All those stories you hear about the course at Vermont are true. There’s a reason Spartan Race’s home is in the mountains of Killington. There are runs and there are trails and that’s all very cute, but when it comes to the absolute premier place to really test your mettle, the Beast – and of course, the Ultra Beast – in Joe De Sena’s back yard is where you need to come.

As such, this is why the World Championship race is such a special event. The course, when running it, feels like it makes absolutely no sense. Why are you constantly going upwards? The laws of physics state that surely at some point, you have to go down? But it never feels that way. Almost the entire course is on either an incline or a minimal decline, which further begs the question, how the heck is there a lake in the middle of it? Yes, you’ll get wet. Why are you surprised? This is not a jolly 5K. Look out for one of the hardest obstacles on the circuit there. You’ll know it when you see it. Don’t worry, there’s a burpee station not far away. Get comfortable, you’ll be there a while.

Also be prepared for everything to be scaled up just a notch or two. Everything will seem longer, heavier or colder. There’s a reason for that. But is it actually that way, or are the mountains playing with you? Remember that mental resilience is every bit as important as physical strength.

The World Championship Race will naturally attract the finest trail runners, speed hikers and even Olympic athletes to the event. With people from England, Australia, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Italy and numerous other countries all vying for the enormous prize pool, it’s easy to understand why this event is the carrot dangling on the end of a very long, painful and punishing stick. No pain, no gain, right?

With the biggest, BADDEST Beast of the year comes the biggest cash prize purse in all of Obstacle Racing! The Vermont hosted World Championship Beast will award over $300,000 in cash prizes. Top Male and Female Finishers, Top Points in the Series, and Age Group awards will be dispersed to those who earn the spotlight for their accomplishments.

Get out there and claim your stake! The awards will be grand and that feeling when you cross the finish line even grander.

You won’t want to miss this! See you at the World Championship finish line.

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by Carrie Adams

Our Top Ten Blog Posts of 2012 span a variety of topics.  Yesterday, we introduced you to #10, a blog by our own Chris Davis who left Atlanta and came to Spartan HQ in Pittsfield, VT to live, work, and train with our staff and founder Joe Desena.  He lost over 400 pounds and completed the Spartan Beast, and earned his Trifecta Tribe status.  No small feat!  In today’s recap of post #9 we revisit something that has made Spartan obstacles famous (errr, maybe infamous is a better word.)

In a word: Burpee.

Missing a Spartan Obstacle doesn’t mean that you just mosey on your merry way, it means that you owe 30 burpees before you are to continue.  Here, our very own Dr. Jeff goes over the Muscular Analysis of the burpee.   If you don’t know Dr. Jeff, you should.  He’s greatly responsible for the success of the Chris Davis Project and is also leading the charge on the Spartan Coaching program.  He also routinely participates in the Spartan Death Race, because, well, that’s what happens when you work for Spartan Race.

From the drop to the ground through each phase of the movement, the body positions are described in detail to ensure that from the elite athlete to the newcomer, everyone can see the proper form associated with the burpee.

Read more HERE.

Interested in coaching the Spartan Way?  Click HERE to learn more.  Finally ready to get signed up?  Click HERE. 

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by Carrie Adams

With an epic year of racing in the books, we are recounting some of the biggest stories of the year.  Let’s start with post #10!  How about a story about a guy who lost over 400 pounds and reclaimed his life, conquered a beast, and earned his membership into the Trifecta Tribe?   We are talking about the one and only Chris Davis.  His story inspired thousands.  To see his journey, watch this video. 

From the original post:

Every day Spartan Race HQ gets emails and phone calls with success stories of our athletes getting off their couches and getting healthy preparing for a Spartan Race.  Untold pounds have been lost, new levels of health and well-being found by those who embrace a healthy Spartan lifestyle.  Every so often one of those stories strikes a chord so deep, we are compelled to tell it completely.  One of those stories is in motion now, and we are going to keep sharing updates of a man who has turned to Spartan to change his life forever.

We met Chris Davis in Georgia where he finished the race in 3:04, and at 390 pounds.  Struggling across the finish line and exhausted, Spartan staffers helped him to his car and he headed home.  But that is not where this journey begins and it’s nowhere near over.

Chris started his Journey at 696 pounds. in 2010, he heard of the Spartan Race and started losing weight.   We got in touch with him and moved him to Spartan HQ. He is currently down 300 pounds from his starting weight with the help of the Spartan Race motivation.

Spartan Race staff, including founder Joe Desena are attempting to get him to 180 pounds by September a loss of an additional 200 pounds over the next 5 months.  In his own words, he’ll share his journey on the Spartan blog.  Here is his first entry.

To read the blog in it’s entirety, click HERE.  And stay tuned for another top blog post from 2012!

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by Carrie Adams

Kevin Seaman is a survivor.  Tragically injured in a snowboarding accident in Killington, VT, he fought his way back and decided that as part of his healing he would run a Spartan Race.   He shared his triumphant story with me of survival, of lessons learned, and his desire to return to Killington next year… Spartan style.  

Throughout my entire life I have been involved with extreme sports and outdoor activities. I am heavily involved in both the wakeboard and snowboard communities. I also enjoy rock climbing, trail jogging, and many other sports that keep me outside and moving.

Unfortunately, a year and a half ago, in February, I suffered a traumatic injury while snowboarding with a few friends. We were simply riding through the woods at Killington Mtn (home of your Beast event) when my board snagged on a root under the snow and swung me, at high speed, sideways into a tree on my left side. I was not wearing a helmet at the time (A lesson hard learned, which will not be repeated) so I hit the tree at full force on my Temporal bone on my left side. I was immediately knocked unconscious and was heavily bleeding from my left ear.

Luckily, my friend which was with me was an EMT (Michelle Stabile, for whom I am extremely thankful for). She rushed to my aid and immediately had Killington ski patrol come to bring me to their ER clinic, which rushed me off to the hospital. (Thanks again to Killington, VT for having such a wonderful emergency team).

My injuries were so severe that they had to transport me to Dartmouth while in a coma. I was hospitalized at Dartmouth for about two weeks prior to being released to home care. I had been in and out of consciousness the whole time and lost all hearing and balance on my left side, which will never return. My partial facial paralysis DID heal.

Before I even left the hospital I set goals for myself, which included my first multi-sport obstacle race. During the process of relearning how to walk and function properly my doctors continually told me all of the things I wouldn’t be able to do as a result of my injuries…

I would not be able to rock climb, do gymnastic flips, or walk a balance beam…

With that motivation, I started at the gym, training on my own, in addition to my physical therapy sessions. (Against doctor’s orders of course, but my mind set was, the only person who can make me better… is ME).  Eight months later I competed in my first event… and then fell in love with the challenges of the Spartan race. You have all kept me motivated to continue my rigorous training and make sure there is nothing I can’t do.

I’m proud to say that I completed the recent 2012 Tri-State event in the top 4% and plan on joining you next year for a trifecta. It will be an honor to run the Killington course, it’s kind of like sticking it to the man/Mountain. There is nothing that can’t be conquered. So to everyone who told me it couldn’t be done… the view from the top is beautiful.

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by Carrie Adams

Chris Davis trudged up the hill, already exhausted.  With more than 11 miles left in the Spartan World Championship Beast, he was facing one of the steepest ascents of the day, and it wasn’t even dawn yet.  The terrain surrounding the small group moving up the mountainside is technical and gnarly, making each step even more arduous.  One of those in the group was founder Joe Desena, who would carry a sandbag, another was Spartan HQ Facebook maven Rachel Stuppy, and even Davis’s boss from Comcast joined in the journey.  Yet another was Spartan Death Race finisher (two times over) Josh Zitomer, and finally there was Forest Call, and he carried a familiar tool – his camera – to capture every moment of the action.

Two Death Races, two Beasts, several supers, sprints, and everything in between all with a camera in hand and a tireless attitude to get the very best shots. He is best known as the brother of the most famous obstacle course racer, Hobie Call or more recently as the boyfriend of elite racer and Dirt in Your Skirt Blogger, Margaret Schlachter. Each race Forest Call has been there to document the action.

It all started in February of 2011 when Call followed his brother, Hobie, to his first ever Spartan Race in Temecula, California.  I actually met him there, it was my first Spartan Race as well.  Call went camera in hand to capture the action of Hobie’s first race. From that race on Call became a staple of Spartan Races, following Hobie’s progression to the legend he has become today. Along the way he captured other elite racers and memorable Spartan footage and each video he makes he shares with the world on his own YouTube channel.

When asked why Call, a general contractor by day, takes time off work to travel and film and edit races for other people, he always answers “it’s my passion.” In edition to shooting and editing hundreds of hours of video footage this former downhill mountain bike racer also has competed in the 2011 Tuxedo Sprint and 2011 Utah Super. Call is no slouch himself in Utah finishing top 10 in the elite heat, without the camera that time, but finds his true love is behind the camera.

In 2012, during the Summer Death Race while filming Schlachter for her Death Race experience that he met Chris Davis. It was during this race the two chatted about the Vermont Beast, Call asked if he would be able to document Davis’s race for him. Call knew this would be an amazing experience for Davis and wanted to ensure it was captured on video. Davis immediately said, “yes” and the two started planning.

On the morning of the race Call trudged out in the woods and followed Davis for his entire thirteen and a half hour Beast capturing all the footage along the way, some of which was used in the Spartan Race recap by Mad Motion. Once back in his home state of Utah, Call sifted through hours of footage and edited together an emotional video of Davis’s race.

So Spartan Race HQ would like to give a quick,  ”thank you” to Forest Call for capturing the conclusion of Chris Davis’s journey in Vermont at the Vermont Beast. We look forward to more videos in the future from Call.

Watch the full version of Chris Davis’s journey from Forest Call HERE.

To read the Chris Davis Project recap, go HERE.

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by Carrie Adams

In May 2012, Spartan Race announced the inclusion of a new event, one that would be the first of its kind in the world.  An obstacle race that would be a marathon(ish) distance held in the Green Mountains of Vermont the same weekend as our World Championships.  Two loops on the course, almost fully self-supported, and imposed with time cut-offs and rules for obstacle completion.  It was promising to be so intense, an application process was introduced, so that Spartan could hand pick he 300 that would be a part of the event.  When thousands of applications flooded our HQ, we painstakingly chose our field.  When all was said and done, 386 were accepted (86 more than originally planned) to compete and on race day 345 would toe the line, 321 as individuals and 24 in eight separate three person teams.

Cody Moat, first place

Rules were laid out and it was decided at HQ that athletes could compete in both for cash prizes with the assumption that any Spartan tough enough to win both races deserved both cash prizes.  $5,000 was up for grabs for the top spot of the single and double loop Beast and Ultra Beast for top male and female, $2,000 would go to second place and $1,000 for third.  On the day, $50,000 would be handed out in cash prizes.  Other awards were also presented, making it the highest payday for any single obstacle race ever held.

When several of the Ultra Beast runners wandered off course, the time cut-offs were backed up so allow the runners to finish the over 27 mile course.  Running as much as six miles extra, some were pulled from the course before they could finish when the dark and rain made it impossible for them to continue.  And when the day was over, 162 finished and 69 of those finished in less than 11 hours.  The Ultra Beast medals are special edition and will never be re-created.  They’re larger with a special ribbon, oh, and they glow in the dark.  That’s pretty badass.  We shared photos on our wall all day with breaking stories on Saturday that you can see HERE.

The course was a monster, considerably more challenging than last year’s course, and when the top finishers came down the mountain; it was Cody Moat who would take home the top spot for both the Beast and the Ultra Beast.  Not to be outdone on the female side, Claude Godbout took top spot in both events as well!  Amelia Boone, multiple Spartan Death Race finisher took second in both the Beast and Ultra Beast making it an incredible demonstration of athleticism by all three.

Claude Godbout, first place

Men’s Ultra Beast Top Finishers:

Cody Moat – 7:01:26

Junyong Pak – 7:29:38

Brakken Kraker- 7:38:47

Female Ultra Beast Top Finishers:

Claude Godbout – 8:09:32

Amelia Boone – 8:35:55

Jenny Tobin – 9:00:46

Junyong Pak took second place followed by Brakken Kraker who took third place in the Beast behind Hobie Call.  The transition area was a hot spot for the athletes in between heats.  Grabbing food, gels, water, electrolytes, new socks, shoes, and clothes before taking off most of the competitors were all smiles and donning bright green arm bands they stood out in the crowd and battled most of the day as the rain started coming down late in the afternoon and persisted all evening.

On the team side, the top team that earned a $15,000 payday, The Rat Pack – Finishing time – 10:41:46, who crossed the line at about 7:09 PM.  The team consisted of Kenneth Lubin, PJ Rakoski, and Don Schwartz.  That was no easy task, forced to carry a team weight weighing at least 26.2 lbs, it had to stay with them for the entire course and be toted through each obstacle for them to earn their pay day.  Another notable team finish was Team Rollover – 11:05:21, who crossed the finish line at

Amelia Boone, 2nd place female

7:32 pm.  Their team included Kevin Donoghue, who rolled his truck while driving to the event and was thankfully not hurt in the accident, Eric Matta, and Andrew Hostetler.  This team was never in poor spirits, seen dancing in the bin drop to Skrillex in between the first and second lap.

Nearly 6,000 competitors and spectators from across the U.S. and several foreign countries representing

Kevin Donohoe’s truck post accident

every walk of life, age and stage and varying degrees of athletic abilities converged on Killington, VT to tackle the 2012 Spartan Race World Championship. Consisting of a Beast (one loop) 13 + and a first of its kind Ultra Beast (two loop) 26+ mile race, presented by Dial For Men on Sat., September 22nd and Sunday, September 23rd.

Looking for Ultra Beast results: Click HERE.

Photos from Race Day?  Saturday Race Day

Your FREE Race day images coming soon from our friends at Nuvision Action Image.  

Can’t wait to race again?  We understand.  Click HERE and find your next Spartan finish line.

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By Carrie Adams

As the clock ticks closer to the start times in Vermont, the chatter that has resonated all season is reaching a more fevered and frenzied pitch.  Conversations and speculation run rampant on Facebook and the decided lack of information (everyone knows we never release maps of our races) on the course except a leaked photo or two here and there and ominous rules and emails from HQ that has left a lot to the imagination of our athletes.  It’s been promised that this course will be one even the most tried and tested Spartan has never seen and the crew on the ground in Killington is working night and day to ensure that is delivered.  From the tongue in cheek – a picture of alligator infested waters with the caption “New addition to the course” (posted by yours truly) to the serious – the operations team on the ground coordinating with local medical and search in rescue teams in preparation for the two days of heats, the competitors have much to reflect on before they race off into the dark Vermont mountains for their Spartan Beast experience.

Spartan Races have never been for the faint of heart.  Most of our athletes who venture out on race day seek only to finish the race and cross the finish line but for others, the Spartan courses are providing a new level of competition and a new sport complete with world rankings, an international point system and a professional and Olympic level athleticism that sees participation from athletes across a myriad of sporting backgrounds.  The competition in Vermont is stacking up to be monumental.  The highlights of some of the top men in the field we released earlier this week in this BLOG, touting some of the beast alongside the most notable up and comers in the evolving sport of Obstacle Racing.  But the newness of the sport also affords the opportunity for the wild cards, the unknowns to take a stab at their affinity for an event that forces competitors to be well-rounded in strength, speed, stamina, agility, and power.

The women’s field that we previewed yesterday in this BLOG will prove just as competitive and with the inclusion of the world’s first ever Ultra Beast competition, a marathon(ish) distance obstacle race, history will be made in the Killington Mountains.  As a sport, we’ve grown and expanded and the Spartan Vermont Beast is the official Spartan Race 2012 Championship Race.  As you may recall, in 2011, the championship race was held in Texas in December, Glen Rose to be exact.  Hobie Call and Jenny Tobin walked away with our top male and top female spots.  However, for 2012, the winner of the Vermont Beast in Killington will be declared Spartan Race Champion and the World’s Greatest Obstacle Racer for 2012.  Both Tobin and Call will be on hand in Vermont.

Multiple elements make Vermont unique.  Held in the backyard of the infamous Spartan Death Race, the mountains are dark, mysterious, and treacherous for all who enter.  Making it more challenging this time around, the Vermont Beast is mostly self-support.  Meaning there isn’t a friendly water station every few miles stocked with water, Gatorade, or bananas like there was last year.  To increase the difficulty of the experience, it was decided that these distances would be constructed so that the athletes had to prepare to support their race themselves with nutrition and water they had to bring with them for the duration.  This decision, inspired by the adventure racing Race Directors and staff at HQ used to self-support races, is a redefinition of “tough” in an age of mud runs, and fun runs emerging around the globe.  This isn’t that kind of fun.  Spartan Race HQ’s own Mike Morris, who serves as the Race Director for the Vermont Beast gave some tips on how to successfully self-support and also included some crucial tips on the right kind of gear necessary for an event of this kind.  See those links here:

Links for Suggested Gear (per Race Director)How to Self Support.

Last year’s course was brutalizing with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain in the first 5K alone.  That’s just 3.1 miles and one of the three mountaintops the competitors faced last August.  The same elevation gain was experienced in the 2012 Tri-State Spartan Race in New Jersey as well, but was spread out over the entire 10.5 mile course.   Weather may also prove a factor in 2012 with temps around the 40 degree mark expected on Saturday morning, when last year’s temperatures were warmer – the August heat still easily felt from peak to valley.

From self-support to cooler temps and promises of a tougher, more intense course, this weekend is quickly stacking up to be the one to watch.  We’ll be bringing you updates all week on the blog and on FB and full coverage of the weekend of racing heats will be provided from our Facebook page on race day.  Stay tuned…

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by Jason Rita

There are no favorites in the Vermont Beast except maybe Mike Morris and Russell Cohen.  Whatever the result, those two are guaranteed to be laughing at the start of the race and the end.  No, they are not members of the Spartan300, they are not obstacle racers, they are the Race Director and Course Designer for the Vermont Spartan Beast and Ultra Beast, and they are promising that this race will be unlike any other Spartan Race in the past.

Throw out the stats, the results, the preconceptions, and the betting lines.   Anything can happen and probably will.   There will be carnage, devastation, tears, swearing, prayers to deities, and bargains with demons.  At the end, someone will emerge victorious; someone will earn the crown as Spartan Champion and be called the World’s Best Obstacle Racer.  The question is “Who?”

Marco Bedard

Last year’s victor was Marc-Andre Bedard, the Canadian Olympian biathlete.  Being a biathlete coming to race Killington is actually a handy skill because you might encounter both snow and wolves on race day.  Marco recently represented Spartan Race in the first Spartan event in mainland Europe, where he showed his class and dominated in the Slovakia Spartan Race.   But Marco’s Canadian national team coaches have Marco on a tight training schedule as he prepares for the 2014 Winter Olympics, and as of press time, he is not entered and not expected to race.  A cryptic Facebook post on Sunday night hinted that a Canadian storm might be blowing in from the north, so don’t be surprised if a man on skis with a rifle emerges from the Green Mountain forest on Saturday morning, grabs a bib number and toes the line.  It could be Marco.

2011 proved that Hobie Call could not master the Killington course.  The pre-race favorite was shocked by the length and toughness and finished a disappointing 9th.  But last year’s race was barely a month after the Death Race, which saw Call put in a 40 hour ultra-effort as he chased Joe Desena’s $100,000 Holy Grail

Hobie Call

for anyone who could win 15 Spartan Races andthe Death Race in one calendar year, and recovery might have been an issue.  Call severely bonked about 2 hours in to the Killington challenge.  He still ended up winning 15 races last year, including the year-end championship held in Texas.  But so far the scoreboard reads:  Vermont 2, Hobie 0.  Call has continued to dominate the Spartan Race series this year, racking up an amazing ten wins.  Call has been winning easily, winning in style, winning even while wearing a 10-lb weight vest.  The only event where he participated but didn’t take top spot was the Super Spartan in Arizona, that one he ran tethered to his wife, Irene.   She was last year’s third place female in our World Championships in Texas. Call

has focused his training over the last month specifically to redeem his performance from last year.  But the Beast doesn’t care about resumes.  If Hobie is to be this year’s champion, he will have to do something he hasn’t done to date, and that is win in Vermont.

Junyong Pak

With the defending Killington winner uncertain of racing and Vermont being Hobie’s Kryptonite, the race does shape up as an open question.  In 2011, Junyong Pak finished 2nd to Marco in Vermont, and 3rd in the Texas Championship Race, and since then has not rested in his quest to become a Spartan Champion.  Winner of the Spartan Sprint in New England, JYP has also proved his long course pedigree by finishing 2nd at the 2012 Spartan Death Race, an amazing result considering he was moving as fast at hour 60 as many were at hour one.  Junyong is one of the most passionate and dedicated competitors in the field, as well as one of the most honorable, and must be counted as one to watch.

Alec Blenis

One of the youngest competitors in the Spartan universe, Alec Blenis, has quickly become a star endurance athlete.   Already sponsored by Amazing Grass, the organic green superfood company, this 17 year old vegan has racked up some impressive road racing and triathlon wins at:  the Callaway Gardens Marathon – 1st place, Chattahoochee Challenge 10k – 1st place, Historic Roswell 10k – 1st place, Lake Lanier Sprint Triathlon, 1st place, and Red Top Roaster 15k, 1st place.

Often racing with 67 year old dad Robert, Team Blenis, usually takes home the Spartan age-group prizes.  Alec’s passion for the sport of Spartan obstacle racing is legend through his extreme workout videos on the Spartan Race Facebook page showing his commitment and athleticism.  A former pole vaulter in high school, Alec is second in the Spartan Point Series, showing amazing consistency, trailing only Hobie Call himself in the Points Competition, which runs through to the end of the year.  Is it possible that Alec could pull an upset and vault over Hobie?

Chris Rutz

As captain of Team Juwi, Chris Rutz can also be counted on to provide a tough challenge.  One of the world leaders in large-scale solar photovoltaic projects, juwi solar Inc. is the first company to sponsor team of Spartan athletes and has provided a great model for far-sighted corporations to engage with the fast-growing sport in the world.  Along with Chris, fellow Team Juwi athletes Nick Maynard, Mark Husted and Elliott Megquier have all featured on the Spartan podium in 2012.  Elliott is one of the top Spartan racers and would be expected to challenge in Killington, but this 1st Lieutenant in the US Army is on a training exercise that prevents him from being at the Killington Beast – unless he goes AWOL.  His teammates are sure to represent him well.  Chris is on pace to earn an amazing seven Spartan Trifecta medals in 2012 and plans to complete seven Supers (five done) and seven Beasts (one done) to go with ten Sprints (eight done).  (Rest assured Chris, Spartan will honor you with a medal for each Trifecta you earn.)  As Chris writes on his blog, Live the Tough Life:  “Some think I am a little crazy for doing all of these races, but hey it is what I love to do and like the saying goes “Do more of what makes you happy”, and Spartan Racing makes me happy.”  An avid CrossFit athlete, Rutz has been training and racing for over 20 years, including triathlons, bike racing, yoga, surfing, canyoneering, rock climbing, and backpacking.  According to Scottsdale Health magazine:  “I could see the progress I was making with CrossFit, but I was still missing something. I didn’t know what I was missing.”  Rutz discovered his missing link when he signed up for the Spartan Race in February 2011.”

Sebastian Monette

While Canadian Olympic coaches might keep Marco north of the border, another threat from the land of the midnight sun, Mounties, moose and poutine (look it up) is Sébastien Monette.   Sponsored by women’s race favorite Rose-Marie Jarry’s Kronobar company, Sebastian has proven he can win at home – Ottawa Sprint, Montreal Super, Toronto Sprint – and away, recently crushing the Americans at the tough Tri-State NJ Super Spartan.  Don’t lose track of this fierce competitor.

Cody Moat

Who else can challenge?  Cody Moat who finished 2nd to Hobie in the Utah Beast is a dark horse.  Don’t underestimate this high school teacher despite him only having only one Spartan event in his resume: Cody comes to Spartan as winner of the Mid Mountain Marathon, an incredibly torturous high altitude race that will give him great confidence in the Killington mountains.  Did we mention that Killinton is a ski resort?  That means lots of vertical…  A great mountain runner like Cody is sure to be there at the finish to upset the Spartan regulars.

Team Inov-8 sponsored athlete Ben Nephew might also have something to say about who walks away with

Ben Nephew

the top prize of $5,000 at the Killington Beast.  Notable results for Ben include 6th at the IAU World Trail Championship and 11th at the IAU World Road 50k Trophy in 2011.  He holds the course record at the Escarpment Trail Race, FKT’s for the Great Range Traverse in the Adirondacks, Devil’s Path in the Catskills, and the Pemi Loop in the White Mountains.

What is amazing about the Spartan Race series is that so many great athletes are competing.    As last year’s race showed, the winner might come from anywhere so stay tuned.  In tomorrow’s update, we will preview the women’s race where the field is deep and talented.

Less than one week until it all goes down.

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by Mike Morris, Vermont Spartan Beast/Ultra Beast Race Director

Just about one month left until race-day.  Hopefully you’ve taken preparing for this event seriously and are looking forward to one of the hardest obstacle courses of the year.  The course will be harder than last year and the self-supported nature (i.e. ONE water station) will add an element that even the most seasoned racers won’t necessarily be accustomed to.

Preparing should be looked at from multiple angles: preparing your body physically, preparing your mind mentally, and selecting and getting comfortable with the best possible gear.

Physical preparation means hours on your feet, getting comfortable ascending and descending, building full body strength and power so you can attack the obstacles (there will be some good new ones).

Mental preparation means understanding what is ahead of you and being convinced that you will do the best you can and conquer your goal.  Anything less and you have set yourself up for failure from the start.

Having the right gear will allow you to focus on the race.  Having the wrong gear will distract you and add even more challenge.  You should be very comfortable with three pieces of gear as you toe the start line: Shoes, a headlamp, and a Hydration Pack.

inov-8 Trailroc 245

Shoes:  Don’t pick them based on color, the latest fad, or what someone else says.  Pick one that fits well, has the level of traction you want, and the level of protection you want.  Protection comes in the form of a beefier shank and beefed up toe-box and sides for those accidental root/rock strikes.

inov-8 is the official shoe of Spartan Race.  When we asked them what they thought would be the perfect shoe for the Ultra Beast, here is what they had to say at inov-8 HQ, “Inov-8s grip on slippery surfaces, drain mud and water quickly, and fit snug to your foot so they won’t get left behind on any obstacles. Different styles provide different amounts of cushion and heel to toe drop depending on personal preference. The Roclite 295, Roclite 285, x-talon 212, and the Trailroc series are all great options for tackling 26 miles of obstacles.”

Headlamp:  A headlamp will be required gear to pass certain parts of the course after a certain time.  It gets dark at about 6:45pm and the course will be open until 10pm (time subject to change).  Light means speed and safety.  Pick one that can handle bad weather, is light, is comfortable on your head, and provides sufficient illumination.

Hydration Pack:  The single water station will be approximately half-way through the 12+ mile course.  There will also be two ponds that you could pull water from if needed.  You must have some sort of water source as you cross the start line (mandatory gear).  If you skimp on this then you will suffer.  I highly recommend the use of a hydration pack over other options.  I’ve used many brands and I’ve recently fallen in love with a particular product that I think would be perfect for the BEAST: the Geigerrig 500.  This pack stands out from others for many reasons:

  •  A pressurized bladder system… the first time I’ve ever seen this and perfect for when you don’t want to put your mouth on the bite-valve, if you need to share your water, or if you need to clean out some dirty eyes!  Just squeeze the bite valve and it squirts.
  • You can add an in-line water filter.  It’s light and small and if it’s hot out this would allow you to pull water from those ponds.  Could be HUGE on race day!
  • Two external compression straps are great for synching down the pack (just don’t do it too hard or you’ll cut off your water-supply)
  • Removable Hip Strap
  • Ballistic Nylon (if you get the black one) will stand up to the abuse and  barbed wire
  • Internal (removable) lightweight back-plate adds some structure and support to the pack
  • Enough internal space to add a small jacket and some calories.
  • Webbing on the back for those Ultra-Beast teams that are considering towing as part of their movement strategy.
  • 70oz bladder should cover most of your needs (plan to be hydrated when you start.)

Additionally, the hydration system has a lifetime warranty for leakage and a 2 year warranty for manufacture defects in workmanship.  Here are two videos that demonstrate the durability of the system..something important for Ultra Beast Spartan Racers.

a)      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd48bBwLIUA  (Demonstrates a RIG 500 Ballistic)

b)      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SwL7xUb4Ao   (Demonstrates a RIG 500 Ballistic)

I was going to create a nice video review but found one online already that covers everything: Click HERE to watch the review.

After finding this awesome pack, we reached out to Geigerrig and explained the BEAST and they thought it would be the perfect event to team up with Spartan Race.  Their product offers a perfect solution to our racers needs (pressurized bladder, in-line filter, beefy design).  If you are registered for the BEAST, you should expect an email soon with a huge discount code for Geigerrig packs.

Most importantly, follow the golden rule of gear:  Don’t try something new on race-day!  Train like you are racing.

Good luck.

There is still time to register for the Spartan Beast in Killington, VT.  Go HERE to secure your spot!  Want to take on the Ultra Beast?  Email ultrabeast@spartanrace.com with your race resume and you could still be accepted.  See you on the mountain.

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Introduction and Closure by Carrie Adams

“It’s simple…If you don’t think you were born to run, you’re not only denying history.  You’re denying who you are.” – Dr. Bramble

When Hobie Call crossed the finish line of the 2011 SoCal Super Spartan he was unknown.  His accomplishments, however remarkable, remained largely undiscovered and he was just a man with a plan that would take nearly a year to see through.   Crossing the finish in SoCal in early 2011, he was ending one race a champion but beginning another, the race of a lifetime for a man who thought his time may have passed.  While we, Spartan Race were introducing a new sport, Obstacle Racing to the masses, we were also unknowingly meeting the man who would come to define excellence in the burgeoning sporting event and who’s valiant efforts would inspire a community of Spartans to find their own path to glory.  He was featured in our SoCal video about Overcoming Adversity where we first heard part of his story. 

Hobie’s first Spartan Video, SoCal 2011

Venue after venue, race after race Hobie’s winning streak continued and almost every race he touched he owned. After SoCal, came many more races for Call to take on, even the Death Race, and despite his DNF at the Death Race and his loss at the Beast, his fans never faltered and the interest in what this humble man from Utah was pursuing grew.  His journey that began in California led him all the way to Glen Rose, TX and a shot at $10,000.  The cash prize heat was on the minds of many of our Spartan community when the heat took off at 3:30 on December 3, 2011 at Rough Creek Lodge.  With Xterra racer Josiah Middaugh hot on his heels the entire course, Hobie still crossed the finish line first earning him a check for $10,000 and the right to call himself Spartan Race champion. 

In his own words, he remarks on a year of racing and on where he started, how he’s changed, how very thankful he is as an athlete, husband, and father. 

081016_hobiecallOh what a remarkable year!  I was 33 years old and my best athletic accomplishments were virtually unknown to the world.  I’ve logged a 4:40 mile on a treadmill with a 40 lb. vest on, a 17:36 5k on a relatively slow course with a 40 lb. vest on, and I had lunged a mile with a 40lb. vest on in 34:01. (and I don’t use my hands to help when lunging, lunging is a leg workout). Guinness world records wouldn’t recognize my lunge mile because apparently lunging a mile without any weight is hard enough.

I was disappointed enough about the lunge mile, that I never bothered to see if there were even records established for the runs with the 40 lbs. Anyway, in the midst of producing these records, I moved to the city where the smog is too thick, the winters are too cold, and my new job took too much time and energy to train properly to continue to improve. Of course, I’m not one to settle for mediocrity, so I tried anyway. This just caused me to get injured.

I attempted for 1-1/2 years to get back into shape, but to no avail. My job was just too demanding. For the first time in my life, I decided that my chance to be a great athlete had passed. I would attempt a few marathons next year, make a few thousand dollars, and retire. It was a disappointing end to a lifelong dream. As winter settled in, I switched up my training, because running outside, in the dark, on cold icy roads, in the smog just didn’t sound like a good idea. I shortened my runs and focused more on building extra strength, which I could quickly transfer to endurance as soon as spring came. And I did aerobically intense upper body workouts a few times a week in place of my easier runs, so I could stay indoors to workout. 

Early in February, my wife showed me this race that someone had FaceBooked to her and she thought I would like it, so she showed it to me. I saw a picture of a girl crawling through a mud pit under barbed wire. I said no thanks, I’m not a big fan of mud. I don’t even like walking through it to get to my job sites!  But later, for some unexplainable reason, I decided to take a closer look.

310567_10150297865671861_251061411860_8456162_348277038_nAs I was researching the race, I came across an article where the race founder was offering $100,000 to any of the winners of the survivor show who could win his Death Race. And then on a whim (and just for publicity reasons I’m sure) he threw in “if anyone can win all of my other 2011 USA Spartan races I will also give them $100,000”. Nothing on his website said anything about this, nor any other article I could find. But that was enough to get me excited. I could handle a little bit of mud for a prize like that. I figured that as good as I was at running, I would actually be even better suited for a race like this because I had a lot more upper body stamina than a typical runner, especially considering the way I had been training for the last few months.

I talked to Irene (my wife), and we decided to give it a try. So, 2 weeks before the race, I clip_image005 (1)signed up, went and got some contact lenses, and spent every last penny we had to pay for gas to get to California.  And for the first time in many years, I remembered just how fun racing was supposed to be. I felt like a kid all over again. No boring road race here. I was running up and down hills, sometimes on trails, sometimes not. Over walls, under walls, through walls, crawling under barbed wire and through tunnels. Running through freezing water, jumping over a fire, pulling a bucket full of concrete up a pulley. Solve a Rubik’s cube, throw a spear…The list goes on. I was having the time of my life.

SRFL_AB_0012Well, as you can imagine Joe DeSena (one of the race founders) was happy to see someone take on his challenge. As the races progressed, so did the excitement. Joe was happy to see me winning, but was also getting nervous that I would actually win the $100,000. They couldn’t find anyone to challenge me. But, as he was quick to keep reminding me, he still had his Death Race, and I had no chance of winning that. I did a total of three Death Race training workouts. I had never tried working out when sleep deprived, and had no idea what we would even be doing for the race. But, I was healthy and had been working a full time manual labor job while also training for the other Spartan Races, so I knew my endurance was good.

But, the theme of the Death Race is to “expect the unexpected.” We started out by lifting rocks for six hours. As monotonous as it was, I actually enjoyed it. Then we found my kryptonite. The cold. We hiked up a river in the middle of the night, in the rain, had to swim through a freezing pond seven times, and hike back down the river. The seven times through the pond were the seven hardest decisions I have ever made in my life. It’s amazing my body didn’t shut down on me. Anyway, I got held back with a small group of other people for going too slow, and had to wait until the very last person finished. By the time we finished doing group challenges, and arrived back at the farm, I was 1-1/2 hours behind the leaders.

262164_10150227079801861_251061411860_7837628_189769_nNo worries, the race was just getting started, and as long as I was warm, I was gaining on them. But it seemed that for every two steps forward, I took one step back. It was constantly raining, and my body was hypersensitive to the cold because of the night before. I had to wait out rainstorms, and change my clothes often to try and keep warm. Twenty-five hours into the race, I was approximately one hour behind the leader (Joe Decker, who would ultimately win the Death Race for the second year in a row), and gaining fast. Carrying a log up and down a mountain was my kind of fun. But just as things started to look up, a big storm hit as I was reaching the top of a mountain. I had to wait out the storm while my brother brought me a wetsuit. Then, while going down the mountain, I got lost. By the time I reached the bottom, I was over 2 hours behind. Now 29 hours into the race, I concluded that there was no way I could possibly win. So I stopped.

I still had a lot of races left this year, and there was no point in possibly injuring myself268274_10150227079701861_251061411860_7837627_4225439_n just to say I finished. I was not there to finish, I was there to win. So, the cold bested me before Joe ever got the chance to. I won’t be naïve and say that I would have won if the cold wouldn’t have been so severe. The endurance/strength, and sleep deprivation of the next 10 hours may very well have got the best of me. 

Leaving Pittsfield and the Death Race behind me, I had more racing to do before the year was done.  The agreement was, no Death Race win, no $100,000 but I wasn’t done.  People wonder why I continued to race after even when the $100,000 was gone, but if you understand me, it’s obvious. If my pursuit for excellence was driven by money, I would have quit 10 years ago. It’s always been my desire to inspire others to never give up, eat healthier, get out and exercise, take care of your body; it’s the only one you’ve got. These races were accomplishing that more than anything else I had ever done. Besides, I was having the time of my life. Well anyway, to keep this thank you letter from turning into a book, the rest as they say is history.

374691_10150389185026861_251061411860_8883400_172098013_nI would like to thank everyone for such a memorable year. I would try to mention names but would surely miss many of them. From everyone at Spartan Race (of which there are more than a few), the volunteers (many of which didn’t even race, but are just good people looking for an opportunity to help out), to those who donated money, those who put me up in their homes and drove me to the races and back and forth from the airports, and all of the fans with all of their encouragement and support.

I would also like to thank my wife and children, who for most of the year only lived on the386409_10150389197686861_251061411860_8883570_1579919594_n sacrificing end of things, but supported me anyway; my brother who took the time off of work to come to many of the races, and help make a workout video (that you can get at www.hobiecall.com). I would especially like to thank my Heavenly Father for blessing me with the knowledge, ability, and opportunity to be where I am today.

“I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.”  – William Shakespeare

We at Spartan Race would like to extend our own thanks and congratulations to Hobie Call for an epic year.  His kindness, generosity, dedication, and work ethic has come to represent the Spartan spirit.  Whether it was voluntarily pitching in at a pre-race packet pick-up in Malibu when we were overwhelmed with racers wanting bibs and chips, to chopping wood for fellow Death Racer, or posing for pictures, signing autographs, giving tips on training and nutrition to eager racers, and making fun videos and commenting on FaceBook questions, he’s a class act.  Always with a smile and always with honor and  integrity leading him we’ve loved having him as part of our Spartan community and look forward to 2012.

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