As the thousands of excited and nervous faces made their way through the registration tables in Soldier Hollow, Utah, with newbies rubbing shoulders with veterans of Spartan Race, it was all too apparent that everyone was all too aware of mountains that loomed over them as they arrived. They were there to be beaten. Just another day in the life of a Spartan Racer.

The unforgiving mountains, the malevolence of the thin air and punishing heat would all play their part in what was the first Spartan Beast of the year. Changing the course from last year to include more elevation, many competitors soon discovered what it is to tackle a Beast.

The men’s Elites set the standard with the now familiar 1,2,3 of Hobie Call, Hunter McIntyre and Cody Moat. April Luu continued her dominance of the female Elites, with Leann Brinton and Hally Tollner taking second and third respectively.
Many people chose Utah to be their first Spartan Race. One notable example being Winter Vinecki who at only 14 years of age, has already completed numerous long distance events including the Antarctica and Inca Trail marathons. Despite being in the middle of a schedule that will see her run seven marathons on seven continents, she took time out from her busy schedule to test out a Beast. Running for her charity Team Winter, inspired by the tragic loss of her father to prostate cancer, she now honors his memory by raising money through incredible feats of endurance including triathlons and marathons. Winter’s story can be seen here:

It wasn’t just a blazing sun that shone over the event. Yet more stories of heroism lit up the venue, inspring others to run just that little bit harder. Weeple Army member Kristen Sifers successfully completed the coveted Spartan Race Trifecta after successfully beating cancer. Having already beaten the Sprint in Malibu and the Super in Temecula – both in her home state of California – she finally realized her target and proudly wore the Trifecta medal that some suggested would be beyond her.

James Moody, having overcome throat cancer, explained how despite at one point being too weak to even cross a street now has, amongst other things, a Spartan Sprint (Colorado) and now a Beast medal in his collection. That same formidable determination that saw him beat the terrible disease now sees him take on Spartan Races. With a Super being on the cards, he’s sure to become another Trifecta member sooner rather than later.

Proudly supporting the EOD Wounded Warrior charity, ZJ Askins took on the mammoth task of completing the grueling course whilst wearing a full bomb disposal suit – a task that he successfully completed in an ordeal that took almost 10 hours. For more information about the charity, check here:

James Cannon, despite having never done a Spartan Race, didn’t just complete the course once. He went around again to complete the twice and then, just to bump up the mileage from 24 to 26.2 to make his own personal “Beast Marathon”, he added another 2.2 miles. A remarkable feat in itself, made all the more impressive when you consider all of this was done without any penalty burpees.

Through a mixture of planning and guile in partnership with Spartan Race staff, Corey Peterson proposed to his stunned girlfriend Bekka Bingham at the finish line amid cheers and tears of joy, bringing the day, which already had a party atmosphere, to that of a celebration. Spartan Race would like to wish them both much happiness for the future.

And so, as the Spartan Race continues to roll with Pennsylvania as the next stop, will we see yet more stories of life-changing decisions and tales of gritty determination?

You’ll know at the finish line…

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by Brian A. Nichols

During the Beast Event on Saturday I ended up hitting muscle/heat failure going up the second ridge line after the four mile mark. About 2/3 – 3/4 of the way up I ran into a couple as I was staggering along while they were sharing a few cold ones with a group of athletes. The name of the gent who helped me was Matt and was a teacher from California. I began throwing up quite a lot of water and he instantly began to help me out. Kept talking to me, moving along and making sure I was okay. He even went so far as to lift me up onto his back in a buddy carry and a piggy back to try and help me crest the peak of that ridge line.

Over the next hour we stopped multiple times and were passed by countless folks but he never once stopped helping me to get through. His partner was constantly asking other racers to go ahead to the next point and get a medic coming back to help out. Near the top of the ridge I collapsed again and started throwing up more water and the little bit of food I had been able to take in. Once that happened he literally threw me onto his back in a buddy carry and topped the ridge then began down the other side. It was finally during this point in time that another racer began to help and his name was Lou. Between the both of them I was able to slide/walk down the ridge.

Through all of this Matt was there helping me out, carrying my gear and doing his best to make sure I was okay. It never crossed my mind to get some way to contact him so I could properly thank him and his partner for all the things that they did for me.

[Editor's Note: That's what being a Spartan is truly all about!  We're looking for Matt, and if you are or know the man named Matt who helped out, email!]

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[Editor's Note] Ang Reynolds is a regular on the Spartan Race scene.  An active member of the Spartan 300 group, she’s a to points leader and she’s spent the year traveling the country racing Spartan events and making a name for herself as a competitor in the growing OCR sport.  The single mother of three is also a contributing writer for the blog Barb Wire 4 Breakfast.  Here she shares her year in review.  A year of racing, competing, and finding the family she never knew she had.

Saying Goodbye to 2012

by Ang Reynolds

It is tough to summarize the end of my racing season. With three races in four weeks, my weekends have been packed with the air of Sparta. The Sac Beast was cold and rainy with relentless wind, pitted mud, and straw thick under foot. My hometown race, the Malibu Sprint, was rainy as well. When a typically dry Southern California is drenched with rain for days prior to the race, a muddy course is easily delivered. The tough hills in Calamigos Ranch were slick and unforgiving as I trudged through two more cold wet days of racing. Four days later I boarded a flight to Texas to be reunited with many friends I had not seen since my wayward weekend in Killington, Vermont.

As we stood at the starting line on Saturday morning, facing a course that Mike promised would deliver Spartan’s best; I looked at the faces that surrounded me. A little over a year ago I ran my first Spartan race. A little over a year ago all of these people were strangers to me. Now, as I looked to the Spartans on my left, and the Spartans on my right, we ran into our battle united as a team.

I remembered the first time I spoke with Andi Hardy on the phone, inviting her to spend the weekend with my family in Utah for the Beast. I remembered the first time I met Corinne Kohlen, volunteering at the Spartan Super in Arizona.

I looked further to each side and saw more familiar faces. These were the people that were my greatest competitors. The people that I wanted to beat to the finish line at the end of the day, but also the people that I shared my days and nights with. We had stayed out many a night, and slept late into the morning. We had jumped in lakes, stood around fires, and huddled together in the pouring rain to warm our bodies. We had helped each other limp across the finish and wipe the blood off our broken and bruised bodies. We shared some of the roughest times in our lives and but also in each other’s greatest joys.  

After less than a year I was innately connected to each and every one of these individuals in some way, having shared so much more than just a race. We had not only raced together, but to also encouraged each other along the way, through our strong moments, and at our worst. The racers that stood beside me were my family, and for the last time racing in 2012, I was reminded how lucky I was to be a part of the Spartan community. I have gained not only everlasting friendships, but also a family that runs thicker than blood; a family that will continue to love and support me through so much more than just racing.

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