A lesson learned for those that took the race lightly – make sure you hydrate!

Spartan Race’s second visit to the glitzy atmosphere of Las Vegas delivered more surprises that you could shake a roulette wheel at. Under the relentless Nevada sun that was as unforgiving as the rocky terrain, over 8000 Spartans – veterans and newbies alike – earned their medals and the right to call themselves Spartans.

Heat, rocks, dry and sandy landscapes that seemed to go on forever, even sudden and violent sandstorms – it didn’t matter. The people were here to be tested and to thumb their noses at whatever stood in their way. A move to a different venue didn’t change the attitude or the desire of staff or racer and the relentless terrain certainly did its job, but what it didn’t know was that it was dealing with a different breed of person – The Spartan Racer.

The elite waves threw up some surprises, as new boy Glenn Racz powered his way through a field of established elite veterans to grab number one spot. John Yatsko’s background in running helped him to grab second place, while the familiar sight of Hunter McIntyre on the podium, albeit in third place, made up for the lack of familiarity. Tyann Clark breezed to a comfortable first place, with Amelia Boone in second and the always-smiling face of Rose Wetzel-Sinnett taking third spot. With so much talent, skill and power now bristling within the elite Pro Team, it’s becoming harder and harder to predict podium placements, let alone winners. With this competition being so fierce, races are only going to become faster and tighter.

The winner’s podium at Las Vegas 2014

As ever, the day started with the Hurricane Heat, but it was a special one as it would morph into the first ever class of the new 12 Hour Hurricane Heat. Under the usual guidance – abuse? – of Tony Matesi and a back-up of three extra Spartan Race staff, the competitors were treated to dips in cold water as early as 6am, crawls, squats and endless burpees.

As the regular Hurricane Heaters broke away after around 3.5 hours, the HH12HR – as it is now known – were bombarded with all manner of horrific crimes against the body, one of which being the punishing ordeal of finding, rescuing and returning to the start line with a tire that they would then learn they would cover the course with the whole time. From this, one of the highlights of the event was born. Despite understanding that there was a strict time cut off for the lap with the tire, Kyoul Cha of Arizona (and Weeple Army/Team SISU member who again won the biggest team title) chose to forego his official finisher title and instead stay behind in order to help another competitor that was struggling with his run.

Those unaware of Kyoul’s background will not know that his profession is that of a Hotshot firefighter. Covering long distances with the added pressure of time constraints and intense heat is his normal day. Any other day he would happily have been able to complete the distance in well under the time allowed, but remembering the Warrior Ethos that is taught during the Hurricane Heat, he adhered to the last line which states that, “you will never leave a fallen comrade”. Kyoul sacrificed his official finisher title and patch in order to help his colleague – unwittingly embodying everything about Spartan Race in one selfless gesture.

Kyoul Cha sacrificed his own qualification of the 12 Hour Hurricane Heat to help a fellow competitor finish their race.

In the event village, Spartans were treated to the sight of not one, but two weddings. Well, it wouldn’t be Spartan Race without one, especially given that it was Las Vegas. Amongst deafening cheers and a volley of “Aroo!”’s, Spartan Race and thousands of racers applauded those starting a new chapter in their respective lives. As with the famous phalanx, the coming together of a couple showing that a unit can be stronger than the sum of its parts.

Those with marriage furthest from their minds of course, were the Spartan Kids. As ever, the tremendous and vibrant energy that could be felt from the aura that followed them was magnificent. Caring not that the heat was climbing higher with every minute that passed, they ran through mud pits, over hills and crawled over the ground with reckless abandon. In an age where technology suggests that a good time could and perhaps should be had indoors and beckoning a finger of a blander, more sedentary lifestyle, to see thousands upon thousands of children climbing, running and ultimately, playing their way to a healthier way of life, one would believe that perhaps that there is still an ever increasing pocket of resistance to the malevolent shadow of an unhealthy lifestyle.

With the always supportive Reebok, Eco Vessel, Core Power, National Air Guard and the Navy Credit Union helping bring Spartan Race to the fore time after time, Spartan Race showed not just Las Vegas, but everyone associated that yet again Spartan Race delivered.

There’s a time when you realize what it means to wear that medal and feel that pride and we say it often.

You’ll know at the finish line.

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One competitor laughs of the cold and takes time to tell the photographers that it really isn’t that bad under the water.

You’d have been forgiven for thinking you were not actually in sunny California, but perhaps Chicago, Detroit or somewhere not altogether unfamiliar with ice and below freezing temperatures.
With the typical Spartan Race rain on the Saturday and the malevolent grin of glinting frost and ice beckoning the competitors to the start line on Sunday, the elements had already conspired to make the competitors suffer.

Spartan Race elite male and female podium finishers

With many regular faces descending on Malibu from all corners of the country, the all-too familiar feeling of a reunion in was in full force. However, once stepping over that start line, all friendships were put temporarily on hold. Tellingly, a water obstacle again proved to be the undoing of Hobie Call as he only briefly misjudged a plan of attack. This merest hint of a chance was something Hunter McIntyre exploited and punished by pushing past and snatching first place by only 33 seconds. Brakken Krakker took third place by crossing the line only just over a minute after Hobie, proving just how tight the men’s elite class is now. It seems as though every race is now a guarantee for a nervous and exciting fight for 1st place.

The female elites didn’t fail to add to the tension, either. Rose Wetzel (1st), Lauren Ho (2nd) and Tiffanie Novakovich were separated by only just over 3 minutes. The female elites are crashing through into 2014 with higher rates of training and motivation than ever before, so it was unsurprising that numbers into double figures were finishing faster than some male elite runners. Competition has never been fiercer!

Despite having no legs, Mathew Webb failed only one obstacle – the spear throw.

Away from the professionals the Spartan Race inspiration machine was in full force. Travelling over 7 hours to make the event to represent the ever-present and all-conquering Weeple Army (taking their 8th biggest team win), Mathew Webb crushed the course despite having the “minor inconvenience” of having had no legs since being only 18 months old. Making jokes that the water in the lake was so cold that he couldn’t feel anything below the knee, he powered through failing only the spear throw.“Overcoming Obstacles” was led by Slosh Pipe champion Kevin Kierce. Containing competitors  Michael Aygin, Brian Tom, Michael Yu, Durrell Johnson, James Mogana, Joel Senteno, (who are all hard of hearing or blind) and previous Spartan Race blog subject Misty Diaz who battles Spina Bifida, they all went through the course in a flurry of high-fives from well-wishers and a  volley of “AROO!” chants. Accompanying Kevin was his 74 year old mother, Linda Barber. Together, this one group alone pushing the fact that there are simply no valid excuses.

Linda Barber, 74, has completed every Malibu Spartan Race to date.

Team SISU,led by Daren De Heras made multiple loops of the course over the weekend, choosing to continue their Death Race ethic by carrying logs, tires and wearing elevation masks in order to make “things more interesting”.

From Hollywood, actors Tony Besson – making his third Spartan Race appearance – and Josh Peck ran in a wave shortly before Eric Colley fromTMZ made his debut at the start line.

As 2014 winds down to a close, Texas will see thousands of Spartan descend on Glen Rose where host the last race of year. Spartan Race will see out 2013 with a Beast and the last chance to qualify for a Trifecta before the new season starts in January. Will you be one of them?

 

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Edgar at the Winter Death Race.

Death Race veteran and Spartan Race specialist Edgar Landa shares some top tips for all racers. 

So…you’re all geared up, pumped up and ready to attack the course this weekend at the Malibu Spartan Sprint. If you are veteran of multiple Spartan Races you know the routine, what to pack and how to prep your game face.  If you are a nervous first-timer you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed, nervous or apprehensive about what to expect.  Below are some helpful hints for both the experienced racer and the newbie that will make your day in Malibu just a bit more comfortable.

1. Bring a towel and a change of clothes (including socks, dry shoes, jacket and a beanie – you lose the most heat from your feet and head) to wear AFTER the race. I use quick-drying camp towels like the Packtowel Ultralite sold at REI.  They come in a variety of sizes and colors and even the XL (50″x27″) fits in the palm of your hand.  But if you want to bring your Superman towel then go nuts.  The water from the hoses in the shower area will be COLD but so what!!!  You just ran a cold, wet race…what’s a few more minutes of cold water?  Boo hoo! SUCK IT UP! AROO!  You will be thankful not being in cold, wet clothing while trying to enjoy the post-race festivities or waiting for the shuttles to the parking lot!  Last year I saw a lot of shivering, miserable looking people in the shuttle line.  Be dry, be warm, be happy!

2. Flip-Flops/Sandals (in addition to dry shoes): Keep your feet mud free in the shower area by putting on some flip-flops. You can also avoid the cold, muddy ground as you make your way to a changing area/tent by wearing flip-flops.

3. I also bring enough cash to pay for bag check, food, merchandise and leave my debit and credit cards locked in the car so I don’t lose them at the venue. You can also snap a photo of your ID on your smart phone and use that as ID.

4. Contractor-grade trash bag: You can place your wet, muddy clothes and shoes in the bag after you are done beasting the course. And, seriously, use contractor bags not Hefty or Glad kitchen bags.  Those will allow the moisture to eventually seep through and nothing sucks worse than getting home and finding a puddle of water in your trunk or back seat.  You can find them at any Home Depot or similar store.  Contractor bags: Those suckers will hold back the Red Sea.

5. In addition to my small back pack with change of clothes, towel, etc I also bring a Home Depot 5-Gallon bucket to deposit my wet clothes and shoes into before I drive home. Sometimes I check my bucket along with my backpack at bag check (place backpack in bucket or clip it to bag with carabiners). Convenient AND easier to carry than a trash bag. By the way, the “Let’s Do This” on the Home Depot buckets is new to me.  I wonder if Home Depot has been turned onto alternative workout uses for their bucket? Fireman bucket carries with 50lb sandbag, anyone?

6. If you use gloves cut the fingers off the work gloves. Otherwise, you trap mud and water inside the fingers AND your hands get colder.

7. My recommendation is not to bother with multiple layers or rain jacket if it is cold and/or rainy. You will get wet almost immediately from the rain coming down or the first water obstacle you hit. No need to run the course with extra wet clothing hanging off your body. Instead wear a long-sleeve tech shirt or compression shirt.  And, for the love of Pete, do NOT wear cotton! It’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight. Suffer for a few minutes while waiting for the start of your heat or hand off your jacket to a friend as the gun goes off…You are running a Spartan Race! Suck it up! Aroo! Aroo! 

8. On the serious side: You might have concern about getting across water obstacles. In Malibu, the water is not particularly deep and you can always stay to the edge. If you still feel apprehensive ask someone to be your buddy as you wade across so you can keep an eye on each other. Be safe. Period. If you are running with a group like the Weeple Army  or Team SISU you will have a bunch of friends looking out for you.  If you are going at it solo…you will have a bunch of friends looking out for you.  Just remember to ask.  Someone will hold your hand, carry you, push you over and do whatever you need if you ask. And, again, be safe.  If you don’t swim stay to the edge and ask someone to stay with you and be your safety buddy.

Above all else…have fun!  You paid to do this so you might as well enjoy it.  Laugh and smile through the cold, the mud, the barbed wire crawl and everything else that gets thrown at you in a Spartan Race.

Aroo! Aroo!

Ruck On. Stay Muddy.

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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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Look around any Spartan Race and you’ll often see groups that run together, wearing the same shirts and smiling for any nearby camera. They are there to not only beat the course, but to have a good time with their friends. Ranging in size from anything as little as 2 people to colossal numbers of into the hundreds, teams are now every bit a part of Spartan Race as the rope climbs and barbed wire crawls.

Dominating the West coast is The Weeple Army. Originating in Southern California, but now having “chapters” not only across the states, but worldwide as well, the familiar sight of swathes of green and black can be seen at many races. Boasting members that include Death Racers, Marathon runners and even Spartan Race staff, it’s a false assumption that they are an elite group of runners. All abilities – and indeed disabilities – are welcomed.

Also based in California are Team SISU, headed by Daren De Heras, regular Spartan Death racer and co-organizer of endurance events. Due to the appeal of the intense ferocity of the boot camps and events they put on, SISU has also expanded to the east coast, Midwest and now Texas. Team SISU teaches and coaches the team ethic whilst beasting trails and training hard.

“Team SISU was born a few years ago after my first Spartan Death Race. A few people searched me out to help them train for their first Death Race. When we started this it was long all day events meant to take people to their limits and beyond. It quickly grew as Spartan Races grew and we changed what SISU is. We have now merged with the Weeple Army and are the largest OCR team in the Nation. We have chapters on the West Coast, East Coast, Texas, and Midwest. We host Spartan Training events year long and modify every event so that all athletes of all levels can participate.”

Hailing out of Indiana, the might of the Cornfed Spartans, led by Jonathan Nolan, are instantly recognizable by virtue of their “wrap”-style shirts with the Spartan chewing on a corncob. Boasting over 1500 members, Cornfed members are rarely alone, something very useful as founder Jonathan Nolan explains, “Corn Fed uses the term “family” to describe our team. We use that because when one of us is down, the others pick him/her up, when one of us needs help, others are there, and that is what family does. No matter what, despite anything going on around us, we are there to help each other, whether they are teammates or not, and that is what makes us the Corn Fed Spartans. Next time you’re at a Spartan Race, yell out Corn Fed and see what happens!”

Out of Texas, the Lone Star Spartans follow a similar vein, as member Christopher Rayne explains, “Lone Star Spartans is a Texas based racing team dedicated to helping its members and others live an active lifestyle through the sports OCR, road racing, triathlons, and cycling. We strive to be team for people of all fitness levels that wish to challenge their mental fortitude and shatter their physical limitations. Currently we are at just over 400 strong and growing each day. One of the ways that we help new and current members get to know each other is that Paul Almanza (founder) is constantly looking for local races to join.”

In Canada, The Canadian Mudd Queens – with their team almost 300 strong – are an all-female group dedicated to staying together and helping one another. Pamela Kirk of the CMQ explains, “We just celebrated our first birthday in August. We came together as a group of about 4 online and later met in person. We’ve grown by word of mouth and indoctrinating our friends. We meet like-minded women at races and invite them to drink the kool aid. I believe my daughter is the youngest member [15] that runs adult Spartans and other OCRs. Our oldest member is in her 50s. We come from all walks and stations. No other joining criteria other than female.”

Hailing from Florida, self-confessed “goofy Asian dude”, JayTea Tran, a familiar face with the Spartan Race Street Team community, is a co-founder of Azn Armour which now has close to 500 members. “With our team being represented at most, if not all Spartan Races, it really brings home the close-knit community that we have formed. Our team runs together and we don’t leave any team member behind”, he explains. He continues, “with Azn Armour having teamed up with another east coast team, MudRunFun, it now means that the family is so large that no one person will ever have to run alone. We have a team page where we discuss training, diet, sport clothing among other things. We motivate each other by posting our daily workouts and training strategies.”

But these are just a few examples and barely scratch the surface of the multitude of teams out there. New England Spahtens, Team Braveheart, Chicago Spartans, WVVA Spartans, Team Ugly Fitness, Team Red White and Blue, Boot Camp Rhino, Warrior State Of Mind, Team Burgh all are familiar names across the country and are often seen destroying courses as a unit.

One team that stands out arguable more than any other is Operation Enduring Warrior. Made up of military veterans offering support to the nations wounded heroes, their trademark masks worn by each member signifies the struggles each military member goes through and are worn in a show of solidarity. Their member Todd Love’s picture now being an iconic shot of everything that not only they, but what all teams and Spartan Race stands for; pushing through adversity.

So, get yourself a group of friends, start a website or group page and see where it leads you! Spartan teams stick together!

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Somewhere between where the sun kisses the sea and land in the beautiful setting of Long Beach, California, there is a place of sheer tranquility. On Saturday October 19th, this would be the setting for the first ever Spartan Race California Workout 300.

Along “the Bluffs” of Bixby Park overlooking the Pacific ocean, local SGX Trainer, Michael Ainis (SoCal OCR Fit) and local Spartan promoter and Team SISU co-founder, Matt Trinca introduced Don Devaney, a special guest from Spartan HQ. Without wasting time, the “burpeepalooza” began. 

Under the watchful eye of two Spartan Warriors in the form of Brad Murphee and Patrick Scully, the three-hour long workout started without ceremony or warning.

A melee of accepting “I’m Training For A Spartan Race” shirts added a frantic twist to the participants’ already worn bodies, each having to make sure they retreated back in phalanx formation under the threat of more “funishments.”

Spartan Pro Team athlete Miguel Medina then led a lesson in stretching and breathing techniques. Having come from a background of spinal surgery to regularly winning podium places at Spartan Race, the local fitness enthusiast words of not only advice, but encouragement were gratefully received.

The workout was action-packed with crawling and animal movement exercises, with the entire group moving as a single unit.  As the action continued, the sweat started dripping, and the grunting sounds became more prominent.  The silent concentration of the participants was only broken by the occasional yell from the coaches, “Spartans, what is your profession?!”, to which they would respond, “AROO! AROO! AROO!”

For the next 2 hours, the group alternated “intensity ramp-ups” (running in place), doing the fiendish “wrestler-burpee”, squats, lunges, and pushups, with the plank being the official resting position of the day.

Experienced Death Racer, and Team SISU co-founder, Daren de Heras led the 150+ participants down a steep, sandy hill to the ocean, and then continued to punish them on the sand.  Then, he instructed everyone to pair-up and take turns carrying each other over to a long set of cement stairs, which they had to bear crawl up. 

By way of gaining further insight into the Spartan philosophy, the crowd then gathered around the coaches for some inspirational speeches.  They learned more about the Spartan vision and how the training they were going through was relevant to prepare for upcoming races as well as tackling obstacles in their day-to-day life.  Daren De Heras spoke about how the Spartan Race community is a supportive family and how it has inspired him in his quest to set a record for most laps around a Spartan Sprint Race (which he currently holds at 7).  Michael Ainis also shared his story of going from 250-lbs to an Elite Spartan Racer by embracing the Spartan lifestyle.

The smiles belied the punishing exercises that everyone was going through. People were quickly learning that the power coming from within them simply needed tapping. Paula Vail Weerheim commenting, “At times I felt weak, at times I felt strong. At one point I truly questioned why I signed up for a Spartan race in January. I always said I would NEVER do one. Too hard for someone in their mid-fifties. Well, after today I am starting to look forward to the Temecula Sprint. Listening to Michael and Daren, well, what an inspiring bunch. Am I afraid? Yes. Am I doubting my abilities? Right NOW, yes. Will I do this? You bet I will.”

Never out of the spotlight wherever Spartan Race may be, an audience of locals, including fire service personnel and police officers, looked on in bemusement and wonder, trying to figure exactly how something so painful would causes so many smiles.  

As the workout end neared, Matt Trinca thanked everyone for their effort and participation, and announced upcoming events in the Southern California region.  The phalanx reformed once more as Matt led the participants through a series of cool-down stretches, and then everyone came together to celebrate completing the challenging workout.  Reflecting on the day, Matt pointed out, “This was my 2nd time co-leading a Spartan 300 WOD. Each one is a little different. They are a reflection of the WOD setting and the people in attendance. My first WOD was full of experienced racers, and they had a “never say die” attitude. This workout in Long Beach had a mix of beginners and veterans. People brought their friends along. The participants were all very brave and pushed themselves far beyond what they’d normally do in a workout. We taught them some exercises that they can practice at home, but what I most hope they take away from the experience is a new confidence in themselves and what they are capable of.”

Such was the success of the workout that a follow-up 300 WOD in Long Beach is tentatively planned for November 30th, 2013.

Reflecting on the workout, Spartan Race veteran Daren De Heras was quick to congratulate those who took part, “This was such an inspirational group. We had people who are preparing for their first Sprint soon, people who have trifectas, and veteran Death Racers. Everyone came together and supported each other, and that is what struck me the most! Having different trainers there with different Spartan Backgrounds really added a balanced attack to this 300 WOD. This is going to explode here in So. Cal and I can’t wait to be a part of the next one Nov…. The positive feedback, Personal Messages, and emails of how people were inspired to take their Spartan Training and Goals to the next level inspired the hell out of me.”  

Michael Ainis, who co-ran the event was shocked by the impressive attitude by all those who attended. “My vision of changing lives by tackling seemingly impossible and unheard of obstacles was materialized, due to the hard work and team work of an amazing group of people that I am proud to call my friends!”

Check here for future workouts: Click here. 

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And so the Reebok Spartan Race juggernaut rolled into Sacramento in Northern California for a second time, but on this occasion having a somewhat more agreeable weather pattern smiling down on all those who took part.

Veterans of the race last year will recall how the rain and hail seemed to come down horizontally, with many people succumbing to the treacherous conditions. This year, with warm sunshine and no rain, the course made for perfect running. 

Cody Moat made the most of these conditions with an astonishing finishing time of 1h 51m. Chad Trammell and Justin Morejohn came in second and third respectively, again, in remarkably quick times of 2h 2mins (Trammell) and 2h 11m (Morejohn).

The ladies elites also posted times that belied the unforgiving rolling land at Rancho Murieta. The familiar face of Tyann Clark smiling from the first place podium with a time of 2h 33m with Rose-Marie Jarry (2h 42m) taking second and Jenny Tobin (2h 56m) taking third.

With yet another showing of a huge sea of green and black shirts, the might of Team SISU and The Weeple Army took the bragging rights for the biggest team of the day. Choosing to forego running for time, they exemplified the ideal of leaving no one behind, choosing to stay as a single unit for the duration of the race.

As a huge fan of road trips, Arizona native Daniel Strebler chose to make the Sacramento Beast his first Spartan Race ever. Liking what he experienced, he vowed to return again, almost certainly in February when the Sprint returns to Arizona.

With more people than ever getting accustomed to the clink-clank of a trifecta medal bouncing against the last medal in the set of red, blue and green, it appears very obvious that more and more people are proudly claiming the title of Trifecta Spartans.

Spartan Race would like to extend special thanks to the US Army for all their help over the weekend.

Next stop, Miller Park. Will you be there?

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by Matt Trinca

It’s Friday afternoon. The Death Racers have been going now for 5 hours, moving boulders and cutting branches to clear a path up to Joe’s cabin. Joe De Sena and Andy Weinberg are standing atop a climbing wall, explaining the theme – Gambling – and the rules for this year’s event. “We started the Peak Death Race to find people that we’d like to hang out with,” explained Andy. “We wanted to surround ourselves with people that inspire us.”

Team SISU was started with the same premise. Two years ago, as Daren de Heras and Yesel Arvizu were training for their first Death Race, they formed this small team to help prepare themselves for an event cloaked in mystery and madness. Neither of them finished the race that year, but they came back with a burning desire to push themselves further, and that desire spread amongst their friends. In 2012, 7 members of Team SISU traveled to the Peak Death Race and 4 of them finished… ”unofficially.” Bolstered by this success, the team continued to grow, and now boasts more than 800 members across the country.

SISU is a Finnish word, meaning “ultimate determination, fortitude, and persistence, carried to an unfathomable level.” But to sum it up in one word, SISU means “guts.” The mission of Team SISU is to, “forge unbreakable athletes,” and nowhere was this more apparent than at the 2013 Death Race, where 10 members came to race, along with 5 members who came to serve as support crew and volunteers.

Bolstered by a team camaraderie developed through various team events, such at the 50+ mile Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim run in the Grand Canyon and the 24+ hour SISU Iron adventure challenge, the true grit of each team member was truly on display over the course of the 72 to 80-hour 2013 Death Race.

There was a point in the event where each racer was pushed to their limit, and faced with temptation to quit. Whether it was an injury, soreness, lack of sleep, mental fatigue, competitiveness, or fear, all had their own personal demons to face down. In a situation like this, just toeing the start line takes tremendous courage, and a “Did Not Finish” or “DNF”, is nothing to be ashamed of. But for those who were able to reach down deep and push through the pain and doubt, there was a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Daren de Heras finally earned his first “official” finish. “It’s a great feeling. The 2013 Winter Death Race left me with some unanswered questions about myself, but I now feel like I have my confidence back. What a way to celebrate my 40th birthday!”

Will Bowden – first time Death Race competitor and 5th place male finisher – had this to say, “This race was a game changer for me. Any situation that brings you to your mental or physical boundaries (or both), and allows you to decide if you want to hold short or cross them and create a new boundary, will always change the core of your being. The Death Race did just that.”

Eric Wyler – another first time competitor and Death Race finisher – said, “The race was incredible. It’s truly an experience that strips you down and exposes parts of yourself you never though existed. During the 70-ish hours the race lasted, there was nothing on my mind other than the race. Time seemed to pass in a strange, continuous way such that I lost track of whether it was Friday or Saturday or Monday morning. It’s always incredible to do these races and meet so many inspiring people.”

Even the SISU support crew got into the act, staying up long hours to prepare food, shuttle supplies, and provide logistical support to the SISU racers. Three team members even took part in an overnight, 30+ mile hike that brought more than a few participants to their knees. And they did it not for money or glory, but merely for a mutual respect and love for their friends, a bond forged through shared experiences of hardship and triumph. Racers and crew alike bonded together supporting each other, and pushing each other to dig deep, not to quit, and show that true grit which embodies the word, “SISU”.

Team SISU will be back again for the 2014 Peak Death Race, where the theme will be the Year of the Explorer. Find Team SISU at www.facebook.com/groups/278263838919491/. And check out the Peak Death Race at www.youmaydie.com.

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by Matt Trinca, Malibu Race Manager

“This race was the closest to death that I’ve ever come without actually dying.” – Anonymous racer

It was another epic weekend of racing in California this last weekend, with Spartan Race’s 3rd annual stop at Calamigos Ranch for the Malibu Spartan Sprint presented by Dial for Men.  This was our largest West Coast event ever, with over 9,500 racers competing over the course of two days.  A little rain and fog could not dampen the spirits of these racers.  On the contrary, it only made them more excited to tackle the mountainous course, made even more challenging by the soupy, slippery mud created by several days of heavy rains.

The event was kicked-off by the Hurricane Heaters, who ran with the Spartan Race Founders at 6am on Saturday.  Over 100 participants came out and, during the almost 4 hour HH, completed hundreds of burpees, helped with some last minute work on the festival area, and ran the course in teams with their arms linked together.  It was a real bonding experience for everyone and helped set the tone for what was to be an amazing couple days.

The competitive heat saw a flurry of elite Spartans blasting through the course at near suicidal pace.  Hobie Call took first place for the men in a blazing time of 26:42.  Hunter Mcintyre took second place with 27:51, and Elliott Megquier got third with a time of 31:21.  For the women, Rose-marie Jarry won in a time of 38:03, Angela Reynolds finished second with 41:07, Irene Call placed third in 42:28.  After the race, I got the chance to talk to Angela, who said that she really enjoyed the course this year, and liked how the spear throw appeared towards the middle of the race, so that it was not necessarily the deciding factor in who won.  A notable mention goes out to Hawk Call (Hobie’s and Irene’s son) who ran his 1st Spartan Race in the adult division, after dominating the Junior Spartan races.  He finished in a time of 56:26, placing 1st in his age group, proving that the family that trains together, wins together.

As a long-time Spartan Race Street Team member, and Race Manager for the Malibu Spartan Sprint, I would also like to take a moment to reflect on the past year leading up to this event.  My fellow Street Teamers and I have traveled all over California in 2012, attending expos, races, and other running events, spreading the Spartan message and encouraging people to get off their couches and get active.  During our travels we met many unique individuals, some of whom were enthusiastic enough to take part in our burpee competitions, and many others who did not know what a burpee was.  And it was really inspiring to see these same faces out on the course last weekend.

There was the cancer survivor from my gym, the woman with the prosthetic leg that I met at an adventure run, and a teammate who completed the race with a broken arm (and some help from her friends).  The Biggest Loser resort, which makes its home at Calamigos Ranch, also reserved a heat, and I must say that I really admire all those runners who never gave up and completed the course to the best of their ability.

I was also moved by racer Daren de Heras’s words,  “Spartan Race is really about family.”

Daren and his friends demonstrated this out on the course at Malibu, where he committed to running the course seven times (including the Hurricane Heat).  Spartan Race usually does not allow this sort of thing, but when he found out that Daren was doing this to support a friend’s animal rescue charity (From There to Care), Joe Desena gave permission along with a special challenge – Daren had to run each lap with some sort of impediment or handicap, e.g., carrying a log, wearing a weight vest or elevation mask, carrying a log or war hammer, etc.  I ran into Daren on his 5th lap, and he was noticeably hobbled by the difficult terrain, but he was not going to quit, and with the support of his friends, many of whom ran a lap with him, he was able to complete Joe’s challenge.

The biggest team competition also illustrated this sense of community in the way that it brought The Weeple Army team together.  Last year, this team ran their first Spartan Race together at Malibu with a little over 20 members.  Over 2012, the team grew, running a plethora of other mud runs, training events, and Spartan Races.  At this year’s event, the team’s VIP tent (that they received for winning the competition) was barely big enough to contain the almost 200 team members who ran the race!

Though the fog blocked out the sky, several stars did make an appearance at the Malibu Spartan Race.  Actor Scott Bakula (from Star Trek Enterprise and Quantum Leap) completed his first Spartan Race on Sunday and loved it, taking 5thplace in his age group.  Tony Besson (from Spiderman 3, Nip/Tuck, and Entourage) completed the Saturday event as well.  Evan Dollard (Winner of 2008 American Gladiator TV competition and American Ninja Warrior competitor)

Scott Bakula

ran his second Spartan Race, placing 32nd overall in the elite heat with a time of 41:14.  Evan acknowledged that the wet, slippery hills were a challenge. “I’m used to obstacle courses that run about 100 yards, so it was really difficult to keep up during the running portions of the race.”

We’d like to thank our incredible volunteers without which, we’d never be able to put on such incredible events.  In the end, I think runners at the 2012 Malibu Spartan Sprint will take with them not only a great deal of mud, scrapes, and bruises, but also fond memories of the camaraderie and the personal triumph they experienced at the event.  Look forward to seeing you all again in 2013.  Click HERE to register for 2013!

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by Anthony J Matesi

Team SISU is built on the foundation of going above and beyond our limits.  You can see this in everything SISU does, from training, to motivating others, to taking on extreme challenges, and even sacrificing their own bodies to support a great cause.   For the Malibu Spartan Sprint SISU has looked to helping their own, Shawn Parsons and his family.  To support them, all donations will go to From There To Care, a no-kill animal shelter located on 8 acres of land in Riverside, CA. In California, especially SoCal, there is a large problem with homeless pets resulting in the euthanasia of thousands of animals every year.  Organizations like “From There to Care” aim to help curb this trend by pulling animals from city and county shelters, rehabilitating them, and re-homing them with their forever families.  We’re asking people to support Daren’s generous effort, but pledging whatever they can.  It’s estimated that the average cost of rescuing and re-homing one animal is about $300.  But even if a donation is for just a few dollars per lap (more on that follows), every little bit helps.  Donations can be made via PayPal by going to the following URL: http://www.fromtheretocare.com/donatevolunteer.html

Now, you are probably wondering what SISU will be doing to encourage donations, right? 

 The Challenge

Allow me to introduce you to Daren de Heras, a founding member of Team SISU.  Daren is an extremely active athlete, he coaches his daughters AYSO soccer team, runs a flexible packaging company; a family owned business, and a frequent Spartan Racer who takes on challenges all over the country including a few that he has helped organize even.  When Daren decided he wanted to help From There to Care he made a point to contact Joe Desena to discuss what kind of challenge he should take on.  Joe was inspired by the performance of James Ogden at the Carolina Spartan where he ran six laps to raise money for Wounded Wear.  Joe suggested Daren go after seven laps at the Malibu Sprint.

After some brainstorming back and fourth between the two the challenge was laid out.  Daren will begin with the first “lap” a la the Hurricane Heat which will lead straight into the standard course laps, beginning with a 40 lb. Team SISU War Hammer.  Next, Daren will be tethered to a friend thanks to Hobie Call lending the tether he used when racing with his wife at the Arizona Spartan Race.  Lap number four will be with the one and only LOG!  The mad man won’t stop there for his fifth lap he is going to wear a weight vest through the course and following that he will switch over to an elevation mask, because who really needs oxygen.  As if that wasn’t enough already, Daren will be running his final lap as a tribute to the Death Race Panda.  From what I’ve heard, Daren is a gambling man; he survived the Betrayal of the 2012 Death Race and is preparing himself for a return to Pittsfield, VT in 2013.  If you don’t know about the DR Panda, beware, it has been said he can either come to your aid or lead you to your demise.

Joe has challenged Daren to take on this challenge and he has accepted.  Now its up to you to help donate, help the animals without homes, prevent unnecessary death, and give these animals a chance to live.  With your donations, From There to Care will be able to provide a sanctuary for many, many abandoned animals that deserve some tender loving care.  Let’s support Daren as he tackles this tremendous challenge and donate to helping give the animals a second chance at life. Donate here http://www.fromtheretocare.com/donatevolunteer.html.

 

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