It was a tale of two halves as the 2013 calendar came to a close in Glen Rose at the Spartan Beast. Saturday saw competitors challenged by not only the evil genius of Norm Koch’s 14.8 mile course, but the freezing temperatures not helped by the relentless bone-chilling wind. Sunday saw frost at first, but quickly became an altogether different day as the warm Texas sun smiled upon all those who wanted to challenge themselves.

April Luu saw back to back wins over the weekend.

Familiar faces littered the elite podiums, with April Luu being clearly the happiest of the weekend with back-to-back wins in the female elites. In the males on Saturday, Hunter McIntyre kept up his impressive form by strolling to victory a good 6 minutes ahead of second placed Cody Moat. Isiah Vidal would come in third, but he quickly righted his own personal wrongs by romping to victory the following day. Kioyake KK Paul took the female second place with Rose-Marie Jarry claiming third. On the Sunday, Elliot Megquier gave himself the gamble of competing and forcing a fast time in order to catch a plane home. Spurred by this pressure, he took second place with another Pro Team favorite Shawn Feiock taking 3rd place. Debbie Moreau and Jolene Wilkinson both had impressive runs to take 2nd and 3rdrespectively. With many correctly seeing Glen Rose as their last opportunity to earn some coveted Spartan Race “bling”, the race was awash with people that had challenged themselves to rise above their own personal situation. Social media favorite Amanda Sullivan, accompanied by Pro Team Elite athlete Alex Nicholas, beat her own personal demons by taking the course on in her own inimitable style. With her backpack, knee and wrist braces literally duct-taped to her and her trusty crutches, she battled through taking nearly 9 hours to complete the race to find her boyfriend and friend of Spartan Race, Todd Love, waiting for her at the finish line. As she collapsed at his wheelchair the cheers and applause were deafening.

Waiting for Amanda at the finish line was her boyfriend Todd Love.

All of this after only 3 years ago having been in 2 horrific accidents separated by a matter of weeks that saw her break, “pretty much everything from my skull to my toes”,  Amanda continues build, grow and inspire everyone she meets with her lust for life and the smile she wears that simply refuses to stop shining.
Completing the course only moments before, Louisiana’s own Matt Pevoto had completed his battle against the course.  Despite suffering from Spina Bifida, Matt’s appetite for Spartan Race was tweaked when he completed the Sprint in Burnet earlier in the year. Deciding to go all guns blazing at the Beast, Matt trained rigorously and it showed. His shoulders, arms and chest now visibly bigger and more defined than they were when he finished the Sprint, he waltzed through many upper body obstacles with derisory ease. With his sights now to crash through 2014 like a wrecking ball, his states matter-of-factly that by 2015, he will race at the elite level.

Matt Pevoto refused to let Spina Bifida get in the way of completing the Beast.

 

Other racers of note included Californian Dave Huckle who finally managed to achieve his dream of nine Trifectas. There was the familiar sight of “Thing 1 and Thing 2” – The Unbreakable Joneses -, albeit this time not tethered, blindfolded or carrying sledgehammers. Must have been a rest day!

And in true Spartan Race tradition, staff, runners and spectators saw a marriage proposal by the finish line. Jenna Dalton (completeing her Trifecta) accepted Collin Witte’s hand amongst cheers of support and applause.

One notable finisher was that of James Simpson, the UK military veteran who, after having been forcibly removed from the London Beast after 6 miles due to horrendous weather conditions, made the flight to Texas from England purely in order to complete the Trifecta. In doing so, he is now the first double amputee in the world to have completed this achievement. Helping him along the way, amongst others, were his expat friend Steff Crawford, now living in Texas and military veteran Michael Smith, a right arm amputee from Fort Sam, Houston who, in his parting words as he walked towards the starting line was simply, “be motivated. Realize your potential.” Perhaps wise words we could all carry in the holiday season and into the New Year.

And so, as we go full circle and end another year with a trail of medals, bucket carries, rope climbs and oh-so many thousands of feet of barbed wire crawling behind us, we wish every single runner, competitor, volunteer, spectator, staff member, contractor, security guard and everyone in-between a healthy and prosperous happy holidays and hope that the new year brings in whatever it is you’ve chosen to dream and aim for.

See you in Temecula in January. AROO!

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“I pretty much create my own schedule”, states Misty Diaz matter-of-factly.

“But thankfully I do have a great coach named Michael Ainis, he helped me with one of the hardest half marathons in New York, which was all hills. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I got my best time on that course. I do a lot of cross training too, I kayak and make up my own routines I use trees and outdoor gyms. Yes – trees!”

She laughs at herself and the incredulity of her last statement and continues,  “I do a lot of hiking and skateboarding. I use walking canes, so I must constantly work out my upper body.”

In itself, this could be almost anyone in America – or the world – today. But Misty pushes harder than most. She was born with Spina Bifida.

Running wasn’t always something that was high on her radar, though. It was only recently that taking to the sidewalks, trails and roads became a way of life for her.

“I started running April 21, 2012. I had about a year under my belt of being sober, and I had so much energy. I remember driving around in Long Beach and seeing a sign for Ronald McDonald 5k walk. They had helped my family in the past so I thought what better way to give back. So I signed up and felt wonderful. Then about a week later, I saw a sign for Seal Beach 5k. I remember thinking If I could walk a 5k, I could run. Not once did I consider the fact I have Spina Bifida and use walking canes. I just signed up; no training, no running buddy. I went home, sat down and Googled training runs and created my own schedule. I went to the gym and started working out. From there, I just kept signing up for races and didn’t stop. As of 10/12 I will have run 32 races. My current goal which I’m almost done accomplishing, was running 3 half marathons in 3 1/2 weeks.”

It’s this passion for running and pushing further that’s seen her set a new goal. In December, Misty will be tackling the Spartan Sprint in Malibu.

“I honestly had been throwing around the idea for a while. Then the Weeple Army invited me to their group and I did two small obstacle races and felt like I didn’t accomplish much. I felt as though I needed something more challenging. So I spoke with a friend who’s affiliated with Spartan, and asked if he knew how to get sponsored. I raise all my funds for my races through sponsors or grants. He thankfully had a code! I just want something that will push me to the edge, push my body further then I have ever imagined. Youd think I would have had enough after 28 operations. I love training and working my mind, so what better way than to get in and try a Spartan race? I want to test my limits, I can’t imagine how I will feel once I finish. The hardest part for us is convincing our minds that we are capable. Many train the body, but forget the mind.”

It’s the mental aspect that is currently proving to be the biggest hurdle. Misty is under no illusions what’s in store for her. When asked if any part of the idea of a Spartan Race scares her or intimidates her, she laughs.

“Yes, the entire thing! But that’s the amazing thing about such an event. Think about that; the fact that we sign up for such events knowing it’s going to be hard and take a lot from us to accomplish and yet we are still willing to sign up and train for such an event. That’s pretty bad ass! I know I can do this, I’m just going to have to turn on a different type of beast mode!”

Misty’s passion for what she does is all too clear when she explains that what she does has now developed further.

“Along my journey I have been able to meet such incredible people, who have been my supporters and cheerleaders. Because of my love for running, I have started my own pending, non-profit, Teamwolfpackfoundation.com.”

“My non profit is to help those with Spina Bifida but not limited to, run 50 yard, 100 yard and 5Ks.  I want these kids and adults to feel a sense of accomplishment, to be proud, and excited just like I do. I want them to know anything is possible, if you have the will. I want to do what was done for me and give back. The Team Wolf Pack name started when I started running 15Ks to train for half marathons. I would have a team of 2-3 people behind me running with me. They held whatever I needed, carried my meds and water. When I got tired, one of the runners would get in front of me as a pace leader, or along my side and helped me keep my pace. This is what I want to do for these kids, and adults. I hope this encourages you to continue to run, to keep trying, and to help others. After many years, I finally feel a part of something. I can’t tell you how much that makes me happy. I’m so grateful to be a part of the running community.”

“I leave you with this friends; never ever give up!”

She will know at the finish line. You can too.

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