by Jason Rita

Reports are surfacing this afternoon that an elite two person special forces unit has been deployed from Quebec City and is marching on Vermont, with the mission to take Killington Mountain by storm.  Trained in the skills of cross country skiing and target shooting, this crack team (which American sources believe represents the entire strike force of the Canadian army) is made up of biathletes Marc-André Bedard and Claude Godbout.  The best intelligence available suggests their arrival at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning.  What does this mean for the country?

On the Men’s Side:  If confirmed, this will be the first major battle since last year’s Spartan Killington Beast between Hobie Call and Marc-Andre Bedard when the Canadian shocked the world, vanquishing the previously unbeaten Hobie.   Marco did not compete in the 2011 Spartan Championship Race in December at the Spartan Super in Glen Rose Texas, as Hobie fought off a strong challenge from Xterra and Teva Mountain Games Champion Josiah Middaugh to claim the title of Spartan Champion.  It is this title which is on the line this weekend.

A minor skirmish at Spartan Pennsylvania in July this year allowed Hobie to gain a measure of satisfaction when he defeated Marco, but insiders close to Bedard note he was a last-minute entry to that event and was not properly recovered from a heavy schedule of Winter Olympic training preparation.  No such excuses will matter this weekend as it is all on the line for these two Spartan heavyweights battling for the right to be crowned World’s Best Obstacle Racer.  Marco is coming fresh off a win a few weeks back at the Spartan Race in Slovakia.  And again, Hobie comes to Vermont as undefeated in the year, and carrying the burden of huge expectations.  But as previewed on Monday here, they will face serious challenge from the strongest field of obstacle racers ever assembled including Junyong Pak, Alec Blenis, Chris Rutz and Sebastien Monette, just some of the many Spartan300 elite athletes who are determined to upset the status quo.

With the Canadian threat level increasing to Defcon-5 status, US Army 1st Lieutenant Elliott Megquier must race in Vermont to reinforce the American line.  As of press time, we are given to believe that it is possible that Megquier could be on hand in Killington.  Elliott has been competing in Spartan Races since 2011, always on the podium and is sure to be amongst the leaders – if he can make it.  We call on Megquier – do your Spartan duty, sir, and race!

On the Women’s Side:  A similar border-war dynamic is in place in the women’s division.  2011 Spartan Champion Jenny Tobin will now have to defend the attack of Canadian Claude Godbout, as well as hold off challenges from the likes of Amanda Czapla and Ella Ann Kociuba.  Both Jenny and Claude have reached the heights of success in their professional athletic careers – Jenny in the world of Xterra and Ironman triathlon, Claude in biathlon; as the youthful vanguard of obstacle racing, Amanda and Ella have it all to prove in Killington.  The sport of obstacle racing requires all-around athleticism, and these Spartan women have adapted to the challenges from a variety of sporting backgrounds to claim their spots as major OR stars.  The match-ups between Tobin, Godbout, Czapla, Kociuba and all the elite Spartan women athletes were highlighted in our Women’s Race Preview here, and CrossFit star Bobbie Jo Hackenbruck will also have be out to prove her impact on proceedings.  Now that Claude is on her way south, the already fascinating race has another plot-line to follow.

What had promised to be an epic race is now certain to reach legendary status.   The racers are all chasing their share of the $150,000 cash and prizes on the table in the single biggest purse offered in obstacle racing history to date.  But it isn’t the money that motivates these competitors.  It is the chill up the spine as the cries of AROO echo in the Green Mountain morning Saturday when they charge up the mountain for glory, and battle stake their place in Spartan Race history.  One thing is sure:  they, and we, will know at the finish line!

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by Carrie Adams

Ute CrossFit, Affiliate Champions

When the top team ascended the podium at the recent Reebok CrossFit Games in Carson, CA it was a group of athletes that had fought a tough weekend of competition AND familiar faces to the Spartan Race Series. Led by Tommy Hackenbruck, owner of Ute CrossFit, Hacks Pack Ute finished the grueling week of events in the top spot and earned the Affiliate Cup Title.  Spartan HQ was glued to the television and livestream all weekend cheering for the team based out of Utah because Hackenbruck also happens to be the Race Manager for Spartan Race there!

Hackenbruck himself is no stranger to competition in the CrossFit games.  As an individual, he took home second place in 2009.  This year he elected to return to the Games with five teammates to compete for the Affiliate Cup Title, vying for the title as the fittest team on Earth. Hackenbruck’s team included Erin Bennion, Taylor Richards-Lindsay, Mary Lampas, Adrian Conway, and Michael Cazayoux.  To all of these incredible athletes and their big win, Spartan Race HQ offers a sincere and well-deserved CONGRATULATIONS!

Hacks Pack Ute’s win was achieved through team training and team building throughout the year.  The emphasis was always on having each other’s back and working together.   Two weeks ago, their training included a Spartan Race, the Utah Spartan Beast!    Says Hackenbruck, “The affiliate cup victory was an amazing accomplishment.  Our entire team made huge sacrifices and put in an unbelievable amount of work to prepare for it. I’m so proud of each team member.”

Hack's Pack Ute, CrossFit Games 2012

Hacks Pack Ute dominated the competition.  Out of 11 team WOD’s, they took 1st in five of them, and with tasks from Sprinting, Yoke carrying, burpees, muscle-ups, rope climbs, and Olympic lifts, they were a well-rounded team that stuck together and focused on their personal bests during each event.

During the last WOD, a waterfall that required each team member complete their workout before the next could begin, they not only finished first but eclipsed last year’s winning team time by over two minutes.   The final WOD called simply “The Girls” included the escalation of well-known CrossFit WODs (with female names). Completing the series in 21:43, they faced “Elizabeth”, “Fran”, “Isabel”, “Grace”, “Diane”, and “Karen.”  When the last of the wall balls were thrown to complete “Karen”, (150 of them with a 20lb ball for time)  Hackenbruck himself, had thrown 111/150 of them unbroken, they were the champions.

Reebok CrossFit Games Team Commentator Joe Westerlin, who is one of the co-owners of CrossFit Omaha, an affiliate that saw two of it’s athletes, Kyle “Special K” Kasperbaur finish third in individual and Stacie Tovar finish 12th overall female in the 2012 Games had this to say of Hackenbruck’s performance, “We knew that if the ball was in Tommy Hackenbruck’s hands during that final workout, it would be impossible to beat him.”  Westerlin went on to say, “And he’s so dominating a competitor that no one would stand a chance in that workout against him.”

Westerlin provided the spectator stream commentary throughout the games and had a front row seat to the team’s performance throughout the eleven workouts.  He had this to say of Hackenbruck as an individual athlete, “He’s such a successful individual performer, it’s safe to say that he was probably one of the best if not the best individual competing in the team competition this year.”

Hackenbruck cites their training for their success, “Training for the event is arduous and with challenging WODs, each person performed amazingly, we did exactly what we had to do and had each other’s back the whole weekend.”  Hackenbruck also acknowledged their tight knit community for helping them succeed and expressed his thankfulness, “We are very grateful to our community for the love and support, cheering us on in LA and back home in salt lake city.”

Spartan Race is a familiar battleground for CrossFit competitors and community members.  In fact, CrossFitters are finding that Spartan Races are excellent competitions for individuals, teams, and boxes in the CrossFit community.  Recently, Regionals CrossFit competitor Janice Marie Ferguson was part of an elite field of women competing in Pennsylvania.  Taking home 11th, she’s coming back to more races in 2012 and continuing her training towards next year’s Games.  She says simply, “I love obstacle races, and I love CrossFit.”  It’s a sentiment shared by many in the CrossFit community.

Hackenbruck gave additional insight into how his team prepared for their Games success, “As hard as the preparation was we made sure to have some fun too. As a team we spent one weekend stand-up paddle boarding and had a couple family BBQ’s.”

Hacks Pack Ute, Spartan Beast

Hacks Pack Ute had another secret weapon, the Utah Spartan Beast!  Hackenbruck says, “We also ran the Utah Spartan Beast together two weeks before the competition. Running together the whole way we really bonded as a group, encouraging one another and cracking some jokes too.”

Don’t expect Hacks Pack Ute to celebrate or rest too long.  They are already eagerly looking ahead to the 2013 Games.  Hackenbruck assured me, “We are looking forward to many more adventures over the next year, and will be training hard to defend our title of the fittest team on Earth.”

Additional Media: 

Click HERE to see a video from Reebok CrossFit’s site highlighting Hack’s Pack Ute at the Reebok CrossFit Games. 

Do you want to join the Utah Spartan Beast in 2013?  It’s making it’s return June 29, 2013.  Join Tommy for a race that promises to be another incredible Spartan experience.  Click HERE for more information and to get registered!

For more information on Ute CrossFit, Click HERE.  

Photos courtesy of Aly Tolles, Ute CrossFit. 

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