It should be no surprise to anyone who follows my writing that I’m a huge fan and supporter of Spartan Race. In my opinion, it’s one of the best race series in existence, led by a group of people who have truly invested their entire heart and soul into a company which has a mission to get people off of their couch, and out being healthy.

I ran my first Spartan Race in early 2013, at the Miami Super, and instantly fell in love.  I loved the challenge, was impressed with the organization, and most of all, admired the passion of not only the participants, but of those helping to make the event an epic and memorable experience for every singe person.  I couldn’t wait to do another, and just a short month later found myself in Georgia, participating in the Sprint.  With two Spartan’s under my belt, I coveted a chance to earn the Spartan Trifecta.

The Trifecta is earned by anyone who successfully completes all three race distances that Spartan has to offer in one calendar year.  The most common, the Sprint, is typically 3-5 miles in length, with roughly 18-20 obstacles, and tends to offer a slightly less technical terrain than her larger family members. Then comes the Super, which steps up the competition a notch by asking 8-10 miles and over 20 obstacles of its participants.  And finally, the Mack Daddy of them all, the aptly named Beast.  Generally around half marathon length, with 25 or more obstacles, these races are hosted in extremely technical terrain, not only using the obstacles and distance against you, but also using the unforgiving land as a weapon to wear you down.  The Beast does its best to dishearten even the most seasoned athlete, as they typically take the average participant 4 or more hours to complete, and are meant to mentally and physically challenge a person to the brink of giving up.  This race truly encompasses founder Joe De Sena’s vision, as it is all about perseverance, about overcoming your own self-doubt, and about realizing that you can accomplish so much more than you ever dreamed possible. To learn that pain is not always a negative thing, but that it can also make you stronger; and once you achieve the euphoric sensation that is felt once that pain is overcome, it creates a pride in oneself that cannot be matched.

I want to experience this so badly. I want the Trifecta.

Unfortunately I was unable to make it to a Beast last year, but I began 2014 with the resolve that, this year, I would make it happen.

Well it is going to happen, but with an added bonus that I never could have anticipated.  You see, this year I will not be earning my Trifecta alone.  My husband will be joining me, every step of the way.

Why is this such a big deal? Well you see, just a mere month and a half ago, my dear hubby did not think he’d ever complete a Sprint, much less a Beast.  Heck, he didn’t ever think he’d run a 5K!  He was not a runner, not an athlete, and not interested in racing.  That was my thing.  I was the one who loved to run, race, and compete.  He loved the sidelines, taking pictures, talking with people, and making connections.  It worked, and we were happy with things that way.

Perhaps we knew that things needed to change, but we just weren’t willing to actually take the first step toward a change.  Like so many people are, we were stuck in our comfort zone, unwilling to shake things up a bit.  To be honest I probably should have pushed him harder to live a healthier lifestyle, but I didn’t.  I was focused on me.  My husband was overweight, had chronic high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and was experiencing pre-cursors for diabetes.  Looking back, I should have encouraged him to be healthier, for his own well-being as well as for the longevity of our family, but instead I simply let him continue on his path while I pursued mine.  For that, I owe him an apology.  I should have cared enough to want to help him to change.

So what changed? Well a harsh reality check on New Years Day threw both of us into a spin.  It was the type of situation that could ruin a person’s self esteem, that could tear apart a marriage, and that could derail one’s current resolve to reach their goals if they let it.  We had to re-evaluate how we were living life, and had to make a conscious choice not to let one situation destroy us, particularly destroy me.  And instead of pushing away from each other to cope with a tough circumstance, we clung to one another, and step-by-step pulled ourselves out of a dark place, together.

In that time we restructured our marriage, adjusted how we were choosing to live our home life, and changed how we spent our time together.  Adam began walking to clear his head, which slowly lead to running, weight lifting, and walking with a weighted ruck sack.  Date nights for us are no longer spent bellied up to a bar, drinking the night away, but instead we throw on our ruck sacks and walk together under the moonlight for a few miles.  We have focused in on healthier living and cleaner eating. Since then, he has lost significant weight, returned to a normal blood pressure, and has reduced his daily pain immensely. My passion, has slowly but surely become our passion.  We are sharing in a lifestyle that has brought us closer together, and has helped us relate to each other, listen to each other, and love each other more.

Last weekend we shouted “I Am A Spartan!” at the top of our lungs and embarked together into Raymond James Stadium to take on the Spartan Special Ops Sprint.  We stayed with each other throughout the entire race, cheering each other on during obstacles, laughing, joking, and encouraging each other.  When we crossed the finish line, the emotion in the hug that we shared is one that I won’t soon forget.  We had done it, and we had done it together.  It was amazing.  I felt as though we had single-handedly won the race that day, and it was one of the first times in a long time that I did not care how long it took me to run, or where I had placed.  I had watched my husband fall in love with something that means so much to me, and I was a very proud wife as I happily cheered him on through obstacles he never thought he would be able to do.

Since then, he’s decided to not only run the Spartan Super in Miami with me, but he and I are going to take on the Carolina Beast in October. And we are going to earn our Trifecta together.

I cannot think of a better way to earn this title.

Very soon I’ll be sharing my review of the Tampa Spartan, as it will be published in the upcoming monthly Spartan magazine.  Until then, I hope that each of you is also pushing past your fears of what you believe limits you, and I encourage you to rise above what you think you cannot do.  I guarantee you will surprise yourself.  I did.  My husband did.  And so can you.

AROO.

Holly Joy Berkey

www.muddymommy.com

 

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In 2010, Scott Weir decided he’d had enough of the way his life was going. Sure, he’d done a little exercise before – biking, specifically in college and during the first few years of his working life – but eventually, that fire died down to a few glowing embers until it extinguished completely. Reaching a point where he was unhappy with his frame, it was time to start rebuilding.

“After years of living a pretty sedentary life, I’d finally hit a weight and pant size that I couldn’t live with; a size 40 pants and 240lbs”, recalls Scott. “So early summer 2010 the girlfriend and I started the Couch to 5k program. I remember the first day we went out, a total of 6 minutes of running split into six 1 minute runs in like 30 minutes – it was hard. Take those last two miles at your first beast – you’re sucking wind but just keep going on guts alone – that last one minute run was the same. Eventually they got easier and longer, but when I hit 4-5k in, I started getting shin splints. So on a whim I ordered some Vibram FiveFingers and the problem disappeared.”

Progress was slow, as it always is, but it was steady and it was precisely that- progress.

“I didn’t get into racing until the next year at Ottawa Race Weekend, which was a 5K, but things spiraled pretty quickly from there. Around the same time we started running, we also began indoor rock climbing. Having seen some kind of special on MTV where Bam Margera and Ryan Dunn ran the Tough Guy, the sign for the Spartan Sprint at the gym piqued our interest. There were 5 of us that ran it that year, and it was a pretty brutal race – about 40C and incredibly humid with no water on course at a ski resort. We all made it, had a bunch of fun – despite not actually running it together as we were all different speeds -and pretty quickly decided to do it again the next year. 2012 came around and I had started biking again, did my first triathlon, a few duathlons, a few half marathons, and my first trifecta that was completed within a month of start to finish.”

That trickle progress at the beginning was rapidly becoming a torrent of activity and Scott was becoming stronger, leaner and more to the point, he was happier.

In late 2010, he started travelling to his company’s new plant in Chihuahua, Mexico with a lot of regularity, so Scott began signing up for any local race he could find in between travelling. That pattern continued the next two years, with the only difference being that his travelling cut down and his racing grew much more.

“2013 rolled around and I started with Vegas – did the Hurricane Heat and then my heat 45 minutes after we finished, except with an injured shoulder since I somehow managed to blow it out on the 2nd 8ft wall. I wasn’t ready for all of that, so I spent most of 2013 trying to recover as well, but never stopped racing.”

“I had my eastern Canada season pass and raced every venue which was 4 sprints, 1 super and 2 beasts, and transferred a registration for Sun Peaks (British Columbia), so I just needed one more super to do a triple trifecta. I managed to change a work trip around and get to the Virginia Super. Then Mexico announced their beast, and I worked another trip around that – 4th trifecta. That’s where I met Johnny Waite and Andi Hardy.

It was here that Scott had a good long conversation with who introduced him to Dave Huckle. After hearing that Dave was doing 9 Trifectas at the expense of Spartan Race, including flights and accommodation after winning a competition, and hearing there was still one more Super just announced in Guadalajara, not to mention seeing the multi-trifecta medals coming out, he made plans to get a 5th trifecta for 2013. It was here that wheels in his mind started turning and he began thinking about an attack on 2014.

“While I’m fast enough to race in the elite heat, I’m not going to win a race any time soon. So the next best thing? Trifecta record and US SR300.”

“So I began planning around that. The current plan has me going for 11 and hoping to get 10, since the Beast/Ultra Beast in the same weekend is a bit of a tall order. Pretty tough to schedule right now, there’s hardly enough Beasts, given that Sun Peaks is out – same weekend as VT, there’s one fewer in eastern Canada and no schedule for Mexico out yet. Honestly, I think Huckle has been spreading word around more than I have – he seems pretty jazzed that multiple people are out to break his record”

“As far as financing goes – I’ve already got my US and Eastern Canada season pass, so now it’s pretty much just spending my own cash and air miles that I’ve built up over the last few years. There’s lots of races I can drive to as well (apparently 13 hours is my radius), so as much as I can, I’m just avoiding paying for flights. Hard to put a price on kicking your own ass for the whole year, isn’t there?”

A self-financed attempt at a minimum of 10 Trifectas now a very real possibility, Scott is looking at breaking records throughout 2014. Don’t be surprised if you see his face at a race near you and whatever you do, get out of the way if he’s approaching fast behind you. He’s a man on a mission!

See you at the finish line…

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When talking to Misty Diaz, it’s always advisable to wear shades. It’s not just due to her radiant personality, but her smile is so bright it could blot out the sun.

The native of Long Beach, California is well known on the half marathon circuit, having already blasted through many races. Now turning her hand to Spartan Race, she’s been bitten by a new bug. The Malibu Sprint in 2013 was her first foray into the world of hills, ropes barbed wire and fire, but not content with that, she immediately decided that she was going to step it up. The Super in Temecula was quite the step up, but something she decided she was going to do. What makes this scenario just that little bit different is that that Misty has Spina Bifida.

How would her love of half marathons compare to the Super?

“I love half marathons,” beams Misty, “but it doesn’t compare. Spartan racing is a whole different game. It’s totally a mental game, you’re having to push fear aside and take the next jump, while not knowing what’s awaiting you next. I love Spartan races, it allows me to train in a different way than I would a half marathon.”

That training done with her trainer and Spartan SGX Coach Michael Ainis, amongst others, has taught Misty not just the skills she needs to attack a Spartan Race. It’s also taught her that the mental factor was one only actual experience can bring you.

“I wouldn’t say scared, as such, more like, ’Are you for real? You want me to climb up those hills?’. I did the Super on Saturday and let me tell you, Spartan …you did good with those hills! I was a little scared, I won’t lie. When it came to the rope climb, well, if you saw me last year in Malibu I wasn’t even one pull away from the bell, I just couldn’t do it. You’re cold, tired, and shaking you think that’s the end, then boom there’s a rope obstacle. Same thing with the fire, I can’t jump, so I literally walked over it, no joke! By Sunday, I had my team help me! It’s all a mental game. I’m very happy to say, I rang the bell twice this past weekend. Aroo!”

Completing both the Super and the Sprint the following day came as a huge triumph for Misty, especially given the battles she already faces every day. It’s those everyday battles that forge Misty’s will and fortitude that help make the unknown or unfamiliar not as much of a test as they otherwise could be. This ‘life training’ was something Misty brought into the weekend with her.

“The hills caught me a little off guard or a certain obstacle you knew would be bad, but not *that* bad? The incline of the hills caught me by surprise. I’m a different athlete than most, I use pink walking canes to walk and run, so when you give me a hill at such a steep incline, my only choice is to give my runner my canes and crawl up that hill. I had to stop at a certain point on those hills in Temecula and crawl on my hands and knees. I had an amazing runner name Kevin (Kierce, regular Spartan Slosh Pipe Champion) who helped me along the way on Saturday. At one point he carried for a short time. But let me tell you, the view was amazing from the top!”

Her victories in Temecula and Malibu have only stoked Misty’s fire and she plans to aim even bigger for the rest of 2014.  Having now tasted what Spartan offers, she’s hungry for more and already has sights set on a new target.
“Well, I also completed Arizona and I plan on being in Texas along with receiving my first trifecta in Monterey. My goal is a double Trifecta in 2014. I have it all mapped out! We will see how I do in Monterey for my first trifecta. I hope to be the first with Spina Bifida to accomplish receiving the Trifecta badge of honor.”

Taking that adage of “go big or go home”, Misty is proof that life is for living and drinking in every golden moment it offers. Something she is very quick to point out.

“Here’s the thing. When I first thought about Spartan racing, I knew I needed to build my endurance. Mind you, when I started running in early 2012, I could only run for 20mins. Little by little, thru not stopping, and creating a routine, things got easier. So running half marathons really helped me. Once I reached a point in my half marathons where I was comfortable, I knew I could accomplish a Spartan race.”

“My point is, if you train, ask questions, work really hard and find ways to make things work, you can do anything. The amount of love and support I get from Spartan athletes is amazing, everyone helps everyone. That’s what this is about. I do my obstacles sometimes a little differently and that’s okay. I don’t care what you have to do, just finish! Anything is possible. No matter what, never ever give up!”

Sign up for your next race at spartanrace.com. You may run into that beaming smile of Misty Diaz.

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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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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Spartan Race returns to Glen Rose, Texas, for the last race scheduled in the 2013 calendar year. Hosted by Rough Creek Lodge and Resort, a venue of 11,000 acres in the foothills of the Texas Hill Country, this Spartan Beast is sure to test newcomers and Elites alike with a minimum expected 10-12 mile distance of ruggedly formed Obstacle Racing arena from Hell.

With much attention on the recent 2013 Reebok Spartan Race World Championships appearing on NBC Sports, many will now find themselves ready to put Texas mud to the test on what is unquestionably the next toughest course Spartan Race has to offer. Although the venue does not offer the step-mountain slopes that can be found in Vermont; Texas soil is well-known for a harshness in terrain that will dishearten any of those that may take it for granted. This venue yet stands as the only previous location to have hosted another Spartan Race World Championship not long ago in 2011. It was also the location of one of the biggest showdowns in the following year as several Elite racers battled relentlessly to gain much needed points, officially ending the 2012 Spartan Race Elite Points Series.

Spartan Pro Team athlete Shawn Feiock.

Without any doubt, we can expect to find an element of the unknown to awaken from the plotting minds at Spartan Race. As a new twist, and perhaps a chilling testimony on what is to come, this year’s Texas Beast course has been designed by the mastermind of the 2013 Vermont Ultra Beast, Norm Koch. Most racers are expected to spend longer than 3 hours to complete this course, some up to 7 hours. And as if the terrain and monstrous obstacles that this Beast has to offer wasn’t enough to already weaken your spine, temperatures have plummeted in Texas over the last few weeks enough to offer a glimpse of what also put so many athletes’ determination and willpower to the ultimate test in the recent Reebok Spartan Race World Championships.

Many returning champions will attend this race that has been nothing less than a spectacle to behold over prior years. On the men’s side, no one has yet been able to defeat the champion of the Texas Beast, Hobie Call. Strong numbers and some of his most fierce competition including Cody Moat, Hunter McIntyre, Brakken Kraker, David Magida, Elliott Megquire, Christopher Rutz, Joseph Kauder, Anthony Matesi, and Matt Novakovich are expected to attend and threaten mercilessly his reign on the Texas podium. And just as impassioned on the female’s side, the previous years’ prowess of Jenny Tobin and April Luu will be challenged by expected competitors such as Rose Marie Jarry, TyAnn Clark, Jackie Rust, Tonya Stogsdill, Andi Hardy, and Daniell Ross. Texas is also home of some of the most resilient Spartan Elite talent including Isaiah Vidal and Ella Kociuba, as well as the infamous Spartan Race couple Shawn Feiock and the ‘Mini Beast’ Sue Luck.

Spartan Pro Team athlete Shawn Feiock will be in attendance with several local Texas Spartan Racers personally recruited and trained ready for the Texas Beast. New and returning racers such as Michael Mauk, Chris Rust, Jeremy Dinges, Kyle Lee, Evan Williams, Paul Drew, JB Gerhart, Ben Pelg, Bryan Thompson, Amanda Thompson, Christina Armstrong, Kristine Iotte, and Jessica King will be coming in after months of rigorous training for their shot at a victorious finish. Other big Texas teams including the Lone Star Spartans, Cowbell Spartans, and Team SISU Texas, will surely forge their own paths in the ruthless terrain and unforgiving hills that await in Glen Rose, Texas.

This race will prove you not only ‘Spartan Tough’, but also ‘Texas Tough’. This is the TEXAS SPARTAN BEAST… Step up and get out of your comfort zone, don’t miss your chance to push yourself to the limit!! Many will arrive, but few will leave! Are you ready for a Spartan Race? Look through our future events and sign up here.

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Guest Blogger Alec Blenis

This weekend, racers will return to Carolina Adventure World for the second running of the South Carolina Spartan Beast. If you ran this race in 2012, surely you remember moving through sandy river beds, up and down ravines, the lake swim… and who can forget the brutal barbed wire crawl at mile 12? All that and more awaits you on Saturday. While it may be at the same venue, this year’s race will have a very different feel than before.

Last October, many running the Carolina Beast were still recovering from the Vermont Beast and Ultra Beast just weeks earlier. With the race now in November, the top racers are strong and ready to take advantage of some of the “runnable” trails that this course has to offer. Not that this race is any easy one; with the exception of the World Championships, the South Carolina Beast was the slowest race of 2012. Top racers are expected to take two hours or more to complete the 13+ mile course.

Spartan Race never releases course details in advance, but I do have the inside scoop about one obstacle new to Carolina Adventure World: the cold. Race morning temperature is forecasted to be a chilly 39 degrees. Overnight temps in the low 30s will mean very cold water and increased difficulty for obstacles like the traverse wall and spear throw. I hope you’ve been practicing! Rumor has it that Hunter McIntyre has been practicing his spear throw while fully submerged in an icy lake. Look for him at the front of the pack on Saturday. 

Also racing for the Spartan Pro Team are Elliott Megquier and Alec Blenis, each eager to start racking up points for the 2013 – 2014 season. Dennis Welch, distance runner and coach for the Endurance Project, will be there chasing his first Spartan podium after a strong finishes at Sprint distance races earlier this year.

On the women’s side, April Luu is looking to make a statement at her first race of the new season. Rose-Marie Jarry and Andi Hardy are also hoping to make the podium this weekend. Good luck everyone!

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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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Along with thousands of others, James Simpson, 27, is eagerly preparing for the London Beast set for November 9, 2013. The finish will earn the Leeds native his coveted Trifecta; he’s successfully completed his Super and Sprint already.

The London Spartan Beast finish will mark the end of several busy months of training and racing for the retired Lance Bombardier. What makes Simpson so unique is that he is the first UK double amputee to finish a Spartan Race, let alone earn a Trifecta.

His story is highlighted in this feature on his finish on his first finish earlier this year.

Good luck, James!

[Editor's Note: We first featured James in an earlier blog post. Read more about his inspired story HERE.  He is also raising money as part of Spartan Journey for the Armed Forces charity SSAFA. You can find his website HERE to learn more and donate.]

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Ryan Fishbein is a fifteen year old junior from Huntington, New York. He attends Half Hollow Hills High School East on Long Island. Ryan’s high school counselor had posted Spartan Race pictures on Facebook in 2012 and Ryan thought this was a cool sport for him to try. Ryan is a long distance track runner. He participates in winter and spring track with his school so his training already consisted of running long distances. Ryan signed up for the Spartan Sprint in Tuxedo, NY for 2013. Ryan watched previous race videos to learn and study the obstacles; he tried to mimic as many obstacles as he could in his training. Although Ryan made up many of his own training workouts he added in a few Spartan WODs here and there.

Tuxedo, NY in June 2013 was Ryan’s first Spartan Race planned. However, on a last minute whim, a friend of his pulled him in to race at Citi field in NYC in April. Tuxedo ended up being Ryan’s second race. But the Spartan Race bug had caught Ryan! Ryan went on to race the Valley Creek Super in New Jersey in early September. Why stop there? Vermont was just a few weeks away and that race would secure a trifecta for Ryan.

Killington, Vermont was no walk in the park for Ryan. He had to work hard for it and he struggled up every incline. Being a runner, Ryan found himself hiking much of the inclines. Ryan almost dropped out around mile seven, like many other racers, he didn’t expect the cold water and cool air temperatures to overtake his body like they did. Ryan also sprained his knee, but he pushed through the misery and pain to earn not only the beastly medal, but also his first trifecta, becoming the youngest Spartan Race participant to complete this feat.
Ryan’s favorite obstacles are the 6-7-8 foot walls. With his 150 pound frame he can leap right up and over. Ryan also enjoys most other obstacles that require some upper body strength. However being just a buck and a half, Ryan’s weakness is the Hercules’ Hoist. That huge block of cement seems to weigh about as much as him. The mile-long sandbag carry during the Beast was another of Ryan’s nemesis, and not one he particularly enjoyed.

Although Ryan is the only of his peers to participate in Spartan Racing, his buddies are all supportive and quite impressed by what he does. Ryan isn’t one to brag or talk much of his abilities so they simply don’t discuss a whole lot. Ryan’s family is also quite supportive. His dad travels to races with him cheering him on the entire time. Ryan’s mom is equally supportive and wants him to enjoy himself, but is an active worrier always wanting Ryan to, “Be Careful!”

Besides the obstacles being a great addition to running, the community of Spartan Race really stands out in Ryan’s memories. He said that there is a brotherhood like no other out there on course. He has made friends at every race. He says that there is “someone always there to help you out,” and that is something pretty amazing. Ryan would love to see Spartan Sprints included in High School Sports. He thinks that it would be quite popular.

Ryan is done racing for this season, but we will be seeing much more of this youngster in 2014. He will be strong and ready to attack courses all over the Northeast.

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