miguel Medina in second and Elliot Meguier in third. For the women we saw the importance of counting your burpees out loud when Sarah Pozdol was bumped from what could have been a second place finish to fifth place. Kk Paul took first again on Sunday, Jenny Tobin came in second and Sue Luck saw her way back to the podium taking third. Spartan Pro Team member Shawn Feiock saw a top ten finish taking 7th and Christopher Rutz in 9th.

Spartan Weekends are about more than just the elites of course. There were a lot of families, Spartan Singles, and couples alike mingling, racing, and enjoying the warm touch of the Arizona sun. In the festival area the Spartan SGX tent was providing warm-ups and cool down exercises as well as stretching by the crew from Power in Motion CrossFit. Our sponsors Core Power Protein delivered some excellent post race recovery drinks, E-Boost kept everyone energized, Clif Bars took care of feeding the taxed muscles of everyone who crossed that finish line, and Zico covered the much needed hydration to keep up with the desert sun.

In addition to all the first timers and those looking to begin their quest for the coveted Trifecta there were some inspiring people out on course defining what it means to push beyond your limits. We saw the ever glowing smile from Misty Diaz, who conquers her Spina Bifida by traveling the country running half marathons and Spartan Races chasing after that double trifecta. On Sunday a racer by the name of Joel Brown was spotted on course making it happen. At only 54 years young Joel is a former Para-Rescue and has been a Krav Maga instructor since 1978 receiving all his training in Israel. In 1981, he lost his right leg in a motor vehicle accident. Regardless of this accident Joel has continued to train, instruct, and push himself. His journey to the Trifecta began here in Arizona will continue at the Super in Vegas and conclude with the Beast in Monterey.

As always the Spartan Kids were out in force to light up everyone’s day with their beaming smiles and mud covered bodies. Many of the elites including Miguel Medina, Matt Novakovich, Sarah Pozdol and Rose Wetzel came out and helped play the role of the rabbit that the kids try to catch on the course.

Another incredibly successful Spartan weekend filled with fun, smiles, mud, and even a little blood has come to an end. Next up Spartan Race will be invading Tampa with the first Special Ops event of the year taking place at Raymond James Stadium. This Special Ops Race will offer a combination of the traditional outdoor obstacles alongside some of the signature Spartan Stadium obstacles.  Sign up to earn your very own unique Special Ops Spartan Sprint medal andwe’ll see you at the finish line!

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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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Family and friends look at you confused. You’ve explained what you’re doing and why you need to pack a change of clothes. They’ve seen you train and possibly even seen a couple of videos on Youtube. But they still have that glazed over expression and don’t fully understand why you’re doing a Spartan Race.
We asked competitors recently what it was about doing a Sprint, a Super, or a Beast that gave them the most satisfaction.

Dane Bustrum of San Diego, California answered, “I thought about this after Malibu and for me, the best thing about being a Spartan is watching someone else who is about to give up on an obstacle and helping them to successfully complete the obstacle without doing burpees. In Malibu it was a woman at the slippery wall who said, ‘I’m just going to walk around’. Another runner and I literally pulled her entire body weight up and over an obstacle. She was both thankful and happy. I’ve been helped and I’ve helped others and there’s just something about being a part of a defining achievement in a complete stranger’s life and then never seeing them again.”

Andrew Schweizer points out, “It’s a very welcoming experience. Finding people who will accept you and are happy to have you run with them in an event takes the trepidation out of participating in something challenging like a Spartan Race.”

Kyoul Cha. Just another day at the office

The sense of camaraderie at any Spartan Race is something very unique. Kyoul Cha, who lives in Chandler, Arizona, highlights perfectly the whole human aspect of belonging.

“Because, in suffering, we find common ground and bond no matter race, color, creed, religion, or age. You can look at the person next to you on the course and truly know the hardship that they face because you are going through it with them. And in the event of real life, when you see that Spartan Race shirt at the grocery store or Jiffy Lube, it is that badge of brotherhood because you can walk up to that person and have an immediate common interest as you compare notes and scars. So it is in the suffering of the Spartan Race where you find your humanity.

“Knowledge. That is what I gained. An entire world opened up for me that I never even thought about in the past. Being the type of person who is self-contained in his own private little world, SR showed me all of the things that can happen when you take that deep breath and let go of the safety rope of Life. I have met greater people than I knew and realized more of my potential than previously known. For  that I will always be grateful.”

The whole idea of having a purpose and something to aim for in life is a response we received time after time. After watching the videos of past events and seeing the photographs, some see where they feel they might need areas of their physical fitness or strength, and some see where they need to address and perhaps rectify what they feel isn’t quite right. Michael Meade of Los Angeles knows this only too well.

“For me my first Spartan race was about setting a goal. I signed up for Malibu 2012, eleven months ahead of time when I was in no physical shape to actually do it. It gave me a purpose for my training, something to work toward. By the time the race rolled around on my 50th birthday, I was ready. I still failed some obstacles though. This gave me new a goal to work toward: monkey bars. I made the bars for the first time at the Monterey Beast, so now I have set my sights on the rope climb. I don’ know if I will ever master the traverse wall, but damned if I’m not going to keep trying! That is why it has been good for me to run Spartan Races.”

There’s a certain parallel with Spartan Race for life in general. The notion that while the race has obstacles and parts of the course that will test you and try to break you, so there is in life. Jesus Valdez, who can often be seen helping folk at the Slippery Wall and countless other obstacles says, “I run for kids with epilepsy and encourage them that life is full of obstacles you don’t have to go through it alone. Just because you have some kind of condition it’s not an excuse to give up on your dreams.” Adam Evans of California echoes that sentiment.
“Rather than avoid difficult situations, learn to face them head on, enjoy them, and conquer them. It’s just about going for it, doing your best, and not avoiding things that make you feel uncomfortable. Spartan race gives me a tangible practice for this philosophy. Many obstacles I, or we, face in our daily lives are not as simple as climbing a rope or crawling through barb wire. Still it’s the philosophy and practice of tackling them head on to reach your goal. I feel like this mindset can help you succeed in many other aspects of life.”

Holly Scudder embraces Spartan like does her training tire

Holly Scudder of Cedar Park, Texas points out that while a clock is always ticking on the course, it’s not always all about the ranking.

“It’s as competitive as you want to make it. Whether it’s competing against others or yourself. Love the camaraderie on course and even more so off course in this type of group. Inspiration to do more and a chance to be an inspiration to someone else. When else does a weekday suit like myself get to play in the mud? And showing my son that it’s okay to play, even when you get to be ‘so’ old!”

Amy Fuchs of Erie, Pennsylvania adds, “For me, it has really added depth and purpose to my life. There has not been too much in my life (besides my son) that I have been really, truly passionate about. I have spent a lot of time pondering over how to go about having a more meaningful life: Do I need to focus more on spirituality, meditate more? Be more selfless and do more for others less fortunate than me? Work harder? Find a new career? Choose a cause and become an advocate? Donate more of my time; volunteer more? And so that’s what I did. While all of those things are well and good and important, they did not scratch the itch; none of it really cut to the core of me in such a way that left me feeling truly fulfilled. Then I discovered Spartan Race. I have found that OCR (namely Spartan, of course!) has really been the one thing that excites me deep in my soul. It has ignited that passion that I have been searching for so long for. My next race might be months away, but I literally wake up every morning with it on my mind. I’m always training for it, pushing myself to do better and be better than I was yesterday. To prove to myself that I can do great things, even if it is only in my own mind, and to satisfy that desire for depth of feeling and purpose.”

Training for a Spartan Race brings with it certain life skills as a happy side-effect of preparing to race. In order to complete the Atlas carry and Tractor Pull Becky Walker of Long Beach, California undertook rigorous arm and shoulder exercises and became much stronger in her upper body.

Logs and rocks became Becky Walker’s playthings

“I often see many abandoned and stray dogs. I’ll go to see if they’re ok and often, they’ll need a little TLC. Picking up bigger dogs now is so easy. In the past, I’d have to, hopefully, coax him or her into my car to get a good look for tags to find their families. Sometimes I even had to take them home before I could find their owners. In a worst-case scenario I’d take them to foster parents or no-kill shelter. Now I can handle the bigger dogs, and more importantly, hold onto them. The training has given me not only the strength, but also the confidence.”

Matt Trinca, of Lakewood, California, remembers how an obstacle became the focus of something he sought to beat in his own way.

“Climbing a wall! I remember coming to a set of 8′-10′ walls at my first OCR several years ago and simply walking around them because I didn’t have the strength or technique. But in Spartan Race, you can’t simply walk around an obstacle. So, what did I do? I built my own freakin’ wall in the backyard, and practiced ’til I could climb 10′ walls with ease! Now, I see walls as mere speed-bumps. Talk about a metaphor for life!”

In closing, Jonathan White sums up what seems to be a reoccurring theme that runs through all the responses we received.

“Being a Spartan represents facing your challenges head on. Not just in the race, but in your life. In 2012 when I set out to lose weight and improve my health, I set as a goal to run a Spartan race. And I did…..and now I am hooked. I’m going to be running four Spartan races in 2014.”

All these people knew at the finish line. Will you?

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