Nestled in the bossom of the Mountain Creek Waterpark, set in the midst of 167 acres of glorious woodland trails, is the setting for the New Jersey Super Spartan.

Hopefully your training will have included gnarly terrain on trails that will take in uneven ground, and you can appreciate that delightful way in which sunlight will shine a beam between the leaves and hit you just when you don’t expect it.

Last year provided us with one of the most intense finishes to date, when David Magida edged out Alec Blenis by a mere 12 seconds over the unforgiving course. Alec quickly coming back for revenge and taking the top spot the following day with Elliott Megquir and Brain Hoover claiming the remaining podium spots. Could this year be closer? Elise Fugowski made sure her name was heard by winning the lady’s Saturday title, with the ever-dangerous Debbie Moreau winning on Sunday. With training regimes more demanding and with more intensity than ever, and more and more competition making their own elbow room, it looks set to be another exciting race.

Naturally, it wouldn’t be the same without a mountain to climb, so you’ll be pleased to hear that Mountain Creek has an elevation of 1,480ft. That’s more than ample to get those legs roasting nicely. Make sure the muscle memory is finely tuned for that one. It’s also good to know that there isn’t just one mountain waiting for you. All four peaks are as welcoming as the one before, but the question is, “how many will there be on the course?” That will be something you’ll find out on the day, of course. You didn’t actually think we were going to tell you, did you?

Getting to the venue is in itself very easy.

From Central NJ:
Take the Garden State Parkway to exit 153 to Rt. 3 West.
Take Rt. 46 West to Rt. 23 North.
Exit on the right on Rt. 515 North to Rt. 94 South to Mountain Creek.

From NYC: 
Take the Lincoln Tunnel to Rt. 3 West to Rt. 46 West.
Take Rt. 23 North from Rt. 46 West.
Exit on the right on Rt. 515 North to Rt. 94 South to Mountain Creek.

From Philadelphia:
Take the NJ Turnpike to Exit 10 for Rt. 287
North.Take Rt. 23 North up to Rt. 515 North.
From Rt. 515, take Rt. 94 South to Mountain Creek.

From Long Island & NYC:
Take the George Washington Bridge to Rt. 80 West.
Merge onto Rt. 23 North.
Take Rt. 515 North to Rt. 94 South to Mountain Creek.

For those wishing to rest their bones who aren’t local to the area, there are two hotels (Alpine Haus and Quality Inn near Mountain Creek in Vernon) which are conveniently situated on the doorstep of the venue. If those locations don’t suit your fancy, thankfully there are a range of other places to stay with only minimal driving or transportation to consider. Expedia lists over 60 places within easy reach of the venue, so there will be plenty of choice for the traveler.

One place of note is the Crystal Golf Resort. Not just for the accommodation and experience, but also noteworthy is their decadent spa, specifically the wonderful  massages that are available. Tired muscles after a Spartan Race will always appreciate the soreness rubbed away, so this is always an option worth considering. Check out the resort website right here and you’ll see the vast array of services they offer.

If you still haven’t had your fill of excitement, and you’re some kind of adrenalin-crazed super-human, then Zoom Ziplines may be the answer to your excess energy! With four ziplines ranging from 200ft to 1,500ft, you’ll not only get great panoramic views, but some amazing selfies for your Instagram account.

Of course, away from the hurly-burly, there’s also something for the more relaxed soul. There’s the Tunis-Ellicks Historic House & Museum which is guaranteed to quench even the fiercest thirst for knowledge. The circa 1800 Tunis-Ellicks House, building, historic gardens, and museum collection welcomes visitors searching to gain a sense of daily life in a representative New Jersey farming community. The house is encircled by an authentic re-creation of an 1800 parlor garden, and contains more than 120 varieties of herbs and perennials. Just be sure to call the number on the web page prior to your visit.

Despite the small localized area, there are still a wide range of places to dine. Italian, Chinese, BBQ, or even good old fashioned American style, a selection put together by Tripadvisor right here will happily point you in the right direction for something delicious to eat.

If driving is not your thing, say for example, you’d like a cocktail or beer and would prefer to let a taxi take care of you, the Yellow Pages lists several companies serving the Vernon area. Remember, Spartans don’t drink and drive, so let someone else take the wheel.

And when it comes to somewhere to drink and be merry, Yelp is always a useful asset in making sure you find a place that suits your purposes, and perhaps even the style of surroundings that you’d prefer while relaxing with a drink.

Naturally, driving oneself can sometimes be a little quicker, so if you’d like to take care of yourself in that regard, plus perhaps exploring the local area, Roadside America has a page for you that lists some places that can help you in hiring a vehicle.

Vernon has its own website which offers an overview of the area by listing local attractions, things to see and do, as well as places to stay, eat and drink should other sites have mistakenly missed them. In such a beautiful area of the country, it would always be a good idea to drink in the surroundings, and not just see the metaphorical roses, but smell them too.

Being this close to New York may mean that some of you might wish to make the short 60 mile journey to The Big Apple to check that visit off the bucket list. If you need a heads-up of things to do or places to see, Spartan Race has already compiled a quick overview of the city right here, so be sure to check that out and we’ll see you at the finish line.

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All the signs are there. The Tri-state double header weekend is looking to be the biggest Spartan Race event of all time and arguably, the biggest OR of all time. As it stands, 17,000 people will witness the brutality that the Spartan staff have designed for them. So, not only would being there make you a part of history, but you’d have bragging rights amongst all your friends and relatives within the OR and running community.

Let’s have a closer look at the venue. The mountains alone stretch over 100 acres within the staggering 25,000 acres of Sterling Forest State Park. You could say it’s big. There are 4 double chairlifts, so if you want to get a bird’s eye view of how your husband, wife, brother, sister or whoever it may be, you can do so from the comfort of your chair and see below you as they sweat and grimace through the course that we’ve laid out for them.

But here’s the thing, why don’t you make a weekend of it? Tuxedo Ridge is less than an hour from Manhattan and realistically, why wouldn’t you want to take just one bite of The Big Apple while you have the chance? You’ve seen it in film, TV, magazines and online so many times. The Statue Of Liberty, Ground Zero, Madison Square Gardens, Wall Street, Coney Island… the landmarks and things to see are waiting for you and the list of things to see and do just go on and on. Why not check out Ellis Island and visit the immigration museum and learn about how immigration made the U.S. so great?

Only a hop and a skip further down the street from the ferry that lets you take in Lady Liberty and Ellis Island is the famous bull on Wall Street. Who cares if you’re clearly a tourist? These are landmarks worth noting. Broadway is another sight to behold and obviously, Times Square at night is something quite magical.

From Northern Manhattan all the way down to Brooklyn, there is simply so much to see and experience, whether it be Soho or Chinatown, to Little Italy or the world famous Central Park, there really isn’t time to get bored. There’s simply too much to see. Don’t worry if you start to flag or get tired, from personal experience, there seems to be a coffee shop on every block, so you’ll perk up in no time!

If accommodation is your first hurdle, then don’t worry. At the last count, Expedia.com tells us that there are over 600 hotels in the New York City area alone. Finding somewhere to rest your muddied head shouldn’t be a problem. Although we’re pretty sure that they’re prefer it if you showered first.

If you don’t have a car, there are still means of transportation to Tuxedo. This link will help those out that prefer not to drive. On that note, the subway system for getting around NYC, should you decide to stay before and after the race, is superb. Add the famous yellow cabs to that and you’re pretty much covered in the traveling stakes.

Nightlife? Where do you start? There are thousands. Literally, hundreds upon hundreds of places to eat, drink and be merry. It’s hard to even know where to start. Thankfully, TimeOut compiled a handy guide that even the grumpiest or hard-to-cater-for individual will find useful for finding a spot to try out.

Eating, drinking and dancing not your thing? Don’t care for historical landmarks? How about touring New York’s various movie landmarks? You could always check out Riverside Park in Manhattan, just north of 96th Street where in the meeting of all the gangs, Cyrus asked us in the movie “The Warriors”, “Can you dig it?”, as well as all the other landmarks from the classic. Here’s a link that gives you a heads-up. You could even visit the Ghostbusters HQ at what is the 8 Hook And Ladder fire station at 14 North Moore Street. Although we wouldn’t recommend driving like Popeye Doyle in The French Connection, you could always see where Gene Hackman played the famous role in that scene on Brooklyn’s 86th St. If you go down 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, be sure to strut your funky stuff like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Although, unlike the kids from Fame, dancing all over the hoods and roofs of cars in Times Square would probably have you arrested now. You may live forever and learn how to fly (high), but you’ll be doing it in jail. For the ultimate classic, how about going to 52nd St. and Lexington Ave? That’s where Marilyn Monroe had the skirt scene in The Seven Year Itch.
Naturally, it would be impossible to list every film ever shot on location in NYC, but for unashamed movie nerds, New York is a gold mine.

If not film, then how about music? Visit 53rd & 3rd if you’re a Ramones fan, sadly, CBGB’s – the classic music venue – doesn’t exist anymore at 315 Bowery, but you can see where Kiss took the album cover photo of ‘Dressed To Kill’ at 23rd & 8th or perhaps Led Zepplin’s ‘Physical Graffiti” at St. Mark’s Place between First Avenue & Avenue A. The Door’s got their picture from ‘Strange Days’ at 150-158 East 36th Street and let’s not forget The Who’s ‘The Kids Are Alright’ at the monument at 116th Street and Morningside Drive.

Simply put, the list just goes on and on. Theatre, indoor pursuits, outdoor pursuits, museums, parks… it’s hard to know where to begin and end, and making a long weekend of your Spartan Race here will be the beginning of a love affair with The Big Apple. Go on, have a nibble. They say it keeps the doctor away.

Credit: gru.edu,  dailyfilmdose

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“On February 16th 2011, I had open heart surgery and a single bypass to resolve my aortic aneurysm and a nearly closed artery.”

Steven Ramirez matter-of-factly drops this bombshell like his reeling of items on his grocery shopping list. No big deal. All joking aside, the resident of Brooklyn, New York spent a long time battling with health issues. Even as a child, the signs were there.

“Ever since the 4th grade, I was a chubby kid. Throughout my childhood I was made fun of a lot by classmates, friends with their jokes, turned down plenty of times by girls”, he chuckles.

“In sports I was never chosen first or seen as competitor. Sports was more disappointing to me because I love playing baseball and football so I obviously wanted to be great at it, but couldn’t be since I was overweight and had no speed.  Plus I was never taken seriously as a player. For example, when I would come to bat and get a hit, the other players would slowly throw the ball to base since I couldn’t run fast. This went on from 4th grade all the way to mid-2009. I always attempted to diet and work out but it never worked for me. I would end up giving up or seeing no results at all.”

“Around mid 2009, a close friend introduced me to a video work out program,” he informs us. Skeptical at first, but willing to try, his friend did the workouts with him. Embracing all manner of workouts from cardio to weights, CrossFit routines, even yoga and stretching. Steven went through this regime for 6 days a week while also taking a long hard look at what he was eating and drinking.

“I started eating whole wheat bread, 2% milk, non-sugary cereal, no sweets and tried maintaining my daily calorie count below 2000. Within half a year of the videos and the diet, I began to drop the weight like water. I went from a size 40 waist to 38 waist to 36 waist straight to a 32 waist in pants! Size small to medium in tops.  The hardest work-out in program for me was, believe it or not, the Yoga since it was around 90 minutes, but the first 30 minutes was not your typical yoga. What I enjoyed about the program is it was all indoors and cost efficient since I didn’t have to pay for a gym membership.”

Ascending aortic aneurysm

Before he began this regime, Steven saw a cardiologist because of a situation with a high blood pressure. Despite the weight loss, the pressure remained the same. Through this doctor, it was later discovered that Steven had an aortic aneurysm. In December 2010, the aneurysm grew to 5cm which required open heart surgery. This news shocked Steven to his core.

“In January 2011, I met with heart surgeon Dr. Paul Stelzer at Mount Sinai hospital in Manhattan for a consultation to review my medical record. He sent me to have a CT chest scan with dye that revealed I also needed a single bypass. My surgery took place Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 done by Dr Stelzer himself. I was told the surgery took approx. 9 hours. I woke up the next day at 7:30am without even realizing the surgery was done. I was at Mount Sinai hospital for 6 nights and 7 days when I was finally discharged. I couldn’t walk for the first 2 days due to the anesthesia from the surgery and needed assistance in every aspect. I’d never stayed overnight at a hospital before and I was home-sick. The food was ok but I couldn’t get any sleep since I was uncomfortable and the nurses kept waking me up for blood drawing.”

After being discharged, Steven was ordered to stay at home to rest for 3 months. During this time he couldn’t bend or even lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. This sedentary lifestyle was forced upon him. Regular check ups followed and Steven was given a clean bill of health. More importantly he was given the all-clear to resume his “normal” life with the promise that everything would have to be slow and easy to start with.

“Once my 3 months were done, I started back work and also I began to slowly begin working out with only walking and fast-pace walking. One month later I added a 12lb weight vest to my fast-pace walk. I still had a hard time though. Honestly, it took me about a year after my 3 month recovery was done to start doing a lot of push-ups and adding weights to my routine.”

Then, in March 2013, life took a turn towards something that would change everything. His brother-in-law expressed interest in running the Citifield Spartan Race, but didn’t want to do it alone. Afraid of asking Steven – given his heart condition – he was a little stuck. Much to his surprise, Steven upped the ante. Not satisfied with a race that he considered “too short”, Steven told his brother-in-law to register the pair of them for the Tri-State Sprint. He wanted the fire, the mud, the punishment. He wanted to see what his limitations were.

“On June 8, 2013, I entered into the Tri-State Spartan Race. It was definitely what I expected: tough! The tape was pulled back and we began. The first right turn I made there was a pressurized water hose running over rocks and I fell! I knew right there that this was not going to be easy. I felt that endurance was key to finishing the race successfully. While waiting for my heat time, I saw muscular people struggling through the course and the lean, petite participants just running through the course with no issue. The hardest part of the course was maintaining your stamina. I mean, the 7 and 8 foot walls were hard, but making it up and down that wet muddy terrain at a steady pace was not easy at all. I thought that running the course from start to finish was impossible because you are going through incline and declines of rough terrain while completing obstacles. The walls were crazy since I am only 5 ’2 facing 7 to 8 foot walls.”

But Steven made it. Like there was ever any doubt.

Knowing that others would read his words, Steven quickly issues a rallying call for those who doubt themselves. Pausing only to collect his thoughts, he points out that the undoable is in fact a myth.

“If you are a person sitting there watching ads, commercials, reading all about the Spartan Race thinking ‘this is not for me, I can’t complete that’, just think that a guy called Steven Ramirez crossed the finish line 2 years after having open heart surgery. If you compete with a purpose in the Spartan Race instead of thinking about finishing first, you will finish the race with no problem. Nothing is impossible. Get up, push yourself, and become a SPARTAN! It is an amazing feeling, but you can only know when you cross the finish line!”

Want to experience what Steven did? Sign up at spartanrace.com for your own chance at glory.

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by Carrie Adams

I received an email from Jen Rosant, the team captain of Gaspari’s Team Braveheart, and I wanted to share it with the Spartan Race community for a few reasons.  First, I know Jen personally and she is one of the most remarkable women I’ve ever met.  A survivor in every sense of the word, a motivator of the masses, and a living embodiment of the best of what Spartan is about.  Not new to Spartan Races, Jen has brought a team with her, her beloved Bravehearts, in bigger and bigger droves race to race.  When the weather was falling apart in New Jersey, when the hills were breaking the toughest of Spartan competitors, and when the miles weighed long and hard on the competitors last weekend, Jen was still powering forward, still motivating, still inspiring her team, many of whom were racing for the first time that day.

Jen Rosant

Jen Rosant, team leader of the Bravehearts is a 35 year old from Cliffwood Beach, NJ was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis ten years ago while in college and received the devastating news that her colon was in danger of rupturing or she would develop cancer that would ultimately kill her.  She suffered from kidney stones, received blood transfusions and had major surgery that showed she had developed PSC or Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis.  She had a colostomy bag and a promise of a liver transplant for over three months until they could finally reverse the process.  She took painstaking visits to the hematologist for over two years every week spending hours in a chair getting IVs of chemotherapy and injections for cancer-related anemia. She ultimately faced a new diagnosis of Chrohn’s disease and despite the trauma, she’s been lucky enough to NOT need a liver transplant.

Jen, a member of Team Gaspari alongside her Bravehearts, has been taking Gaspari Nutrition products herself and has never felt better or been in better shape.  She’s able to do upwards of 35 events in one year – that’s pretty impressive for someone who weighed in at 100 pounds a few short years ago.  It’s just one of the many reasons why we love our partnership with Gaspari Nutrition.

They conquered the Spartan Race course that day, led by Jen, committed to one another and committed to finishing the course they’d been training for and they found their Spartan finish line.  We honor them, their accomplishment on race day, their dedication to training and to one another and we thank them for being an integral part of the fabric that makes up the tapestry of our Spartan community.

Here is her email:

Hello Carrie.

I cannot even begin to explain the impact that Spartan Race has created for Team Braveheart.  I have been contacted by each individual. They laughed, they cried, they shared their stories of triumph.  More importantly, we changed their lives.  They are making new goals, registering for more Spartans and they are begging me for more workouts in my Braveyard. The energy is high, the smiles are large and right now Team Braveheart feels like they can accomplish anything. Really, your team put together a challenge I couldn’t even imagine. Even with a few handfuls of events under my belt, this was one of the most difficult challenges to date. Yes, pinch me, I’m living a dream. I feel fantastic and so does my team. It’s contagious. Our posts, pictures and videos have not only inspired all of us but the people around us are ready to make changes too. Today, 4 people asked me about Spartan Race.  The words on the street, the fire is in their eyes, people are ready, and they are ready for real results and happiness.  The amount of letters, calls and texts are unbelievable.  I promise you this, you will see Team Braveheart again, you will see them at many of your events, but next year’s Tri-State you better get us a bigger tent, I plan on bringing 100+ Bravehearts with a larger drive than this year.  “If you don’t believe us, try and beat us” 

Jen Rosant.  

Jen’s Motivational Speech

Read Jen’s post about their experience HERE: Team Braveheart comes LOUD.

 

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