Spartan Race eBook

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YOU LL K NO W A T T HE F I N I S H L I N E
A SP A R T A N G UI D E T O T H E
SPO R T O F O B ST A C L E R A C I N G
JOE DESENA AND ANDY WEINBERG

B

1

,
YOU LL K NO W A T T HE F I N I S H L I N E
A SP A R T A N G UI D E T O T H E
SPO R T O F O B ST A C L E R A C I N G
JOE DESENA AND ANDY WEINBERG

Spartan Race, Inc.
www.spartanrace.com
Pittsfield, VT USA
Copyright © 2012 by Joe De Sena and Andy Weinberg
All rights reserved,
Including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
Spartan Race and “You’ll Know at the Finish Line” are
registered trademarks of Spartan Race, Inc.
Designed by
Steven Mosier New York, NY
Published by Spartan Press

ISBN-13: 978-0615675183
ISBN-10: 0615675182

FOR SP A R T A NS A N D F U T U R E
S P A R T A NS E V ER YW H ER E.
WE GIVE SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS—
ESPECIALLY OUR WIVES COURTNEY AND SLOAN, AND OUR
CHILDREN JACK, JADE, CHARLIE, GRACE, AND CATHERINE—
WHO SUPPORT AND INSPIRE OUR ADVENTURES AND
MAKE THE SPARTAN LIFE REAL.

4

T A B LE O F C O N T EN T S

5

FOREWORD 8
PREFACE 12

WELCOME TO OBSTACLE RACING, THE ULTIMATE HUMAN SPORT
13

THE SPARTAN BRAND OF OBSTACLE RACING
14

JOIN THE OBSTACLE RACING COMMUNITY
CHAPTER 1. MYTHS AND LEGENDS

PRIMAL ELEMENTS: WATER AND LAND, MUD AND FIRE

PRECURSOR EVENTS

OBSTACLE AND CHALLENGE EVENTS: SKILL, ADVENTURE, AND MUD

OBSTACLE RACING AS A FORMALIZED SPORT

THE FOUNDING FEW

FORGING A NEW SPARTAN LEGACY

SPARTAN RACE LORE: IN THE BEGINNING …

SPARTAN WARRIOR: JASON JAKSETIC

SPARTAN WARRIOR: KEVIN GILLOTTI

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21
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27
29
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34

CHAPTER 2. THE SPARTAN BIBLE

SPARTAN RACE PHILOSOPHY

SPARTAN RACE ETHOS AND PURPOSE

SPARTAN RACE ELEMENTS

PITTSFIELD, VERMONT, OFFICIAL HOME TOWN OF THE SPARTAN NATION

SPARTAN RACE LORE: THE BIRTH OF THE HURRICANE HEAT

SPARTAN WARRIOR: JASON RITA

SPARTAN WARRIOR: ROB SERRANO

40
41
42
42
44
45
48
55

CHAPTER 3. THE FIVE ELEMENTS OF TOTAL FITNESS

UNDERSTANDING AND MASTERING THE FIVE ELEMENTS OF PHYSICAL FITNESS

PUT YOUR UNDERSTANDING INTO PRACTICE

SPARTAN WARRIOR: BRETT BLANCHARD

SPARTAN WARRIOR: 1LT. ELLIOTT MEGQUIER

58
59
64
67
71

CHAPTER 4. THE SIXTH ELEMENT OF FITNESS: MENTAL INDOMITABILITY

DEVELOPING AN UNBEATABLE MIND

SPARTAN WARRIOR: ELLA KOCIUBA

SPARTAN WARRIOR: ROSE MARIE JARRY

76
77
87
91

CHAPTER 5. TRAIN FOR A SPARTAN SPRINT

SETTING EXPECTATIONS: BASIC TRAINING REQUIREMENTS

TRAIN TO FINISH THE SPRINT

TRAIN TO COMPETE

SPARTAN WARRIOR: CHRISTOPHER RUTZ

SPARTAN WARRIOR: ANDI HARDY

96
98
99
119
119
122

6

CHAPTER 6. TRAIN FOR A SPARTAN SUPER

SETTING EXPECTATIONS: BASIC TRAINING REQUIREMENTS

TRAIN TO FINISH THE SUPER

TRAIN TO COMPETE

SPARTAN WARRIOR: JASON BROWN, AKA JAY BE

128
129
129
157
157

CHAPTER 7. TRAIN FOR A SPARTAN BEAST

SETTING EXPECTATIONS: BASIC TRAINING REQUIREMENTS

TRAIN TO FINISH THE BEAST

TRAIN TO COMPETE

SPARTAN WARRIOR: LISA DEMETRIOU

SPARTAN WARRIOR: MARGARET SCHLACHTER

162
163
163
194
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198

CHAPTER 8. TRAIN FOR A SPARTAN ULTRA BEAST

SETTING EXPECTATIONS: BASIC TRAINING REQUIREMENTS

TRAIN TO FINISH THE ULTRA BEAST

TRAIN TO COMPETE

SPARTAN WARRIORS: JEFF AND TAMMY GODIN

SPARTAN WARRIOR: CHRIS MITCHELL

204
205
205
206
206
211

CHAPTER 9. TRAIN FOR YOUR LIFE

WHAT IS A SPARTAN LIFE?

YOUR SPARTAN LIFE TRANSFORMATION

SPARTAN LIFE LORE: ADITYA

SPARTAN WARRIOR: CHRIS DAVIS

SPARTAN WARRIOR: ALEC BLENIS

216
217
224
226
229
232

CHAPTER 10. MAKE THE FUTURE

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? ENTER A RACE!

RINSE AND REPEAT

THE FUTURE OF OBSTACLE RACING STARTS NOW

SPARTAN RACE LORE: FIRST OLYMPIC OBSTACLE RACE

SPARTAN WARRIOR: HOBIE CALL

SPARTAN WARRIORS: JOHANNE AND LEYLA DI CORI

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239
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AFTERWORD 252
APPENDIX A: TOP TEN TIPS FOR CONQUERING A SPARTAN RACE
AND RECLAIMING YOUR LIFE

256

APPENDIX B: NOTES ON TRAINING GUIDELINES IN CHAPTERS 5 THROUGH 7

EXERCISES REFERENCED THROUGHOUT CHAPTERS 5-7

EXERCISES REFERENCED UNDER AB 500

A FEW NOTES ON TARGET HEART RATE

258
260
262
263

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APPENDIX C: FITNESS TESTING PROTOCOLS

1.5-MILE RUN

1-REPETITION MAXIMUM (RM) BACK SQUAT
PUSH-UP
SIDE-PLANK

ONE-MINUTE TIMED SIT-UP

SIT AND REACH

BODY COMPOSITION

40-YARD SPRINT

VERTICAL JUMP

STANDING LONG JUMP

300-YARD SHUTTLE RUN
HEXAGON
T-TEST

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APPENDIX D: BRETT BLANCHARD’S LETTER TO EDUCATORS

273

APPENDIX E: SPARTAN INTERNATIONAL OBSTACLE RACE RULEBOOK
INTRODUCTION

MEMBERSHIP OR SINGLE-EVENT PASS REQUIREMENTS

REGISTRATION AND QUALIFICATION

COURSE RULES

OBSTACLE RULES

GENERAL CONDUCT

REPORTING MEDICAL EVENTS

THE RACE CATEGORIES

276
277
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279
280
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284
285

APPENDIX F: A FEW PARTING WORDS FROM THE FOUNDING FEW
A FEW WORDS WITH MIKE MORRIS

A FEW WORDS WITH NOEL HANNA

A FEW WORDS WITH SELICA SEVIGNY AND RICHARD LEE

A FEW WORDS WITH BRIAN DUNCANSON

A FEW WORDS WITH SHAUN BAIN

A FEW (MORE) WORDS WITH JOE DESENA AND ANDY WEINBERG

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299
299
302

8

F O R E WO R D

9

When I was a boy, I lived in Greece, where my father served as a United States military
officer. In school, I read about Ancient Greece, Sparta, and her warrior citizens,
whose reverence for physical fitness and competition established an ideal admired
throughout the country. I visited the battlefield of Thermopylae with my family and saw
the towering statue of King Leonidas. The experience—and the statue—loomed large
in my imagination long afterward. Later, as a teenager living in Denver, I attended
Thomas Jefferson High School, whose teams were named The Spartans. Those citizen
athletes who evoked boyhood awe were with me once again.
Several years ago, when my friend Joe De Sena explained to me the idea that he and
Andy Weinberg had for the Spartan Race, I thought to myself, “What a wonderful
concept! But what will it look like, and how will they do it?” I understood the idea but
didn’t quite comprehend the beauty and simplicity of their vision. Was it an endurance
event, an obstacle course, a test of athletic ability, or all three? Joe and Andy had not
yet fully formed their concept for the race itself, but their vision for the event was in
sharp focus: it should be challenging, open to competitors of wide-ranging abilities,
and great fun. And that is just how it turned out, as the stories in this book show us.
The book itself and its remarkably short production schedule are a lot like the race and
its participants. One doesn’t always have to know the outcome to begin the journey.
Such is the appeal of this book and its stories. Joe and Andy didn’t know what the
race would become, but they had the intuition and race experience to know that the
participants would define it for them. They had to start somewhere, so they launched a
race in Vermont in 2009.
And what a glorious mess it was! Chaos and confusion reigned, but the competitors
found their way to the finish line. Whether first or last, each racer wore a broad smile,
and each had had a sense of achievement. Joe and Andy approached this book in
much the same way —with an intuitive understanding that the idea was right and that
the details would come together as the participants showed up. It was similarly chaotic
and rushed, but once again the result was joyous and inclusive.
I enjoyed all of the stories, so I’ll add one of my own. Not too long ago on a crosscountry flight, I was seated next to a woman in her mid-thirties. We talked about a few
superficial things, and then she mentioned that she was headed to a race—The Spartan
Race. I said that I knew one of the founders, and she asked me to tell him that the race
changed her life. She explained that her life had been mostly sedentary and that she
was a non-athlete, but yearned for a new challenge—one that would start her off in a
new direction.

10

She heard of Spartan Race from a friend, and she signed up as a “first-timer.” She had
no real expectations and was full of trepidation and fear. “What will it be like? How will
I do?” she thought at first. Yet she took a leap of faith, accepted the challenge, and got
to the finish line well behind all but a few. She said, “It didn’t matter where I stood on the
clock, but only that I got to the finish line at all.” She talked about her new race friends
and the excitement and nervous anticipation before each new competition. And then,
beaming, she said, “I’m a different, more confident person now—and happier, too.”
When we were young, we loved to climb, run, jump and swing. We loved to play.
It’s part of who we are, yet it’s often absent from our adult lives. We have evolved to
expect, and to endure, a little physical hardship every now and then, however it’s often
absent from our lives. But the fact is that we feel and act much better when we push
ourselves—and play a little too. So yes, let’s get off the couch and race. The rewards
are tremendous and the confidence gained is priceless. You will find new friends and
let loose the innate skills, stamina and abilities that we are born with, but rarely exploit
to their fullest potential.
For me, the Ancient Spartans used physical training and competition not only to win
wars, but also to build strong bonds among citizens in a healthy, prosperous and
productive society.
Get off the couch and run a Spartan Race. Enjoy the challenges, the fun, and the fruits
of your labors. But most importantly, treasure the camaraderie and mutual respect
brought forth by friendly competition, whether you finish first or last.
—David Breashears
Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, best-selling author, explorer, mountaineer, speaker,
and Founder and Executive Director of nonprofit foundation GlacierWorks.1
London
June 2012
1 See http://www.glacierworks.org/

11

David filming on Mount
Everest, 24,800 feet, 2004
(Photo credit: Robert Schauer)

12

PREFACE

Joe and Andy training in
Pittsfield, 2008

13

Quick question: what do Ancient Sparta, adventure races, and Pittsfield, Vermont
have in common?
Answer: the two of us, and nearly two million other people (and counting).
But more importantly, YOU.
Headquartered in Pittsfield, Vermont, we created Spartan Race obstacle course events
to bring the Spartan ideal and the thrill of adventure racing to millions of people—
yourself included.
If you have already caught the obstacle racing bug, you will find that this book offers
some great reinforcement from your fellow competitors, including tips to improve your
performance in obstacle racing as well as in any other endeavor you undertake.
If you are new to obstacle racing, you will find this book has a transparent and
straightforward agenda: to convince you that obstacle racing is the sport for you.

WELCOME TO OBSTACLE RACING, THE ULTIMATE HUMAN SPORT
We are hell-bent on getting you into obstacle racing for one simple reason: the human
animal is meant to run, jump, climb, hike, get dirty, and live in the wild. All people
share these innate skills, and every human animal is capable of experiencing the thrill
of unleashing long-dormant instincts.
Remember when you were a kid—when you would not only walk toward a puddle, but
stomp right in the middle of it, making as big a splash as you could? Kids who aren’t
yet brainwashed by electronic media go outside to play, explore, and get dirty. They
squat down to dig in the sand with impeccable flexibility and balance. They climb and
swing and tumble for the sheer joy of their own movement. When was the last time you
went through the mud instead of around it, were overcome with exhilaration at your
own power, or felt giddy just by being alive?
Obstacle racing will provide that thrill.
If you have never entered a race, you will catch the competitive desire to excel as
soon as you pin on your bib number and take your place at the start. If you are an
experienced athlete, you will encounter new challenges that stretch your body and
mind. No matter who you are, every step will bring you a completely new sense of
accomplishment, satisfaction, and pride.
More than 500,000 people will complete obstacle races in 2012, and many who complete
their first race will immediately sign up for a second. What are you waiting for?

14

THE SPARTAN BRAND1 OF OBSTACLE RACING
Grueling, competitive, and thrilling, Spartan-sanctioned obstacle races are for everyone.
Our goal is to make obstacle racing an internationally governed sport that involves
competitors of all ages and abilities—primary school, high school varsity, university/
NCAA, adult recreation, elites, and professionals alike.
Spartan Races are timed competitions that are orchestrated over standardized distances
and feature natural and man-made obstacles specifically designed to test mind-body
fitness. Every race at every distance will have you climbing, lifting, crawling, rolling,
carrying, running, swimming, balancing, throwing, and jumping. All Spartan Race
courses are deliberately designed to leave you exhausted and exhilarated.
Short-distance obstacle courses present challenges that anyone can overcome with
sufficient determination. You are guaranteed to cross the finish line with a little bit of
mud, a lot of sweat, and a keen sense of self. You may also experience a renewed
awareness of what you can accomplish.
For those who prefer longer competitions, we have your distance—anywhere from eight
miles to a full marathon. At every distance, obstacle races offer the perfect opportunity
to identify your strengths and weaknesses, build your resilience, and remind you of
that euphoric mind-body synergy that made you never want to quit playing when you
were a kid.
At every distance and in every category, the majority of those who trudge through and
cross the finish line describe their experience as the toughest thing they have ever done,
yet they can’t wait to come back for more. Thank you, may I have another. And for
many competitors, Spartan Races are life-changing.
Spartan-sanctioned obstacle racing is rapidly becoming the most demanding, accessible,
and addictive individual and team sport in the world. It’s for everyone. It’s for you.
Come on out and find your inner Spartan.

JOIN THE OBSTACLE RACING COMMUNITY
Regardless as to if you are an accomplished athlete or a first-time competitor, now is
the time to become an obstacle racer. If you are wondering whether you can wear the
medal of a Spartan Race finisher, the answer is an emphatic “Yes!” This book can guide
you to satisfy your personal goals, whether that is to simply get to the finish line or to
take your performance to the next level.

15

A single question remains: do you have it in you to finish a Spartan Race?
That’s a question only you can answer, and there’s only one way to find out.
See you at the finish line—
Joe De Sena, Founder/CEO, and Andy Weinberg, Founder/Instigator
Pittsfield, Vermont
July 2012

1 Please bear with us for a brief word from our lawyers: Spartan Race, Spartan Sprint, Spartan Super, Spartan Ultra, Spartan Beast,
Ultra Beast, Death Race, and You’ll Know at the Finish Line are all registered trademarks of Spartan Race, Inc. Associated terms
Founding Few, Spartan HQ, Spartan obstacle race, Spartan Racing, Spartan Racer, Spartan Warrior, Spartan Tribe, Spartan Kids,
Code, Spartan Life or Lifestyle, Spartan Race Lore, and Spartan Legend, are all trademarks of Spartan Race, Inc. All rights reserved.
Now back to the action.

Spartan
such as
Spartan
Thanks.

16

CHAPTER 1
MYT H S A ND LEG EN D S

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PRIMAL ELEMENTS: WATER AND LAND, MUD AND FIRE
Andy Weinberg: In the 1990s and early 2000s, Joe De Sena racked up a preposterous
number of extreme endurance and adventure racing finishes. But he wasn’t satisfied.
Nearly all of the events he entered required expensive, specialized equipment (not to
mention hefty outlays for training, travel, entry, and support). Joe wanted to recreate
the physical and mental crisis he experienced in those races, but in a smaller, more
accessible format that only required the entrants to show up. The event would be
designed to bring athletes to a breaking point within a few hours.
Joe De Sena: Actually, it was a specific race that convinced me that more people should
have the opportunity to benefit from the adventure racing experience. The idea struck
me when I was on the return flight from the 9th Eco Challenge in Fiji, 32 pounds lighter
than I was when I left, recovering from Giardia, and craving nothing except my fiancée
and a Guinness. After 10 days of mind-fraying exertion, sleep deprivation, cold, wet,
and bodily danger, our team crossed the finish line exhausted, but elated. Only 21 out
of the 81 teams finished, so even completing the Challenge felt like victory. In all the
triumphs and mistakes and physical hardships and camaraderie of those 10 days, what
I remember most clearly was the realization that the human body and mind can endure
so much more than we ever think possible. The second insight was that during the race
I didn’t really miss any of the “comforts” back home—I really only wanted food, water,
and shelter. Getting back to basics was refreshing, liberating, and empowering. The
last takeaway was that the Fijian people we encountered during the race were happy,
healthy, strong, self-sufficient, and generous, living rich lives without any of the things
we are told we need every day: cars, plastic, toys…none of it. Understanding this
changed my life.
I thought I would write or speak about my adventure racing experience to share it with
other people, but my friend and fellow adventure racer Andy Weinberg relentlessly
pushed me to start a new event that would give everyone their own direct experience
instead.
So it happened that in 2004, at Andy’s instigation, we co-founded the Death Race.
We conceived the Death Race as an untimed, unstructured, standalone event designed
to eliminate 80% of the starting field. The challenges included rugged natural terrain
and exposure to the elements, as well as artificial obstacles and mental puzzles. It was
grueling in the extreme, but a far cry from a sport.

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Andy: The Death Race1 is definitely the extreme. I guess you could call it a lot of things.
Some people call it adventure racing, but it’s really something more primal than that.
We wanted to push people mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s incredible to see
the people who show up for the event, willing to step out of their comfort zone, willing
to suffer. The shortest Death Race was 24 hours, and it has extended to 70 hours in
some years. The Death Race is completely unique because of the dynamic nature of
the course and the adaptability of the racers. We try to make it as unpredictable as
possible so the competitors have no idea what to expect. We intentionally limit the field
to a manageable number of competitors—typically a few hundred—and we expect only
20% to finish. It’s really not for everybody.
Inspired by the overwhelming response to the Death Race, Joe set out to create a race
that used some of the same elements, but could be standardized and developed into
an accessible sport.
Joe: The Founding Few designed the new event to be an organized, regulated, and timed
obstacle race that would draw both first-time athletes as well as serious competitors.
So we created Spartan Race, a footrace through natural and man-made obstacles
designed to test the competitors’ physical and mental fitness. It was compressed into a
short course—the first race was 5 km (3 miles) long—that incorporated dry land, water
features, mud, and even fire. No special equipment was required, only a determination
to cross the finish line.
We held the first Spartan Race event in 2009 in Burlington, Vermont. By the end of
2011, Spartan Races attracted more than a quarter-million entrants, including elite,
professional, and amateur athletes, and the sport of obstacle racing found a devoted
and growing community.

PRECURSOR EVENTS
Joe: Obstacle racing didn’t just appear out of nowhere, and Andy and I didn’t come
up with Spartan Race purely from our own individual adventure racing experiences. We
are a competitive species. I firmly believe that humans have participated in contests
of various kinds, and celebrated feats of prowess for as long as we have existed. The
record of competition seems to go at least as far back as we have had language—maybe
further than that, if you believe cave drawings are accounts of great achievements
of skill and stamina. At a bare minimum, obstacle racing’s roots span back through
Western history.

19

20

Andy: Egyptian hieroglyphs depict athletes engaging in all kinds of sports, 2 but the
first truly interdisciplinary sporting event originated in ancient Greece. In the Olympic
Games, the pentathlon combined wrestling, javelin-throwing, discus-throwing, long
jumping, and a short footrace called a stadion. Like obstacle races, these ancient
precursors were designed to test the competitors’ martial capacity—their strength,
speed, endurance, and skill.3
Modern tri-sport events, forerunners of the triathlon, came into existence in France
around the turn of the 20th Century. In 1902, a competition in Val-de-Marne called
“Les sportmen de l’époque” featured running, biking, and canoeing to celebrate “Les
Trois Sports” (The Three Sports). The length of the race was probably similar to a race
held in 1920 in the same place: a 4-kilometer run, a 12-kilometer bike ride, and a
quick swim across the Marne River—the first instance of a modern triathlon! Another
competition with the same activities occurred one year later in Bouches-Du-Rhone, 4
but these and other multi-sport events were relatively uncommon until the “fitness
revolution” of the 1970s.
In 1974, a group of Californian runners organized an informal, local event called
the Mission Bay Triathlon.5 Four years later, a few naval officers in a bar in Oahu,
Hawaii wanted to settle once and for all which of them was the most physically fit,
so they conceived a similar event that involved biking, running, and swimming over
longer distances. The new challenge combined a 2.4-mile open swim, a 112-mile bike
ride, and a 26.2-mile (marathon-distance) run—140.6 miles in all. Fifteen athletes
competed, but only twelve finished.6 The officers named their creation the Ironman
triathlon, and the name stuck.
In 1979, after the second race, Sports Illustrated published an article that brought
national attention to the event. In 1982, the Ironman triathlon exploded in popularity
after competitor Julie Moss collapsed and crawled to the finish line. Her dramatic finish
captured the imagination of athletes worldwide, doubled the number of competitors,
and drew twelve million television viewers the next year. Sports Illustrated featured a
second article in 1983 praising the “gall” of triathletes; “One must be bold indeed,” the
article read, “to even try the triathlon’s killer mix of swimming, cycling, and running.”7
This and other media coverage fed the competition’s fast-growing popularity. 8 That
same year, Canadian Sylvianne Puntous became the first non-American to win an
Ironman, and Vaclav Vitovec of Czechoslovakia won the race a year later. Within five
years of its founding, the Ironman triathlon was unequivocally an international event.
Unfortunately, money became an issue for many would-be competitors; the combined

21

cost of a week in Hawaii, the gear, and the humongous amounts of food needed to
sustain the athletes typically amounted to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
One article noted, “The Ironman slowly became a sport for the rich, a status symbol
for business executives and athletes in other disciplines.”9 Regardless, by 2004 the
Ironman competition involved 1500 athletes from more than 78 countries.
Even with the triathlon’s steep rise in international participation, it took more than
two decades for it to become an official Olympic sport. The coaching work of Cyle
Sage finally brought the competition to the attention of the US Olympic Committee
in 1999,10 and the triathlon became a full-medal event in the Summer Olympics of
2000 in Sydney, Australia. 11 Swiss Brigitte McMahon won the first women’s competition,
and Canadian Simon Whitfield won the men’s.12 Still, the Ironman triathlon tended to
impress the public by its reputation of attracting “maniacs and masochists”13 —or, as
we might say, people who thrive on a structured challenge.

OBSTACLE AND CHALLENGE EVENTS: SKILL, ADVENTURE, AND MUD
Andy: Like triathlons, obstacle course races are essentially a recent phenomenon with
ancient antecedents. The Ancient Greeks used obstacle courses in the eighth century
BCE to train soldiers for combat, and more recent military training and paramilitary
training programs have also used obstacle courses to prepare and qualify personnel
for active duty.
The steeplechase, one of the first purely competitive obstacle races, originated in the
British Isles. Participants raced from the steeple (of a church) in one town to the steeple
of the next town, covering whatever distance separated the two and clearing whatever
natural obstacles lay in their path. Oxford University adapted this informal race to a more
structured competition in 1860, and a flat field and artificial barriers replaced the original
cross-country terrain five years later. This became the modern Olympic steeplechase.15
Over the past fifty years or so, all kinds of challenge competitions have gained
widespread popularity. These competitions range from serious tests of professional
mastery (like lumberjack 16 and firefighter competitions 17 or heritage celebrations such
as the Highland Games18) to quirkier events (such as cheese rolling19 and wife-carrying
races20). All of these competitions demonstrate our innate human desire to compete, to
prove ourselves, and to excel in feats of strength and skill.
On a much larger scale, multi-discipline, long-distance endurance challenges called
“adventure races”21 appeared in the late 1960s. In 1968, the first Karrimor International

22

“1881 Fleet Athletic
Sports Malta Obstacle
Race Manitoba,” from The
Illustrated London News,
circa 1850-1899

23

Mountain Marathon required participants to run through mountains for two days while
carrying their own food and supplies. Beginning in the 1980s, New Zealand’s Coast-toCoast 22 featured cross-county running, cycling, and kayaking, and Australia’s WildTrek
(later Winter Classic)23 incorporated skiing, mountaineering, and whitewater paddling.
Similar events like the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic (1982)24 and the Raid World
Championship (2004) 25 involve long stretches of wilderness and mountain running,
caving, and snowshoeing. And of course there’s the Eco-Challenge Adventure Race,26
27

which became an award-winning televised event, airing in the United States between

1995 and 2002. These and other adventure races tend to be multiple-day events,
covering tens or hundreds of miles, held in far-flung locales, and requiring highly
specialized gear and technical equipment.28
Where adventure races tend to take advantage of an existing environment, Sasuke
(1999),29 a televised Japanese endurance challenge, confounds competitors with metal
bars, rolling logs, and other synthetic props.30
Finally, mud racing (not to be confused with an off-road motorsport popular in Canada
and the southern States) is also a recent phenomenon in its own right. Until very
recently, people ran through mud only out of necessity; even the original Olympic
Games took place on clean tracks in specially constructed stadia.31 By contrast,
recreational events such as Muddy Buddy and Warrior Dash (both started in 1999)
and Tough Mudder (started in 2010) are founded on mud, so to speak. They feature
predominantly artificial obstacles32 to instill in participants a sense of rough-and-tumble
pride and camaraderie, with or without an actual competition. Some people think that
this newfound love of mud may be a symptom of our rebellion against the sanitization
of contemporary Western life. Maybe so, but we see it as a source of added challenge:
water is harder to cross than dry land, and in the right mixture, mud can be harder still.
Each has its place.

OBSTACLE RACING AS A FORMALIZED SPORT
Andy: Although obstacle races are often associated with the United States, races like
Sasuke demonstrate that their popularity already extends worldwide.
Wherever they’re held, we believe the best obstacle races feature four key attributes:


1. a variety of obstacles and course elements strategically designed to test a wide



range of athletic skills;

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2. clear and well-documented rules (to support consistent and fair officiating)



3. standardized distances and difficulty levels (to enable objective third-party




record-keeping and competitor rankings across events and seasons)

4. the element of time (to provide transparent and objective race results)

We believe these are the minimum requirements for obstacle racing to become a
legitimate sport, and we wrote the Spartan Race International Obstacle Racing Rulebook
(Spartan Race IOR Rules)33 to codify them for Spartan-sanctioned races.
We encourage other groups to organize and host obstacle races following Spartan Race
IOR Rules.

THE FOUNDING FEW
Joe: Legend is already forming around the Founding Few: eight athletes and adventure
racers who contributed in various ways to the definition of the sport of obstacle racing
through their participation in Spartan Racing and other extreme challenge events. Each
of the Founding Few has his or her own narrative of the origin, but the basic history
goes like this.
After he succeeded in the extreme challenge of convincing me to launch the Death
Race, Andy Weinberg biked the 1200 miles from Peoria, Illinois to Pittsfield, Vermont in
seven days to teach and direct races here full time. The insanely competitive swimmer,
triathlete, ultramarathoner, and triple-Ironman finisher has a consuming passion for
keeping serious athletes from getting soft and for inspiring non-athletes to get fit and
challenge themselves in ways they never even thought possible. After Andy forced me to
start Spartan Race, we looked around for people to help us execute the idea.
Andy: The Founding Few are eight people who came together over the course of the
late 1990s and early 2000s and bonded over their love of adventure and competition.
Each has made a unique contribution to shaping Spartan Races and the future of
obstacle racing.
By 2009, Joe De Sena built and sold two businesses and was well into his third. He
also earned a reputation as a hardcore competitor among the most elite adventure
and extreme endurance athletes. Joe shaped the spirit of Spartan Races based on his
experiences in maniacal physical exertion (such as completing the Vermont 100, the
Lake Placid Ironman, and the Badwater Ultra all in a single week).

25

Military training using an
obstacle course, circa 191714

26

Mike Morris selects sites and designs courses for Spartan Races, applying his experience
as a champion adventure racer. Mike competed in adventure races in Vermont, Florida,
Missouri, California, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey,
Canada, Georgia, and Costa Rica and has raced three times in the yearly United States
Adventure Racing Championships.
Selica Sevigny and Richard Lee met the other Founding Few when they came off the
Appalachian Trail to compete in the 2009 Death Race. Richard had several Ironman
and marathon finishes to his credit, but Selica was new to endurance racing. In the
Death Race, Richard finished first and Selica developed hypothermia, but despite their
divergent results they were both enthralled by the experience. They returned to do the
2009 Winter Death Race, and this time Selica finished third. She realized she could
do ANYTHING she set her mind to and wanted the rest of the world to feel this sense
of accomplishment at least once in their lives. Richard broke his foot the next day, so
the pair stayed in Pittsfield to recuperate and help shape the first Spartan Race. They
subsequently became Spartan Race Directors of their respective home regions: the UK,
and Quebec & Eastern Canada.
Brian Duncanson brought his perspective from both sides of adventure racing.
A career athletic event organizer, he had a love and professional appreciation
of the keys to creating great events; an accomplished adventure racer, he had
a passion for surmounting physical and mental obstacles, particularly in teams.
This experience allows him to make sure that Spartan Race courses remain unique
and totally mysterious yet function effectively as well-regulated sporting events worthy
of top competitors.
In 1997, Irish police officer and anti-terrorism specialist Noel Hanna entered the
Himalayan 100-mile stage race as his first multi-day running race. He won. The
lifelong athlete left law enforcement in 2002 to become a full-time climber, endurance
and adventure-racer. He can boast new finishes, summits, world records, and unique
achievements34 every year and helps to define the Death Race and advise Spartan Race
course designs even from the mountaintops.
Shaun Bain’s signature quote is, “Working harder, living fuller, and loving stronger.”
Shaun started competing seriously in adventure races in his 20s while getting his
Psychology degree at University. He has a long roster of summits and victories to
his credit, including completing the Fiji EcoChallenge (with Joe as a teammate) and
winning the USARA Adventure Racing National Championship in 2005 and 2007.

27

Shaun ensures that Spartan Races test racers in ways they can’t expect or plan for,
making the competition both mentally and physically challenging.

FORGING A NEW SPARTAN LEGACY
Joe: The Spartan obstacle race concept sprang from our desire to extend the exhaustion
and exhilaration of extreme, adventure, and endurance racing to a million people
who would never attempt many of the events the Founding Few conquered. The initial
concept was hazy at best but quickly found its expression as a reinterpretation of the
Ancient Spartan ideal. And this ideal extended beyond the race to profoundly reshape
race participants’ lives.
Everyone in the Founding Few had a hand in developing the first obstacles and concepts
for what a Spartan Race should include. Richard, Selica, and Brian—with the help of
the other founders—contributed mightily to launch the first events. Ultimately the entire
race design was really determined by whether or not a given obstacle or challenge
was something a human should know how to do, should be proficient at, and/or has
been doing in some form for 10,000 years. In short, everything on the course should
be functional.
We determined the Spartan Sprint distance based on what people in today’s society
are able to complete cold off the couch: anyone should be able to jump off the couch
and complete 3-4 miles. The Super Spartan would be challenging but still accessible
to reasonably fit first-time competitors and to athletes accomplished in other sports.
The Beast and Ultra Beast distances were set to break even the most hardened athlete.
The first events were experiments designed to cultivate the nascent sport. They were
part adventure race, part Spartan battle, part spectacle. The first field of entrants was a
motley crew, a mix of athletes and friends. People were afraid at first, and overcoming
that fear took some selling on our part. But it took hold really quickly.
Andy: Brian Duncanson tells the story this way:
Where did the idea for the “Spartan” brand come from? Before he even brought the rest
of us in, Joe was already committed to the race concept and the lifestyle it would inspire.
We brainstormed brand names during the first planning meeting, and I had just finished
a “300 Workout” challenge with some friends—apparently this was the workout used to
train the actors for the movie 300.35 We weren’t sure at first, as “Spartan” seemed like it
could be a gimmick, but as we talked through the mission of the company and realized
that we wanted to encourage people to get off their couches while providing a challenge

28

to everyone who entered, we realized that “Spartan” gave us a strong, resonant theme
and lifestyle foundation that we could leverage in our outreach. (And the domain name
was available!)
The more the team pursued the Spartan theme, the more it appealed to us.

THE ANCIENT SPARTAN IDEAL
Andy: The life of every Spartan citizen was entirely devoted to the State. The emphasis
on physical fitness in Sparta derived in part from military necessity. Approximately one
in sixteen members of Spartan society was a free citizen called a Spartiate; the rest
were Laconians whom the first Spartans subdued and enslaved. One historian wrote,
“To maintain a ruling class out of such a disproportionate relationship meant that the
citizen of Sparta…must of necessity have made himself so hard and fine a soldier
that his efficiency outweighed the balance.”36 Each Spartiate trained for the strength,
endurance, and agility of fifteen ordinary men. Neighboring Greeks respected the
Spartans’ physical dominance: “it would certainly not be easy for anyone to find men
healthier or more physically adept than the Spartiates, since they exercise their legs,
arms, and neck equally.”37
The need for a strong military led Lycurgus, a notable Spartan legislator, to develop
institutions that promoted both the physical fitness and moral character of the Spartiates.
These institutions formed the foundation of the lifestyle whose legacy inspires the
modern English usage of the word Spartan, often associated with minimalistic interior
design but also conveying audacity, rigorous self-restraint, and austerity. Lycurgus
instituted fixed rations, which ensured that no Spartan ate too much or too little, as well
as communal meals, which both discouraged drunkenness and ensured that everyone
was living on an equal diet.38
Military training occupied the whole of a man’s life. Children became conditioned
toward resilience and obedience at a very early age. Parents taught children to refrain
from crying and to endure solitude. At age seven, every male Spartiate began his
agoge, or training.39 Lycurgus discouraged the use of shoes to toughen children’s feet
and reduced boys’ rations so that they would learn to steal—only unsuccessful stealing
was punished. The naïve might compare the agoge to Boy Scouts, but training in Sparta
was involuntary and very harsh, its goal being to turn boys into military heroes.
All aspects of Spartan training served to toughen the body and to instill a spirit of
obedience, endurance, bravery, and cunning, with the ultimate purpose of creating an

29

unconquerable State. When asked why Sparta had no walls to protect it, the Spartan
king Agesilaus pointed to his armed citizens and said, “These are the Spartans’ walls.”40

… WITH SOME CRITICAL ADAPTATIONS
Andy: The ancient Spartan ideal served its era spectacularly well and resonated strongly
as a historical reference with the Founding Few, but it has obvious disconnects with both
modern values and the goals of Spartan Race, Inc.
Joe: So, like resourceful Spartans, we adapted.
First, we decided that Spartan Races would be purely athletic events; would expressly
include men, women, and children; would inspire as many people as possible to
compete; and definitely would under no circumstances condone slavery, child neglect,
or theft.
Second, Spartan Races would incorporate natural and man-made obstacles designed
to test the physical and mental capacity of every competitor. They would also be timed.
Spartan obstacle race elements would be standardized so that courses could be rated
and competitors’ times compared across events; at the same time, each Spartan obstacle
race event would be designed to be unique to surprise and challenge competitors and
keep them from becoming bored or complacent from predictability.
Third, Spartan Races would employ objective timing and third-party record-tracking to
ensure unbiased, complete, and accurate competitor standings.41
Fourth, Spartan Race would define the template for an internationally sanctioned and
governed sport—obstacle racing—which would in the future overtake triathlons in
popularity among serious athletes and engage a million people who never competed
in any athletic event.
Finally, Spartan Race, Inc. would absolutely commit to the cultivation of an international,
intergenerational breed of athlete capable of the strength, endurance, and agility of
fifteen ordinary people.

SPARTAN RACE LORE: IN THE BEGINNING …
Andy: The first Spartan Race was in Burlington, Vermont in May 2010, and had
something like 800-1000 people. We promoted it around the area by going to meetings
in bars, and Joe told other local people about it. Everyone was really confused. “You
mean like a triathlon?” No, not really. Even though no one knew exactly what to expect,

30

some college students got really excited and plastered posters all over the place to
bring people in.
On race day, most of the people who entered still didn’t know what they had signed
up for, including the accomplished athletes. Every other race you go to, you know
exactly what to expect: a marathon is a marathon, no matter what. This time, it was a
completely new experience for everyone. And everyone loved it.
After that first race, it really took off. The whole thing just skyrocketed. In the remainder
of 2010, we had five more events across the United States and one in Montreal,
Canada, and each one saw more entrants than the one before.
Some of the endurance races we (the Founding Few) participate in ourselves are way
too extreme for most people, but obstacle racing is accessible for everyone. And with
each race it gets more popular.

SPARTAN WARRIOR: JASON JAKSETIC
Andy: In each chapter that follows, you will hear the voice of at least one Spartan
Warrior—a person who embodies the Spartan Ideal in some way. Most of the
introductions will come from me, but in this instance, Jason Rita42 has offered an
introduction that’s much better than I could have delivered.
Jason Rita: Jason J once wrote in his blog Heavy into Overwhelming,43 “If you want
to excel as an athlete, embrace your inner scientist. If you want to excel as scientist,
embrace your inner philosopher. If you want to excel as a philosopher, embrace your
inner athlete.”
Jason J has an excess of courage like dogs have an excess of loyalty. He has the
courage to succeed mightily and fail epically, to live in a barn through multiple Vermont
winters out of devotion to his training, to race double- and triple-Ironmans, to push his
body to the brink of collapse in 100-mile snowshoe races, to attempt the Death Race,
to be a philosopher, to search for answers, and to examine his beliefs and choices,
his strengths and weaknesses, his virtues and flaws—in public and with unflinching
honesty.
“Spartan” refers historically to the Spartan warriors, but it has broader meaning:
“Rigorously self-disciplined or self-restrained. Simple, frugal, or austere. Courageous in
the face of pain, danger, or adversity.” Jason J lives as a modern Spartan, applying his
alert, informed intelligence, pushing his body through uncharted endurance challenges,

31

Jason doing burpees, 2012
(Photo credit: Steve Wollkind)

32

testing himself through training and competition, continually and critically examining,
questioning, and seeking understanding and self-knowledge, and engaging in all of
these as primary expressions of the Spartan Code.
Jason J: In November of 2010, I came to possess a passport that wasn’t mine. Some
guy named Joseph De Sena had dropped it on the ground while getting off a flight from
ATL to JFK. I lost my passport on that flight, too—I was searching for mine in the airport
terminal. A stewardess went back aboard the plane for me (“because security measures
prevented my reboarding”), and handed me what we both assumed was my ID. I stuck
it unthinkingly into my pocket and left the airport. Neither I nor the stewardess thought
to actually open and read it—for what were the chances that it wasn’t mine, that some
other absentminded American traveler had his most vital travel document at the same
place and time as I had?
I was returning from the remote bush of Swaziland, where I had been living temporarily,
mostly in response to having sustained a season-ending injury that derailed my plans
to be an elite triathlete. I hadn’t taken it well and needed some space to rebalance my
perspective and reevaluate my priorities. Inhabiting a squat hut with a concrete floor
and drawing all your water from a pump-action well (then carting it home in a wobbling
wheelbarrow) helps one develop a sense of what is important. In a village where 20 kids
shared 3 rusty mountain bikes to travel the 9 miles of trails to school every day, there
was no place for my carbon fiber, custom-fit racing machine that was engineered only to
be ridden on the most pristine stretches of swept asphalt. It was a reality check.
I supported myself in my early to mid-twenties as a touring rock bass player and private
guitar teacher, all the while spending every spare second training for ultra-endurance
events. I was all over the map, so to speak. For me, life was never about ‘what you’re
supposed to do.’ It was a matter of peak performance, pursuing excellence in the
endeavors that interested me.
Now, back in New Jersey, with the African dust from my clothes rapidly being scattered
into an atmosphere of Starbucks and The Snuggie, designer jeans and The Shake
Weight, I was looking at American life with fresh eyes. I had a clearer understanding of
the difference between human ‘wants’ and ‘needs.’ I was ready for a change in the way
I went about living. What did this actually mean in any practical sense? I hadn’t a clue,
but returning Joe’s passport turned out to be a good place to start.
As my first step to track down Joe, of course, I turned to Google. Immediately, I was
confronted with online race results pages for endurance events I was well acquainted

33

with. Apparently, Joe and I had raced many of the same events, and in one case, the
same race. I was impressed with his race résumé, which extended much farther than
mine. Simply, he did extreme shit. I respected that tremendously. In the endurance racing
world, if you are wise, you respect and honor people who have certain notches in their
racing belt. Joe is one of those guys who can hang out in a world of hurt that, as an
athlete, you may only visit once or twice in your career. The coincidence of finding his
passport was hard to believe. I decided that I would go meet him if I got the chance.
Finding a news article mentioning Joe and the Pittsfield General store, I got a phone
number to call and eventually landed his email. I arranged to return his passport to his
Madison Avenue office, and Joe invited me for a weekend in Pittsfield, Vermont. There,
in the small river valley town I now call my home, Joe told me about a totally different
kind of sport that he thought was going to take off. (Then he told me I’d be sleeping in
the barn that night.)
At this point in time there was no such sport as obstacle racing. There was just Spartan
Race, Tough Mudder, and Warrior Dash. I saw myself as probably the least likely guy to be
interested in some fringe sport than involved mud and fire. It just didn’t make much sense
to me. I was a racer. I’d geek out building bikes, worrying about saving grams in weight.
I was into VO2 max testing, speed workouts, neuromuscular recruitment, sport-specific
technique, not some tough guy event more focused on beer than setting personal bests.
Joe broke down for me how Spartan Race was a race, a timed and objectively officiated
format for athletes to excel while also introducing new athletes and non-racers to fitness,
thus providing them a vehicle for personal evolution much in the same way triathlon did
for me. A Spartan obstacle race was all in one. It could be fun, and a team activity. But it
could also be a serious competition for racers to demonstrate and test their athleticism.
After talking to Joe, Spartan Race seemed to be speaking my language. I lived my life
with a no-boundaries attitude that took me around the world, and I believed in the
power that comes from integrating sport, art, and personal philosophy. The integrity
Spartan Race, Inc. brought to the table sold me on taking part in building a revolution in
racing. I wanted to bring my racer’s perspective to this new kind of activity, which I saw
had all the makings of a great sport.
I packed up everything I owned into my car and drove to Vermont. There, I was introduced
to a whole new world of rural living that none of my travels prepared me for. In Pittsfield,
living in a barn where I was expected to do farm chores, I went into long weeks of
computer marketing while buried in deep Vermont snows.

34

Despite the isolation, or maybe because of it, my love for obstacle racing deepened
quickly in response to its attitude, its spirit, and its community. When I started writing
the Spartan Workouts of the Day, I was speaking to a few thousand scattered people
across the country. I’m now writing workouts with motivational commentary seen by 1.9
million Facebook fans and read by 155,000 fitness-minded subscribers daily. It’s hard to
believe, really. It blows my mind that so many people come together each day through
Spartan Race to share in health and wellness, as well as the other ideals Spartan Race
has come to encompass. For the Spartan Race community, obstacle racing is not a once
or twice a year activity, it’s a daily conversation for Spartans worldwide.
The other side of being at Spartan HQ is that, when you turn off your computer, you
leave normality behind. I became known as the Barn Beast, drawing comparisons with
Rocky IV, where the boxer trained in the Siberian wilderness using only the most primitive
means. I dragged tires and logs up mountains. I chopped wood. I grew a beard, from
which I often had to break icicles during long training days. You get the picture. As one
notable example, on February 1st, 2011 I strapped on snowshoes for the first time. On
March 6th, I snowshoed 100 miles and was escorted, delirious and tattered, to the finish
line by Joe himself. This was the embodiment of the Spartan spirit. There was a no-limits
attitude to everything Joe and other Spartans did, and this was made manifest in the
daily intensity we put into building a sport where there was no preconceived limit.
Lots of people ask, “Why do a Spartan Race?” There is no quick answer, or at least not
one that is easily encapsulated in a simple sentence. I have to say it is the philosopher
in me (I spent all of college locked in the library formally studying the subject) that
continues to be drawn to obstacle racing as a sport. In the middle of a race, in the thick
of things, when your mind and body start to unravel around you, there is a revelatory
wonder and sense of ‘now’ that goes beyond what we can rationally express. And
thus the irrational act of racing through mud and fire becomes rational—an insane
behavior transforms itself into a very sane demonstration of human will. Spartan Race
orchestrates for its racers the sense of wonder that is found in a kind of self-reliance that
we seldom need in this society, where we have far more than we could ever use. Spartan
Race forces you to awaken your senses, and it is through the acuity of our senses that
we feel human.
This is what we mean when we say, “You’ll Know at the Finish Line.”

35

SPARTAN WARRIOR: KEVIN GILLOTTI
Andy: Kevin Gillotti is known for routinely occupying the podium, winning five firstplace finishes in the first half of 2012 alone. He has been keeping a heavy multi-sport
race schedule for nearly two decades, with top finishes in run/bike duathlons as well
as triathlons, half and full marathons, mud runs, and other events. In 2001, Kevin had
just returned home from a world championship competition in Europe when he was out
for a light training ride on his road bike. Struck from behind by a moving van, he was
thrown 65 feet and narrowly survived multiple catastrophic injuries including thoracic
spine fractures. After a year of rehab, he was back to elite-level competition—and he
has stayed at that elite level ever since.
Kevin: By the time I put my foot on the starting line of my first Spartan Race—the 2011
SoCal Super Spartan—I had already entered all kinds of well-known obstacle course
events, and even won a few. I completed mud runs of many flavors, trail runs of varying
distances and elevation gains, obstacle course races, and boot camp challenges. So, to
me, it was just another fun way to spend a morning racing with buddies and doing an
obstacle course pretty much like all the others I finished before. All of them claimed to
be “the one” that was really “the one” to rise above anything else I had ever done in
that racing genre. Yeah, okay, been there and heard that before.
When race day came, I woke up and saw the weather we had in store, and I remember
thinking it was already feeling like a different kind of race day. In Southern California
we were having a rare spat of cold and heavy rains off and on for days. The venue
was about an hour inland from me with a slight elevation gain, which resulted in snowdusted peaks above and hammering rains below. The rough weather seemed to be in
sync with the vibe of this new race. When we pulled up to the venue, my best buddy
Jon—who went on to take second behind Hobie that day—and I got our first look at a
few of the obstacles visible from the starting area. Having done many races before and
almost all of them together, we looked at each other and both knew instantly that this,
in fact, was not like any mud run or trail race or obstacle course race we did before.
We both started to get somewhat giddy with excitement at the prospect of actually
getting challenged, and a little nervous about what was to come—a rare and welcome
sensation. I started to wonder if this really might be one that was finally different than
all of the rest and one that would really test us.
At the start line, the dusting of snow high in the surrounding hills, bitter cold, and
pounding rain, along with the visual of smoke and smoldering fire in the fire line, all

Kevin driving to the finish at
the 2012 SoCal Super
(Photo credit: Nuvision)

37

coupled with Hobie Call jumping up and down shirtless yelling (while I had several
layers on and stood silent), just set a tone that is hard to describe unless you were there.
Soon enough it’s time to line up. The gun goes off, and the rabbits bolt out front (there
are always guys at any race whose intentions are bigger than their abilities, so you just
let them go knowing you will reel them in due time). Right off the bat, we run into a
freezing lake for a good 20-30 yards, come back to dry land and have to jump over a
fire line heavy with actual crackling flames and smoke, then charge into a wet, muddy,
short but steep climb up along a high ridge line on a tight single track over-looking much
of the venue. Natural obstacles (hills, washes, narrow single track, steep ascents and
descents, water, sand, mud, holes, weeds, trees, and rocks) played a big role, as the
organizers had plotted the course to make smart use of the terrain itself as an obstacle
to slow us up and make us think. Then came the man-made obstacles: one after another
after another after another. Most obstacle course races have a truly paltry number of
obstacles that, for truly fit racers, are laughable at best and might slow me down for
a few seconds; so I assumed that would be the case here. I was wrong. Not only was I
wrong, but I was actually faced with unique obstacles: a javelin throw; a long horizontal
climbing wall; a bucket carry into cold water and back; a zigzagging balance beam;
real, blood-drawing barbed wire crawls very low to the ground; a 25-yard tight tunnelcrawl; a rope climb above water; heavy carry obstacles; a Vaseline-rigged wall; trail
breaking; and one that was an off-the-ground tire that you had to contort to get through
as it was just high enough off the ground to make you wonder, “do I dive through it or go
feet first?” But you have to think quickly as it is a race, mind you, and the clock is ticking.
In the end, I even made up a spot as we had to stop and solve a Rubix Cube—while
being cold, muddy, wet, tired, shaking and in a more physical mode—and passed my
good buddy, who had been leading me for the entire course up to that point. But hey,
that is a Spartan Race—and it’s war, so I used what I had to my advantage. Even my
good buddies are open game once the gun goes off. In Omnia Paratus.
My first Spartan Race—to run in driving rain and 40 degree temps through a freezing
lake waste deep, then push, crawl, run, jump, throw, bend, leap, roll, carry, fall, get up,
and then stop and solve a mental challenge and continue—was unlike any race I did
before. Suffice it to say that, for me, Spartan Race turned out to be a mud run, trail run,
mental challenge, and obstacle course race wrapped into one—and more. It proved
to be a legitimate challenge, with unknowns that only presented themselves once you
turned a corner and had to react with what you were confronted with. It’s more than a
“race”; it is more like an “endeavor.”

38

Anyway, for the rest of the day as the later waves lined up to start in the corral, when
asked how the race and course were, the best answer I could give was, “You have no
idea what you’ve gotten yourselves into.”

1 See www.youmaydie.com. Yes, that really is the URL.
2 http://www.sis.gov.eg
3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stadion_(ancient_sports)
4 http://thiswastriathlon.org/twt4c_023.htm
5 Granskog, Jane. “Triathlons.” Encyclopedia of Recreation and Leisure in America. Ed.
Gary S. Cross. Vol. 2. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2004. 379-380. Gale US History In
Context. Web. 14 June 2012.
6 http://thiswastriathlon.org/twt4c_023.htm
7 Levin, Dan. “Gall, Divided Into Three Parts.” Sports Illustrated 10 Oct. 1983: 86+. General
OneFile. Web. 14 June 2012.
8 Lund, Bill. Triathlon. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 1996. Print.
Keteyian, Armen. “Triathlon’s Secret Sugar Daddy.” Sports Illustrated 10 Oct. 1983: 10+.
General OneFile. Web. 14 June 2012.
9 Donner, Simon. “Ironman Triathlon.” St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Ed. Sara
Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 2. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. 503-504. Gale US
History In Context. Web. 14 June 2012.
10 “Sage’s work with triathletes garners Olympic notice.” Tampa Tribune [Tampa, FL] 25
Aug. 1999: 6. General OneFile. Web. 14 June 2012.
11 Garrahan, Matthew. “UK: Deal for triathlon.” Financial Times 8 May 2000: 26. General
OneFile. Web. 14 June 2012.
12 Harris, Stephen. “THE SYDNEY GAMES; Women’s Triathlon; McMahon wins on first
tri; Swiss underdog surprises Aussie.” Boston Herald 16 Sept. 2000: 048. General OneFile.
Web. 14 June 2012.
45/404
Fish, Mike. “MEN’S TRIATHLON: WHITFIELD GETS 1ST GOLD FOR CANADA
SYDNEY 2000 SUMMER OLYMPICS SPECIAL SECTION.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution
[Atlanta, GA] 17 Sept. 2000: F6. General OneFile. Web. 14 June 2012.
13 Ibid.
14 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
File:Training_at_the_Royal_Military_College_of_Canada.jpg#filelinks (public domain
image)
15 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steeplechase_(athletics)
16 See, for example, http://www.lumberjackworldchampionships.com/
17 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefighter’s_Combat_Challenge
18 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_games
19 Perhaps the best well-known is the Gloucestershire Annual Cheese-Rolling Contest, which
takes place on a hazardous course boasting “wet grass, brambles, and nettles.” The 2010 contest
was banned after 15,000 spectators arrived to watch the contest the year before. Some
contestants reportedly “don’t even like cheese.” (“Celebrating jubilee with a cheese roll.”
Europe Intelligence Wire 5 June 2012. General OneFile. Web. 20 June 2012.)
20 Wife-carrying races derive from the 19th century practice of wife-stealing in Finland.
Male contestants typically dash 100 yards or so (sometimes as much as 250 meters) while
carrying their “wives” (no marriage certificate required), for the grand prize of the wife’s
body weight—or, for some races, the pair’s combined weight—in ale. The North-American
wife-carrying championship took place in Newry, Maine in 2011. While less inherently hazardous
than cheese-rolls, evidently the races are not without risk: a Baltimore woman
suffered a broken leg when her husband dropped her during a race, as reported by Angela
King in, “The hazardous side of promos. (Promoganda: an overview of radio promotions).”
Country Airplay Monitor 2 Nov. 2001: 4. General OneFile. Web. 20 June 2012).
21 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adventure_race
22 http://www.coasttocoast.co.nz/
23 See, for example, http://www.hoppet.com.au/xc/xcfiles/files/winterclassic99.htm

39

24 See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Mountain_Wilderness_Classic
46/404
25 Prior to that (from 1989) it was the Raid Gauloises, originally called the Grand Traverse
(NZ, 1989).
26 Mark Burnett operated the May 1995 Utah race under a license from Gerard Fusil (Raid
Gauloise) to run the event under the name “Eco-Challenge” in the United States only. The
June 1995 race was the ESPN X-Games Eco-Challenge. In 1996 Mark went renegade on his
license and expanded to BC.
27 Many of the Spartan Race Founding Few have extensive adventure race credentials, including
having competed in one or more Eco-Challenge races. More on the Founding Few in
the next section.
28 For more on adventure racing specifically, and its contributions to obstacle racing, see
world champion Ian Anderson’s account in Appendix D.
29 See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sasuke_(TV_series)
30 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Sasuke_stages
31 Flacière, Robert. Daily Life in Greece at the Time of Pericles. Trans. Peter Green. New
York: The MacMillan Company, 1965.
32 http://muddybuddy.com/about/faqs/obstacle-info/
33 See Appendix E
34 See, for example, http://www.7summits2sealevel.com; Read more about it in Appendix B.
35 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416449/
36 Ernle Bradford, The Battle for the West. page 60
37 Xenophon, Spartan Society, 5
38 According to Xenophon, Lycurgus thought that “boys under this kind of regimen would be
better able, when required, to work hard without eating, as well as to make the same rations
last longer, when so ordered; they would…adapt better…and be in healthier condition.” The
regulation of food was also thought to cause men’s appearances to reflect their level of physical
exertion: those who exercised more exhibited healthier physiques and complexions.
(Xenophon, Spartan Society, 5)
47/404
39 “An austere lifestyle, full of hardships, but also one designed to train young men to obey
orders.” Plutarch, On Sparta, Lives, Agesilaus, 1
40 Plutarch, On Sparta, Sayings, Agesilaus, 29
41 We currently rely on Athlinks for timing and race records, to provide objective comparisons
across races and comprehensive annual rankings for all competitors. See http://
athlinks.com/
42 Jason Rita is a Spartan Legend in his own right. You’ll get to read his narrative in Chapter
2.
43 http://jasonjaksetic.blogspot.com/

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CHAPTER 2
T H E SP A R T A N BI BL E

41

SPARTAN RACE PHILOSOPHY
Joe: For the Spartan obstacle racer, less is more.
We believe that our post-modern Western culture is distracted by a barrage of fitness
gurus and devices that aim to meet every imaginable (or imaginary!) need.
Even endurance racers in the last 30 years focused on refining movement to greater
and greater degrees of efficiency. Because of this trend, athletes are often ripped but
can’t actually function in the real world. For example, picture a cyclist who has skinny
arms and dinosaur legs. That person is conditioned to perform exceedingly well at a
specific event (cycling), but less well-conditioned for functional excellence in lots of
events (life).
When did we forget exhilaration and personal exploration? When did we accept that we
had to rely on equipment, gear, and technology to achieve and maintain either peak
condition or lifelong fitness?
Spartan Race believes you should be able to run, crawl, and climb like your ancestors.
Spartan Race believes you don’t need anything to overcome an obstacle other than
intestinal fortitude and a will to excel.
Spartan Race wants you to achieve more. That’s why we put a brutal and unforgettable
course in front of you. Our mission is to WOW our racers, push their minds and bodies
to the limit, and make them healthy through superior, extreme, and challenging obstacle
races. That is why Spartan-brand obstacle race events are designed to break people down.
The goal is to push you to overcome your short-term desire for comfort in an effort to
practice reaching for something greater than your current self. Anyone can run up a hill.
What about going up the same hill crawling under 300 feet of barbed wire? Obstacles
and mental challenges force our athletes to be agile and capable in movements that
are lateral as well as linear, as well as resilient to plenty of surprises.
Spartan Race obstacles are equalizers. You can’t win a Spartan Race on speed or
strength or even endurance alone. You will need guts, fortitude, and a desire to finish,
pushing yourself through the obstructions before you. It will hurt, we promise. It will
also be the most fun you’ve had in a long time. You will discover a sense of exhilaration
and personal achievement that has eluded you in every other sport or endeavor, and
you’ll see yourself in an entirely new light.
That’s why the Spartan Race motto is, You’ll know at the finish line.

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SPARTAN RACE ETHOS AND PURPOSE
Andy: Having publicly stated our commitment to define and shape the sport of obstacle
racing, the Spartan Race vision is to establish, own, and defend the #1 position in
obstacle racing. You might use the Ironman as an analogy as it was both the preeminent
organizer of triathlons and the body that defined the triathlon as a sport. That’s why
we created the Spartan Race International Obstacle Racing Rulebook (included in
Appendix E) and actively promote and organize races across the United States and
around the world.
As if all this isn’t ambitious enough, our larger goal is to rip one million people off
the couch and into a healthy lifestyle. We aim to change people’s lives by cultivating
an atmosphere of wellness and accomplishment at our events and in our online
communities and by asking racers to lay their guts on the line and push their limits.
The race series pushes all athletes—from professionals to beginners—to discover new
levels of resourcefulness and fortitude and to rekindle their appetite for personal betterment.
We really mean it when we say Spartan Race is for everyone. Kids 4 to 13 can do our
kids’ race; 14 and up can race our adult circuit in the United States. Special access
services are available for physician-cleared competitors with physical disabilities.
We even provide a festival area designed for spectators to enjoy the action. Friends,
relatives, future Spartans—anyone can experience it.
If you’re still wondering, yes: Spartan Race is for you.

SPARTAN RACE ELEMENTS
Andy: By now you should be getting the idea that Spartan Racing is about much more
than just a contest to complete a fiendishly challenging obstacle course. But don’t get too
distracted by the philosophy. Spartan obstacle racing is first and foremost a fierce sport.
Spartan-sanctioned obstacle races are constructed on standardized distances with
regulated obstacles. Each event is uniquely configured so the racers never know exactly
what to expect, but the obstacles themselves are selected from a predetermined set.
This enables our races to be rated on difficulty so that objective comparisons can be
drawn between events. Standardized distances also encourage racers to attack courses
that are at the limit of their capacity while not getting themselves into trouble.
Spartan-sanctioned races are timed and officiated, and all Spartan Race obstacles are
mandatory. Racers who avoid or fail to complete an obstacle are assigned a penalty—

43

generally 30 burpees—which they must complete in order to advance. Failure to
complete an obstacle and the associated penalty results in immediate disqualification.
This ensures our race results are fair and unbiased. Entrants either complete the course
or they don’t. No excuses, no waivers, no asterisks.
Spartan-sanctioned races are responsibly staffed with appropriate medical services.
There are no water stations or other support services along the course, and we expect
our competitors to push themselves well beyond their accustomed limits. Minor injuries
such as scrapes, bruises, strains, pulls, and singes are common, and Spartan Race HQ
created a Best Injury Award that the recipients cherish as much as their finish line medals.
So Spartan Races don’t cater to comfort, but that’s not the same as being cavalier to
real emergencies. Spartan Race officials and racers alike are required to be alert and
responsive to any injury or event that requires medical attention.

SPARTAN RACE OBSTACLES
Joe: All Spartan-sanctioned obstacle racecourses, whether Sprint, Super or Beast, must
include at least these obstacles:


1. Balance Beam



2. Barbed Wire Crawl



3. Fire Jump




(venue/weather dependent, replaced with alternative if necessary)

4. Kettle Bell Pull

5. Over/Under/Through


6. Rope Climb



7. Sand Bag Carry



8. Gladiator Pit



9. Traverse Wall



10. Water Crossing



(venue/weather dependent, replaced with alternative if necessary)

Additional obstacles required in Spartan Super and Spartan Beast races include:


i.

Slippery wall



ii. 8-foot wall



iii. Spear throw



iv. Rope climb



v. Traverse wall



vi. Barbed wire crawl

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vii. Weight carry



viii. Tractor pull

The terrain itself is also chosen and/or shaped to be a factor in each race as well. In
Sprint races terrain is a minor factor, in Super races it is a moderately significant factor,
and in Spartan Beast and Ultra Beast races it is a major factor.

THE SPARTAN CODE
Joe: Whether first-time racers or Olympic champions, all Spartan Race competitors are
expected to meet an elite standard for sportsmanship. Race rules are posted on our
website and at each event. All rules are strictly enforced.
Beyond race day rules, we promote the Spartan Code to encourage and inspire Spartan
Race participants and organizers alike to live up to the highest standards on race day
and every day.
A Spartan pushes his/her mind and body to its limits.
A Spartan masters his/her emotions.
A Spartan learns continuously.
A Spartan gives generously.
A Spartan leads.
A Spartan stands up for his/her beliefs, no matter the cost.
A Spartan knows his/her flaws as well as his/her strengths.
A Spartan proves himself/herself through actions, not words.
A Spartan lives every day as if it were his/her last.

PITTSFIELD, VERMONT, OFFICIAL HOME TOWN OF
THE SPARTAN NATION
Joe: We could have planted the Spartan Race flag anywhere in the world, but we chose
Pittsfield, Vermont for its scenic combination of natural and developed terrain—which
includes skiing, hiking, and mountain biking trails—as well as its four distinct seasons
and strong tradition of formal and informal athletic competition. Every year, thousands
of athletes come to Pittsfield to train, compete, and push themselves to new levels of
performance, in a wide variety of athletic pursuits ranging from the obvious outdoor

45

sports (downhill and cross-country skiing, cycling, snowshoeing) to more surprising
indoor endeavors (yoga, wrestling). That’s why Pittsfield has earned the nickname, “the
endurance capital of the world.” Come on home and find your next peak.

SPARTAN RACE LORE: THE BIRTH OF THE HURRICANE HEAT
Andy: In late August 2011, Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and the
eastern United States, including the Spartan Home Town, Pittsfield, Vermont. Homes
were destroyed, towns were flooded, and lives were lost. It was by every measure a
devastating storm.
Without making light of the destruction, Spartans nonetheless found a new resiliency
and camaraderie around the Sunday, August 27 Amesbury, MA Sprint. When the event
was cancelled on Thursday by Massachusetts officials taking precautionary measures
to safeguard the public, we resolved both to work cooperatively with them to keep the
course from adding to the storm hazard and to provide an alternate race opportunity
to our registered athletes. After 48 hours of extraordinary effort by our volunteers and a
lot of negotiating with the local officials, we had an opportunity for some disappointed
Spartans to experience race-day glory and earn their coveted Spartan Finisher Medals.
Here is the letter Joe sent out by email to the registered racers:
Dear Sunday Amesbury Spartans,
This is Joe De Sena, owner of Spartan Race and one of the Founders. We’ve
heard your cries to run and we’re here to make it happen. No one was more
disappointed than we were at the forced cancellation of Sunday’s event. And
as Spartans, we take on challenges and overcome obstacles. Irene is one
tough obstacle but we are resilient. We are Spartans!
I am emailing you directly regarding a special offer to run this weekend in
response to the cancelled Sunday race. After much deliberation and due to
rising safety concerns, the State of Massachusetts is shutting down access into
and out of the venue on Sunday making a race on that day impossible but we
have come up with an additional opportunity we are offering to the first 250
responders from Sunday’s Race heats.
Race with the Founders Heat: We are offering a one heat shot at a special
Spartan Course and you’ll get to run with the Spartan Race Founders. This heat
was given some conditions we have to meet:
1. We have managed to negotiate a single heat of racing to take place

46

Saturday, August 27th at 6:00 a.m. There will be no volunteers available at
this time and no bussing. Be prepared to arrive at 5:00 a.m., sharp to ensure
you are there on time.
2. Public Safety is allowing us entry of 250 people for this heat. Only the racers
on the list will be allowed entry. Read all the instructions below to find out how
to get on the list.
3. YOU MUST HAVE YOUR SUNDAY WAIVER IN ORDER TO RUN.
4. There is one heat broken into five groups of 50 spaced 5 minutes apart. No
chips will be available and it will be non-competitive.
6. Bring everything you might need. Onsite at that hour, we can’t guarantee
that we’ll have food, water, or any other common race amenities set up.
Volunteers will be limited if there are any.
7. We recommend you have a headlamp or a flashlight.
8. No one is required to run this heat as a condition of your original registration
and the cancellation. Safety is our primary concern. You will still be entered
into next year’s Sunday Race, so if you are unable or unwilling to join us at
Saturday morning, don’t worry.
9. Saturday 6:00 a.m. runners WILL get a finisher medal.
If you’re interested, you have to email us: [email protected]
with the following information. The first 250 to respond with the necessary
information are in the heat. No non-Sunday registrants qualify for this special
event. Please do not call Spartan HQ; our staff is onsite in Amesbury, and
won’t be able to answer your calls.
Name:
Email:
Phone:
Age:
Emergency Contact:
Emergency Phone Number:
Come ready to run! 5:00 a.m., sharp! Meet at the parking lot.
Please note that in hurricane conditions we are experiencing, we are at the
mercy of the State of Massachusetts and Public Service policy. If they see fit to

47

close down the venue and disallow racing, we have no option but to comply.
Sincerely,
Joe De Sena
Just like that, Running with the Founders: The Hurricane Heat was born.
More than 150 Spartans showed up for the untimed Hurricane Heat. They formed
spontaneous teams with even more spontaneous names like “Team Orange Hat,” “Team
Death,” and “Team Sandbag,” and raced together for the pure joy of the challenge.
All of the racers that morning spent nearly 2 1/2 hours with Joe and other Spartan
staff racing the course, doing burpees together, hauling sand bags and getting a taste
of what motivates our company of athletes to do what we do with our races. Everyone
finished. No Spartan was left behind. The athletes, dubbed the Hurricane Heaters,
earned their finisher medals and forged lasting bonds of pride and friendship.
The reaction from the racers and Spartan staff was nothing short of amazing. Since then,
the Hurricane Heat has grown into a permanent staple at every Spartan Race event.
The Hurricane Heat/Founders Race gives runners the chance to meet and run with the
Founders and other Spartan HQ staff in a unique and memorable way. Held early in
the morning both on and off the racecourse, the goal is to finish as teams. No one gets
left behind. There are no timing chips, no clock, no bells and whistles. It’s simply a
Spartan-style workout that represents what our company and our athletes are all about:
getting up when you’re knocked down and finishing what you start.2
The Hurricane Heat/Founders’ Race has since become a signature event in its own
right, exposing participants to extra challenges in addition to portions of the race day
course and eliciting rave responses like this one:
“Thank you to all the organizers for pulling together and making the Hurricane Heat
possible. It was above and beyond the call of duty and something we all will never
forget. …Special thanks to Joe for running with us at 6:00 a.m. with a sandbag for the
entire race!”—Kevin Andrews
“Can’t thank Joe enough for making the Hurricane Heat happen! It was 2.5 hours of
torture, but we loved every minute of it! Thanks for designing such a challenging course,
pushing us to our limits, and running along with us carrying a sandbag! Thanks to Team
Orange Hat for killing it! (And Mr. Orange Hat himself for dragging that sandbag under
the barbed wire for the team!)” —Alison Brown

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“Thanks, Spartan organizers, for putting together this morning’s Hurricane Heat. Wish
Irene would have let us have Sunday, but this was a great and perhaps more memorable
alternative. Toughest course I’ve done (so far). Go Team North Shore!”
—David Elston-Pollock

SPARTAN WARRIOR: JASON RITA
Andy: Jason Rita is responsible for recruiting elite athletes to Spartan Races. He has
racked up podium and top-10 finishes in a long list of ultra-endurance events. Some
of his epic race finishes include: the 2012 Badwater 135-mile ultramarathon in Death
Valley, California; the 2011 La Ultra–The High 140-mile ultramarathon (222km in
the high Himalayas, average elevation 15,000 feet, temperature range -20° to110°F),
where he finished 3rd overall; the 2010 “Leadman” Competition (completing the
Leadville Trail marathon, 50-mile mountain bike, 50-mile trail run, 100-mile mountain
bike and 100-mile trail run); and third place in the 2009 Everest Marathon, part of
his completing the Himalaya 100 Mile Stage Race. Jason’s self-effacing demeanor is a
model of the Spartan maxim, A Spartan proves himself through actions, not words, and
may be one of his most effective weapons as a competitor. That and he just never quits.
Jason R: I met Joe at the Amee Farm in Pittsfield Vermont because I saw something
online called The Death Race and really wanted to do it. The caption was, “You May
Die,” which certainly suggested an extreme adventure to me. Joe advertised a Death
Race Camp to train for the Death Race, and, while I had competed in marathons and
adventure races and Ironmans, the idea of the Death Race as something beyond those
endurance challenges just captured my attention. The notion that the event had no fixed
or established rules was a very cool concept—you had to show up and do the race to
find out what was going to happen, instead of being told in advance. Andy and Joe’s
goal in the Death Race is to make you quit. It’s really you against them: if you quit, they
win. I guess this is sort of perverse, but their interest is to find your weakness; and it just
really appealed to me as equal parts novel and intimidating. I always felt like if I was
scared to do something, then it was probably worth doing.
Showing up for the camp in 2009, I thought, “Oh, this camp is going to be great: I’ve
done training camps. I’ve done Epic Camp (a triathlon camp where you practically did
an Ironman every day for 2 weeks), so I thought there was going to be a little bit of
biking, a little bit of running, some strength training…whatever. I’ve done that before.
This is cool; I got this.” I was the first to arrive, and Joe pointed me to this huge mass
of vegetable planter boxes in the barn, there were 300 of them, each 50-60 pounds.

49

Jason approaching his
3rd place finish at the
2011 La Ultra
(Photo credit: Chris Ord)

50

He said to move them out to the other end of the field. After about an hour, I called my
girlfriend and said, “This is bogus* (may have used a different b-word). This is not what
I signed up for, and I think I’m leaving.” But I didn’t. By the end of the weekend, there
were only a few of us left. I’m just an amateur runner or competitor, but it profoundly
influenced me. It challenged me to put aside preconceptions about what I could do,
what I was willing to do. It changed how I looked at the events I was training for.
I wrote to Joe at the time:
Joe:
Thank you for an amazing weekend of training, discovery, camaraderie
and insanity.
As I drove away on Sunday afternoon, I was completely exhilarated at thinking
back over what we did. I felt proud. I felt strong and vital. I felt a huge sense
of accomplishment, although I did still think there were plenty of rocks up at
the cabin already without needing to bring 4 wheelbarrows of them up to the
top of the mountain from the farm across fields, through creeks, up dirt roads,
over single track, into bushwhack and no track—I am still not sure what that
“accomplished,” except, of course, to test our resolve.
But that, of course, is the point of the weekend. Can you focus enough? Can
you put aside the pre-judgments of what you are or are not capable of? Do you
have the mental and emotional capacity to not be beaten by man or nature,
or, more crucially, by yourself? Do you want what awaits you if you persevere
through the obstacles—the rewards that only you can give yourself when you
reach the finish, the intrinsic gift of looking inside your mind and knowing you
met and overcame the enemies of complacency, of making excuses, of giving
up, of quitting? This weekend emphasized that it doesn’t matter what you’ve
done in the past or might do in the future, but only what are you doing right
now, and is it everything you can give? In that sense, I found the physical
exertion to be very meditative and relaxing, all the while notwithstanding that
my forearms and quads are screaming bloody murder. The challenge is to turn
down the volume of the muscles’ rebellion, to close the door on the mind’s
sabotage, and simply to stay the course.
Too much of the training done by recreational athletes is simply that—
recreation—and goes nowhere near the edges of our potential or our limits.
What you offered at Death Race Camp, and I imagine at Death Race a

51

thousand times more intensely, is a true “breakthrough” experience—one that
will make you see yourself in a different light, or perhaps more in-focus. And
with a new outlook comes new horizons. I hope to transform into that kind of
breakthrough athlete, not with respect to records or prizes, but always with
respect to defining expectations of and for myself. Thank you for helping me
along that path. I think these adventures let you earn the right to reimagine
what is possible for yourself. And that has a very life-affirming, staying-youngat-heart pitch to it, despite all the allusions to “Death.”
I had a blast, and I hope to do it again soon. It was truly a gift to my soul.
In 2011, I did a 140-mile ultramarathon in the Himalayas in India, and there was a point
in the race, probably 40 hours in, when I realized it really didn’t matter if I had 6 miles
to go or 20 or another 100, because where the finish line was defined was arbitrary. The
hours I had already run were gone, the hours I had yet to run hadn’t happened yet, and
all I had to master was the moment in which I was moving forward. I learned at Death
Race Camp that I can keep pushing beyond where I think the finish line is, or where I
think my resources end. I learned to put those limitations aside.
When Joe launched Spartan Race, I came to see how it was clearly different from other
sports, and unlike other mud or similar events. I see Spartan at the vanguard of, and
motive force behind, the creation of a new sport—one that requires a new breed of
athlete—to my mind, almost the perfect athlete. There are lots of claims about people
being the fittest people on the planet, but in general most athletes are specialists at the
one skill their sport demands. Runners run; triathletes swim, bike, and run; but Spartan
obstacle racers have to run, jump, throw, climb, carry, pull, drag, vault, dive, roll, hike,
boulder, crawl, swim, hurdle, row, traverse, Tyrolean, and whatever else the obstacle
course designers throw at them. They have to think on their feet, be creative, and be
problem solvers. Spartan Races are tests of mind as well as body. It’s a whole mindbody experience, and on some level it’s like recapturing the complete in-the-moment
engagement of childhood.
Spartan Race Champion Hobie Call3 embodies this new ideal of a perfect hybrid athlete:
fast, strong, agile, skillful, endless endurance, quick-witted. But the sport embraces
anyone with the spirit to test themselves. You can be like Hobie, finishing in less than an
hour. But you can also be like Fredo Dinten from the television show The Biggest Loser,
who did a Spartan Race in New York last year, finishing the race in something like three
hours, and became one of our most passionate fans.

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In either case, you’re putting yourself in a do-or-die, make-or-break situation, which
modern society doesn’t normally make us face, even in athletic competitions like running
or triathlon. And whereas sports like triathlon and adventure racing have pretty high
barriers to entry for a lot of people (Not everybody is going to do a 10-day adventure
race at the ends of the earth like Joe and I have done.) Spartan Race events are designed
so that you just need the will to compete in order to participate. Everyone can experience
the same kind of personal drama or moment of truth scenarios, as well as the reward of
crossing the finish line; yet the challenge to become proficient at every element of the
race is such that it’s impossible to ever be satisfied.
Leaving aside the origins of the Death Race and the Founding Few, the biggest single
factor in the early evolution of Spartan Race was really Hobie’s emergence and his
determination to chase the $100k prize that Joe offered in 2011.4 Hobie’s quest really
galvanized a higher level of competition and attention and, I think, even made us at
Spartan HQ realize the potential for the sport. He showed up, a father of five from
Utah, an HVAC repairman, having put aside his dreams of success in professional
competitive marathon running. He came out of nowhere and was phenomenal. He left
the field behind in the Sprint, Super, and Beast races he entered. Death Race was an
altogether different event. It’s like asking a sprinter to win a marathon. The Death Race
winner the previous year was a guy by the name of Joe Decker, 5 a huge ox of a man,
200 pounds of furnace-forged muscle, with phenomenal strength and endurance. By
contrast, Hobie is a slight, extremely lean man, 140 pounds with 3% body fat, with no
prior race experience longer than three hours. Hobie gave Decker a real run for the
prize, but had to bow out after 38 hours when he was hypothermic. It was a battle of
epic proportions, like two mythic gods with unique superpowers dueling for honor and
glory. After the disappointment of Death Race, Hobie redirected his attention to winning
the 2011 Spartan Race year-end championship event in Texas. Hobie faced a serious
challenge from Josiah Middaugh,6 who is a pro Xterra and Ironman triathlete with a
ridiculous number of US national Xterra titles (something like 5 out of the last 7 years,
and multiple Teva Mountain Games titles). It was a truly fierce championship event, and
Hobie held off Josiah and the rest of the field to clinch the $10k purse. That superlative
caliber of competition really cemented the idea of Spartan Races as a legitimate model
for obstacle races worthy of X-Games or Olympic inclusion.
Spartan obstacle races now attract serious, competitive athletes who make obstacle
racing their primary competition. There are also growing numbers of serious athletes
who are competing in Spartan-sanctioned races to gain sharpness for their primary

53

events—typically triathlons or ultramarathons—because the total fitness required by an
obstacle race is much more demanding. It is the perfect competition for cross-training
athletes, such as people who do CrossFit. Christopher Rutz,7 one of the leaders in the
Spartan Race Points Competition for 2012, was recently quoted in Scottsdale Health
as saying he had competed in CrossFit and trained consistently within the CrossFit
community but didn’t realize what he was training for until he entered a Spartan Race.
Even among serious athletes, a lot of people are attracted to Spartan Race events
because it’s what they did as kids. It’s a serious athletic challenge combining strength,
speed, and endurance, and it’s also just plain fun. I enjoy them because they allow the
expression of your personality through the activity—as a triathlete, I always wanted to
swim elegantly, bike powerfully, and run gracefully. To do a Spartan Race well requires a
comprehensive skill set over many different movements. The freeform range of challenges
makes you feel that childlike joy in ways that other events cannot recapture, yet requires
tremendous skill and training to do well. Spartan Races are very sticky in that way—our
athletes cross that finish line and find they can’t wait to come back for the next one.
The Ultra Beast, the marathon distance Spartan Race, has people desperate to enter,
because to be able to complete a marathon distance obstacle course will be a badge of
immense achievement. And the camaraderie is so great that, even after 18 hours, you
have people standing at the finish line waiting to cheer on the last finishers.
As more countries come online with Spartan Races, the next major evolution will be
the first truly global obstacle race season. We take it seriously so that it is a sport with
real accountability—timing, rules, penalties—to provide the athletes a consistent, highlevel competition. Looking further into the future, I am certain there will be a world
championship for obstacle racing, where the elite racers from each country or continent
gather to race against each other. Ideally it would move to a new location each year. If
such diverse events as rugby and swimming and tennis and rhythmic gymnastics are all
at the Olympics, obstacle racing could be as well.
We are building a global sport and community around the Spartan model of obstacle
racing because we want to give millions of people the opportunity to push themselves to
be their best; to race with others who share this passion; and to embrace the Spartan
Code for training and competition in their lives. Just like people say, “I’m a runner,”
or, “I’m a triathlete,” hundreds of thousands of people are now saying, “I’m a Spartan
Racer.” And kids and grownups alike are saying, “I want to be like Hobie.”
That is very cool.

54

Rob negotiating the course
at the 2012 Tuxedo Sprint
(Photo credit: Nuvision)

55

SPARTAN WARRIOR: ROB SERRANO
Andy: Rob Serrano describes himself as a 38-year-old father of three, married for 15
years to his supportive wife Lilian. He has blogged about the paralyzing self-doubt
that prevented him from pursuing activities he loved, despite the encouragement of his
family and friends. In his first ever Spartan Sprint, Rob discovered that the cure for his
self-doubt was in his power all along: commit to surmount the challenge you think is
beyond your capability, and never give up. Echoing Jason Rita’s characterization, Rob’s
reward at the finish line was the discovery that he was a Spartan at heart, capable of
far more than he ever realized—and he had a newfound hunger and determination to
achieve more and bigger goals.
Rob: On September 10th, 2011 I participated in my first obstacle course race: the
Spartan Sprint in Palmerton, Pennsylvania. Prior to race day, I had no idea that it would
be not only the most physically demanding event I ever participated in, but also a lifechanging experience.
My best friend Erik Campos signed me up for the event without me knowing. When he
told me, he said it would be challenging; so I decided to hit the gym for two weeks
prior to the event. I was not in great shape at all: I was 37 years old, 284 pounds and
a “couch potato.” I arrived at the venue that Saturday morning not quite sure what to
expect, and was I shocked at what I saw: a ski mountain staring me in the face. “Really.
A ski mountain. You’re kidding me, right?” is what went through my mind. At that point
I realized that I was in trouble and not prepared physically or mentally for the race. I
always portrayed a certain self-confidence to my friends, but the truth was that I always
had self-confidence issues and doubted myself. I tried to put a good face on, but I
think we all figured I didn’t stand much of a chance. Before the race started, Erik’s wife
Chrissy said that she would stay by my side for the entire race while Erik and my other
two friends Karl and Mary ran ahead of us.
So the race started and we were off and running—or more like a swift walking pace
for me. Up steep hills, over and under walls, through rough, rocky, muddy terrain. I
struggled but never quit. I continued up more steep hills, climbing walls and crawling
under nets. I never quit. Every step was painful, but I never quit. I climbed up a cargo
net, hoisted up a cinder block, walked through waist-high water, and tramped through
the woods. You are given one chance at each obstacle. If you cannot complete the
obstacle, you have to do 30 burpees (not a fun exercise). Some obstacles I completed,
some I did not, and had to do the 30-burpee penalty. Still, I never quit. As I continued
through the course I was passed by many other racers, all of whom offered positive,

56

encouraging words to me. People I never met before were rooting for me to continue on
and finish the race. There were many times when I thought about quitting, but I couldn’t
do it. I had to prove to myself that I was a Spartan, that I could finish this Spartan Race.
I continued to struggle along the course, taking short breaks every so often to catch my
breath and re-focus. Chrissy stayed with me the entire way. I crawled under barbwire,
threw a javelin, climbed up a wet slippery wall. Finally, I finished the race. As I crossed
the finish line, I received a medal for completing the event.
It took me over 3.5 hours, but I did it. I finished the Spartan Race.
After I crossed the finish line, Erik found me, gave me a hug, and apologized for signing
me up for the Spartan Race. He said he did not know it was that demanding. He even
said he was not sure that I would be able to complete the race. He then said that he was
proud of me and gave me another hug. I thanked him for signing me up, and it was at
that point I first realized that my life would be different.
On my drive home, it really hit me what I had accomplished: I completed a Spartan
Race, one of the toughest, most challenging obstacle events a person can complete.
As soon as I got home, I told my wife Lilian about Spartan Race and about my
accomplishment. I joined the Spartan Race Street Team, changed my diet, and started
working out on a regular basis. I committed myself to the Spartan Code and embraced
the challenge to live a healthy and active life. I have made numerous friends via Spartan
Race, have signed up for the WOD (Workout of the Day), and have recruited my friends
and family to compete in Spartan Races.
Today is June 26th, 2012. I now weigh 228 pounds and am living an active lifestyle. I
recently completed the Spartan Sprint in Tuxedo, NY and am registered for four more
Spartan Races. I am completing the Spartan Trifecta (Sprint, Super, and Beast).
Spartan Race made me realize that I am capable of accomplishing great things.
I am stronger than I thought, I gained more self-confidence, and I have been
told that I am a motivation to others. If anyone told me last year that I would
be climbing walls, crawling under barbwire and jumping over fire, I would have
laughed. Now, because of Spartan Race, I look forward to those things, and I will
train every day to be the best Spartan I am capable of being. Spartan Race has not
only affected me but my entire family as well. My wife and kids have also embraced
the healthy, active lifestyle and my two younger kids will be doing the Spartan Kids
Race in Pennsylvania this year. I am forever grateful to Spartan Race for changing

57

our lives, helping me to gain true self-confidence and introducing me to a great
group of friends.
Spartan HQ, their employees, and the Spartan Racers are a family, a family that
positively motivates people. I promote Spartan Race every day, to my friends, my
family, and my co-workers. Spartan Race may never realize how they have impacted
my life, but I do.
Thanks to Spartan Race, this is my story: sign up, show up, and never give up. No
Spartan Left Behind.

1 See, for example, http://www.necn.com/Boston/New-England/2009/12/02/Olympichopefulsleave-the/1259763310.html
2 Joe: We are honored and humbled by all the great examples of the Spartan spirit in action
throughout this book; I think my personal favorite might be Spartan Life Lore: Aditya in
Chapter 9.
3 You’ll hear a lot more about Hobie in the chapters that follow, and you’ll hear from Hobie
himself in Chapter 10.
4 The challenge was steep: win 15 Spartan Races (out of 17 that year) plus the Spartan Death
Race
5 See http://blog.spartanrace.com/the-death-race-profile-series-2011-champion-joe-decker/
6 See http://www.josiahmiddaugh.com/
7 You’ll hear from Christopher himself in Chapter 5.

Rob with Chrissy Campos
after crossing the finish line
at the 2011 Palmerton Sprint
(personal archive)

58

CHAPTER 3
T H E F IV E E LE ME N T S O F
T O T A L FIT N ES S

59

Andy: We see all kinds of fitness fads that focus on a single aspect of fitness—aerobic
conditioning, or strength building, or body mass index, etc.—as the key to health. By
contrast, a recent article in the Indian journal Mint 1 praises varied exercise routines
because “there is no one single form or type of exercise that is all-encompassing or
has versatile benefits.” The best fitness regimes develop “cardiovascular endurance,
muscular endurance, strength, flexibility and body composition [fat to lean mass
ratio]” equally. The article concludes that ideal fitness comprises versatility and
balanced muscles.
We agree emphatically. The Spartan ideal is to achieve total fitness at every stage of
life. We have some pretty strong opinions about this, having completed a bunch of
races and challenges ourselves and having observed for more than two decades what
other elite competitors do, who wins, and who drops out. You’ll hear more from us on
the subject of training—and a lot more from some elite competitors—in the chapters
that follow.
To get you started on the basics, here is Jeff Godin, Department Chair, Exercise and
Sport Science at Fitchburg State University; ultra-endurance racer; and Director of
Certification for Spartan Race Coaching. Jeff is a genuine Spartan ambassador: both
by his own example and through his work as a teacher and coach, he educates and
guides people of all ages to create their own active lives.

UNDERSTANDING AND MASTERING THE
FIVE ELEMENTS OF PHYSICAL FITNESS
What is physical fitness? Is it how we feel? How we look?
Physical fitness is defined as the ability to perform occupational, recreational, and daily
activities without becoming unduly fatigued.
The five elements of physical fitness are:
1.
Cardiorespiratory endurance (CRE)—the ability of the heart, lungs, and


circulatory system to supply oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles;

2.
Muscle strength (MS)—the maximal amount of force that can be produced


by a muscle or muscle group;

3.
Muscle endurance (ME)—the ability of a muscle or muscle group to maintain


submaximal force or repeated contractions over a period of time;

4.
Flexibility (FL)—the ability to move a joint through its full range of motion; and
5.
Body composition (BC)—the relative amounts of fat and lean mass that


contribute to body weight.

60

Each of these elements is vital to our health. People who have higher levels of
cardiorespiratory endurance have a lower chance of developing cardiovascular
disease. Muscular strength and muscular endurance reduce the strain of heavy work
and reduce the probability of incurring acute or chronic injuries. Flexibility is related
to joint health; in particular, flexibility of the hips and lower back is associated with a
reduced likelihood of developing lower back pain. Conversely, being overweight or
obese increases the chances of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some
types of cancer.
At a minimum, every person should participate in enough physical activity to develop
basic fitness for overall good health. Meeting that minimum requirement for basic
fitness will provide the essential foundation for some success in Spartan-style obstacle
racing, particularly if your goal is to complete a race for the first time, like Rob Serrano.
If you want to be competitive at obstacle racing, you must aspire to a much higher
level of physical fitness, including incorporating training that addresses additional
dimensions of performance or athletic fitness:
A.
Speed—the ability to perform a movement in a short period of time;
B.
Anaerobic power—the ability to exert force rapidly;
C.
Anaerobic capacity—the ability to produce and sustain production of large


amounts of force over a short period of time (30-90 seconds);

D.
Coordination—the ability to perform motor tasks accurately and smoothly


using body movements and the senses;

E.
Agility—the ability to change direction or body position quickly; and
F.
Reaction time—the ability to respond and react quickly to a stimulus.
Comparing the fitness requirements for finishing a Spartan Race to those for running a
marathon or triathlon reveals some significant differences. For example, to be successful
in endurance events, you need to focus on two dimensions of fitness: cardiorespiratory
endurance and body composition. Even participation in a triathlon doesn’t require
strength or power, nor does it require coordination or agility to any significant degree.
For some high-level triathletes, transition time can be improved by practicing their
transition skills, and they may display some agility and coordination moving from sport
to the next (quickly removing a wet suit, flying mount on the bike), but relatively speaking
it is of small importance. In contrast, Spartan racing requires fitness in all dimensions.
The race distance ranges from 3 to 26 miles; therefore all events require some degree
of cardiorespiratory endurance. Sprinting up hills and jumping over obstacles require
speed and power; climbing ropes and walls requires muscle endurance and strength;

61

navigating the cargo net climb or the balance beam requires coordination and balance.
To move through all of the obstacles efficiently, flexibility and agility are also required.
In the truest sense, Spartan Race tests every dimension of health and performance-related
fitness. Thus a competitor’s training should reflect all of the components of physical fitness,
and your weekly training plan should include specific workouts that address each of the
components. Activities such as jumping would emphasize power; lifting heaving objects
such as stones or logs would develop strength; running would improve cardiorespiratory
fitness; the practice of yoga would improve flexibility and balance. And of course you
should run sprints and hills to improve speed and anaerobic capacity.
Body composition also plays an important role in sport. Body fat represents extra mass
that needs to be carried throughout the event, whether a triathlon or a Spartan Race.
For some sports, having extra body mass may be desirable: Sumo wrestlers or football
linemen, for instance, are more difficult to move because of their extra mass. But for
any endurance sport, extra fat mass in particular poses a hindrance by increasing
your energy expenditure, increasing the effort needed to climb obstacles or hills, and
increasing the force required to achieve a desired speed. Possessing too little body fat
can also have deleterious effects by suppressing the endocrine and immune systems and
negatively affecting the adaptation to regular training. In women, it may be particularly
harmful as it affects the production of estrogen and is linked to the development of
osteoporosis. There is no single perfect body composition. Any given individual’s ideal
body composition is a balance that serves competitive performance while sustaining
good overall health.
For illustration, consider the ranges of norms for adult male and female subjects in the
following table.2 Note that there is considerable variability in these ranges, whether explicitly
stated (x-y value) or implied (<x or >y value), even for the performance fitness levels.


Adult Males

Adult Females

Fitness Measure

Health Performance

Health Performance

Cardiorespiratory

<13:00 <7:11

<14:00 <10:05

1.0 2.0

85

Endurance
1.5 mile run (min:sec)
Muscle Strength
1-RM back squat
(as a proportion of body weight)

.

1.85

62

Fitness Measure

Health Performance

Health Performance

Muscle Endurance

35-45

50 – 60

25-35 38-44

90

180

90

180

>40

5. >60

>35

>55

Push-ups to exhaustion
(repetitions)
Muscle Endurance
Side plank (seconds)
Muscle Endurance
One-minute sit-up count
Flexibility

>16.5 >22.5

>19.0 >24.0

18 - 22 7 -11

21-27 13 – 19

NA

<5.0

NA

<5.5 – 6.0

NA

25 – 26

NA

16 – 18.5

NA

>100

NA

>90

NA

<65

NA

<65

Sit and reach (inches)
Body Composition
(bmi)
Speed
40-yard sprint (seconds)
Anaerobic Power
Vertical jump (inches)
Anaerobic Power
Standing long jump (inches)
Anaerobic Capacity

300-yard shuttle run (seconds)
Agility

NA <12.3

NA <13.0

NA <10

NA <11

Hexagon (seconds)
Agility
T-test (seconds)

Core strength, or stability, is also often identified as an important characteristic of
health-related and performance-related fitness. It generally fits under the category of
muscle endurance. Although it hasn’t been successfully correlated to performance, most
fitness professionals would agree that it is important; it forms a stable foundation for
other muscles to perform their actions. Core strength can be developed in many ways.
The preferred method is carrying odd-shaped objects—always with the understanding
that the weight of the object should be appropriate to the individual, so that you can
carry the object with good technique. That task forces the musculature of the core to
work to keep the combined center of gravity of the body and the object being carried
within the body’s base of support. For example, carrying a log in front of the body
shifts the center of gravity forward. To prevent the body from falling forward, the back

63

extensors must contract to create an opposing force. Similarly, carrying a log on the
right shoulder requires the muscles that laterally flex the torso to the left to be engaged
in order to oppose the weight of the log.
Obstacle racing may be the ultimate sport in the sense that, to be successful, a competitor
needs to train across all dimensions of physical fitness. In every single obstacle course,
you will draw on strength, speed, power, muscle endurance, balance/coordination,
anaerobic endurance, and aerobic endurance. This is not true for sports such as the
marathon or triathlon, where the athlete only needs aerobic endurance to be successful.
Training for obstacle racing requires a balanced approach—true cross-training.
Your health, fitness level, body composition, and other personal factors, combined
with the length of the event and the number and type of obstacles involved, will dictate
how much training you need to devote to each dimension of fitness, and what types of
activities are most appropriate for you.
For example, the Spartan Beast is a 13-mile race that will take some individuals 6 or
7 hours to complete. Therefore, you need to include a substantial amount of aerobic
endurance training, such as long mountain runs of up to 3 hours. The Spartan Beast
also has 25+ obstacles. You will need strength and power to overcome each of them.
High-intensity efforts repeated more than 25 times throughout a race requires a high
level of anaerobic endurance. Short bouts of intense exercise (plyometrics, Olympic
weight lifting, bike or concept 2 sprints) repeated a large number of times with short
recovery periods will help improve your anaerobic endurance. The obstacles can be
broken down into two general types: those that require pulling, such as climbing a
wall or a rope, and those that require pushing, such as the bear crawl or belly crawl.
Any training should include movements that involve lifting the body weight with a pull
(pull-ups, non-kiping) and a push (push-ups) and the many variations of each, to build
up strength and muscle endurance. And don’t forget that penalties are assessed during
the race in the form of burpees, so a good dose of burpees should be included in
everyone’s training.
The same general considerations apply for preparing for each of the other course distances.
In chapters 5 through 8, we lay out some general training guidelines to help you
prepare for each course distance. These are general guidelines. You are a specific
person. One size does not fit all, even among Spartans. You will need to pursue a
fitness regimen that is appropriate to your body. The principle of individual differences
states that each person is genetically unique, and for that reason an individual might

64

not respond in predictable fashion to a particular exercise program. This emphasizes
the need to adjust training programs based on individuality. You might want to start off
by performing a self-assessment, following the instructions in Appendix C. It’s always
sensible to consult a coach or your doctor for specific training advice.

PUT YOUR UNDERSTANDING INTO PRACTICE
Andy: Now that you’ve read that explanation (and maybe done a self-evaluation in
Appendix C to see where your current fitness level ranks on the table above), we hope
you’re freshly motivated to change up your routine—or start a new one!—to achieve
total fitness.
There are countless ways to keep your training regiment challenging, functional, and
comprehensive. Start by going outside! Move your own body, preferably uphill, and
as you get stronger, pick up things—rocks, logs, your kids—and carry them with you.
Better yet, grab a friend or your spouse and get out there together!
If you’re looking for a little bit more structure, one example of a comprehensive workout
you can do without any gym or equipment is the Spartan 1500 workout:3


100 burpees



100 pull-ups



100 box jumps



100 sandbag squat throws



100 jumping jacks



100 Brazilian ab twists (50 each side)



100 bodyweight squats



100 side kicks (50 each side)



100 jumping lunges



100 curls (50 each side)



100 tricep overhead extensions (50 each side)



100 frog jumps



100 squat jumps



3 rope climbs



300 crunches

Aroo!
If you’re just starting out, reduce the number of repetitions to something you can do,
and increase as you get stronger. Even if you can only do 10 or 20 repetitions of a given
exercise to begin with, that’s 10 or 20 more than you were doing before. Before long

65

you’ll be able to do 40 or 50, and eventually 100 (or 300, for crunches!). The Spartan
1500 is guaranteed to get your heart going with its high-intensity conditioning. But
don’t forget to also include running or biking or swimming or some other high-intensity
aerobic training.
Joe: Bikram Yoga is also critical to the longevity of your athletic career, whether you’re
a regular guy/gal or an elite-level competitor. If you can’t stretch—and most people
can’t4 5 —you’re doomed. Your skeletal structure can only take so much pressure from
tight muscles. And whatever kind of fitness regimen you have, or whatever sport you
play, or whatever lifestyle you enjoy, your body and mind need balance. Just ask NBA
legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who wrote this on his blog:6
Yoga scares some people. They imagine a white-robed cult of New Age
zombies sipping herbal green tea and smiling vacantly. For some, the problem
is the word itself: yoga. Funny-looking, foreign and too exotic. Okay, for you
we’ll call it “power-stretching” or “ultimate breathing” or “hot-bod sculpting.”
Is that better? Because the truth is that yoga is an excellent means of creating
a more flexible and healthy body that will be less prone to injuries. And the
most important part of staying fit after 50 is avoiding workout injuries that can
disrupt your exercise program for weeks or even months.
I’ve been an enthusiastic practitioner of yoga since high school. Yoga is one
of the reasons that I was able to play professional basketball as long as I did
with as few injuries as I had. One of the first improvements I noticed was in
my posture. Before yoga I’d been having lower back pains; after I started
practicing the positions, my overall health improved significantly. (FYI: the
practice of yoga began 3,000 years ago in India. The word “yoga” is Sanskrit
and means to “union,” meaning to join together the mind, body, and spirit.)
There are many different styles of yoga. I practice Bikram yoga as well as
several other styles. Beginners tend to do what I call the “yoga tour”—that is,
trying out the different styles until they find the right ones for them. That’s a
perfectly reasonable approach and is more likely to produce the results they’re
looking for. When Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino came
to me to ask me how to extend his longevity and deal with all the collision-type
injuries you get from playing football, I steered him to yoga; the next time I saw
him he said it was absolutely helpful in his training regimen.
Those of you who studied Pilates know that a large part of its foundation is

66

based on yoga. My father started doing yoga in his late 70s and it helped him
to stop his decline of flexibility. So whether you’re in top athletic shape like my
friend Dan Marino or just have old achy bones like my dad, I thought I’d give
those of you who are ready to get started a few tips:
1. Be consistent. Any new endeavor requires a period of commitment. At first,
you may feel awkward or self-conscious, but promise yourself that you’ll stick
with it for two months. At the same time, to receive the most benefits, you’ll
need to practice yoga at least three times a week.
2. It’s not a competition. As a beginner, your body needs a period of adjustment
as it adapts to new demands. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits just
because you see others able to do what you can’t. We don’t throw the teen that
just got his driver’s license into the Indy 500. Take your time.
3. Practice with a friend. It’s easier to keep motivated if you have someone
you work out with. So, if you intend to take a yoga class at your fitness club, or
practice at home with a DVD, see if you can get a friend to practice with you.
I started teaching myself yoga when I was 14, from a book. At the time, there
weren’t many other opportunities to learn yoga. Today, there are many classes
available from fitness clubs, community colleges, yoga centers and senior
centers. There are hundreds of books and DVDs that can be ordered off the
Internet. Today, about 18 million to 20 million Americans practice yoga regularly,
including everyone from children to senior citizens, from weekend warriors to
professional athletes, from soccer moms to marathon-running moms.
There’s a reason yoga has grown so dramatically in popularity: it works! It’s
worked for me for over 45 years and it can work for you starting today.
Like the old saying goes, the best time to plant an oak tree is a hundred years ago. The
second-best time is today.
If you’re already in great shape, but have not achieved total fitness, now you know what
to do. If you’re not already in great shape, what’s stopping you? It’s your body and your
life. Get fit so you can enjoy it!

67

SPARTAN WARRIOR: BRETT BLANCHARD
Andy: While preventable diseases are taking over our society (with devastating effects),
after-school activities cost money, and kids have less access to physical education and
good food. Like those in most or all other states, Vermont schools are struggling, and
some of our communities are so small or underfunded that they really don’t offer much,
and only the wealthier families can afford to pay for activities for their kids. Obstacle
racing counteracts those trends, and Spartan Race, Inc. aims to take an active role in
being part of the solution. As a Physical Education teacher, I find the concept of putting
people though an unpredictable set of challenges to be really cool. When you think
about how we evolved, we ran and climbed and did all these things. So it’s natural to
play this way, and it’s great for establishing the kind of basic fitness that sustains longterm health.
I became friends with Brett Blanchard about a year ago when he said, “I have this
idea.” I was thrilled because we had wanted to approach schools but didn’t really have
access to the Principals Association or other organizations. Thanks to Brett’s incredible
advocacy, this autumn we expect to have 500 or 600 kids at the Killington race. And
we plan to have two waves just for high school students. The more kids the better,
and maybe their siblings or parents or friends will get involved with them. Obstacle
racing has the potential to reshape physical education and physical fitness for a whole
generation, and we’re thrilled to get to work with educational leaders like Brett to make
that happen.7
Brett: As Principal of a high school, I’m trying to modernize education all the way around.
In terms of health, we really need to bring kids into an awareness of lifelong health: how
do you stay healthy throughout your life?
Right now kids play team sports in high school, but the overwhelming majority of
those kids won’t play in college; and most of those who do play in college won’t play
professionally, so it’s essentially a short-term program. We want kids thinking about
whole-body fitness not just for their teens, but for the next several decades of their
lives. As much as I enjoy playing volleyball, football, and the rest, we have to offer kids
something better.
Why is this so important? Starting with the bad news, diabetes and other avoidable
morbidities have vastly increased over the past 30 years. We owe it to kids to give them
better preparation for lifelong fitness. That is why I feel so strongly that sports cannot
continue to be limited to “3:00-5:00 p.m. after school, and then you’re done.” It has to

Brett near the finish at the
2012 Tuxedo Ridge Sprint
(Photo credit: Nuvision)

69

be a lifelong activity. Not because you’re on a schedule for the four years you’re in high
school, and maybe another four years in college. You do it whenever you can because
you care about it, you enjoy it, and it makes your life better.
Now, the good news: lots of studies have shown that regular physical activity has a
significant positive impact on longevity and quality of life, as well as mental acuity.8 So
the downward trends are reversible. We can reverse them.
The challenge for us as educators and administrators is to deliver the new and more
effective athletic education programs needed to reverse these trends, using even fewer
resources than we have had in the past for our existing programs. Currently the two
biggest sports worldwide are soccer and basketball. In both cases you need very little:
a ball and a court. For obstacle racing, you need even less: essentially all you need is a
park or woods. Furthermore, pulling in the expertise from Spartan Race HQ—people at
the height of competitive fitness and accomplishment—all kinds of workouts and advice
are available online, for free. It’s difficult to learn how to do a bicycle kick or catch a
football by looking online; the resources just aren’t there for soccer and other sports.
Why not use the experts at Spartan Life to provide guidance and context for kids to learn
a lifestyle they can carry with them—obstacle racing, triathlon, marathon, any activities
where kids are completely involved, and responsible for their own results.
In my mind, obstacle racing is the only new modern sport other than snowboarding.
Like snowboarding (which also originated in Vermont!), obstacle racing is an all-body
sport, which is vital for lifelong fitness. I see obstacle racing as offering a balance of
competition and healthy goal-setting that is much more relevant for most individuals
than our current team sports model, and it is something kids can continue to pursue over
the entire arc of their adult lives.
Obstacle Racing has something like a million and a half (mostly adult) followers now,
I think. I see courses being built in every state. It’s going to take a while, but I envision
thousands of kids taking part in regional competitions. A worldwide sport is realistically
possible because kids can do this anywhere.
My first step in pursuing this ambition was connecting with Spartan Race HQ. They have
a long-term vision. I participated in a bunch of Spartan events, where I witnessed people
of all ages and all fitness backgrounds taking part in the sport. I also saw kids from my
school really busting their humps in the gym, and none of them played any team sports.
I told them I was thinking of starting Spartan Racing as a team sport and asked them if
they were interested. They said yes.

70

I pitched a proposal to our school last year, and then started working to connect with
kids. Then the challenge was to connect with other administrators who have their focus
on education, rather than sports. Starting with the vision of thousands of kids learning
lifelong fitness, I introduced them to the idea, to kids, and to other people who were
involved in the sport, including some alumni. Next I had to pitch the athletic association.
I built a team of supporters, mostly through phone conversations and letters. We created
a 3-5 year plan, knowing that it was going to be hard, with lots of frustrations.
My Vice Principal was named Vice Principal of the Year for Vermont, so he used his
bully pulpit to tell the story to our two Vermont Senators and our Congressman. I tell
everyone I meet that we’re getting this out there and we’ll make it work. I’ve been going
to local youth centers all over NY and CT, to schools, to community centers, extending
the invitation to compete to a wider youth-oriented audience.
With my school board, we presented obstacle racing as an official club sport—a
recognized school activity, which allows me to arrange a budget and transportation, etc.
I see it becoming a varsity sport, a kind of feeder program for adult racing. I can’t think
of any other feeder programs we have getting kids to look way beyond high school. You
could still do other sports like soccer and football—obstacle racing is complementary.
The flexible training it entails leads to heightened health awareness and improved
results in any other sports you care to pursue.
The letter we sent out to parents included nine reasons why we were starting this program.
First and foremost, you don’t need any equipment. We’ll run bleachers, run through the
woods, do burpees, pull-ups, tire flips, etc. Second, unlike in most team sports, where
the majority of team members are sitting on the bench most of the time, here we’re
involving kids in their own destiny, and keeping them all engaged all the time.
We’re building from the ground up. Very few 14-year-olds have done anything like this, so
it’s difficult to build momentum. This is where it gets tricky: even though we have a modern
world of social media, kids still need to see something to get it and respond. Right now we
have 20-30 kids who are telling their friends and peers about it every day. We’re educating
them on calories, nutrition, and fitness. Kids are also creating their own obstacles. Some
local kids ran an obstacle course this weekend, and they were never involved in organized
sports here before. The program has barely gotten started and we’re already seeing kids
realize that they can set their own goals and change their world.

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For our school, obstacle racing is part of that larger shift. There will be more and more
combined events and tri-events. We’re doing snowshoe/skating/cross-country races this
year, and the trend is definitely to get kids involved in mixed-activity competitions.
When I’m in northern European countries, I see kids outside playing in all kinds of
weather, 5-degree temperatures, just being kids and being active. It’s no wonder they
have such great Olympic programs and such vigorous public health.
By comparison, the United States has become fairly lethargic. Our health has plummeted
and too many of us have lost the experience of personal excellence. That doesn’t bode
well for our future. But I believe many Americans are starting to become more conscious
about health in a realistic way, and I see obstacle racing and other mixed-activity
competitions as an opportunity to really transform fitness for kids so they can live
productive, healthy lives. We can achieve the same benefits as other nations by getting
our kids outside and active as well. Once they get started, they’ll make it their own.
We can do it, and we are obligated to get it done.

SPARTAN WARRIOR: 1LT. ELLIOTT MEGQUIER
Andy: Speaking of active kids, First Lieutenant Elliott Megquier was the kind of kid
who never sat still if he didn’t have to. After fifteen years as a competitive soccer
player, Elliott found new satisfaction as an elite-level obstacle racer. He now combines
his personal training and professional obligations in characteristically energetic ways,
challenging himself and the soldiers under his authority to become stronger, faster, and
more resilient.
Elliott: Growing up, I was a perpetually active child, one who would always run up and
down the stairs, play basketball in the living room or my bedroom, and come inside at
night with dirty knees that my parents had to force me to clean before I jumped into
bed. Every day I would round up my sister and whatever neighborhood kids I could find
to play kickball, softball/baseball, hockey, ride bikes, etc. Sometimes I would actually
have to change my clothes before I went to school because I had already gotten dirty.
Competitively, I was strictly a soccer player from second grade through all four years of
college—save my senior year in high school when I ran indoor/outdoor track in addition
to soccer. The thing was that I ran to train for soccer, and doing so I would beat all the
cross-country runners when the soccer team raced them during each preseason. They kept
recruiting me to run track, but I just didn’t like running for its own sake. At that point, I felt
that running was good training, but I needed more to keep my interest for competition.

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By the time I finished the Army ROTC program at UMaine and graduated from Husson
University in Bangor, Maine, I grew tired of playing competitive soccer. While in Fort
Lee, VA for my first active duty training, I was recommended to join the Ft. Lee Army Ten
Mile team based on my speed. I agreed to join, partially to represent and look good to
my instructor who passed my name along, and partially to get out of working out with
my classmates (many of whom couldn’t keep up with me in workouts). So I did the team
train-up and a first race in October 2010, and to my surprise I ended up getting hooked
on racing after all.
After I graduated from training at Ft. Lee, I headed on to my first assignment at Ft. Drum,
NY. There I was, running one weekend, when this crazy guy in a beat-up Toyota Camry
started yelling at me that I should do this “Hobble Gobble Race” with him. That guy
eventually became my best friend, Ross Montfort, and together each weekend we would
find a race to drive to and have a blast along the way. We started with the 10K Hobble
Gobble he had demanded I enter. From there we graduated to an adventure race breaking
trails through the woods, to snowshoe races, and then finally to obstacle racing.
Our first obstacle race together was the 2011 Vermont Tough Mudder at Mt. Snow. We
both had a blast, and I thought I was the shit; Ross had done the Pennsylvania Tough
Mudder only weeks before and was talking about how hard it was, but I completely
destroyed the Mt. Snow course, only losing to this crazy Asian guy (Junyong Pak8). A few
weeks later, Ross and I entered the Tuxedo Ridge Spartan Sprint.
Before the Tuxedo race, Ross was talking about this Hobie Call guy who was winning all
the races. But I hadn’t visited the Spartan Race website, so I had no idea who it could
be. Well, I said that I was going to beat this champion; in fact, Ross and I talked me up
to this crazy Joe De Sena guy, saying that I was the guy to challenge Mr. Call. I had no
idea what Hobie even looked like until someone pointed him out to me before the race.
Boy, was I humbled.
I started out well, but it didn’t last. First, I couldn’t make it across the zigzag balance
beam, then I fell off the traverse wall, and then I missed the spear throw. Not only didn’t
I beat Hobie, but I came in 6th in the Saturday elite wave, and I was outside of the top
ten for the weekend. Was that ever a piece of humble pie. I didn’t much care for it. Well,
I pledged to continue to obstacle race and train harder, and now I am starting to get
on the podium.

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Elliott clearing the fire line
at the 2011 Spartan Race
Championship, Glen Rose, TX
(Photo credit: Nuvision)

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Being in the Army really helps my Spartan training. Each morning I have around three
hours to do whatever I want for workouts (for the most part, as long as it’s appropriate
to my current assignment). I feel like I became stronger at Spartan Racing by running
with objects such as tires, rocks, and medicine balls. Currently, I am training a group
of soldiers to get ready for the physically demanding Air Assault School, so they are at
my mercy as I put them through Spartan-inspired workouts. I will run with a rock that
I find in a ditch in order to handicap myself to their pace; and that doesn’t always
work, so I will drop myself and whoever is closest to me down to do exercises such as
burpees, flutter kicks, etc. until the last soldier passes us and gets ahead of us for a good
distance. This continues for miles at a time.
To date I have run nine Spartan Races and six Tough Mudders. I won two Tough Mudders,
and came in second three times (twice to Pak), with the World’s Toughest Mudder being
my only non-top finish. In Spartan Races I have always done the Saturday elite wave
and I have never finished worse than twelfth. I scored three second-place finishes, two
of those to Hobie—which, like losing to Pak, is just like winning in my book. It has been
quite a journey all over the country from New York to Vermont to Massachusetts to Illinois
to Texas to New Jersey to Arizona to Colorado. And I never get bored. Each obstacle
race is a new set of challenges, not just running or even cross-country running, but a
whole set of intensely competitive activities, like a super-concentrated version of all the
sports I loved when I was a kid.
My most recent achievement was being added to the juwi Solar Obstacle Racing Team 9
and becoming a sponsored racer. One of the best experiences, though, has been the
great people I have met: Pak, and Hobie, and Margaret Schlachter, 10 and Joe De Sena,
and all the Spartan staff. It’s so nice to go to a race halfway around the country and
know somebody to talk to or hang out without before and after the race.
Spartan Race is by far my favorite obstacle race because I love the competition, and it
is only getting better. I look forward to each race in the future. I’m 23 right now, and I
only hope I can be competitive and in shape like Christopher Rutz when I’m in my forties!

1 “What’s true fitness?” Mint (New Delhi, India). May 22, 2012 pNA.
2 The norms in this table were compiled from a variety of sources:
Miller, T. (Ed) (2012) NSCA’s guide to Tests and Assessments. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL.
Fahey, T., Insel, P. and Roth, W. (2013). Fit and Well: core concepts and labs in physical fitness and wellness, 10th edition. McGraw-Hill, New
York, NY
Baechle, T and Earle, R. (Ed) (2008). Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, 3rd edition. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL
Performance norms represent the median score for competitive collegiate athletes. Health norms represent a standard which is believed to be
associated with good health for individuals aged 30-39. Younger individuals would have a higher standard and older individual would have

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a slightly lower standard. The norms are presented as a guideline for educational purposes only; they are not intended to provide individual
training advice, to diagnose disease, or to predict athletic performance.
3 You can find explanations and more information on the Spartan Race website. To incorporate variety into your daily routine, Spartan Race,,
Inc. also provides daily inspiration in the form of a Workout of the Day (WOD). Subscribe at http://www.spartanrace.com/wod/ .
4 A 2010 survey showed that, on average, only 1 in 3 people can touch their toes. Data was taken from workplaces in the United States and
several European countries, and respondents were between 25 and 50 years old.
Sharma, Sanchita. “Unfit Nation.” McClatchy - Tribune Business News: n/a. ProQuest Newsstand. Dec 26 2010. Web. 17 July 2012 .
5 A 2007 survey found that 53% of the British population could not touch their toes.
“Most Britons Too Unfit to Cycle.” The Independent: 14. ProQuest Newsstand. Sep 26 2007. Web. 17 July 2012.
6 http://kareemabduljabbar.com/blog/2008/03/fit_after_50_staying_flexible.html
7 See Brett’s Letter to Educators in Appendix D.
8 Incidentally, academic surveys and brain studies also show that early-morning training regimens deliver particularly strong improvements.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t square with after-school practice either.
9 See http://blog.spartanrace.com/gold-standard-junyong-pak/
10 See http://www.Facebook.com/JuwiSolarObstacleRacing
11 Stay tuned for Margaret’s perspective in Chapter 7.

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CHAPTER 4
THE SIX T H E LE ME NT O F F I T N ES S :
M E NT A L IND O MI T A BI L I T Y

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Joe: The Spartan Ideal is total mind-body fitness. History is loaded with examples of
superior physiological specimens being defeated by their own mental weaknesses.
We don’t know anyone better at training people to develop total mental fitness—true
mental indomitability—than Mark Divine,1 the world-famous founder of SEALFIT and
Unbeatable Mind, so we’re turning over this chapter to him.
Wake up and pay attention. Aroo!

DEVELOPING AN UNBEATABLE MIND
THE FIRST PREMISE
“Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits
decide character; and character fixes our destiny.”—Tryon Edwards
The first premise of forging an Unbeatable Mind is that you must win in the mind before
you enter the battleground. For most of us, this battleground is getting through the day.
But for those reading this chapter, the battle is more likely to be a Spartan Race, SEAL
training (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training, or BUD/s), the CrossFit Games,
or some other daunting challenge.
Let’s look at SEAL training as an example. BUD/s is the ultimate obstacle race. It lasts for
close to a year. One must master body mind and spirit to survive the hardship, intrigue,
and many obstacles—some known, but most unknown—that stand in your path.
Imagine you show up at BUD/s on day one. Around you stand 175 swarthy SEAL
candidates from all walks of life. Some are monster Adonis-types who played linebacker
for their college football team. Others are boxers and wrestlers. Still others look like
they just parked the tractor in the barn and hopped on a bus to Coronado.
Every one of your competition is “race ready” to compete, yet only a fraction will be
there 11 months later to earn the coveted Navy SEAL Trident.
However, if you wonder whether you will be one of them…then you won’t be.
The reality is that BUD/s, or the Race, is won in your mind before you show up on the
big day. When psychologists studied who succeeds at BUD/s and who loses, they could
only come up with the brilliant deduction that those with more “grit” were the ones who
got the Trident.

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Grit is hard to define. The best athletes are not always the ones who succeed at BUD/s.
Similarly, take a marathon runner and enroll them into a crushing endurance obstacle
race, and there is not much likelihood they will finish if they have not developed grit.
Grit is determined in your mind. It has little to do with physical training. For most
people, training for a big event or goal, your physical training plan drives you. Your
plan sets your battle rhythm, and you eat, breathe, and sleep around the training
plan. You know you need a good mental attitude, but you devote little effort to training
mentally. That is because you don’t know how. This approach gets you to the starting
line, but is not good to guarantee a win.

THE THREE WINS
Developing an Unbeatable Mind requires a kokoro, or “heart of a warrior” spirit. This
spirit is keenly focused on all three domains of conflict that arise simultaneously in daily
lives. Most of us focus on only one domain—that of competing against “others.” Let’s
take a look at the three wins you must prepare for.
The first conflict and win you must achieve is the conflict going on inside of you.
Dominating this first conflict is the point of our first premise. This battle is won by
overcoming your fears, steeling your resolve, maintaining an offensive mind set,
developing skills, knowledge, and personal power. It is won by not succumbing to poor
habits, and by not debiting, or diminishing, your personal power while crediting it to
your competition. Folks who understand and win this first conflict are said to have grit.
The second conflict is an actual engagement or competition against another human being
or team. Interestingly, this second fight is often the easiest to focus on. It requires the least
time and energy of the three conflicts; thus it is the easiest to wrap ourselves around. But
focusing on winning this conflict, while ignoring the other two, will lead to failure.
The third conflict and win to prepare for is between you and “the system.” Spartan racers
know that the race itself is a more formidable opponent than the other competitors. In
fact, you have a common bond with your competitors because you share the crucible
experience and the goal of surviving whatever is thrown at you.
In the SEAL training grinder, the second fight is clear to you. You must fight each and
every one of the other trainees to earn the right to wear the SEAL Trident. That means
that, out of 40 potential finishers, 39 will be your potential teammates, and the other

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165 are your enemies. You are locked in a competitive battle with them to ensure your
position in the 40. You must do so by being crafty, ever watchful; exploiting opportunity;
being Machiavellian and Aristotelian at the same time. You must be intensely cooperative
and forge a winning team, while also being intensely competitive—the stakes are the
coveted Trident, which some have literally died earning.
The third fight is against the system. The system is the race, or the instructor cadre,
or the rules and regulations, or the law. At BUD/s this conflict is in your face daily.
The instructors’ sole job is to determine whether you have what it takes to be on the
team. They don’t care about you personally. Whether you or the next guy makes it is
completely irrelevant to them. The instructors all have PhDs in exploiting weakness,
finding your opening, crawling inside of you and tearing you apart from the inside out.
You will not make it…unless…
…You win the first fight first! This brings us full circle to the first premise. You must win
in the mind before stepping foot onto the battleground. This is true for any situation in
life. The question, then, becomes “How?”

HABITUATE
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”—Aristotle
Our habits define us. They are the little actions we take every moment, every day. The
problem is that many of our habits may not be “bad” habits, such as smoking or overeating, but they are not “excellence habits.” Thus we tend to view them as “OK” and
do nothing to change them, while wondering why we don’t perform at the top .1%, or
1%, or even 10%.
We must examine all of our habits, seeking to weed out bad habits, and drive out “OK”
habits with “excellence habits.” As a nail drives out another nail, so a new habit will drive
out an old one. But what are the “excellence habits” of the top-tier athletes and performers?
The three excellence habits I encourage you to begin forming immediately are discipline,
drive and determination. These three values are more than words; they are a way of life
that, when habituated, will propel you relentlessly toward victory.
When we have habituated discipline, drive, and determination such that they become
exemplified in our every action, then we have developed Kokoro. Kokoro is synonymous
with grit. It means that we grow stronger through trial and tribulation. We grow through
a disciplined approach to learning, training, and mastering ourselves. We grow stronger

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by driving forward, not by shying from hard challenges or quitting when the going gets
unfathomable. We grow by practicing quiet determination to win and persevering until
we do. Kokoro is gained by habituating discipline, drive, and determination through
hard work, life experience, and proper training. Great athletes, like noble warriors,
seek training with the severest discipline, methods and schools. They do this not just to
be better at athletic contests, but to be better people.
Discipline is the habit of the daily grind. It literally means to be a disciple to some
higher purpose. So developing the discipline to train hard every day is crucial. To do so
means steeling the mind to reject comfort, embrace pain, avoid distractions, and eject
negative people and influences to stay focused. Were this easy, the line at the door to
BUD/s would be long indeed.
Drive is the motivation behind your disciplined actions. Drive is fueled by desire, belief,
and expectation that you can achieve, that you are capable of twenty times more than
your current state of being. Your drive comes from deep within you, and is your main
purpose enacted on the playing field.
Determination is the willpower to keep going after everyone else has gone home. The
BUD/s trainees who succeed are the ones who learn to go the extra mile on every
evaluation, including the ones that are not graded. When everyone else is done for the
day, the determined will stay for an extra hour honing a skill. FILO—first in, last out—is
the accounting system of the determined.

DEVELOP MENTAL CONTROL
The subject of mental control is abstract. Our society likes to stay distracted, always
chasing the next shiny object. We train to keep our minds busy, and our minds are great
students. Soon we have no choice: we are slaves to our anxious, darting minds and the
constant stream of useless mental chit-chat.
During the first week of SEALFIT Academy the students quickly realize how little control
they have over their own thoughts. They, like all but a very small percentage of humanity,
made a habit out of letting their minds run amok rather than controlling and directing
their minds with laser-like precision.
It is common to mistake endless negative mental chatter as thinking. It is not thinking.
Thinking requires creating something new. Mental chatter is a neurological reaction
to a stimulus, either external or internal. Unfortunately, very few of us are exposed

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to training on how to control and direct thoughts to creatively solve problems, in the
process, cultivating a rich, positive and powerful inner life.
Mental control is about taming the “chatter box” and directing the mind toward positive,
powerful actions that support your goals.
The development of mental control is the foundation for building an unbeatable mind
that will not fail at any worthy goal or task, including a Spartan Race. We are not talking
about developing special psychic powers like reading/bending someone else’s mind.
Rather, we are talking about learning to settle your own “monkey mind” so you can then
train your “whole mind” to operate at an elite level, whatever your goals may be. Your
monkey mind refers primarily to your rational, analytical “left brain” mind, especially
if it is untrained through higher education and deep concentration. It is estimated that
this part of our brain accounts for roughly 12% of our total thinking power. The other
88% lies in our creative subconscious, our “right brain,” and is typically poorly engaged
by the majority of people.
The first step for developing mental control is silencing yourself enough so you can
witness what is going on in your head. As you witness, you gain awareness of the
external and internal influences that cause the chatter. The silence is the first layer of
training for the mind. Gaining the space to witness our thoughts tames those thoughts
in the process. We begin to bring our mind back under our control, allowing ourselves
to focus for longer periods of time. Then, we have the possibility of removing negative
distractions and ensuring that our psychology supports our physiology.
Aligning our psychology and physiology optimally is a key aspect of developing what I
call our “Performance Zone.” As we gain mental control, we can then begin to develop
the full capacity of our mental capabilities.2

WHOLE MIND TRAINING
As discussed above, the first step to mental control training is some form of silent practice.
We do this in a variety of ways at Unbeatable Mind. The first is a guided concentration
practice called “Still Water Runs Deep” that has us settle our minds and watch our
thoughts through a 20-minute guided meditation. There are many forms of concentration
and meditation practice that will work for this purpose, including the moving meditation
of yoga. Find the practice that suits you best, and make it a discipline.
Once you gain control of your monkey mind, we need to start rooting out unsupportive
negative programming lurking in the subconscious mind and emotional body.3

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Finally, as we gain control of the mind and excavate the subconscious, we plant new
programming to supercharge our performance. The metaphor I like to use is that
we must first weed the garden by silencing our mind and pulling out the negative
programming. Then with this fertile ground we plant new seeds of thought that will
grow to nourish us for the rest of our lives. These new seeds are planted through
visualization, imagery, affirmations, and constant vigilance against negative influences
in our lives. This whole mind approach takes as much commitment to training as does
your physical preparation.

MENTAL TOUGHNESS
Does mental control relate to forging mental toughness? The answer is an emphatic yes!
However, there is more to mental toughness than controlling the mind. My experience
is that the term mental toughness does not adequately describe what distinguishes
winners who consistently meet their goals from the rest of the masses. Certainly, mental
control training as outlined above is part of the puzzle, but we can easily fall victim to
the notion that there is a secret pill for mental toughness. We imagine that if we put in
more, and harder training sessions, more mental control bench-press sessions, if we
gut through that 100-mile run…we are certain to be mentally tough. Not necessarily so!
A look at those who survive SEAL training is informative. Body builders and all-star
athletes, who seem tough and, in their domains, are, often fail miserably. Yet the kid
who grew up in the inner city, and had no back door, nothing to lose—the one who
simply won’t quit—is standing there saluting the Admiral on the last training day.
Why is this? I believe that there is a strong spiritual aspect to winning and surviving
great challenges. Cultivating an unbeatable mind refers to the whole person approach
to winning and surviving. It goes beyond the mental and into the very core of your
being. Let’s dig into this whole person approach a little further.

UNBEATABLE SPIRIT
“Will do today what others won’t, will do tomorrow what others can’t.”
—Smoke Jumper Creed
How do we train to be unbeatable? Being unbeatable means we are physically
indomitable, mentally fit, and spiritually unbreakable. But how do we get there? How
do we know what to do?

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First, we must learn how to train smarter and harder than everyone else; smarter and
harder than we are now; and smarter and harder than we think is possible. At SEALFIT we
live by the above quote, borrowed from the famed Smoke Jumpers. It sums up the spirit
of training smarter and harder than you think you can. I believe that we are all capable
of at least twenty times more than we think we are at any given moment. By pushing the
envelope, that “twenty times” is constantly sliding to the right. Eventually your “normal”
is extraordinary to the “common person.” I have seen this demonstrated so many times
with my SEAL teammates, advanced martial artists and yoga practitioners. What they
do as a matter of routine would utterly blow most people away. But these folks are not
supermen. They have simply trained harder than what is considered normal. The results
layer over the years and show up as mastery with spectacular abilities.

A “SEALFIT PERSPECTIVE”
“Do or do not, there is no try”—Yoda
How can we forge an unbeatable spirit and “do today what others won’t” so we can “do
tomorrow what others can’t?” First, we must challenge ourselves today to be 1% better at
all levels. We can’t leave this to chance, or a ‘maybe.’ We must have a plan. That plan
must be simple, effective and we must execute it daily. The plan must call for achieving
daily incremental improvement over five key human capacities, or intelligences. I call this
the “5-mountain training plan” after the five mountains we climb daily at SEALFIT. This is
appropriate for any Spartan seeking to operate at an elite level. The five mountains are
physical, mental, emotional, intuitional and spiritual development.
As we embark on a five-mountain approach to our training, we will automatically develop
a “broad perspective.” A broad perspective means that you are not narrow-minded or
operating in a closed system of thought and behavior. I encourage you to actively seek
to broaden your perspective through study, travel, authentic listening, and introspection.
You must accept everyone and every moment as your teacher. Humble yourself to be a
lifelong learner. The moment you start to believe in your own importance, intelligence,
or infallibility, you will be toppled from your throne, like so many before you. Humility
and service are the fruits of developing perspective. A broadened perspective results
from the unfolding of our consciousness as we break through barriers and see the world
through fresh eyes. Many never embark on this journey, preferring to stay in the safe
confines of their mental and emotional enclosure. Those seeking an unbeatable mind
embrace change and seek to accelerate it, finding thrill in the journey of their conscious
self upward toward unknown territory, ever expanding, unfolding and including others.

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“Know yourself and know your enemy, in 1,000 battles you will not lose.”—Sun Tzu
By developing perspective you will begin to know your own inner nature, as well as
the nature of others, intimately. This knowledge of human nature progresses through
experience, contemplation, heightened awareness and study. Understanding human
nature allows us to lead authentically, and have compassion for our own weaknesses
as well as those of others. We become better people, and connect deeply with others.
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary
focus of your life.” —Eckhart Tolle
The net result of all this “inner work” is to gain presence along with your broad
perspective. Eckhart Tolle speaks eloquently about presence in his book, The Power of
Now. Maintaining attention on the present moment, we are in touch with an infinite
source of energy and intelligence, just waiting for us to reach out and refill our cup.
Notice when your mind is in the future or past. This is draining energy, obsessing about
things that have yet to happen or that are distant to the moment. Being in the moment
does not mean we are comatose or personality-less zombies. Quite the opposite: it
means that the fullest colors of our unique personalities can show themselves in full
bloom, unspoiled by mental refraction.

PHYSICAL TRAINING
This chapter is primarily about mental training, but, like the Spartans of Ancient
Greece, I view physical training to be a bridge to mental and character development.
Physical development is also the first mountain of SEALFIT, so I would like to share our
philosophy. How we physically prepare SEALFIT athletes is very relevant for serious
obstacle racers preparing for a major event like a Spartan obstacle race.
SEALs must handle a diverse range of physical challenges as well as known and
unknown tasks on a daily basis. The primary physical capacities they must draw upon
include endurance, strength, stamina, work capacity, and durability.
SEALs must be prepared for long and arduous endurance events in the sea, air, and
on the land. Their endurance must be oriented to the challenging environments that
Special Operators work on and under. Having biking endurance isn’t going to help on
a long ocean swim with gear. Being able to run a marathon isn’t going to ensure they
can do a 26-mile hike with 60 pounds of equipment and supplies. Thus they must have
“functional endurance” for the environments they operate.

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Next, SEALFIT athletes must have an advanced level of relative strength and stamina.
Strength and stamina are the foundation on which endurance and work capacity are
built. Because SEALs operate as a team, each individual must be able to carry his load
and have the stamina to do so over long distances. This may show up as having the
strength and stamina to carry a wounded buddy a mile to get out of the danger zone.
SEALFIT Coach Chriss Smith recently related the story of having to hump the 85-pound
rucksacks of a couple OGA (Other Governmental Agency) operators up a very high
mountain in Afghanistan. They could not carry their own load and let their egos get in
the way of mission accomplishment. Not cool.
SEALFIT athletes must develop a high level of what I call “work capacity,” essentially
horsepower—our ability to do an intense amount of work in a short period of time. Work
capacity, combined with skill and awareness, determines survivability in a firefight.
Work capacity is trained through super-high-intensity workouts of the CrossFit variety.
The athlete must be competent in moving external loads at velocity without getting
injured or resulting in rhabdo.4 The average person can only sustain output at this level
for a few moments. SEALs must be able to do it for up to 20 minutes at a time. The
only way to develop this capacity is to train like an animal for it. Competition is a great
way to build intensity and work capacity, therefore we like to time each work capacity
training session.
Finally, SEALs must have serious durability. They can’t afford to get benched during
training or break during an operation. Just making it through SEAL training is an
ordeal in durability. The training places so much load on the candidates’ bodies
and minds through the 11-month ordeal that those who are not durable will break.
Training for a serious physical challenge like BUD/s must prepare the extremity bones,
joints, ligaments, spine and neck for the constant pummeling. Normal gym training is
ignorant to these demands. The SEALFIT Operator Workouts posted on www.sealfit.
com are a free resource for military, first responders, obstacle racers, and adventure
athletes and others to prepare themselves in this model. They are very challenging, and
the program has proven extremely effective as evidenced by its use at the US Naval
Academy, Canadian Infantry, numerous US and foreign Special Forces units, as well as
many SWAT and first responder teams.

SUMMARY
It is impossible to be confident and prepared for the known and unknown and to lead
your team through major challenges if you do not prepare yourself mentally as well

Mark Divine at SEALFIT
Training Center
(Photo courtesy of Rich Vernetti/Vernetti Arts)

87

as physically. However, the knowledge to do so is not readily available; it is buried in
the clutter of commercialism and dumbed down by the litigious and politically correct
society we live in. There is no excuse for an obstacle racer not to explore mental training
to prepare for a serious challenge race. Stepping up to the challenge in the first place
shows that you are unique in our society. It is incumbent upon you to train and lead the
way as a Spartan would. This means taking responsibility for your own actions as well
as those of your teammates. This includes proper mental and physical training.
Those of you who are already big event racers know that the mental side of the race is
the determinant of success or failure. You must also know by now that physical, mental,
and spiritual aspects of your being are inextricably intertwined, and so must be trained
in a “whole person” fashion.
Those of you who are new to serious competition may find this novel; but as you
become acclimated to the concepts and practice the methods of mental training, you
will realize that mental fitness enables you to succeed not only at your competitive
endeavors but in every other aspect of your life as well—your whole person will become
stronger, more resilient, unbreakable.
I hope the information in this chapter is helpful to you in training for mental indomitability,
and I look forward to your inevitable success as you continue your journey!
Train hard, stay present, and have fun!5

SPARTAN WARRIOR: ELLA KOCIUBA
Andy: Ella Kociuba first caught Spartan Race glory at 18 when she turned up as an
unknown in a Sunday Sprint and bested the time for the champion of the Saturday
prize wave. After just two races, Ella has already clearly established herself among
the competitive elite Spartans with a first and second place to her name; and she just
signed her first sponsor deal (more to come, no doubt) with Flag Nor Fail.6 Better still
than her incredible performance is her amazing story of how she refused to allow a
serious injury to derail her from the extraordinary level of competitive performance she
craves. Ella is all mental indomitability.
Ella: This sport has satisfied my innate thirst for competition, and let me tell you: it is a
pretty damn good drink.
Let me put that statement in context for you. I am nineteen years old and a sponsored
obstacle race athlete. Within seven months of deciding to labor day-in and day-out for

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Ella clearing the fire line at the
2012 Burnet, Texas Sprint
(Photo credit: Nuvision)

89

my dream of standing on the Spartan podium, I was able to earn the right to introduce
myself that way. However, my success has not by any means been won easily.
As far back as I can remember, I possessed an undeniable thirst for competition. It
is the blood to my heart, the oxygen in my lungs, and I think it is not too dramatic to
say it is what makes me live. That thirst was unquenched for most of my life so far: as
I was growing up, you didn’t see me winning first place, nor did you see me making
newspapers. I faded into the background of my team, like a single stroke in a watercolor
painting. I was by no means special. I consistently gave my best but it seemed my body
could not handle the physical rigor of being a top athlete.
Ironically, my big breakthrough came as a result of breaking my body. At the age of
thirteen, my body suffered catastrophic spinal fractures in a major horse riding accident.
After year and a half of doctor visits, two back braces, and seemingly unending
chiropractic work, I was finally sent off to surgery. The surgery revealed something
beyond my comprehension: in the accident I broke the L4 and the L5 vertebrae, but when
the doctors opened me up, they discovered that I had Spondylolisthesis (a condition
where a vertebra in the lower part of the spine slips out of its proper position onto the
bone below it); in addition to that, my spine had never being connected to my sacrum
since birth. Following the surgery, four permanent metal rods and screws held my spine
together. I was told I may never play sports again, but my journey to becoming ‘normal’
was extremely promising.
I believe the doctors probably meant to be encouraging. But when I heard that sports
may not be in my future, I think it was the worst heartache of my life. My future seemed
so hopeless at such a young age. I quickly dropped into the abyss of believing I was
nothing, and I saw my life going nowhere. For months I sat alone, thinking I was done;
but when my thirst for competition began to overgrow my thoughts, I decided to pull
myself together and push forward—along with a few mental adjustments.
I decided to bypass ‘normal’ and go straight back to sports.
About a year after my surgery, I started to compete again, I started to make newspapers,
and I started to become the champion I always dreamed of being. Sounds simple, right?
Yes and no. It was a decision I made, and it was unbelievably hard to fulfill.
I’d like to explain to you my opinion on what it takes to be your very best. You know
the saying, ‘beauty isn’t just skin deep,’ right? Basically, this adage reminds us to look
beyond the surface in order to see the true beauty of any individual.

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Just as true beauty comes from within rather than from our superficial appearance, true
strength actually comes from deep within us rather than from our passing thoughts or
sensations. I honestly believe that true strength is just like true beauty: it is not measured
by how much you can lift, how fast you can run, or how flexible you may be, but in fact
it is measured by how hard you are willing to push past your limits, how much stress you
are willing to endure, and how many times you will fall and get back up. Failure isn’t the
most delicious dish out there, but it is most certainly more appetizing than regret. Every
athlete will agree with me on this when I say training really does suck, but there is honestly
something about the fatigue you savor afterwards that is immeasurably gratifying.
When I say training sucks, I mean I struggled often; and any number of times I found my
head hanging low in disappointment. Many times I found myself quivering down to my
knees with vomit dripping down my hoodie, my hands trembling, and my lungs gasping
for relief. It is at these very moments when you believe you cannot go anymore that you
truly define yourself. You have a very simple choice: give up or get up. Cliché, right? But,
cliché or not, it’s the choice you will have to make. Which will it be?
Really, your mind is lying to you when it tells you that you cannot go on. We are so
unaware of the fact that we are all born to do great things, and we are able to perform
things we thought we never could do. Very few of us decide to break down our mental
barriers to discover our inner strength and beauty. You have what it takes. It’s been
inside you all along. Decide to find it.
I cannot tell you how to be the very best or how to be successful exactly, but what I can
tell you is that whatever you are after in life, don’t let your own mind become the reason
why you fell short of it.
Your mind is either your best friend or your worst enemy. Obviously, there are plenty of
physical challenges you will face in your lifetime, but nothing can match up to your mind. It
is your ultimate fate-maker, your dreaded competition, and possibly your greatest weapon.
If you want to achieve your goals, you must master your mind before it masters your fate.
You may not believe me, but your body can take just about any kind of beating you put
it through if your mind will just keep up. The next time you find your mind telling you to
give up, decide for yourself that you have the mental strength you need to keep going.
The struggle will be persistent, so your success will come down to your discipline and to
your honest desire to achieve your goal.

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Let me tell you plainly that the mental struggle is hard. Nothing worth having has ever
been achieved easily, and it doen’t get easier as it goes. To tell the truth, I don’t have this
whole mental struggle mastered either, and I continue to fight it. In fact, I think about
quitting once in a while, but that is the point! I want to be at my limit, I want to break
past the barriers my mind has set up, because that is how I have become my very best
so far and how I will continue to find new bests in the future.
I never would have thought I would be where I am today, but, with the right mindset,
I was able to achieve great things in amazingly little time. If I gave up on my dreams
because of my defeated mind, I would not be living out my desire for elite athletic
competition. But let me tell you: that is the symptom—the surface appearance—of the
strength I decided to find. My mind feels confident after defeating itself. That is my
biggest victory, and my true strength.
To me, Spartan Races are a lot like life. They are exhausting, dirty, and full of obstacles,
but most importantly they give us moments to define ourselves, to break down and find
our true beauty, our true strength.
They challenge you to have the courage to face your fears, to push past your comfort
zone, and give you new perspective on who you are within. The sport of obstacle racing
provided me with the mindset that no matter where you come from, you have the ability
to achieve anything if you give it your everything.

SPARTAN WARRIOR: ROSE MARIE JARRY
Andy: Rose Marie Jarry embodies a very different and equally necessary version of
mental indomitability: she never loses her sense of humor, particularly when her goal
is at stake. Having racked up a bragging-worthy record of twelve podium finishes (six
wins) in sixteen starts—12 Sprints, three Supers, and one Beast—over a span of two
years, you might expect her to focus on her numerous moments of triumph. Instead,
Rose Marie savors the ridiculous, the humbling, and even the revoltingly smelly and
offers those as her “highlights.” Rose Marie’s lighthearted self-awareness represents
the Spartan Code in its most joyous form.
Rose Marie: I am a 29-year-old entrepreneur in the all-natural sports nutrition industry,7
and I’m a runner. I competed at the Canadian national level in track and field. I love short
and quick distances such as the 400-meter or 1000-meter. The 800 meters was my primary
event, but I discovered Spartan Races when they began two years ago, and now I am a
Spartan racing fanatic. We should set up a 400-meter Spartan battle! I’m definitely in!!

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On June 24th, 2012, I ran my sixteenth race since I discovered Spartan racing. It’s a lot
of fun and very different from what I was used to doing in track and field. So far I have
won six races, finished six times on the podium in second or third place, and three times
I’ve finished fifth. Even though I’m not a specialist in long distance running, I’ve found I
can do great at longer distances as well.
One of my best memories so far was from the Malibu Sprint in December 2010. I ran
ahead of all the other women throughout the whole course, which was non-stop up
and down on a rocky mountain. With about 500 meters to go, the next obstacle was
to walk in a pond for about 100 meters. A few steps in, suddenly it got very deep and
I fell in over my head. The shock was brutal, the water was indescribably cold, and
my heartbeat suddenly shot extremely high. I was short of breath and I felt like I was
going to have a heart attack. I had a few moments of panic that I would drown and
I was looking everywhere around me to see if somebody would be able to save me if
things didn’t turn out well. But I took a few deep breaths and got control of myself, and
I managed get to the other side of the pond. My Achilles tendons felt so completely
frozen, I had to walk first before I could start running again. I felt certain that if I started
straining them too soon one of them would tear. I hobbled stiffly across the finish line.
It wasn’t a photogenic finish, but I won the race in 36 minutes.
Another fun story was at the Beast in Vermont 2011. I got into that race without training
much and without much mileage or any distance running, but I thought it would be cool
to try anyway. I made it through (where a lot of people dropped out before the end) and
even finished 4th out of all the women. The funny part was when I passed Joe De Sena.
There were extremely steep mountains and after the first hour of racing I managed to
widen the gap I had on him. But after two and a half hours I got stuck in the mountain
with a fifty-pound sandbag ripping apart and getting stuck in all the roots and the rocks
that were in the way. It took me probably fifty minutes to finish that part alone. That’s
where I saw Joe and the other guys catching back up to me. I was so slow that I caused
a traffic jam on the tiny thin trail. Joe even started pushing me with his hand on my back
to help me carry the uncooperative sand bag up the hill. What a mess! After that I told
myself I was going to do some weights for more upper body strength, to avoid repeating
the same irritating situation. Also, I vowed to work on leg conditioning because those
steep hills caused my quads to burn for the next ten days after the race. I was walking
like I needed a set of crutches.
Maybe one more fun story before I stop. This one was the 2012 Miami Super Spartan.
I was doing this race a second time and I even had my dad come with me to Miami to

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Rose Marie fending off
the gladiators on her way to
the finish at the 2012 Miami
Super —still smiling after
eating more than a hundred
of Joe’s Fire Balls!
(Photo credit: Nuvision)

94

watch me run. We arrived a week in advance, but 36 hours before the race, I started
to get sick. I had a sore throat and I felt really tired and weak. I was so mad to travel
all that way to get sick. Joe De Sena told me to eat a lot of garlic to kill those germs. I
come from a natural and healthy-lifestyle family on my mom’s side, so the concept of
eating garlic to kill the germs was nothing too surprising to me. I’ve seen worse. So I
decided I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I went to the grocery store and
bought a bunch of garlic—15 huge garlic heads—and I started eating the cloves one by
one. The garlic was unbelievably strong and so was the smell. I could feel my heartbeat
changing as I ate it. I ate all 15 heads in 36 hours, took my Echinacea, and slept almost
the whole day before the race. My breath was so terrible, even my dad was shy to hang
out with me! Ha ha! I didn’t care, I just wanted to race. Even Joe was impressed by my
courage. He told me he uses this special remedy often in his family, and has even given
it a nickname: FIRE BALLS!!! Believe it or not, I woke up at 5:00 a.m. on race day and
finished third in the elite heat and fifth overall. After the race I still had a cough and a
blocked up nose for a week, but no more sore throat or fever.
Those are the moments I remember most vividly from my races.
(Except for those few times I got lost in the woods at the 2011 Miami Super. I ended up
running about 5 kilometers more than I was supposed to and lost my podium position
due to it. Ha ha! Now I don’t get lost anymore. I’ve learned my lesson!)

1 See, for example, www.unbeatablemind.com and www.sealfit.com
2 A full exploration of this topic is beyond the scope of this writing. I founded the Unbeatable Mind Academy to help individuals develop the
full capacity of their mental capabilities. See www.unbeatablemind.com for more.
3 This is also beyond the scope of what I can cover here. However it is essential to do in order to build a foundation for an unbeatable mind.
4 Rhabdomyolosis—very bad. See http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000473.htm
5 If you found this chapter valuable, please accept my gift of 3 free training videos that go deeper into these concepts, as well as how to
prepare mentally for success before, during and after a challenge event like an obstacle race. These free videos can be found at www.sealfit.
com/spartanrace.
6 See http://flagnorfail.com/
7 See http://www.kronobar.com/pages/Kronobar-Spartan-Challenge21.html

95

96

CHAPTER 5
TRAIN FO R A S P A R T A N S P RI N T

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Joe: To finish a race at any distance is just a matter of mindset. God forbid, if you were
in a car or plane crash and had to walk to survive, you would do it.
Spartan Races really are for everyone, and all sorts of people turn up on race day. I
gauge an entrant’s fitness by their mindset and their prior accomplishments. Spartan
Warrior: Chris Davis 1 is a role model in that regard, because he certainly isn’t in
physical condition to complete a 26-mile obstacle race, but he really does have the
mental capability. We tell him to do something, and he does it. Sure, he complains like
everyone else, but tell him to show up at 3:30 a.m. (yes, that’s a.m.!) and he’s there at
3:29. Tell him to go thirteen miles carrying sandbags and yeah, he complains, but he
keeps going until he gets it done. If you decide to complete a Spartan Race, you can
and will cross the finish line.
It’s really that simple.
To finish any race strong, you must be in competition shape. That means you must be
able to ride, run, or swim for three hours or more without being desperate for food
or water. How do you reach that level of fitness? It’s more about healthy eating than
working out, although it definitely requires both. When Andy gets in competition shape
for something, he just launches himself into it, and I do more or less the same thing. At
this stage he and I are like boxers; we don’t do anything,2 and then, when something
is on the calendar, we push to prepare. That seems like a stretch for most people, but
I have the memory to know I can do it. I’ve done an Ironman, and I know what that
feels like, so I know I can prepare for that event in 8 weeks. When you’ve never done
it before, you are probably out of your mind overtraining, because you just don’t know
what to expect. Andy and I are astonished by all the gadgets and heart monitors and
training equipment and all the stuff people use to get in shape. It’s really just not
necessary. We like to just grab sandbags or rocks and go up a hill, and that’s the sort
of thing we do every day.
It’s not easy to eat healthy, but the cleaner you can eat—not a bunch of powders and
special drinks, and definitely the less processed stuff is, the better—the easier you can
attain and maintain fitness. If you’re out on a 100-mile run or more, it’s not realistic
to carry a bunch of bananas; so it’s understandable to take with you the healthiest
processed options available. But think about it: processing makes someone else money.
It doesn’t necessarily make you healthier; usually, it does the opposite. Instead of eating
lots of processed food products and supplements to follow some commercial plan,
choose your diet to feed your body: eat fresh produce as much as possible, and eat

98

it raw to give your body the nutrients it needs in their most digestible form. Choose
organic whenever you can, particularly for animal protein (meat or dairy) to avoid
concentrating industrial chemicals in your system. Get rid of sodas and “sports drinks.”
Drink water, or water with lemon, or freshly-made juices. Always eat and drink only as
much as you need to satisfy your hunger, not until you’re really full.
A telling sign that you’re in peak condition is when you’re able to do a big exhausting
event—a Sprint, a marathon, a triathlon, whatever that is for you—and wake up the
next day and do it again. Most times, you’re exhausted the next day. When you can do
back-to-back competition days, you’re in unstoppable shape.
As you become truly fit, there are little things you begin to realize about yourself—about
your body, your mind, and your emotions. That’s why I believe everybody should do
a 100-mile run at some point in their lives. When you exert yourself to a point where
food and water are all you care about and nothing else is important in life, you really
learn a lot about your body and mind. It’s an amazing experience to take yourself to
that level and learn what that is like. When you reach the place where you can’t go
any further, where you can’t take another step, you have at least eight days left. I know
that from my own experience, that when I couldn’t move, I still had eight days in me.
Maybe others have even more. It’s really worth having that self-awareness. But look:
even if you never aspire to doing a 100-mile run, finishing your first Spartan Sprint will
give you a level of self-awareness beyond anything you have experienced so far. That
is definitely within your reach!

SETTING EXPECTATIONS: BASIC TRAINING REQUIREMENTS
Andy: My take on training is that the first three distances—Sprint, Super, and Beast—
are very similar. Intensity is different, but, being a Phys. Ed. teacher, I advise everyone
to address the five main elements of fitness covered in Chapter 3. Nutrition is vital too,
but my view is that it’s more of a personal lifestyle choice that will make you feel better
and help you meet your goals both on and off the racecourse.
The Sprint race is 3+ miles with up to fifteen obstacles. This distance is good for everyone,
beginner obstacle racers all the way to expert. People with a wide range of ability levels
participate in the Sprint, and therefore training will vary quite a bit from person to
person. A lot of people neglect strength training and calisthenics—that’s a big mistake.
All athletes should incorporate weight training and specifically core strengthening into
their daily routines. Your main focus in preparing for a Sprint should be cardiovascular
fitness and muscular strength, equally balanced for upper body, leg, and core strength.

99

If you are starting from scratch, build your mileage slowly to be able to run 5 miles at
a moderate pace before attempting to do the Sprint distance.
If beyond the Sprint you aspire to enter longer races like the Ultra Beast, add more
distance running. Lots more.

TRAIN TO FINISH THE SPRINT
Jeff: The fastest times for the Spartan Sprint are under 30 minutes, the average time is
around one hour, and the slowest times are two hours or more. Because the race is 3
miles long, to finish in average time you would need to be able to maintain an average
speed of 3-4 miles per hour, including the obstacles. Given that the course is not flat,
this is no easy task. Penalties can also substantially increase your completion time: it
may take up to fifteen minutes for some to complete a set of thirty burpees.
Because the fitness requirements to finish a Sprint are multidimensional, an effective training
plan will incorporate each component, with particular emphasis on cardiorespiratory activity.

AEROBIC TRAINING
You should build aerobic capacity by walking/jogging/running three times a week,
varying the type of aerobic training. Some of the training should include Long Slow
Distance (LSD) training that is done at a lower intensity for extended periods of time.
You should build LSD training to 1.5 times your predicted finishing time. You should
also incorporate some training that is conducted at or near the lactate threshold
(TEMPO). This is an intensity that can only be maintained for 30-45 minutes. The best
way to TEMPO train is through long intervals of 10-15 minutes at the lactate threshold
followed by 5 minutes of recovery, repeated 2-4 times. Finally, you should also include
some high intensity interval training (HIT). HIT is done at near maximal intensities for
brief periods of 2-3 minutes, followed by an equal amount of active recovery. Running
hills would be a good way to satisfy this component. Also since Spartan Race is run on
trails, at least 50% of the training should be on trails.

ANAEROBIC TRAINING
In order to complete an obstacle race, you will need strength and power. Your training
program should include strength-building activities that stress the muscles used
in climbing, crawling, and jumping. Exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, burpees,
squats, lunges, and side lunges should be utilized throughout your training program.
Other exercises that strengthen the chest, upper back, shoulders, hips, and core, such

10 0

as dumbbell presses, lat pull-downs, seated rows, leg presses, curl-ups and back
extensions can also be utilized, but since you will need to carry your body-weight over
obstacles it makes sense to utilize body-weight activities as much as possible. Power
can be developed in a number of ways. For the beginner, the best way to incorporate
some power training is through bounding and jumping exercises. These should be
incorporated slowly into your training to avoid overuse injuries.

CIRCUIT TRAINING
A good way to incorporate HIT and Strength/Power training is through circuit training.
With circuit training you will select 3-4 exercises and perform them for a specified
number of repetitions or time in a consecutive sequence without rest. As an example,
you might perform push-ups, assisted pull-ups, squat jumps, each for one minute,
followed by an all-out run for two minutes, and a 4-minute recovery; and then repeat
the cycle three times. This is very intense and fatiguing. You should only attempt a
workout like this after you have built a base level of fitness.

8 WEEKS TO YOUR FIRST SPARTAN SPRINT
Joe and Andy have designed the Sprint to be feasible even for people who have never
competed in sports before. If you are currently sedentary, you can become strong
enough in eight weeks to complete the course. If you are moderately active, you can
become fit enough to attack the course and enjoy it.
The training template here is meant to be adapted to your fitness level: follow the
template to your best ability, and do more or less as appropriate to your fitness level. If
you have or develop any health concerns, consult a physician.

RACE DAY MINUS 8 WEEKS
MONDAY
Cross-train

Warm-up jump rope



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Skip, high knee jog, skip side to side, skip front to back

Cross-train

Dreamweaver with jog



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

The stuff dreams are made of!



.5mi run, hard



10 push-ups

101




5 pull-ups
15 crunches



Repeat 4 times, no rest



Jog 3 miles

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic warm-up 1



Planned duration



Workout description

10 minutes

Start with 5-minute general warm-up with a brisk walk,



slow jog, easy cycle, or easy row. Then perform the



following exercises twice, for a distance of 25 yards each:



High knee walk



High knee jog



Butt kickers



Lateral shuffle



Straight leg march

Skip


Straight leg skip



Cross-over step

Carioca


Duck walk

Cross-train

Bourbon on the rocks



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

Some may find this difficult to swallow:



Repeat this set 5 times:



10 push-ups



10 burpees



5 pull-ups





30-second sprint
1-minute rest

Then with a rock, repeat this set 4 times:



15 squats



lunge walk 50 yards



10 chest passes



10 underhand toss



1 minute rest between sets

10 2

WEDNESDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Rest days are just as important as training days. This is

Workout description


the time when your body adapts to the previous day’s



exercise. Make it an active rest day by walking to the



store, taking the stairs at work, parking at the far



end of the parking lot, every hour take a 1-minute



break and stretch. Eat well, remembering you aren’t



exercising and burning all those extra calories!

THURSDAY
Cross-train

Warm-up jump rope



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Skip, high knee jog, skip side to side, skip front to back

Cross-train

Diamonds are forever! With 3-mile run.



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

This is a functional whole-body workout. Diamonds last



forever, so will you. Rest 30 seconds between sets and



exercises.



Squats: Begin with feet closer together than shoulder



width apart and hold both hands to your sides. Slowly



squat down to 90 degrees and return to the start



position. Repeat as desired. Hold dumbbells in your



hands. Select a weight that you can only lift within the



suggested range.



Step 1: 10-12 reps, high intensity, steady tempo



Step 2: repeat



Barbell overhead squat: Begin with feet wider than



shoulder width apart and arms fully extended overhead,



barbell in hands. Select a weight that you can only lift



within the suggested range. Start by using a wooden



dowel if necessary.



Step 1: 10-12 reps, high intensity, steady tempo



Step 2: repeat



Box alternating leg shuffle: Begin with one foot on the



box and the other on the ground. Explode off the foot

103



on the box and switch legs in air, landing with the



opposite foot on the box.



Step 1: 15 reps per leg



Step 2: repeat



Kettelbell or dumbbell suitcase dead lift: Begin with feet



shoulder width apart with the kettelbell in the right



hand. Slowly squat down to 90 degrees, until the



kettelbell is close to or touching the ground. Repeat



reps as desired. Do for both sides, using a weight you



can only lift within the suggested range.



Step 1: 10-12 reps. Focus on form first, before



increasing weight.



Step 2: repeat



Barbell standing rows: Begin with feet shoulder width



apart with a slight bend in the knees. Grasp the barbell



with both hands with your hands facing out. Pull the



barbell to your body. Repeat as desired. Select a weight



you can only lift within the suggested range.



Step 1: 10-12 reps, high intensity, steady tempo.



Step 2: repeat



Box dips: Begin in a sitting position with hands facing



forward on the box or bench and feet on the ground.



Slowly extend your arms as far as they will go. Gently



lower yourself and repeat as desired.



Step 1: 10-12 reps, high intensity. Can be made



easier by flexing your knees. Can be made more



difficult by elevating extended legs. Can add



desistance by placing a weight on your thighs.



Planks: Begin by lying face down on the ground with



elbows flexed. Lift your chest and hips off of the floor so



that your body is supported by your elbows and feet.



Brace yourself and hold as long as possible.



Step 1: hold for 30-120 seconds



Step 2: repeat



Run 3 miles

10 4

FRIDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Rest days are just as important as training days. This is

Workout description



the time when your body adapts to the previous day’s



exercise. Today train your mind. Memorize the food



label on your favorite breakfast food, recall it at lunch.



Do math in your head walking from your car into work:



calculate how long it would take to jog or walk to work.



At lunch memorize the code from your favorite



beverage, recall it at dinner.

SATURDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train

Medusa’s challenge plus



Planned duration

80 minutes



Workout description

This will turn you to stone! Do the entire workout outside.



Run 15 minutes.



Perform 1 minute of each exercise, with 10 second



rest between:

push-ups



curl-up
inverted pull-ups

planks


squat jumps



jump rope



speed skaters



mountain climbers



flutter kicks



arm curls with log



1-minute rest



repeat 5 times



Repeat entire sequence 3 times



Run 15 minutes

105

SUNDAY
Run

Unbreakable hill climbs



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

Warm up indoors or outdoors.



Run 10 minutes on a progressive grade:



Every minute, increase the grade to challenge



your pace (minute 5-10 should be difficult to



maintain your pace)



Walk 3 minutes to recover



Repeat for a total of 3 sets

RACE DAY MINUS 7 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Make it an active rest day as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train Bingham


Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes with an easy jog.



Then a 30-minute trail run, every 10 minutes find a



rock or log and lift it for 10 reps each of arm curls,



shoulder presses, and squats. Add 5 reps each time so



that the last set is 20 reps each.

Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes at 60% of Maximal Heart Rate



(MHR). Ride 3 minutes at 85% MHR



Ride 1 minute at 50% MHR



Repeat 4-minute sequence 6 times



Cool down 10 minutes

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train

Dreamweaver with jog

10 6



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

the stuff dreams are made of!



.5mi run, hard



10 push-ups



5 pull-ups



15 crunches



Repeat 4 times, no rest



Jog 3 miles

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Today train your mind. Memorize the first 10

Workout description



ingredients, in order, in your favorite breakfast food,



recall it at lunch. Do math in your head walking from



your car into work: how many seconds would it take to



drive 70 miles, at a speed of 55 miles per hour? At



lunch memorize the number from a one-dollar bill,



recall it at dinner.

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Warm-up jump rope



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Skip, high knee jog, skip side to side, skip front to back

Cross-train

Kuato with bike



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

Kuato lives! He sees you finishing the race in excellent



form. Free your mind …



5 minutes jump rope



50-100 crunches



20-100 push-ups



30-50 leg-lowers



pull-ups to failure (use an assistance device or



machine to get at least 5 reps)



20-50 hanging leg raises



50-200 bodyweight squats, fast tempo



Repeat 2 times



Bike 30 minutes at 70% MHR

107

SATURDAY
Cross-train

Tamma Jamma 1



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

Tammy can’t find her way around a mall without getting



lost. One day we did our usual trail run in the opposite



direction and we had her lead. Right away she was



taking wrong turns at trail intersections. We decided to



do 10 burpees for each wrong turn. We are sure you



won’t have the same difficulty finding your way around



the trails. For this workout run a 5-mile loop in the



woods. Perform 15 burpees at each trail intersection or



every 15 minutes, whichever is more frequent.

SUNDAY
Run

Unbreakable intervals



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

Intervals are the best way to improve your fitness and



these are no exception.



10 reps: 10-second hill (sprint), 10-second rest



5 reps: 20-second hill (very high intensity),



20-second rest



3 reps: 30-second hill (high intensity), 10-second

rest


Do not stop until all 18 intervals are complete



Walk for 5 minutes to recover and repeat for half the reps.



Jog easy for 20 minutes.

RACE DAY MINUS 6 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Make it an active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Strength

Unbreakable strength plus run

10 8



Planned duration

55 minutes



Workout description

Repeat this 4 times:



Dumbbell lunge 30 seconds each leg



Split lunge jumps 30 seconds



Plank walk 45 seconds



Shoulder taps 45 seconds



3-minute rest between sets.



Run 30 minutes at 70% MHR.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Warm-up jump rope



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Skip, high knee jog, skip side to side, skip front to back

Strength Arnold


Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

Some may say that this isn’t functional, but Arnold says,



“you’ll be back,” for this change of pace!



Repeat this 3 times, using a weight you can lift within



the desired range:



10-15 reps each:



Alternating backward barbell lunge



Alternating dumbbell chest press with overhand grip



Alternating incline dumbbell row with neutral grip



Back extension on machine with arms across chest



Cable lat pull-down with underhand grip



Alternating dumbbell shoulder front raise



Barbell wrist curl with arms on bench



Barbell wrist extension



Alternating dumbbell bicep curl with neutral grip



Seated 1-arm dumbbell tricep extension



Bridge and leg curl on stability ball

Bicycle


Dead bug



Leg raise with flutter kick on incline bench or floor



For dead bug and flutter kick, make sure the lower



back stays neutral



For video demonstrations of each exercise, see

109



www.physicalfitnet.com

Run

Hill sprints



Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

Warm up with an easy jog for 10 minutes.



Find a hill that takes 30-60 seconds to run up



Repeat 10 times:



Sprint the hill as fast as possible, walk back



to the bottom



Do 10 push-ups

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Today train your mind. Memorize the first 10

Workout description



ingredients, in order, in your favorite breakfast food,



recall it at lunch. Do math in your head walking from



your car into work: count the steps until you walk past



a car manufactured by Nissan, square that number,



add your weight, and divide by your age. At lunch



memorize the next 10 Spartan race sites (city and state),



recall it at dinner.

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train

De Sena



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Do this outside no matter the conditions



(hopefully it is cold, rainy, maybe a hurricane).



Repeat this 2 times:



Jump rope 10 minutes



15 walking lunges, each leg



15 push-ups



15 stone dead lifts (use your legs)



Belly crawl 10 yards



10 reps stone squat chest pass (using the same stone



as the lift, hold the stone at chest height; squat

11 0



the stone; chest pass the stone as possible; pick it



up again).

Bike

Spartan bike sprints



Planned duration

35 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes at 60% of Maximal Heart Rate



(MHR). Ride 20 minutes at 70% MHR



Every other minute sprint as hard as possible for



10 seconds



Cool down 5 minutes easy

SATURDAY
Run

At steady state



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

Warm up well. Then run at 70% MHR on a



mostly-flat course.

SUNDAY
Cross-train

Cheesy fries



Planned duration

90 minutes



Workout description

At 2500 kcals, you would have to do this entire workout



twice just to burn off half a serving.



Repeat this 3 times:



Hike a short but steep hill carrying a log, weight,



rock, or half-filled bucket of water. Hike back down.



This should take about 15 minutes round trip.



Run/jog/walk the same hill



10 burpees



15 stone dead lifts (use your legs)



Hang from a low branch for 30 seconds or as



long as possible, until you accumulate 3 minutes



of hanging.



Rest 2 minutes



Jog a flat trail for 20 minutes.

111

RACE DAY MINUS 5 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Today train your mind. Memorize the first names of the

Workout description



last five British Prime Ministers, recall them at lunch. Do



math in your head walking from your car into work:



how many seconds would it take to drive 90 miles, at



60 miles per hour? At lunch memorize the serial



number of a one dollar bill, recall it at dinner.

TUESDAY
Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train

Dynamic warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above

Cross-train

Bourbon on the rocks



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

As above

WEDNESDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

THURSDAY
Cross-train

Warm-up jump rope



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Skip, high knee jog, skip side to side, skip front to back

Cross-train

Diamonds are forever!



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above, without the run.

FRIDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Train your mind. Memorize the nutrition label of your

Workout description



favorite breakfast food, recall it at lunch. Do math in

11 2



your head walking from your car into work: how long



would it take to walk or jog to your favorite vacation



spot? At lunch memorize the bar code of a product of



your choosing, recall it at dinner.

SATURDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above

Cross-train

Medusa’s challenge



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

As above, without the run at the end.

SUNDAY
Run

Unbreakable hill climbs



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

As above

RACE DAY MINUS 4 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Bingham (more)



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes with an easy jog.



Then a 40-minute trail run, every 10 minutes find a



rock or log and lift it for 10 reps each of arm curls,



shoulder presses, and squats. Add 5 reps each time so



that the last set is 25 reps each.

Cross-train

Cheaper than Healthcare



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

Warm up jump rope for 15 minutes.



Do one minute of each:



Mountain climbers



Spiderman push-up



Plank with

113



Inverted pull-ups



Medicine ball sit-ups



Squat jumps



Recover for 3 minutes



Repeat for 3 sets

WEDNESDAY
Run

Hill sprints



Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

As above

Cross-train

Dynamic warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above

Cross-train

Dreamweaver with jog



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

As above

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Train your mind. Memorize the first 10 ingredients of

Workout description



your favorite breakfast food, recall it at lunch. Do math



in your head walking from your car into work: sum the



days of the month. At lunch memorize the ISBNs of



three books, recall them at dinner.

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Kuato with bike



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train

Warm-up jump rope



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Skip, high knee jog, skip side to side, skip front to back

SATURDAY
Cross-train

Tamma Jamma 1



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

As above.

11 4

SUNDAY
Run

Unbreakable intervals



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 3 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above

Strength

Unbreakable strength plus run



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Warm-up jump rope



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Skip, high knee jog, skip side to side, skip front to back

Strength Arnold


Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Run

Hill sprints



Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

As above

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Train your mind. Memorize the first 10 finishers at

Workout description



the Badwater Ultramarathon this year, recall them at



lunch. Do math in your head walking from your car into



work: divide your odometer reading by your waist size.



At lunch memorize 8 college basketball scores, recall



them at dinner.

115

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above

Cross-train

De Sena



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

As above, but repeat 3 times.

SATURDAY
Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train Delicious


Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

So good you will want more!



This is done entirely on trails:



Run 2 miles to warm up



25 push-ups



25 squats



20 mountain climbers



Run ½ mile at high intensity, but pace yourself



so you don’t have to walk



10 squat jumps



50-yard lunge walk



10 lunge jumps



20 flutter kicks



10 side-to-side hops



Run 1 mile at high intensity, but pace yourself so you



don’t have to walk



25 push-ups



25 squats



20 mountain climbers



Run ½ mile at high intensity, but pace yourself so you






don’t have to walk
10 squat jumps
50-yard lunge walk
10 lunge jumps

11 6



20 flutter kicks



10 side-to-side hops



Run 1 mile to cool down.

SUNDAY
Cross-train

Cheesy fries



Planned duration

90 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 2 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Train your mind. Memorize the first paragraph of

Workout description





Vince Lombardi’s What does it take to be number one?,
recall it at lunch. Memorize the second paragraph at
lunch, recall it at dinner.

TUESDAY
Cross-train

De Sena 2



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

Do this outside no matter the conditions



(hopefully it is cold and rainy).



Jump rope for 10 minutes



Repeat 5 sets:



15 walking lunges



15 push-ups



15 stone deadlifts (use your legs)



10 yards belly crawl



10 stone squat chest pass

Bike

Spartan bike sprints



Planned duration

55 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes at 60% of Maximal Heart Rate



(MHR). Ride 20 minutes at 70% MHR



Every other minute sprint as hard as possible for



10 seconds



Cool down 15 minutes easy

117

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Medusa’s challenge



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

As above, without the run at the end.

THURSDAY
Cross-train

Tamma Jamma 2



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

As above, this time 4-mile loop, with 15 burpees at



every trail intersection, or every 15 minutes, whichever



is more frequent.

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Warm-up jump rope



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Skip, high knee jog, skip side to side, skip front to back

Cross-train

Diamonds are forever! 2



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

As above, three sets per exercise; rest 30 seconds



between sets.

SATURDAY
Run

At steady state



Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

Warm up well. Then run at 70% MHR on a



mostly-flat course.

SUNDAY
Cross-train

Cheaper than Healthcare



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

Warm up jump rope for 15 minutes.



Do one minute of each:



Mountain climbers



Spiderman push-up

Plank


Inverted pull-ups



Medicine ball sit-ups



Squat jumps

11 8




Recover for 3 minutes

Repeat for 3 sets

RACE DAY MINUS 1 WEEK
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Active rest day.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above

Cross-train

Bourbon (no rock)



Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

Repeat 5 times:



10 push-ups



10 burpees



5 pull-ups



30 second sprint



1 minute rest

WEDNESDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Active rest day.

Workout description

THURSDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above

Cross-train Dreamweaver


Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

The stuff dreams are made of!



.5mi run, hard



10 push-ups



5 pull-ups



15 crunches



Repeat 4 times, no rest

119

FRIDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Active rest day.

Workout description

SATURDAY
RACE DAY—YOUR FIRST SPARTAN SPRINT!
TRAIN TO COMPETE
Jeff: In order to finish in the top 10% of racers in the Sprint, you need to complete
the course in less than 40 minutes for men, and 50 minutes for women. That level of
performance requires considerably greater strength and endurance than you need to
finish the race. For many competitors, it also means improving agility, balance, and
specific obstacle skills.
You can find free workout suggestions (WODs and others) and open discussions on
training tips on the Spartan Race website and Facebook page. You might want to try
one-on-one Spartan Group X programs—coming soon to a gym near you. Or you
may wish to consult Spartan-certified coaches through www.spartancoaches.com. For
intensive training, consider SealFit—http://www.sealfit.com/ .

SPARTAN WARRIOR: CHRISTOPHER RUTZ
Andy: Christopher Rutz is a consistent top-performer in the elite waves at the Spartan
Races, having placed second at two Spartan Races and finishing no lower than seventh
at nine Spartan Races in the first half of 2012 alone. He is a member of the juwi Solar
Obstacle Racing Team and a blogger who writes about fitness. Christopher is based in
Scottsdale, AZ.
Christopher: So, you are getting ready for your first Spartan Race. There are lots of
things to think about. What should you eat? What shoes should you wear? What are
the obstacles like? How long does it take? I am sure these questions and many more
will be running through your head from the moment you sign up for a race. You will
have questions all the way up until the start of your wave on race day. Today, even
after a dozen Spartan Races, I am still anxious before each one. Experience helps;
training helps; but the greatest thing about the Spartan Race is that you never know the
challenges that lie ahead. You really need to be prepared for any physical challenge.

12 0

Here is how I would suggest you prepare, whether you are training for a Sprint, Super,
Beast or Ultra Beast.3
Start by integrating CrossFit 4 into your training program. While CrossFit is generally
practiced indoors with standard equipment, the activities translate directly to many of
the obstacles you will encounter in Spartan Racing. Obstacles with direct correlation
include tire flips, rope climbs, burpees, sand bag carries, 8-foot walls, and monkey
bars. CrossFit will help you build a strong upper body, which is essential to a successful
obstacle race. CrossFit also often incorporates running into the workouts—integrating
other workouts with your run is a key to obstacle racing success. Here is an example:


800-meter run



50 walking lunges with a 25-pound plate overhead



800-meter run



40 burpees

You can be successful on your own, but if you want to really improve, find a local
CrossFit box to join. Most are month-to-month with no long-term commitments. But be
warned; just like Spartan Racing, CrossFit is addicting. Every day is a competition. Some
days you win, others you do not, but you always improve.
CrossFit alone will not make you successful in Spartan Races. You need to get outside
and find your own obstacle course. Get out into nature, find logs to walk and balance
on, rocks to carry and throw, walls to jump over. Jump onto and off of things, and get
down on the ground to practice low crawling. Most importantly, you need to run. Run
from obstacle to obstacle. Run a mile, drop and do thirty burpees, run another mile, do
thirty push-ups, run another mile, find a rock to carry for a few minutes, run another
mile. Get creative: the Spartan Race course designers are making each successive race
harder, so you need to be ready for anything.
Spartan Races are seldom flat. I cannot tell you the last time I went out for a flat run. I am
always looking for a challenging terrain. No terrain is too steep or too challenging. At a
Spartan Race, don’t expect the trails to be nicely groomed. I have run races where there
was a flag atop a hill with no trail leading to it. The racers made their own trail to get to
that flag. If you do not have access to steep terrain, try lunges or stairs. When you are
out on your runs, look for things to run over and around; curbs, rocks, benches, etc. One
of my favorite weekday workouts is to run up a local trail that gains 1250 feet in about a
mile. I start out with some pull-ups; halfway up, some burpees; at the top, push-ups. This
is a very high intensity workout. It has been a staple of my training for a number of years.

121

Christopher Rutz in action at
the 2012 Northwest Sprint
(personal archive)

12 2

Once you have the basic idea on the physical aspects of training, the even more
important aspect is how you fuel yourself. Nutrition is a huge element of a successful
race. I am not talking about what you eat on race day, but rather how you fuel yourself
during your daily training. I am a huge proponent of Paleo nutrition. This is how I have
fueled my performances for a number of years. I eat mostly meat and vegetables, nuts
and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep your food intake to levels that will
support exercise but not body fat. I tend to eat organic, grass-fed, free-range meat as
well. Yes, it costs a little more, but you are worth it.
Lastly, what should you show up with on race day? As little as possible. At the starting
line, you will see me in a pair of running shorts, Injinji socks, and light trail or crosscountry running shoes, with my contacts in and sunblock sprayed on my body. That is
about it. Even if it is as cold as forty degrees you really do not need anything more.
If you follow all of the above guidelines, you will have a good platform for success in
your race. It will take more, however. You need to show up at the race with an attitude
that will get you through the race.
You are strong; you have trained; you are ready to run this race. You are ready to call
yourself a Spartan. You can repeat this to yourself on the way to the race, and during
the race, too.
Sign up, show up, and never give up.

SPARTAN WARRIOR: ANDI HARDY
Andy: Andi Hardy Jory is proof that you can train to win a Spartan Race even if you
aren’t an accomplished athlete in other sports. As of June 2012, Andi is a six-time
Spartan Race podium winner (three firsts and three seconds) because she committed
herself to a daily training regimen and a change of lifestyle that catapulted her from
overweight, inactive, and unhealthy, to fit, happy, and self-confident—and repeatedly
onto the winners’ podium. She took herself through a complete physical and mental
transformation, driven by her internal desire to never give up.
Andi: In June 2011 I was an unhappy human being. I just gave up my business, which
became a casualty of the poor economy. This meant I lost my job and colleagues, my
entire savings, retirement—years of hard work and turmoil, just gone. My only child
was leaving for college, my only in-state relatives moved away, I was unhealthy and
overweight, I didn’t do the athletic things I once enjoyed. I was no longer the spunky,
adventurous, full-of-life person I once was. I was miserable.

123

I needed a goal, something to get me and my life back on track. I signed up for a sprint
triathlon thinking I would be able to do the swim and bike, and then I could walk the run,
as I had serious knee issues at the time. I started to learn a little about healthy eating and
worked out three to five times per week. I completed the triathlon in October 2011 and
did surprisingly well. Since it was a cold day, I decided to run the 5K, and surprisingly my
knees did okay. Feeling a little rejuvenated, I responded to an ad for a 5K mud run and
thought it sounded right up my alley. For two weeks I ran three miles a day and finished the
mud run in first place in my age division. It was at that run that I heard word of a “really
good mud run” called Spartan Race. I barely got to my car before I grabbed my iPhone
and typed in www.spartanrace.com. From the second that official video music started, I
was hooked. I couldn’t wait to get home to see it on the bigger screen of my computer. I
signed up right away for the race nearest me—the Georgia Sprint, March 10, 2012.
THIS was the goal I really needed. I was on the Spartan Race website daily, studying
the race, understanding the obstacles, getting to know the big names like Hobie Call. I
signed up for the workouts of the day (WODs) and, though my fitness level wasn’t quite
ready and I sometimes had to YouTube a specific exercise to learn how to do it properly, I
did parts of the WODs as best as I could. I started running further distances and steadily
dropped my extra weight. I so wanted to do this Spartan Race and win my age division.
My understanding was that if I won my age division I would win a free entry to a Super.
Oh, and that Trifecta 5 was calling my name! But to travel so far away for a race? Would
I really do that? How little did I know that in six months I’d be traveling the entire country
and Canada, following my heart and living out not only my goals, but my dreams.
Being the competitor I am, and probably having a bit of OCD, I really geared things up
on December 30th, 2011 when I actually started doing each and every WOD that was
emailed to me. I wouldn’t go to sleep before I read over and understood my workout
for the next day. I started learning about nutrition and eating cleaner. The week before
the Georgia Sprint I started preparing mentally. I had done what I could physically. I
was really hoping to meet Hobie. He was like a Peyton Manning or LeBron James to me.
I went to the venue the evening before, just to calm the butterflies. I got my packet and
stood in awe of the course being set up. I got to meet Hobie, and much to my surprise
he took time to welcome me and give me a few words of encouragement. I walked to
the barbed wire mud crawl and about passed out. It was nothing like the pictures; it was
going to be a challenge for certain. Hobie must have noticed my fear; he gave a few
pointers. The butterflies were wild in my stomach. Would I even be able to finish? This
was not the mud run I did last fall.

12 4

Andi with her helmet at
Tuxedo Ridge, 2012
(Photo credit: Nuvision)

125

Saturday morning I stretched, warmed up, and just stared at the amazing-looking
competitors in my 9:00 a.m. wave. Why did I think I could compete with these athletes? I
should not have signed up for elite wave; I was just an ordinary 42-year-old who started
running a few months ago. I didn’t look like them, I wasn’t of their caliber. Oh well,
stretched and as ready as I’d be, I was not going to give up. I found my way to the back
of the pack of 250 racers, and simplified my goals: don’t get hurt, don’t finish last, and
just have fun. I waited my turn to run through the smoke, starting almost last. Over the
hills and through the woods, I passed person after person. I found myself even telling
some to “hurry up” through the narrow creek. I was running MY race and smiling the
whole way. I was SO happy that I was running through these trees and brush and muck
and jumping fences and climbing ropes and carrying blocks of cement. I was sweaty
and dirty and thirsty, but so happy. I was living again, and loving it. I didn’t have any
idea how far I han or how far I had left. I didn’t know what the next obstacle would be;
I just kept running my race. Finally, I saw the gladiators and the finish line. I’d made it!
I jumped on the timing pad and heard the comments of spectators, “look at her, she’s
SMILING.” At that finish line I knew I had my life back—I was once again the vibrant
human that had been lost.
I couldn’t believe it when the guys placing my finisher’s medal around my neck told me
I was second. I thought they meant second in my age group, which by that point in the
day I would have been ecstatic about. “No,” they said. “Second overall female.” No
way!! What? Me? 42-year-old, non-runner, not-long-ago-down-and-out me?
It was true: I did win second place female overall and the incredible sword. I slept with
that thing. The next morning I was back on the Spartan site, signing up for the Trifecta!!!
I had my eyes on the next possible race, the Indiana Super, one month away. Oh how I
wanted to go win the helmet (for first place). A sword just couldn’t go without a helmet
to match.
I trained even harder in that month, adding some weight training to the WOD. I was
determined to win, and I did. I rocked that course with everything I had, smiling the
whole race, just because I was feeling good and having a blast. I met amazing people
in Indiana and made tons of new Facebook friends. However, at this “Founder’s Race”
the usual helmet was not the prize. I was so disappointed that for a few minutes I lost
that feeling of winning ecstasy. I regrouped and decided, “Well, then I’ll just have to go
somewhere else to get it.” And with that I signed up for the New York/Tuxedo Ridge race.
Was I crazy? Going to NY to race thousands of big-time athletes? How was this going to
go? What if I totally did horrible?

12 6

I decided, “Why not try? You’ll never know until you show up and never ever give up.” (I
already signed up, after all.)
So, back to training: WOD, weights, a few extra miles, a few extra burpees, cleaner
eating, and constant confidence-boosting and cheerleading myself on. That’s when I
came up with my, “How bad do you want it?” motivational talk to myself.
On days when I’d be sluggish about starting a workout, or feeling like cutting one short,
I’d ask myself, “How bad do you want that helmet? How bad do you want to measure
up to the athletes in New York? How bad do you want to be all that you can be?” And
I’d pound up the hills, lunge a few extra lunges, throw down a few extra burpees as I
answered myself, “I want it so bad!”
Well, when race day came, I had the best day of my life. I met incredible people:
competitors, fellow Spartans, Joe De Sena, Spartan Race employees, photographers,
vendors, and more. The whole venue was filled with good vibes. I was in heaven. My
confidence had never been higher, my love for life soaring.
Long story short, I won that helmet—and first place overall women in New York.
Sunday I raced again, this time faster and stronger in spite of the banged-up, bruisedup body from the day before. People screamed my name and cheered wildly for me to
win again. Wow! I never had this feeling before. I truly found my place in life: I am a
Spartan! AROO, AROO, AROO!
Motivation, determination, and love for Spartan Racing gave me the power to do what
I needed to change my life for the better—not only to get healthy, lose weight, and get
into shape, but also to achieve my goals, fulfill my hopes, and live my desires even with
the issues that could have held me back: bum knees, aches and pains, life issues, lack
of confidence, age, and many excuses.
When Joe De Sena says that Spartan Race can change YOUR life, he is right. It changed
mine. I hope it will change millions more lives like it did mine, across the world. I’d like
to play a part in that somehow. I’d like to give back to Spartan Race what it gave to me.
I have dedicated my 2012 summer to traveling the country from race to race, not only
enjoying myself, but talking about Spartan Racing to everyone I meet and promoting
the amazing events and encouraging wellness. Almost two million people have been
inspired by Joe and Spartan Race, and when someone asks me how I do it, friends me
on Facebook, or wants some advice, I’m always thrilled to stop and encourage, support,
and motivate. Who knows? It could just be the extra bit that changes their life, too.

127

1 Check out his story in Chapter 11, and follow his progress on http://blog.spartanrace.com/?s=chris+davis
2 Andy: by this, Joe means that he doesn’t do anything beyond daily workouts with sandbags, rocks and logs, and his own body weight.
3 For more detailed views on training, nutrition, and/or gear, check out my website, http://livethetoughlife.com, and my page on Facebook,
Tough Training.
4 See http://www.crossfit.com
complete a Sprint, Super, and Beast in the same calendar year

12 8

CHAPTER 6
TRAIN FO R A S P A R T A N S U PER

129

SETTING EXPECTATIONS: BASIC TRAINING REQUIREMENTS
Andy: The Super is 8 + miles with up to 20 obstacles. This distance isn’t recommended
for entry-level athletes, but it would be a good fit for a beginner obstacle course racer with
some competitive background or an athlete who has been training at moderate distances.
Anyone training to finish a Super should be able to run up to ten miles comfortably and
should mix in strength training a few days per week. Just like for the Sprint distance,
athletes at all levels should incorporate core-strengthening workouts into their daily
routines. Upper-body strength will also come in handy as the Super has more obstacles,
many of which require you to lift, pull, or push in some form.
We also recommend you experiment with different strategies for nutrition and hydration.
The race is long enough that many athletes will need to refuel during the event.

TRAIN TO FINISH THE SUPER
Jeff: Some of the principles from Sprint training will apply to training for the Super and
Beast as well. The biggest difference is the distance: there is an extra five or ten miles to
cover! The fastest times for the Super Spartan and Beast are under two hours, average
times are around three hours, and for some it will take up to five hours to finish.
At these longer distances the key is pacing. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement
and go out hard with the front of the pack, only to bonk a short while later. The Super
and Beast are about endurance. Just to finish in the average time you would need to
be able to maintain an average speed of 3-4 miles per hour, uphill and down, through
obstacles, and with burpees.

KEY WORD: ENDURANCE
Build up your LSD training time to 80-90% of your predicted finishing time. For many
competitors there will be a lot of walking on the course, so it is okay for you to walk or
slow-jog for long distances to build up your endurance. You will also want to incorporate
a lot of hill training into your program. Running up hills will be helpful, but if it feels like
too much, walking at a fast pace will get you to the finish just the same. LSD training
will help teach you how to pace yourself properly and teach your body to rely less on
carbohydrate and more on fat as a fuel. All activity, no matter how low-intensity, will
rely on some carbohydrate as a fuel. The faster or harder you work, the more you rely
on carbohydrate as a substrate. Athletes bonk because they deplete their stores of
precious glycogen from carbohydrate. When it is gone, you are done! Pacing yourself
so that there is some glycogen in the tank at the end of the race will make your event

13 0

much more enjoyable. Also, carrying some food with you to eat during the event will
help prevent glycogen depletion—fast-digesting carbohydrates are ideal.

RUN DOWNHILL
Practice running downhill. Walk up hills, but then run down them. Undoubtedly there will
be a significant amount of downhill running during the Super and Beast. Even the best
athletes can’t run downhill without “braking.” Braking requires the muscles to contract
eccentrically, meaning they contract and lengthen at the same time. This causes muscle
damage, especially in people who are unaccustomed to eccentric contractions. The first
few times you run downhill you will notice a significant amount of muscle soreness. But
after the third or fourth time it may not even be noticeable. Sports scientists call this
the “repeated bout effect”: the more frequently you subject your muscles to eccentric
contractions, the more resistant they become to muscle damage. Regular strength
training won’t have the same effect because the activity isn’t specific enough. The load,
rate of loading, and speed of contraction are very different during eccentric contractions
while running versus strength training; and therefore the adaptations aren’t the same.
The only way to train for downhill running is by running downhill.

BUILD STRENGTH
Keep up the strength training. If you have more than three months of consistent strength
training under your belt, try to connect with a Spartan Coach or another strength
coach and learn Olympic lifting techniques to build your power. On your trail runs,
try to incorporate some body-weight circuits as well. For example, you might run the
trail for one mile, pause to do ten push-ups, ten burpees, and ten squat jumps, then
resume running and repeat for the desired mileage. This will simulate the metabolic
requirements of running the Super.

STAY HYDRATED
In any event lasting longer than 1.5 hours, hydration is important. During your event,
make sure to take water at the aid stations or carry your own in a water pack.

12 WEEKS TO YOUR FIRST SPARTAN SUPER
Joe and Andy have designed the Super to be very challenging for people who are
moderately fit. If you are currently sedentary, you can become strong enough in twelve
weeks to complete the course. If you are moderately active, you can become fit enough
in the same timeframe to attack the course and enjoy it.

131

The training template here is meant to be adapted to your fitness level: follow the
template to your best ability, and do more or less as appropriate for your fitness level.
As with any new physical activity, it is always a good idea to consult a trainer, coach,
or physician if you have any questions. Consult a physician if you have or develop any
health concerns.

RACE DAY MINUS 12 WEEKS
MONDAY
Cross-train

Bingham 2



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

45-minute trail run; every 10 minutes find a rock or a



log and lift it for 10 reps, performing arm curls,



shoulder presses, and squats. Add 5 reps each time so



that you finish your last set with 25 reps for each exercise.

TUESDAY
Run

Super Spartan Run : 2 Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2.



Run 2 miles with heart rate in zone 4.



Cool down 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2.

WEDNESDAY
Strength

Unbreakable Strength Plus Run



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

Repeat four times:



Dumbbell Lunge 30 seconds each leg



Split lunch Jumps 30 seconds



Plank Walk 45 seconds



Shoulder taps 45 seconds



3-minute rest between sets



Run 20 minutes with heart rate in zone 3

THURSDAY
Day Off

Rest Day A



Rest days are just as important as training days. This is

Workout description



the time when your body adapts to the previous day’s

13 2



exercise. Make it an active rest day by walking to the



store, taking the stairs at work, parking at the far



end of the parking lot, every hour take a 1-minute



break and stretch. Eat well, remembering you aren’t



exercising and burning all those extra calories!

FRIDAY
Cross-Train

Medusa’s Challenge



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

This will turn you into stone!



Do the entire workout outside.



Run 15 minutes



Perform 1 minute of each exercise, with



10 seconds rest in between:

push-ups
curl-up


inverted pull-ups

planks


squat jumps



jump rope



Repeat entire sequence 3 times.

SATURDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 4 miles



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

BT: Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3.

SUNDAY
Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes in zone 2.



Repeat 6 times:



Ride 3 minutes in zone 4.



Ride 1 minute in zone 2.





Cool down 10 minutes.

133

RACE DAY MINUS 11 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Make it an active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Tamma-Jamma 1



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Tammy can’t find her way around a mall without getting



lost. One evening we did our usual trail run in the



opposite direction and we had her lead the group.



Right away she was making wrong turns at trail



intersections. We decided that we would do 15 burpees



for each wrong turn. We are sure you won’t have the



same difficulty finding your way around the trails.



For this workout:



Run a 4 mile loop in the woods



Perform 15 burpees at each trail intersection



(or every 15 minutes)



(If you can’t do 15 continuous repetitions, do 3 sets



of 5 with 30 seconds in between each set.)

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Bourbon 2



Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

Some may find this workout difficult to swallow.



Repeat 5 times:



20 push-ups



20 burpees



10 pull-ups



1 minute sprint



1 minute rest

Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 4 miles



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3.

13 4

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Rest days are just as important as training days. Today,

Workout description



train your mind. Memorize the first 10 ingredients, in



order, in your favorite breakfast food, recall it at lunch.



Do math in your head walking from your car into work:



how many seconds would it take to drive 70 miles, at



a speed of 55 miles per hour? At lunch memorize the



number from a one-dollar bill, recall it at dinner.

FRIDAY
Strength Arnold


Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Some may say that this isn’t functional, but Arnold says,



“you’ll be back,” for this change of pace!



Repeat this 3 times, using a weight you can lift within



the desired range:



10-15 reps each:



Alternating backward barbell lunge



Alternating dumbbell chest press with overhand grip



Alternating incline dumbbell row with neutral grip



Back extension on machine with arms across chest



Cable lat pull-down with underhand grip



Alternating dumbbell shoulder front raise



Barbell wrist curl with arms on bench



Barbell wrist extension



Alternating dumbbell bicep curl with neutral grip



Seated 1-arm dumbbell tricep extension



Bridge and leg curl on stability ball



Bicycle



Dead bug



Leg raise with flutter kick on incline bench or floor



For dead bug and flutter kick, make sure the lower



back stays neutral



For video demonstrations of each exercise, see



www.physicalfitnet.com

135

Run

Unbreakable Intervals



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Intervals are the best way to improve your fitness and



these are no exception.



10 reps: 10-second hill (sprint), 10-second rest



5 reps: 20-second hill (very high intensity),



20-second rest



3 reps: 30-second hill (high intensity), 10-second rest



Do not stop until all 18 intervals are complete



Walk for 5 minutes to recover, and repeat for half the reps.



Jog easy for 20 minutes.

SATURDAY
Run

Tammy’s Delirium 5



Planned duration

1 hour, 15 minutes



Workout description

Delirium: a disturbance in one’s mental abilities.



What were you thinking?



Warm up for one mile in zone 2.



Find a hill, about 200 feet in height



(roughly a 4-minute hill)



Run up the hill as hard as possible, but maintain a



steady pace. (You should be very tired at the end.)



Jog down the hill.



Do 10 burpees.



Repeat 5 times.



Jog easy to cool down.

Strength

AB 500



20 minutes

Planned duration



25 crunches



50 bicycles



50 back-scratchers



50 rotating crunches



25 leg-lowers



50 scissor-kicks



50 side-crunches



50 bicycles



50 back-scratchers

13 6

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 6 miles



Planned duration



Workout description Warm up well.

1 hour

On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3 for 6 miles.

RACE DAY MINUS 10 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Make it an active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Run

Super Spartan Run: 2 Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2;



Run 2 miles with heart rate in zone 4;



Cool down 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Dreamweaver 2



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

The stuff dreams are made of!



Repeat 4 times:



Run 0.75 miles in zone 4.



25 push-ups



10 pull-ups



25 crunches

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train

Dynamic Warm up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Start with a 5-minute general warm-up with a brisk



walk, slow jog, easy cycle, or easy row. Then perform



the following exercises two times for a distance of



25 yards each:



High-knee walk

137



High-knee jog

Butt-kickers


Lateral shuffle



Straight leg march

Skip


Straight leg skip



Cross-over step

Carioca


Duck walk

THURSDAY
Day off


Workout description

Rest Day B
Train your mind: memorize the top 10 songs on



Billboard.com. Do math in your head walking from



your car to work. Sum the serial numbers from



5 one-dollar bills. Divide by 6. At lunch memorize the



names of the top 10 goal-scorers in the NHL and



recall them at dinner.

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Cheaper than Health Care



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

Warm up by jumping rope for 15 minutes



Do each of the following for 1 minute:

Mountain-climbers


Spiderman push-up



Plank with row



Inverted pull-ups



Medicine-ball sit-ups

Squat-jumps


Recover for 3 minutes.



Repeat cycle 3 times.

Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

As above.

13 8

SATURDAY
Cross-train

Kuato with Bike



Planned duration

1 hour, 15 minutes



Workout description

Kuato lives! He sees you finishing the Beast in excellent



form. Free your mind…



Jump rope for 5 minutes



50 push-ups



40 leg-lowers



Pull-ups to failure (Use an assisted device such as a



band or machine to get at least 5 reps.)



40 hanging leg-raises



75 body weight squats (fast, but with good form)



Repeat twice.



Bike for 30 minutes in heart rate zone 3.

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 6 miles



Planned duration

1 hour, 10 minutes



Workout description

Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3



for 6 miles.

RACE DAY MINUS 9 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Workout description Active rest day, as above.

TUESDAY
Run

Super Spartan Run: 2-Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2;



Run 2 miles with heart rate in zone 4;



Cool down 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

139

WEDNESDAY
Strength

Unbreakable Strength Plus Run



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

Repeat four times:




Dumbbell Lunge 30 seconds each leg

Split lunch Jumps 30 seconds



Plank Walk 45 seconds



Shoulder taps 45 seconds



3-minute rest between sets



Run 20 minutes with heart rate in zone 3

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day B



Train your mind: memorize the first 10 ingredients,

Workout description



in order, from your favorite breakfast food. Recall them



at lunch. Do math in your head walking from your car



to work. Count the steps you take until you walk past



an automobile manufactured by Nissan, square that



number, add your weight, and divide by your age. At



lunch memorize the next 10 Spartan Race sites. Recall



them at dinner.

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Medusa’s Challenge



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

As above.

SATURDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 4 miles



Planned duration

1 hour, 20 minutes



Workout description

On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3



for 4 miles.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

14 0

SUNDAY
Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 8 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Run

Super Spartan Run: 4-Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-Train

Cheesy Fries



Planned duration

1 hour, 15 minutes



Workout description

At 2500 kcals, you would have to do this entire workout



twice just to burn off half a serving.



Repeat this 3 times:



Hike a short but steep hill carrying a log, weight,



rock, or half-filled bucket of water. Hike back down.



This should take about 15 minutes round trip.



Run/jog/walk the same hill



10 burpees



15 stone dead lifts (use your legs)



Hang from a low branch for 30 seconds or as long as



possible, until you accumulate 3 minutes of hanging.






Rest 2 minutes

Jog a flat trail for 20 minutes.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Train your mind: memorize the first 10 ingredients, in

Workout description

141




order, from your favorite breakfast food. Recall them
at lunch. Do math in your head walking from your car



to work. Sum the days of the month. At lunch memorize



the ISBN numbers of 3 books. Recall them at dinner.

FRIDAY
Strength

Greetings from Cumberland



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

This is a nice “how do you do!”



Equipment needed:



Spartan Boulder (different sizes available depending



on individual, i.e., basketball, volleyball, and



football sizes)



Spartan Plank (2x6x30 inches) with sling. The sling is



for carrying the plank.



Warm-up:



Jog slowly in place for 5 minutes.



Do 200 jumping jacks.

Stretch.


Conditioning:



Boulder-toss – hold the boulder with both hands and



bring it to the chest. With a great thrust (using arms



and legs), push the boulder out and up as hard



and fast as possible. Run to it and repeat. Do 3



sets of 10 with 30 seconds of recovery between sets.



Boulder Up – lie on back with knees bent. Hold boulder




on chest just under chin. Perform 50 crunches.

Balance push-up – Place boulder on ground, place the



center of the Spartan Plank onto the boulder. Do



push-ups to failure with hands on the plank.



Boulder-curls – Hold the boulder with hands on the



side. Squeezing the boulder so it does not drop,



perform 20 bicep curls.



Boulder-triceps – Hold boulder above head and




perform triceps extensions.

Boulder transport – Find a hill, carry the boulder up



the hill, place the boulder, and run back down the

14 2





hill. Run back up the hill, pick up boulder, and walk
down. Repeat 5 times.

Boulder Leap – Hold the boulder at chest height. Squat



down and leap forward. Repeat 10 times, then



return in opposite direction. Recover for 1 minute



and then repeat.



Cool down with some light stretching and moving in place.

SATURDAY
Run

Pineapple 6



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

This workout looks gnarly on the surface, but once you



get into it, it’s sweet!



Do this workout entirely on trails.



Run 1 mile in zone 2 to warm up.



10 burpees



10 push-ups



5 pull-ups



10 squats with rock held at chest level



Run 0.5 mile in zone 3.



Repeat for prescribed distance.

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 4 miles



Planned duration



Workout description Warm up well.

1 hour

On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3 for 4 miles.
Strength

AB 500



Planned duration



Workout description As above.

20 minutes

143

RACE DAY MINUS 7 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Workout description Active rest day, as above.

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Bourbon on the Rocks



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Some may find this difficult to swallow.



10 push-ups



10 burpees



5 pull-ups



30-second sprint



1-minute rest



Repeat 5 times



Then, with a rock:



15 squats



Lunge-walk 50 yards



10 chest-passes



10 underhand toss



Repeat 4 times, resting for 1 minute between



each circuit.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

De Sena



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Do this outside, no matter the conditions. (Hopefully it



is cold and rainy.)



Jump-rope for 10 minutes.



Repeat this cycle twice:



15 walking lunges on each leg



15 push-ups



15 stone deadlifts (use your legs)

14 4



Belly-crawl 10 yards



10 stone squat chest-pass (Use the same stone as



in the lift, hold the stone at chest height, squat the



stone, then chest pass the stone as far as possible.



Pick up the stone and repeat 10 times.)

Run

Super Spartan Run: 4-Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

Warm up 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2;



Run 4 miles with heart rate in zone 4;



Cool down 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Train your mind. Memorize the first 10 finishers at

Workout description



the Badwater Ultramarathon this year, recall them at



lunch. Do math in your head walking from your car into



work: divide your odometer reading by your waist size.



At lunch memorize the serial number from a one-dollar



bill. Recall it at dinner.

FRIDAY
Strength Arnold


Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Some may say that this isn’t functional, but Arnold says,



“you’ll be back,” for this change of pace!



Repeat this 3 times, using a weight you can lift within



the desired range:



10-15 reps each:



Alternating backward barbell lunge



Alternating dumbbell chest press with overhand grip



Alternating incline dumbbell row with neutral grip



Back extension on machine with arms across chest



Cable lat pull-down with underhand grip



Alternating dumbbell shoulder front raise



Barbell wrist curl with arms on bench



Barbell wrist extension



Alternating dumbbell bicep curl with neutral grip

145



Seated 1-arm dumbbell tricep extension



Bridge and leg curl on stability ball



Bicycle



Dead bug



Leg raise with flutter kick on incline bench or floor



For dead bug and flutter kick, make sure the lower



back stays neutral



For video demonstrations of each exercise,



see www.physicalfitnet.com

SATURDAY
Run

Tammy’s Delirium 8



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

Delirium: a disturbance in one’s mental abilities.



What were you thinking?



Warm up for one mile in zone 2.



Find a hill, about 200 feet in height



(roughly a 4-minute hill)



Run up the hill as hard as possible, but maintain a



steady pace. (You should be very tired at the end.)



Jog down the hill.



Do 10 burpees.



Repeat 8 times.



Jog easy to cool down.

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 6 miles



Planned duration

1 hour, 20 minutes



Workout description

BT: Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3



for 8 miles.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

14 6

RACE DAY MINUS 6 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic Warm up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above

Cross-train

Mr. Clean



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

You will clean house at your first Spartan Race



Repeat three times:



Swiss ball knee-tucks for 45 seconds



Push-ups for 30 seconds



Swiss ball triceps-dips for 45 seconds



Plank for 45 seconds

Run

Super Spartan Run: 4-Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Warm-up jump rope



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Skip, high knee jog, skip side to side, skip front to back

Strength

Unbreakable Strength



Planned duration

35 minutes



Workout description

Repeat this 5 times:



Dumbbell Lunge for 30 seconds on each leg



Split-lunge Jumps for 30 seconds



Plank walk for 45 seconds



Shoulder taps for 45 seconds



(Rest for 3 minutes between sets.)

147

Bike

Spartan Bike Sprints



Planned duration

35 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes in zone 2



Ride for 20 minutes in zone 3



Every other minute, sprint as hard as possible for



10 seconds



Cool down easy for 5 minutes.

THURSDAY
Cross-train


Workout description



Rest Day B
Train your mind. Memorize the 5 Australian states and
their capitals and recall them at lunch. Do math in your



head walking from your car into work. Calculate the



total amount of weight lifted in your last Arnold



workout. At lunch memorize the Pawtucket Pawsox



starting lineup and recall it at dinner.

FRIDAY
Cross-train Delicious


Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

So good you will want more!



This is done entirely on trails:



Run 2 miles to warm up



25 push-ups



25 squats



20 mountain climbers



Run ½ mile at high intensity, but pace yourself



so you don’t have to walk



10 squat jumps



50-yard lunge walk



10 lunge jumps



20 flutter kicks



10 side-to-side hops



Run 1 mile at high intensity, but pace yourself



so you don’t have to walk



25 push-ups



25 squats

14 8



20 mountain climbers



Run ½ mile at high intensity, but pace yourself



so you don’t have to walk



10 squat jumps



50-yard lunge walk



10 lunge jumps



20 flutter kicks



10 side-to-side hops



Run 1 mile to cool down.

SATURDAY
Run

Pineapple 6



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Planned distance

6 miles



Workout description

As above; repeat for prescribed distance.

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 6 miles



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

BT: Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3



for 6 miles.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 5 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Run

Super Spartan Run: 6-Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up 2 miles with



heart rate in zone 2;



Run 2 miles with heart rate in zone 4;



Cool down 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2.

149

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Dreamweaver 2



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train

Dynamic Warm up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day B



Train your mind: memorize the 10 longest rivers in

Workout description



the United States and recall them at lunch. Do math in



your head walking from your car into work. Sum



the license plates from the first 10 cars you walk past.



At lunch memorize the UTM coordinates of three of



your favorite vacation spots. Recall them at dinner.

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Cheaper than Health Care



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

As above.

Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

52 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes in zone 2.



Ride 3 minutes in zone 4.



Ride 1 minute in zone 2.



Repeat 8 times.



Cool down 10 minutes.

SATURDAY
Cross-train

Kuato with Bike



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Kuato lives! As above.

15 0

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 4 miles



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 4 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Bourbon on the rocks



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

As above

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

De Sena



Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

As above, rain or shine. (Preferably rain!)

Run

Super Spartan Run: 4 Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day B



Train your mind: memorize the top 10 female finishers

Workout description



at the SoCal Super Spartan, recall them at lunch. Do



math in your head walking from your car to work.



Multiply your age by your height in inches, and then



divide by your shoe size. At lunch memorize the top 10



male finishers and their times at the SoCal Super



Spartan. Recall them at dinner.

151

FRIDAY
Strength Arnold


Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

As above.

Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes in zone 2.



Repeat 6 times:



Ride 3 minutes in zone 4.



Ride 1 minute in zone 2.



Cool down 10 minutes.

SATURDAY
Run

Tammy’s Delirium 8



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 6 miles



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 3 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic Warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above

Cross

Mr. Clean



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

15 2

Run

Super Spartan Run: 4-Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Warm-up Jump Rope



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Skip, high-knee jog, skip side to side, skip



front to back.

Strength

Unbreakable Strength



Planned duration

35 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Bike

Spartan Bike Sprints



Planned duration

35 minutes



Workout description

As above.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day B



Train your mind! As above.

Workout description

FRIDAY
Strength

Rhode Islander Bucket Workout



Equipment needed:

Workout description



2-5 gallon buckets with lids, filled with sand, water,



rocks—some type of manageable weight—and a



5’ steel bar with hooks on both ends.



Warm-up:



Jog slowly in place for 1 minute.



200 jumping jacks

Stretch


Conditioning:



Decline bucket push-up – place your feet on the



buckets and your hands on the ground. Adjusting



the spacing of your hands for variation, do as



many push-ups as possible.

153



Incline bucket push-up – place buckets 24 – 30



inches apart. Place hands on buckets and feet on



ground. Do as many push-ups as possible, going



between the buckets.



Bucket-lunge – Hand the weighted buckets from



each side of the steel bar. Place bar behind your



head resting on your trapezius. Lunge for 50 yards.



Side-jump – place buckets on ground with steel bar



resting across them. Stand beside the bar, jump



over the bar to the other side, and repeat 20 times.



Bucket curl shoulder-press – use the steel bar with



weighted buckets hanging from both ends. Begin



by curling the bar up to your chest and then press



the bar over your head. Slowly return to the starting



positions, and repeat.



Bucket high-step walk – hold a weighted bucket in



each hand. Walk for 100 yards with high knees.



Cool down with a light jog, and stretch.

Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes in zone 2.



Repeat 6 times:



Ride 3 minutes in zone 4.



Ride 1 minute in zone 2.



Cool down 10 minutes.

SATURDAY
Brick

Super Nachos



Planned duration

2 hours



Workout description

This is a popular appetizer at many restaurants. Eat



the whole thing, and you ingest 2,700 kcals and 170 g



of fat. You need to do this workout 3 times to burn it



off. Skip the nachos and just do this once.



Swim or row 1000 meters in zone 3.



15 burpees



15 push-ups



10 pull-ups

15 4



Bike 10 miles in zone 3



15 burpees



10 push-ups



10 pull-ups



Run 3 miles in zone 3



15 burpees



15 push-ups



10 pull-ups



(A triathlon—with a twist!)

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 8 miles



Planned duration

1 hour, 20 minutes



Workout description

As above, but for 8 miles.

Cross-train Bourbon


Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

Some may find this difficult to swallow:



Repeat 5 times :



10 push-ups



10 burpees



5 pull-ups



30-second sprint



1-minute rest

RACE DAY MINUS 2 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Run


Planned duration



Workout description



Super Spartan Run: 2-Mile Trail Tempo Run
1 hour minutes
As above.

155

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Dreamweaver 2



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

As above

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train

Dynamic Warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day B



Train your mind: memorize the 12 Greek Titans and

Workout description



recall them at lunch. Do math in your head walking



from your car to work. Calculate the oxygen cost in



ml/kg/min of your exercise from yesterday. Assume



a 1 hour workout requires about 600 kcals of energy,



and 5 kcals equals 1 liter of oxygen. (You will need



your weight in kg.) At lunch memorize the names of



the 12 Greek gods. Recall them at dinner.

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Cheaper than Health Care



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

As above.

SATURDAY
Cross-train

Kuato with Bike



Planned duration

1 hour, 15 minutes



Workout description

Free your mind…as above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

15 6

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 8 miles



Planned duration

1 hour, 20 minutes



Workout description

As above, but for 8 miles.

Cross-train Bourbon


Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 1 WEEK
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Strength

Bingham 2



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Day Off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

THURSDAY
Cross-train

Medusa’s Challenge



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

As above

FRIDAY
Day Off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

157

SATURDAY
RACE DAY—YOUR FIRST SUPER
TRAIN TO COMPETE
Jeff: In order to finish in the top 10% of racers in the Super, you need to complete the
course in less than 1 hour 20 minutes for men, or 1 hour and 40 minutes for women.
You will need to be in excellent condition across all five elements of fitness.
As with the Sprint, you can find free workout suggestions (WOD and others) and open
discussions on training tips on the Spartan Race website and Facebook page. Personalized
coaching can make a significant difference in your training results, particularly if you are
new to racing at this distance or have set a specific performance goal.

SPARTAN WARRIOR: JASON BROWN, AKA JAY BE
Andy: Spartan Street Team Director Travis Ketcham actively recruited Jason Brown
because Joe set a goal to bring more military people into the Spartan community. Jay
Be was eager for an opportunity to change his life and to prove himself. Since joining
the Spartan Street Team, Jay Be has brought hundreds of soldiers the opportunity to
compete, challenge themselves, and let loose in a civilian environment—achieving that
in a way that no one at Spartan HQ could have managed. Jay personally brought more
than three hundred military competitors to the 2012 Malibu race alone, and he and his
family are an inspiration to military families everywhere from their current posting in
Guam. Jay Be is also working to bring a race to the base in Guam—a first for everyone
involved, Spartan HQ included.
Jay Be: My name is Jason Brown, but everyone knows me as Jay Be. For the last 11½
years, I’ve been serving in the United States Air Force Security Forces, and I have eight
deployments thus far, including a fifteen-month tour in Iraq. Even so, my fitness level
hasn’t always been competition-worthy.
My Spartan Race Journey started in June 2011, when a couple friends of mine named
Cole and Carlo showed me the Spartan Race Facebook page. I watched the video, and
I was hooked.
At that point I weighed in at 257 pounds, standing 6’7”. The Malibu Sprint was just six
months away. I knew that in order to take on this task I would have to step up my cardio
game. I started following the Spartan Race WOD and running with my wife Rachel. I also
started talking to my military buddies about Spartan Race. By November, I was down

15 8

to 205 pounds, and I built a team. We named it Dirty 30, after our military unit, 30th
Security Forces Squadron. We were around 35-deep, including Rachel and my 47-yearold aunt Cindy.
A few weeks prior to race day, Joe D and Tommy Mac contacted us and asked if we
would like to also participate in the Hurricane Heat. Of course we agreed, not knowing
at all what the Hurricane Heat was really about. On race day we were all down in the
hotel lobby at 0400 getting a head count and checking our gear for the Heat. All of
a sudden a guy walks up to us and says, “HEY! You guys doing the Hurricane Heat?”
And we said, “Yeah.” Then he proceeded to tell us to drop down and do 100 burpees.
My buddies were like, “screw that guy, who the hell does he think he is?” That’s when I
realized “that guy” was Joe D. Without hesitation I dropped down and started knocking
them out while I told my guys who he was. Of course, Joe D got down with us. Little did
we know that that was just the beginning of a very long day. By time the Heat was over
we had completed over four hundred burpees and 3+ miles, even crossing a freezing
lake that had Joe’s employees second-guessing him.
After the Heat and Sprint that day, I was all in. I immediately started building a bigger
team for SoCal, which was just a month away. I also joined the Street Team, to help give
back and get more people of their couches. I excelled at the Street Team, at one point
making the monthly newsletter for recruiting over three hundred peers across the States
by using my military connections and social networking. For SoCal, Dirty 30 fielded
close to 50 military members. With the help of our unit’s leadership we were all able to
get time off for the race.
Once again we completed the Heat and the Super that day. SoCal was and still is the
hardest course I’ve completed. The terrain was very unforgiving. But the SoCal race is
also memorable to me for another reason: Spartan Race offered a Spartan Kids Race,
which I knew my five-year-old son Nikko would love, and he really ate it up. After SoCal,
Spartan Race became a true family affair for us, with our whole family training and
competing together.
Our next race was in Arizona, in February 2012, and again I took a group of military
members and my family. We drove 12+ hours to get there. The Arizona Super was great
and, once again, Nikko raced in the Spartan Kids event. Afterward he couldn’t stop
talking about the race and how he one day wanted to do the “BIG” race. I’ve never seen
my son so happy before.

159

Nikko Brown confronts a
gladiator at the 2012 Arizona
Super/Kids’ Race;
Proud father Jay Be is behind
Nikko, wearing his Spartan Race
shirt and race bib

16 0

I am currently stationed in Guam and I am working hard with Spartan HQ to bring their
Military Series here in 2013. My wife is also holding mini boot camps here, training
other military wives for their first Spartan Race. Dirty 30 competes in Spartan Races all
over the States, and we are pushing well over 200 military and family members. Cole
and Carlo remain very active in my life and in the Dirty 30, and I still keep in weekly
contact with everyone who signed up to make sure they continue training and pushing
themselves even after their race is over.
Spartan Race gave my family and me reason to stay healthy and fit and a common
interest we can all share for years to come. A Spartan family that trains together stays
together. We will continue to do Spartan Races together with the goal of one day
competing as a family in the Death Race and Ultra Beast.
Now that I have experienced another level of fitness, family, community, and competition,
I just want to keep pushing myself and others.

161

16 2

CHAPTER 7
TRAIN FO R A S P A R T A N BEA S T

163

SETTING EXPECTATIONS: BASIC TRAINING REQUIREMENTS
Andy: The beauty of the Spartan Race model is that there are different distances and all
athletes can participate. With up to 25 obstacles over a course distance of 12+ miles,
the Beast is a race for the serious athlete. You should have a good base before starting
Beast-specific training—you can’t fake your way through the Beast. Many athletes can
get through a Sprint race or even a Super with limited preparation, but the Beast really
requires you to train.
You should be running/hiking a minimum of three days per week and cross training and/
or strength training three days per week. A mix of strength training and cardiovascular
training is important for this distance. And because of the nature of the event and the
time involved, you should have an effective and well-established nutrition plan that you
know works for you. You will be burning quite a few calories per hour and it’s important
to refuel during the event.

TRAIN TO FINISH THE BEAST
Jeff: The Beast is designed to bring athletes to their breaking point at least once during
the race. It is not advisable to attempt the Beast unless you are reasonably fit.
All of the guidance in the previous chapter’s Train to Finish the Super section applies
here as well, but the training requirements for the Beast are much greater. The fastest
times for the Spartan Beast are under 3 hours, the average time is around 4-5 hours,
and the slowest times are 7 hours or more. The key to finishing a Sprint is aerobic
endurance. The race is 13+ miles long, and to finish in the average time you would
need to be able to maintain an average speed of 3-4 miles per hour. The Beast is
typically raced on a mountainside, and the slope and terrain don’t count among the
25 obstacles. So the elevation gain and large number of obstacles make the Beast
significantly more demanding than the Super. In order to finish the race, you will
need to build the stamina to tolerate 3-5 hours (or more) of intense physical activity.
Collectively, the distance, terrain, and obstacles will also demand you pay attention to
your energy stores.

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO UNDERSTANDING AND
MANAGING GLYCOGEN
Racing at this level expends considerable amounts of glycogen. Serious competitors in
the Super or Beast will compete at an intensity that is close to their lactate threshold or
at about 80% of maximum, and just to complete the Beast will deplete most athletes’

16 4

energy stores. Even for well-trained athletes, 80% of total energy expenditure will
come from carbohydrate, so the availability of this important substrate will ultimately
determine your performance. Starting the race without a full tank of glycogen, or failing
to replace it during the race, will result in glycogen depletion, lower power output, and
declining performance.

Contributing Factors for High Performance in a Super or Beast
(The figure also applies to the Spartan Sprint, but the contributions of muscle and liver glycogen
are much more important in the longer races)

Here are two strategies that can be employed to combat glycogen depletion.
First, “Train Low, Compete High” is a strategy that has received some attention in recent
years. Some athletes will train in a glycogen-depleted state, forcing the body to utilize
more fat as a fuel. In other words, over time, training in a glycogen-depleted state over
time results in an up-regulation of fat metabolism. Training low can be accomplished
in a number of ways: 1) training on an empty stomach, 2) performing some glycogendepleting HIT before a LSD workout, or 3) training on a chronically low carbohydrate
diet. All of these strategies have been shown to up-regulate fat metabolism during
exercise. The disadvantage is that in the carbohydrate-depleted state, the athlete can’t
work as hard, which can diminish the effectiveness of training. If you should decide to
try this strategy, it is advisable to train in a glycogen-depleted state for less than 50%
of your total training time.
A second approach is to eat a very low carbohydrate diet in the two weeks leading up to
a competition. This causes an up-regulation in the enzymes related to fat metabolism,

165

and this too has been shown to improve fat metabolism during exercise. During the last
three days of the two-week period, you would switch back to a high-carbohydrate diet
which then will cause glycogen levels to rise 50% over normal levels. The disadvantage
of this approach is that the athlete generally feels weak and lethargic during the period
of low carbohydrate consumption.
Although both of these approaches seem promising and have their advocates, it should
be noted that the research is equivocal. Some research has shown improvements in
performance and some has shown a decrease in performance. It may be that genetics
plays a role in causing individual bodies to respond differently to the same stimuli, so
that some athletes may respond well to either or both of these approaches, while others
may not. If you decide to try either of these strategies, I recommend that you test your
own results well in advance of your competition; you don’t want to test a new protocol
with your competition just around the corner.

15 WEEKS TO YOUR FIRST SPARTAN BEAST
Joe and Andy have designed the Beast to be, well, a beast. It is not advisable to attempt
a Beast without sufficient preparatory training. If you are currently sedentary, you can
become strong enough in fifteen weeks to complete the course. If you are moderately
active, you can become fit enough to attack the course and enjoy it.
As with the Sprint and Super training templates, the training template here is meant to
be adapted to your fitness level: follow the template to your best ability, and do more
or less as appropriate to your specific needs. You may find it particularly helpful to train
with a partner, to keep you on track for the nearly four months of training. Stick with it!
As always, consult a physician if you have or develop any health concerns.

RACE DAY MINUS 15 WEEKS
MONDAY
Cross-train

Bingham 2



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

45-minute trail run; every 10 minutes find a rock or a



log and lift it for 10 reps, performing arm curls,



shoulder presses, and squats. Add 5 reps each time so



that you finish your last set with 25 reps for each exercise.

16 6

TUESDAY
Run

Super Spartan Run : 2 Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2;



Run 2 miles with heart rate in zone 4;



Cool down 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2.

WEDNESDAY
Strength


Planned duration



Workout description



Unbreakable Strength Plus Run
45 minutes
Repeat four times:



Dumbbell Lunge 30 seconds each leg



Split lunch Jumps 30 seconds



Plank Walk 45 seconds



Shoulder taps 45 seconds



3-minute rest between sets



Run 20 minutes with heart rate in zone 3

THURSDAY
Day Off

Rest Day A



Rest days are just as important as training days. This is

Workout description



the time when your body adapts to the previous day’s



exercise. Make it an active rest day by walking to the



store, taking the stairs at work, parking at the far



end of the parking lot, every hour take a 1-minute



break and stretch. Eat well, remembering you aren’t



exercising and burning all those extra calories!

FRIDAY
Cross-Train

Medusa’s Challenge



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

This will turn you into stone! Do the entire workout outside.



Run 15 minutes



Perform 1 minute of each exercise, with 10 seconds



rest in between:

push-ups

167

curl-up


inverted pull-ups

planks


squat jumps



jump rope



Repeat entire sequence 3 times.

SATURDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 4 miles



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3.

SUNDAY
Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes in zone 2.



Repeat 6 times:



Ride 3 minutes in zone 4.



Ride 1 minute in zone 2.



Cool down 10 minutes.

RACE DAY MINUS 14 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Make it an active rest day as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Tamma-Jamma 1



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Tammy can’t find her way around a mall without getting



lost. One evening we did our usual trail run in the



opposite direction and we had her lead the group.



Right away she was making wrong turns at trail



intersections. We decided that we would do 15 burpees




for each wrong turn. We are sure you won’t have the
same difficulty finding your way around the trails.

16 8



For this workout:



Run a 4 mile loop in the woods



Perform 15 burpees at each trail intersection





(or every 15 minutes)



(If you can’t do 15 continuous repetitions, do 3



sets of 5 with 30 seconds between sets.)

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Bourbon 2



Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

Some may find this workout difficult to swallow.



Repeat 5 times:



20 push-ups



20 burpees



10 pull-ups



1 minute sprint



1 minute rest

Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 4 miles



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Today train your mind. Memorize the first 10

Workout description



ingredients, in order, in your favorite breakfast food,



recall it at lunch. Do math in your head walking from



your car into work: how many seconds would it take to



drive 70 miles, at a speed of 55 miles per hour? At



lunch memorize the number from a one-dollar bill,



recall it at dinner.

FRIDAY
Strength Arnold


Planned duration



Workout description



1 hour
Some may say that this isn’t functional, but Arnold says,
“you’ll be back,” for this change of pace!

169



Repeat this 3 times, using a weight you can lift within



the desired range:



10-15 reps each:



Alternating backward barbell lunge



Alternating dumbbell chest press with overhand grip



Alternating incline dumbbell row with neutral grip



Back extension on machine with arms across chest



Cable lat pull-down with underhand grip



Alternating dumbbell shoulder front raise



Barbell wrist curl with arms on bench



Barbell wrist extension



Alternating dumbbell bicep curl with neutral grip



Seated 1-arm dumbbell tricep extension



Bridge and leg curl on stability ball



Bicycle



Dead bug



Leg raise with flutter kick on incline bench or floor



For dead bug and flutter kick, make sure the lower



back stays neutral



For video demonstrations of each exercise,



see www.physicalfitnet.com

Run

Unbreakable Intervals



Planned duration

39 minutes



Workout description

Intervals are the best way to improve your fitness and



these are no exception.



10 reps: 10-second hill (sprint), 10-second rest



5 reps: 20-second hill (very high intensity),



20-second rest



3 reps: 30-second hill (high intensity), 10-second rest



Do not stop until all 18 intervals are complete



Walk for 5 minutes to recover and repeat for half the reps.



Jog easy for 20 minutes.

SATURDAY
Run

Tammy’s Delirium 5



1 hour, 15 minutes

Planned duration

17 0



Workout description

Delirium: a disturbance in one’s mental abilities.



What were you thinking?



Warm up for one mile in zone 2.



Find a hill, about 200 feet in height



(roughly a 4-minute hill)



Run up the hill as hard as possible, but maintain a



steady pace. (You should be very tired at the end.)



Jog down the hill.



Do 10 burpees.



Repeat 5 times.



Jog easy to cool down.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

25 crunches



50 bicycles



50 back-scratchers



50 rotating crunches



25 leg-lowers



50 scissor-kicks



50 side-crunches



50 bicycles



50 back-scratchers

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 6 miles



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3



for 6 miles.

RACE DAY MINUS 13 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Make it an active rest day, as above.

Workout description

171

TUESDAY
Run

Super Spartan Run: 2 Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2;



Run 2 miles with heart rate in zone 4;



Cool down 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Unbreakable Strength Plus Run



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

Repeat 4 times:



Dumbbell Lunge for 30 seconds on each leg.



Split Lunge for 30 seconds



Plank Walk for 45 seconds



Shoulder taps for 45 seconds



Rest for 3 minutes.



Run for 20 minutes in zone 3.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Rest today, but train your mind (as above)!

Workout description

FRIDAY
Cross-Train

Medusa’s Challenge



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

This will turn you into stone! Do the entire



workout outside.



Run 15 minutes



Perform 1 minute of each exercise, with 10 seconds



rest in between:

push-ups
curl-up


inverted pull-ups

planks


squat jumps

17 2




jump rope

Repeat entire sequence 3 times.

SATURDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 4 miles



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

SUNDAY
Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 12 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Run

Super Spartan Run: 4-Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

Warm up 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2;



Run 4 miles with heart rate in zone 4;



Cool down 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-Train

Cheesy Fries



Planned duration

1 hour, 15 minutes



Workout description




At 2500 kcals, you would have to do this entire workout
twice just to burn off half a serving.

173



Repeat this 3 times:



Hike a short but steep hill carrying a log, weight,



rock, or half-filled bucket of water. Hike back



down. This should take about 15 minutes round trip.



Run/jog/walk the same hill



10 burpees



15 stone dead lifts (use your legs)



Hang from a low branch for 30 seconds or as



long as possible, until you accumulate 3 minutes



of hanging.



Rest 2 minutes



Jog a flat trail for 20 minutes.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day B



Rest well, but train your mind (as above).

Workout description

FRIDAY
Strength

Greetings from Cumberland



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

This is a nice “how do you do!”



Equipment needed:



Spartan Boulder (different sizes available



depending on individual, i.e., basketball,



volleyball, and football sizes)



Spartan Plank (2x6x30 inches) with sling. The sling



is for carrying the plank.



Warm-up:



Jog slowly in place for 5 minutes.



Do 200 jumping jacks.

Stretch.


Conditioning:



Boulder-toss – hold the boulder with both hands



and bring it to the chest. With a great thrust (using



arms and legs), push the boulder out and up as



hard and fast as possible. Run to it and repeat. Do



3 sets of 10 with 30 seconds of recovery between sets.

17 4



Boulder Up – lie on back with knees bent. Hold boulder




on chest just under chin. Perform 50 crunches.

Balance push-up – Place boulder on ground, place the



center of the Spartan Plank onto the boulder. Do



push-ups to failure with hands on the plank.



Boulder-curls – Hold the boulder with hands on the



side. Squeezing the boulder so it does not drop,



perform 20 bicep curls.



Boulder-triceps – Hold boulder above head and




perform triceps extensions.

Boulder transport – Find a hill, carry the boulder up



the hill, place the boulder, and run back down the



hill. Run back up the hill, pick up boulder, and walk




down. Repeat 5 times.

Boulder Leap – Hold the boulder at chest height. Squat



down and leap forward. Repeat 10 times, then



return in opposite direction. Recover for 1 minute



and then repeat.



Cool down with some light stretching and moving in place.

Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 8 miles



Planned duration

1 hour, 20 minutes



Workout description



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3
for 8 miles.

SATURDAY
Run

Pineapple 6



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

This workout looks gnarly on the surface, but once you



get into it, it’s sweet!



Do this workout entirely on trails.



Run 1 mile in zone 2 to warm up.



10 burpees



10 push-ups



5 pull-ups



10 squats with rock held at chest level



Run 0.5 mile in zone 3.



Repeat for prescribed distance.

175

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 6 miles



Planned duration

1 hour, 10 minutes



Workout description

Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3



for 6 miles.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 11 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Bourbon on the Rocks



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Some may find this difficult to swallow.



Repeat 5 times:



10 push-ups



10 burpees



5 pull-ups





30-second sprint
1-minute rest

Then, with a rock, repeat 4 times:



15 squats



Lunge-walk 50 yards



10 chest-passes



10 underhand toss



Rest for 1 minute between each circuit.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

17 6

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

De Sena



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Do this outside, no matter the conditions. (Hopefully it



is cold and rainy.)



Jump-rope for 10 minutes.



15 walking lunges on each leg



15 push-ups



15 stone deadlifts (use your legs)



Belly-crawl 10 yards



10 stone squat chest-pass (Use the same stone as



in the lift, hold the stone at chest height, squat the



stone, then chest pass the stone as far as possible.



Pick up the stone and repeat 10 times.)



Repeat the cycle twice.

Run

Super Spartan Run: 4-Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Rest well, but train your mind (as above).

Workout description

FRIDAY
Strength Arnold


Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

As above.

SATURDAY
Cross-train

Tammy’s Delirium 8



Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

Delirium: a disturbance in one’s mental abilities.



What were you thinking?



Warm up for one mile in zone 2.



Find a hill, about 200 feet in height



(roughly a 4-minute hill)



Run up the hill as hard as possible, but maintain a



steady pace. (You should be very tired at the end.)

177



Jog down the hill.



Do 10 burpees.



Repeat 8 times.



Jog easy to cool down.

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 6 miles



Planned duration

1 hour, 10 minutes



Workout description

Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3



for 6 miles.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 10 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic Warm up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Start with a 5-minute general warm-up with a brisk



walk, slow jog, easy cycle, or easy row. Then perform



the following exercises two times for a distance of



25 yards each:



High-knee walk



High-knee jog

Butt-kickers


Lateral shuffle



Straight leg march

Skip


Straight leg skip



Cross-over step

Carioca


Duck walk

17 8

Cross-train

Mr. Clean



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

You will clean house at your first Spartan race!



Repeat three times:



Swiss ball knee-tucks for 45 seconds



Push-ups for 30 seconds



Swiss ball triceps-dips for 45 seconds



Plank for 45 seconds

Run

Super Spartan Run: 4-Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Warm-up jump rope



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

Skip, high knee jog, skip side to side, skip front to back

Strength

Unbreakable Strength



Planned duration

35 minutes



Workout description

Repeat this 5 times:



Dumbbell Lunge for 30 seconds on each leg



Split-lunge Jumps for 30 seconds



Plank walk for 45 seconds



Shoulder taps for 45 seconds



(Rest for 3 minutes between sets.)

Bike

Spartan Bike Sprints



Planned duration

35 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes in zone 2



Ride for 20 minutes in zone 3



Every other minute, sprint as hard as possible



for 10 seconds



Cool down easy for 5 minutes.

179

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest day B



Train your mind. Memorize the first 10 finishers at

Workout description



the Badwater Ultramarathon this year, recall them at



lunch. Do math in your head walking from your car into



work: divide your odometer reading by your waist size.



At lunch memorize 8 college basketball scores, recall



them at dinner.

FRIDAY
Cross-train Delicious


Planned duration

60 minutes



Workout description

So good you will want more!



This is done entirely on trails:



Run 2 miles to warm up



25 push-ups



25 squats



20 mountain climbers



Run ½ mile at high intensity, but pace yourself



so you don’t have to walk



10 squat jumps



50-yard lunge walk



10 lunge jumps



20 flutter kicks



10 side-to-side hops



Run 1 mile at high intensity, but pace yourself



so you don’t have to walk



25 push-ups



25 squats



20 mountain climbers



Run ½ mile at high intensity, but pace yourself



so you don’t have to walk



10 squat jumps



50-yard lunge walk



10 lunge jumps



20 flutter kicks

18 0




10 side-to-side hops

Run 1 mile to cool down.

SATURDAY
Run


Planned duration



Planned distance

Pineapple 6
1 hour, 30 minutes

6 miles


Workout description

As above; repeat for prescribed distance.

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 8 miles



Planned duration

1 hour, 20 minutes



Workout description

Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3



for 8 miles.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 9 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Run

Super Spartan Run: 6-Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2;



Run 2 miles with heart rate in zone 4;



Cool down 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic Warm up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above.

181

Cross-train

Dreamweaver 2



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

The stuff dreams are made of!



Repeat 4 times:



Run 0.75 miles in zone 4.



25 push-ups



10 pull-ups



25 crunches

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

THURSDAY
Cross-train

Rest Day B



Rest days are just as important as the training days.

Workout description



This is the time period when your body adapts to the



previous day’s exercise. Today, train your mind.



Memorize the 5 Australian states and their capitals



and recall them at lunch. Do math in your head



walking from your car into work. Calculate the total



amount of weight lifted in your last Arnold workout.



At lunch memorize the Pawtucket Pawsox starting



lineup and recall it at dinner.

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Cheaper than Health Care



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

Warm up by jumping rope for 15 minutes



Do each of the following for 1 minute:

Mountain-climbers


Spiderman push-up



Plank with row



Inverted pull-ups



Medicine-ball sit-ups

Squat-jumps


Recover for 3 minutes.



Repeat cycle 3 times.

18 2

Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes in zone 2.



Repeat 6 times:



Ride 3 minutes in zone 4.



Ride 1 minute in zone 2.



Cool down 10 minutes.

SATURDAY
Cross-train

Kuato with Bike



Planned duration

1 hour, 15 minutes



Workout description

Kuato lives! He sees you finishing the Beast in excellent



form. Free your mind…



Jump rope for 5 minutes



50 push-ups



40 leg-lowers



Pull-ups to failure (Use an assisted device such as



a band or machine to get at least 5 reps.)



40 hanging leg-raises



75 body weight squats (fast, but with good form)



(Repeat twice.)



Bike for 30 minutes in heart rate zone 3.

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 4 miles



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

Warm up well.



On trails, run in zone 2 and the low end of zone 3.

RACE DAY MINUS 8 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Bourbon on the Rocks



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

As above

183

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

De Sena



Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

As above, rain or shine. (Preferably rain.)

Run

Super Spartan Run: 4-Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day B



Train your mind: memorize the 10 longest rivers in

Workout description



the United States and recall them at lunch. Do math in



your head walking from your car into work. Sum



the license plates from the first 10 cars you walk past.



At lunch memorize the UTM coordinates of three of



your favorite vacation spots. Recall them at dinner.

FRIDAY
Strength Arnold


Planned duration

1 hour

Workout description

We told you so: “You will be back.” As above.

Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

52 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes in zone 2.



Repeat 8 times:



Ride 3 minutes in zone 4.



Ride 1 minute in zone 2..



Cool down 10 minutes.

SATURDAY
Strength

Tammy’s Delirium 8



1 hour, 30 minutes

Planned duration

Workout description


As above.

18 4

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 8 miles



1 hour

Planned duration

Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 7 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic Warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above

Cross

Mr. Clean



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Run

Super Spartan Run: 4-Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Warm-up Jump Rope



10 minutes

Planned duration

Workout description

Skip, high-knee jog, skip side to side, skip front



to back.

Strength

Unbreakable Strength



Planned duration

35 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Bike

Spartan Bike Sprints



Planned duration

35 minutes



Workout description

As above.

185

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day B



Train your mind: memorize the top 10 female finishers

Workout description



at the SoCal Super Spartan, recall them at lunch. Do



math in your head walking from your car to work.



Multiply your age by your height in inches, and then



divide by your shoe size. At lunch memorize the top



10 male finishers and their times at the SoCal Super



Spartan. Recall them at dinner.

FRIDAY
Strength

Rhode Islander Bucket Workout



Equipment needed:

Workout description



2-5 gallon buckets with lids, filled with sand, water,



rocks—some type of manageable weight—and a



5’ steel bar with hooks on both ends.



Warm-up:



Jog slowly in place for 1 minute.



200 jumping jacks

Stretch


Conditioning:



Decline bucket push-up – place your feet on the



buckets and your hands on the ground. Adjusting



the spacing of your hands for variation, do as



many push-ups as possible.



Incline bucket push-up – place buckets 24 – 30



inches apart. Place hands on buckets and feet on



ground. Do as many push-ups as possible, going



between the buckets.



Bucket-lunge – Hand the weighted buckets from



each side of the steel bar. Place bar behind your



head resting on your trapezius. Lunge for 50 yards.



Side-jump – place buckets on ground with steel bar



resting across them. Stand beside the bar, jump



over the bar to the other side, and repeat 20 times.



Bucket curl shoulder-press – use the steel bar with



weighted buckets hanging from both ends. Begin

18 6



by curling the bar up to your chest and then press



the bar over your head. Slowly return to the starting



positions, and repeat.





Bucket high-step walk – hold a weighted bucket in



each hand. Walk for 100 yards with high knees.



Cool down with a light jog, and stretch.

Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

Warm up for 10 minutes in zone 2.



Repeat 6 times:



Ride 3 minutes in zone 4.



Ride 1 minute in zone 2..



Cool down 10 minutes.

SATURDAY
Brick

Super Nachos



Planned duration

2 hours



Workout description

This is a popular appetizer at many restaurants. Eat



the whole thing, and you ingest 2,700 kcals and 170 g



of fat. You need to do this workout 3 times to burn it



off. Skip the nachos and just do this once.



Swim or row 1000 meters in zone 3.



15 burpees



15 push-ups



10 pull-ups



Bike 10 miles in zone 3



15 burpees



10 push-ups



10 pull-ups



Run 3 miles in zone 3



15 burpees



15 push-ups



10 pull-ups



(A triathlon—with a twist!)

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

187

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 9 miles



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above, but for 9 miles.

Cross-train Bourbon


Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

Some may find this difficult to swallow:



Repeat 5 times:



10 push-ups



10 burpees



5 pull-ups



30-second sprint



1-minute rest

RACE DAY MINUS 6 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Dreamweaver 2



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

As above

Run

Super Spartan Run: 4-Mile Trail Tempo Run



1 hour, 30 minutes

Planned duration

Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic Warm-up 1



10 minutes

Planned duration

Workout description

As above.

Cross-train Delicious


Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

18 8

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day B



Train your mind: memorize the 12 Greek Titans and

Workout description



recall them at lunch. Do math in your head walking



from your car to work. Calculate the oxygen cost in



ml/kg/min of your exercise from yesterday. Assume



a 1 hour workout requires about 600 kcals of energy,



and 5 kcals equals 1 liter of oxygen. (You will need your



weight in kg.) At lunch memorize the names of the



12 Greek gods. Recall them at dinner.

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Cheaper than Health Care



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

As above.

SATURDAY
Cross-train

Kuato with Bike



Planned duration

1 hour, 15 minutes



Workout description

Free your mind…as above.

Cross-train

Tamma-Jamma 1



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

As above.

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 10 miles



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above, but for 10 miles.

Cross-train Bourbon


Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

189

RACE DAY MINUS 5 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Run

Super Spartan Run : 6 Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic Warm-up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train

Dreamweaver 2



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Cheaper than Health Care



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Bike

Spartan Bike



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

As above.

SATURDAY
Cross-train

Kuato with Bike



Planned duration

1 hour, 15 minutes



Workout description

Free your mind…as above.

19 0

Cross-train

Tamma-Jamma 1



Planned duration

40 minutes



Workout description

As above.

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 4 miles



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 4 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Strength

Diamonds are Forever!



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train

Bingham 2



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

De Sena



Planned duration

30 minutes



Workout description

As above, rain or shine. (Preferably rain.)

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day B



Train your mind: memorize the top 10 songs on

Workout description



Billboard.com. Do math in your head walking from your



car to work. Sum the serial numbers from 5 one-dollar



bills. Divide by 6. At lunch memorize the names of the



top 10 goal-scorers in the NHL and recall them at dinner.

191

FRIDAY
Run

Tammy’s Delirium 10



Planned duration

2 hours



Workout description

As above, but repeat main loop 10 times. Yes, we said 10.

SATURDAY
Run

Pineapple 8



Planned duration

2 hours minutes



Planned distance

8 miles



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

SUNDAY
Strength

Greetings from Cumberland



1 hour

Planned duration

Workout description

As above.

Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 10 miles



2 hours

Planned duration

Workout description

As above, but for 10 miles.

RACE DAY MINUS 3 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Strength

Diamonds are Forever!



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train

Bingham 2



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

De Sena



30 minutes

Planned duration

19 2

Workout description

As above, rain or shine. (Preferably rain.)

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day B



Train your mind: memorize the first 10 ingredients, in

Workout description



order, from your favorite breakfast cereal, and recall



them at lunch. Do math in your head walking from your



car to work. How many seconds would it take to drive



70 miles at a speed of 55 miles per hour? At lunch



memorize the serial number from a one-dollar bill.



Recall it at dinner.

FRIDAY
Run

Tammy’s Delirium 10



Planned duration

2 hours



Workout description

As above.

SATURDAY
Run

Pineapple 8



Planned duration

2 hours minutes



Planned distance

8 miles



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 10 Miles



Planned duration

2 hours



Workout description

As above.

Strength

Greetings from Cumberland



Planned duration

1 hour



Workout description

As above.

193

RACE DAY MINUS 2 WEEKS
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Strength

Super Spartan Run: 2 Mile Trail Tempo Run



Planned duration

1 hour, 30 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Cross-train

Dynamic Warm-Up 1



Planned duration

10 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Cross-train

Dreamweaver 2



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

As above.

THURSDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

FRIDAY
Cross-train

Cheaper than Health Care

Planned duration
Workout description

50 minutes

As above.
Bike

Spartan Bike



40 minutes

Planned duration

Workout description

As above.

SATURDAY
Cross-train

Kuato with Bike



Planned duration

1 hour, 15 minutes



Workout description

Kuato lives! As above.

19 4

SUNDAY
Run

Super Spartan Trail Run: Steady State 4 Miles



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

As above.

RACE DAY MINUS 1 WEEK
MONDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

TUESDAY
Cross-train

Bingham 2



Planned duration

45 minutes



Workout description

As above.

Strength

AB 500



Planned duration

20 minutes



Workout description

As above.

WEDNESDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

THURSDAY
Cross-train

Medusa’s Challenge



Planned duration

50 minutes



Workout description

As above.

FRIDAY
Day off

Rest Day A



Active rest day, as above.

Workout description

SATURDAY
RACE DAY—YOUR FIRST SPARTAN BEAST
TRAIN TO COMPETE
Jeff: In order to finish in the top 10% of racers in the Beast, you will need to complete
the course in less than 3 hours 15 minutes for men, and 4 hours for women, although
finish times will vary depending on the course. You will need to be in peak condition

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across all five elements of fitness and comfortable with all of the obstacle types, as well
as adept at managing your hydration, nutrition, and energy stores before and during
the race.
At the Beast distance, free workout suggestions (WOD and others) and open discussions
on training tips are likely to offer limited value. You may find it more helpful to train
with a group of accomplished obstacle racers or to undertake a personalized coaching
program.

SPARTAN WARRIOR: LISA DEMETRIOU
Andy: Lisa Demetriou is no slave to pain. In her 17 years in the NYPD, Lisa suffered
an injury in her right foot and damage to her lungs, but that didn’t stop her from
signing up for two Spartan Races. She broke her leg in the second race, but nothing
can stop someone with Lisa’s drive. Here to tell her story is her proud husband George
Demetriou, co-coach and owner of Spartan Performance/CrossFit Suffolk in Holbrook,
New York.
George: We both heard it, but I convinced myself that Lisa had landed on something
plastic or a twig perhaps. There was a distinct snapping sound. Lisa had just slipped off
the Monkey Bars at about the 6-mile mark of the Super Spartan, 8-mile obstacle race
in Staten Island, New York, September 2011. I looked down at Lisa who was staring up
at me with the unmistakable look that communicated the message, “This isn’t good.” I
studied the ground beneath Lisa and, much to my dismay, found no evidence of plastic,
a twig, or anything other than grass. Lisa’s face and the lack of anything that could
produce the snapping sound could only mean one thing: the snapping was Lisa’s leg
breaking upon her foot impacting the ground.
Lisa Demetriou, in her second Spartan Race, her first was the Spartan Beast a month
earlier, traversed the monkey bars half way and slipped off. No problem. 30 burpees
and she was sent on her way. Lisa couldn’t just move on though. She couldn’t leave this
obstacle without giving it a second attempt. Up she went, at the point she had slipped
off moments before, and began her monkey bar journey while I looked on.
“Nooooooooo,” we both thought, but had not verbalized as Lisa slipped off the bar and
landed on her right foot—the foot with the Reflex Sympathy Dysfunction. The foot that
has no muscle padding at the bottom due to the nerve damage from injuries suffered in
her previous career as a detective with the NYPD. The foot that is atrophied. The foot
that had two stress fractures before she ran the Beast. The foot that she shouldn’t have

19 6

landed on, but did. Lisa previously broke the tibia and fibula, the bones in the lower leg.
She had foot reconstructions and nerve decompression surgery. Lisa also suffers from
Reactive Airway Dysfunction (RADS), something she was diagnosed with after helping
with the recovery effort at the World Trade Center after September 11th, 2001. Lisa
hated being told what physical activities she should and should not do. As soon as she
learned of the Spartan Race, she signed us up for the Beast. It was such a great and
challenging experience Lisa immediately signed us up for the Super Spartan, which was
closer to our home. I thought our second Spartan Race suddenly came to an end.
Lisa was offered help from the Spartan Race personnel, but she refused, insisting that
she didn’t have long to go and had to finish. I was concerned, but not surprised. There
was no way, not even a second of doubt, that Lisa would come this far to throw in
the towel. I offered to carry her, but she said she had to finish on her own. Lisa never
thought about what other damage she may have done. She never considered the future
beyond finishing the race. She just kept going. If Lisa had to crawl the rest of the way
she would have. So off we went.
Lisa was in agony, but kept moving through grass, mud, sand, and water. She participated
in every obstacle that remained. I tried to get her to just walk to the finish, bypassing
every obstacle in her path, but she wouldn’t have it. The 4’11”, 45 year-old Lisa was on
a mission, and quitting wasn’t an option. I tried every argument I could think of to get
her to stop. Lisa ignored my words like she ignored the burning pain in her leg. Like a
machine that just didn’t know any better, Lisa kept moving.
The worst part for me was watching her drag the cinder block in the sand. The sand is thick
and uneven which caused Lisa’s leg to constantly shift in unpredictable directions. I had
to look away. The look of pain in her face was too much for me to bear. Lisa finished this
obstacle and the remaining ones, doing her burpees when she missed on the spear throw.
As we crossed the finish line, Lisa had the biggest smile on her face. She sat on the
ground just past the finish line, looked at me, and said, “I’ll take that medical attention
now.” The EMTs were there instantly.
“What’s hurting you?” asked the EMT.
“My leg is broken,” responded Lisa.
Lisa was so calm the EMT didn’t believe her. “It’s probably not broken,” the EMT said.
“I feel crepitus,” Lisa said matter-of-factly.

Lisa and George at the
September 2011 Super Spartan
after Lisa broke her leg
(Personal archive)

19 8

With those words the EMT suddenly put his game face on. “Are you a nurse?” the EMT
asked, surprised by the use of the word crepitus (a medical term to describe the grating,
crackling or popping sounds and sensations experienced under the skin and joints.)
“No. I was a cop and an EMT,” said Lisa.
The EMT looked at the other EMT’s and said, “Let’s get her in a chair and load her up
on the ambulance.”
Lisa loves the challenge of the Spartan Race and did her third race, the Sprint in Tuxedo
Park, New York, after healing up from the broken leg. We are currently training for the
Spartan Beast in Vermont.
While being treated in the hospital Lisa was ecstatic that she finished the race. The
Spartan Race brings out the competitiveness in the participants and, for those who enjoy
a challenge, it brings out the warrior spirit that the race demands. Lisa looks forward to
future events and spreading the word to others so that they can share in the reward of
participating in a Spartan Race. Lisa continues to be the greatest source of inspiration
to the people she trains at our CrossFit gym.
I couldn’t help but admire Lisa as she sat covered in mud in the hospital. She represented
the qualities I admire in all warriors: she refused to quit even though nobody would
have criticized her for doing so; she displayed the type of spirit you only see from elite
members of the military; and she displayed defiance by not giving in to the pain.
For Lisa, as for all Spartan Racers, the finish line is the most worthy goal. Not crossing it
would have been more painful than anything she suffered along the way.

SPARTAN WARRIOR: MARGARET SCHLACHTER
Andy: I’ve intentionally kept this introduction brief, since Margaret Schlachter can tell
her own story way better than I can queue it up for you. The essential details are these:
Margaret is an elite obstacle racer and a founding member of the Spartan Chicked
group,1 now 5000 members strong and growing. She is also the creator of the Dirt in
Your Skirt blog,2 which was recognized as a 2012 Bloggies award winner: Best Sports
Blog.
Margaret: In 2010 my life changed with a simple “like” on Facebook. A new event/race
came across my stream and I did what everyone of my generation would do: I Googled it.

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I was once a two-sport varsity athlete but shifted my focus over the past five years
to coaching the next generation of athletes; and I let my own endeavors slide by the
wayside. However, with that simple “like” and a few clicks on the website I had changed
the trajectory of my life and chose to be an athlete myself again: I signed up for my first
Spartan Race in Burlington, Vermont.
The first race would be virtually unrecognizable compared to where the sport is today.
However, that race had a magical quality to it. It was new and exciting, and no one
knew what obstacle racing was or what would be in store. I toed the line wearing a
cotton shirt, cotton capris, and cotton underwear. This was when I learned the first
lesson of obstacle racing: JUST SAY NO TO COTTON! I spent much of that race pulling
up sagging clothing, each time hoping I wouldn’t show the world all of me as my capris
sagged. Clothing issues aside, after the race was finished I was hooked!
I went home and searched out all the obstacle races I could find, entering in about a
half-dozen that first season and finishing in the top 25% of all the races I did that year.
It was good, but it wasn’t like I was blowing everybody else out of the water. I was just
having some fun. As the 2011 season approached, I decided it was time to take this all
a little more seriously. The competition started to grow, and I made the choice to train
and actually get back into shape. It was around this point I started my blog Dirt In Your
Skirt as a way to hold myself accountable for my training.
The 2011 season had many highs for me, but the ultimate highlight was the Spartan
Beast in Killington, Vermont. There was an air around that race reminiscent of the first
race in 2010: the distance was unknown, and the terrain was unrelenting. Unlike the
first race, this time I definitely wasn’t wearing cotton. A month before the race I was
invited to be a founding member of the Spartan Chicked group, and at the starting line
of the Beast I was proudly wearing my new Spartan Chicked gear.
As I stood in the middle of the pack with some of my friends and fellow Spartan Chicks,
I had no idea how this race would turn out. I just wanted to finish. Suddenly my friend
Carrie pushed me to the front of the line and told me it was time for me to run my race.
I stood there with the likes of Hobie Call, 3 Grace Cuomo Durfee, 4 Rose-Marie Jarry,5
Alec Blenis6 and other athletes who dominate the sport today. I felt completely out of
my league.
Before long, the race began, and I was off. I live in Killington, so I had the hometown
advantage of knowing the terrain. As we made our first ascent of the race I settled

20 0

in and relaxed into what would be almost four hours of racing. We tackled some of
the steepest terrain on the mountain. In races such as this you get to talking to your
competitors. Prior to ascending the mountain I passed Grace (2010 Women’s Death
Race Winner). As we headed off the first peak I passed Irene Call (wife of Hobie). After
the first hour, I found myself in fourth place among the women.
The race was long and the competition had greatly spread out. We ran up and down
the mountain, through obstacles both natural to the terrain and those made by the race
crew. When we got up to the top of Bear Mountain, we had a task like no other I had
seen in a race so far: memorization. As I stared at this crazy group of numbers and
letters I found my phrase: ALPHA603-8864. I repeated that phrase in my head for the
next hour or so. We were not told when we would need it again, but I was certain that
in a Spartan Race, forgetting that phrase would buy me a penalty.
ALPHA603-8864 over and over as we descended down some steep bushwhacking, where
I jumped from foothold to foothold. ALPHA603-8864 as I grabbed the fifty-pound bag of
sand and ascended up the steepest mogul trail in the East. ALPHA603-8864 as I passed
an Ironman, and guys who looked like they could eat me for dinner. ALPHA603-8864
as I grabbed my weighted sled and dragged it around the Bear Mountain parking
lot. ALPHA603-8864 as I ran over the hot coals with sled in hand. ALPHA603-8864
as I dropped the sled, took a sip of Gatorade from a volunteer, ran up to the tent
and was asked simply, “What is your phrase?” I took a deep breath and repeated
ALPHA603-8864. I continued on with my race.
We swam, we jumped, we climbed. Between obstacles I walked, and I ran, sometimes
quickly, sometimes slowly. As we reached what I thought was the end, we entered the
longest swim of the race followed by an intimidating rope traverse high above water.
As I swam I cramped up and struggled to get to the rope. Once on the rope, I caught
sight of the female racer in front of me. She was over on the far side of the lake doing
burpees. Little did I know at that point I had taken hold of third place and was looking
at the second-place finisher. By the time I dropped from the rope—unable to go on—and
did my burpees, she was long gone.
As I navigated the end of the course and through the final obstacles, I believed I was still
in fourth place. I crossed the finish line exhausted, barely able to put a sentence together.
I was on the verge of a massive bonk. A friend came up to me and congratulated me
on my third place finish. I told him he was lying! I had to look at the computer screen,
where it read not only was I in third, but I also reached my goal of finishing in less than

201

Margaret approaching
the finish line at the
Tuxedo Ridge race, June 2012
(Photo credit: Nuvision)

20 2

four hours. The rest of the day was like a dream. My sword in my living room serves as
a reminder of that day each time I glance at it.
Last year I finished in the top ten for women in all of the races I entered, and sixth in the
world championships in Texas. Last April I thought a long run was 3 or 4 miles. This year
I finished fifth in my first ever ultramarathon.
No going back now.

1
2
3
4
5
6

See http://www.spartanchicked.blogspot.com/
http://dirtinyourskirt.com/
Still to come, in Chapter 10
http://blog.spartanrace.com/death-race-profile-series-grace-cuomo-durfee/
Refer back to Rose Marie’s story in Chapter 4
… and see Alec’s in Chapter 9

203

20 4

CHAPTER 8
TRAIN FO R A S P A R T A N U L T R A BEA S T

205

SETTING EXPECTATIONS: BASIC TRAINING REQUIREMENTS
Andy: The Ultra Beast is much like an ultramarathon in terms of time. Athletes will cover
26 miles, a marathon distance, while also encountering an unknown number of serious
obstacles. The obstacles are every bit as challenging as the obstacles in the Sprint,
Super, and Beast races, and there are more of them.
Overall, setting a goal is important. I suggest all athletes set a long-term goal, such as
a target finish time, with several small short-term goals along the way. Many athletes
come from a running background and have to incorporate more strength training into
their routine, while other athletes come from a strength training background and have
to incorporate more running into their routine. A combination of the two is best.
A large portion of your training should be devoted to building cardiovascular endurance
so that you can cover the distance, but it’s imperative to complement that endurance
conditioning with serious strength training. You should be able to run 20 miles at
a moderate pace before tackling the Ultra Beast. Typically this means daily mileage
between 4 and 8 miles and longer runs on the weekends up to 20 miles. Core strength
is also an important factor for the longer distances. In addition to focused strength
training, you should practice carrying heavy objects/loaded packs during training to
strengthen your core muscles and lower bodies. If you have never run with weight
before, you should get comfortable doing it as a regular part of your training regimen.
Flexibility is something that everyone can work on and improve.
Training for the Ultra Beast can be a life-changing experience. Since each individual
is different, the lifestyle and training regimen you choose is going to be unique to you.

TRAIN TO FINISH THE ULTRA BEAST
Jeff: Andy’s last statement above is so important it’s worth repeating: Training for the
Ultra Beast can be a life-changing experience; since each individual is different, the
lifestyle and training regimen you choose is going to be unique to you. For that reason,
there is no training template in this chapter.
Particularly if this is your first marathon-distance, you will need to be in excellent
condition across all five—really, all six—elements of fitness. To prepare your body and
mind for the Ultra Beast’s combination of distance and obstacles, it is advisable to run
a few Supers and Beasts, and then build endurance from there. Alternatively, you could
run a few marathons and add strength training. In either case, you should not attempt
an Ultra Beast if you are not properly conditioned.

20 6

TRAIN TO COMPETE
Jeff: The first Ultra Beast will be held in September 2012, and top 10% finish times are
not yet known. They will probably be somewhere around eight hours for men, and nine
hours for women. You will need to be in unstoppable condition across all five elements
of fitness, capable of finishing back-to-back Beasts.
You should not attempt the elite wave at the Ultra Beast if you are not already fit enough to


run a marathon in 3 hours, 30 minutes for men or 4 hours for women, or



complete an Ironman in 14 hours for men or 15 hours for women, or



run a 50-mile ultramarathon in under 12 hours for men or women, or



better yet, finish in the top 10% in back-to-back Spartan Beasts.

SPARTAN WARRIORS: JEFF AND TAMMY GODIN
Andy: You’ve heard from Jeff Godin in each of the past few chapters, and we’ve
already told you about his Spartan Warrior credentials. Jeff’s wife Tammy is a Spartan
Warrior in her own right: coming from a multiple-sport background, Tammy was also
a ballet instructor and regionally recognized aerobics and kickboxing instructor. She
started racing seriously at the age of 40, and since then has racked up a laundry list of
impressive finishes and podium appearances. In addition to pursuing her own intensive
competition schedule, she coaches both new and accomplished athletes to new levels
of achievement.
Jeff and Tammy: Ernest Shackleton said, “Difficulties are just things to overcome, after
all.” Life is full of difficulties. When we place ourselves in situations where physical
“difficulties” present themselves in many forms, it better prepares us for life. After
running a hundred miles and overcoming the difficulties of blisters, glycogen depletion,
dehydration, fatigue, boredom…some of life’s difficulties seem less difficult. Spartan
Race does that for people in much shorter courses.
What we identify with the most is Spartan Race’s mission to get people to be active—
getting people back to living. We love the Spartan Code. It truly embodies values that
are embraced by people worldwide and, to us anyway, represents a way of living that
is good for society in general. We are currently developing a series of certifications to
train personal trainers and coaches to help spread this message and to get one million
people off of their coaches and outside being physically active. Most of those people
probably won’t run any event on par with the Ultra Beast, but we hope some of them
will. We’ve found obstacle races and ultra-endurance races so rewarding that we want
to help bring them to as many people as we can.

207

Tammy carrying the kayak up
Bloodroot Mountain
at the 2012 Death Race
(personal archive)

20 8

Jeff: Our endurance journey began in April 2002. I just defended my dissertation, and
two weeks later Tammy was struck by an automobile while out running. Her injuries were
extensive and included a fractured femur, pelvis, and orbital bones. Talk about going
from high to low! Tammy set a goal to recover by August and hike Mount Elbert, the
highest peak in Colorado. We bagged Mt. Elbert and three other 14’ers that August. It
was during one of these hikes that we came across an athlete training for the Leadville
100 run. At the time we had never heard of a 100-mile run and it triggered our thirst
for ultra-endurance events. We decided then that we would celebrate Tammy’s one-year
anniversary of surviving the accident by running our first marathon.
Tammy: Since our first marathon in 2003 we ran in 20+ marathons, 12+ ultra-marathons
including two 100’s, 3 Ironman triathlons, six adventure races, three ultra-mountain
bike races, and numerous other triathlons, trail races, and epic adventures. We have
also completed the Spartan Sprint and Spartan Beast,1 and we’re looking forward to
the inaugural Ultra Beast in September 2012. We started small, went outside of our
comfort zone, and, each time we were successful, we stretched our boundaries to find
out something more was possible. My favorite quote is from Neal Donald Walsh: “Life
begins at the end of your comfort zone.” We have definitely found that to be true.
We usually race in the same events, often times staying together throughout the race.
In 2010 we ran in the Hellgate 100K in Fincastle, Virginia. The race starts at midnight
in early December; the temperature was in the low teens. The race has a nice five-mile
prologue with some gentle hills and flowing single track. Just before the first aid station
there is a river crossing, and in years past we just plowed through the water. This year
the water was lower and some of the rocks were poking above the water. We decided
that rock-hopping would keep our feet dry for a little while. Well, the rocks were wet
and iced over.
Jeff: Tammy slipped and fell in the river, smashed her thigh on a rock, and totally soaked
her clothing. Dry clothes were 20 miles away. She could barely walk from the deep thigh
bruise, and she had to make a hard decision: to drop out or to keep moving. Pausing to
think about it would have meant hypothermia. She decided to forge ahead. The next 20
miles included 7,000 feet of climbing and descent. By the time we got to our drop bags,
Tammy was damaged goods, barely able to keep a walking pace. We started back out,
but Tammy decided it would be best to stop and call it a night. I agreed and went on.
When I finished some 9 hours later, I was really looking forward to seeing her at the
finish line. She was not there.

Jeff after climbing through the
culvert at the 2012 Death Race
(personal archive)

21 0

Tammy: Dropping out didn’t sit well with me, and I had second thoughts. So I decided to
continue, finishing just 2 minutes under the cutoff time.
Jeff: But that is not the amazing part. On one of the last sections of the course Tammy
came across a runner who was lying in the woods hypothermic. She stayed with him,
wrapping her body around his to warm him up. When another runner came by, the two
of them picked up the runner and physically carried him to get him moving again. The
movement helped the hypothermic runner and he began to warm up. Eventually he
was able to continue on his own. Tammy was exhausted from her injuries and the extra
energy she had expended helping another person but somehow found the strength to
finish. That year the Hellgate tagline was a quote by T.S. Eliot: “Only those who will risk
going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” Tammy risked going too far
and reached a new level of personal discovery when she helped save someone else in
the process. She sacrificed her own goals to help another human reach his. That is what
being a Spartan is really all about.
Tammy: It was the right thing to do, but I was also trained to be able to do it. The
Spartan way of training is 99% outdoors, no traditional exercise equipment. We carry
heavy rocks or logs on mountainous trails, and do calisthenics as well. And we go for
hours at a time. This approach returns us to a more ancient kind of fitness.
Jeff: Physiologically, is there a difference between the Spartan approach and any
modern structured workout? It’s tough to say. But there is a profound difference in the
experience of challenge and satisfaction. In either case, an athlete accustomed to that
kind of workout would find some difficulty with the other.
Recently Tammy and I hiked up a mountain and arrived at the summit at about 1:30 a.m.
only to find a family huddled there. They were disoriented and lost and had no idea how
to find their way out. We carried the kids down the trail and assisted the adults. I’m not
sure if we would have been capable of doing that if we hadn’t been training for a Death
Race and carrying irregularly sized weights over rough terrain and elevation gains for
hours on end.
Tammy: I’m 50, and like many readers of this book, I work 60+ hour weeks in a highstress job, and I’ll admit I’m sometimes a little skeptical. Even with our training discipline,
and even having completed several Spartan Races, Death Races, and endurance events,
I was skeptical when Jeff suggested we tackle an Ironman. But for me the discipline
and goals have appeal in their own right—that’s the same as with other sports. And
particularly with Spartan Races, there are so many elements to competitive fitness that I

211

can always be working on something challenging, and the atmosphere in the community
is incredible. The people I get to meet are amazing. So the journey encompasses all kinds
of different experiences across the spectrum, from painful and humbling to energizing
and exhilarating. That’s a great antidote to skepticism! Now if I do a 100-mile race and
don’t finish well, I have the perspective to recognize that I still had great experience on
the first 90 miles.
Also, to be a little bit vain, while I’m getting older, I don’t want to look or feel old. In
order to continue having this much fun, I need to stay active. The more fit you are, the
more fun you have. There are no excuses, only obstacles. So get over them!

SPARTAN WARRIOR: CHRIS MITCHELL
Joe: Chris Mitchell describes in vivid, memorable images what Spartans the world over
feel at the finish line: push beyond any limit you thought you had—the rewards are lifechanging. Back in 2008 we were introduced to Chris, a technology CEO from Boston,
when he entered the Death Race. He was a skinny guy whom Andy and I thought would
break within a few hours. Surprisingly to us, he didn’t just finish: he won. We have since
become great friends, biked cross-country together, and now realize why he won the
Death Race: he is slow and steady and never gets rattled.
Chris: I no longer desire to live a life limited by my demons of fear and insecurity, so I
run. By running long distances or through obstacles I invite these demons to a feast they
cannot resist—my run is the perfect bait. I begin each run with the intention to run a
specific time or distance. As I run, it isn’t long before the demons come and begin their
mischief: “I am tired,” “there is pain in my right leg,” “tomorrow will be a better day
to run,” “other people are more suited for running, so they don’t suffer like I do,” “my
legs are short,” etc. Basically, the demons come in any form to get as much traction as
possible to stop me from running. Many times the demons come paired up or grouped
together in order to seem more credible. They prey mercilessly on my intention like
piranha on fresh meat.
I wait, I watch, I run; they come. It is a horrible little game that I know goes on every
waking moment of my life. However, when I run I get to see the demons with clarity. I
get access to their faces and their words. I begin to sense their smell, touch and sound. I
name the ones that come often so I can identify and dismiss them quickly—they hate to
be named because it takes away their power. There is very little camouflage for them to
hide while running as it is only me, some clothing, shoes, water and a single intention—

21 2

Chris after finishing of the
2008 Jay Peak 50k
(personal archive)

213

to run far. Reducing my life to a single purpose and simple action provides clarity that
magnifies how viciously the demons attack intention.
I like running hills. The steeper, the better. There is good reason for this. When I run
at a high difficulty level I can manage many thoughts that run through my head, from,
“what happened today at work,” to, “did I remember to pay the electric bill?” As the
difficulty increases, the number of voices decreases. Some thoughts I am forced to throw
out in exorcism fashion by speaking out loud—“leave,” or, “shut up,” or, “too crowded
in here for you today, bitch.” The thoughts persist, and so do I. These thoughts are not
me. I begin to verbally negate what the voices are insisting upon. I am not my aching
knees. I am not my burning thighs. I am not the steep hill. I am not the burning sun. I am
not the dryness of my mouth. I will not let the voices divide and conquer me into parts.
I do not let them separate me for I am all of these parts and more—this I know. These
thoughts will not stop me. I will not give up on myself and relinquish power to them. I
fight back and taunt them, “Come on, is that all you brought today?” and then I lay into
the hill harder knowing this is all coming to them or me today. They continue to decrease
until there is only one voice—breath. And then, there is not even “breath.” There is just
sound. The sound of heart thumping in ears, the sound of breath pulled and pushed
through nose and mouth. I become the run, the hill, the sun.
When I run I get a return. I get back directly what I put into it, one for one. There is never
a mystery or an error in accounting. It is simple, and whenever I tried to complicate it,
the run reestablishes the simplicity and sets me straight. Deep down I know that life is
this way also; however, in my life I find more opportunities to complicate the accounting
and try to get something for nothing or at a discount. I try to use coffee to bring me a
higher energy level or replace sleep, food for emotional comfort when I am upset or as a
distraction when I am bored, comfort as a substitute for peace, and many other unequal
exchanges. Each time the result is the same, although sometimes there is a delay before
the accounting catches up with the game. I run to remind myself there is no error in
accounting and there is no cheating in life.
There is no finish to a run. I start and I stop. I have noticed a difference between stopping,
quitting and failing. Stopping is simply a conscious choice. Just before quitting, however,
I find myself voicing an excuse or reason. Failure is complete silence: there is no voice
when I gave 100% and can no longer move or raise myself up for the task.
I ran today in Quebec City. It is a magnificently beautiful city. My run was 20 miles long
and there was nothing beautiful about it. My demons came to feast and were denied.

21 4

My intention was empowered. My capacity as a person expanded to something greater
than when I awoke this morning, and also offered a cautionary reminder of my selflimiting ways. Fourteen miles into my run today I stopped at a pharmacy where I bought
two cold bottles of Evian water and a quart of Grape Pedialyte (yes, the flavor matters).
I walked out to the crowd on the sidewalk, dropped my backpack to the ground, stood
straight up, and poured the first bottle of water over my head ‘til it was empty. The cold
water brought me back into the run, and demons hate cold water. I heard some people
gasp and others laugh. I downed half the Pedialyte in a single head tilt and poured
the remainder into my water reserve along with half of the second bottle of Evian. The
remainder of the second bottle followed the path of the first over my head, removing
any doubt of my insanity for the many passers-by. I shook my head and then my entire
body like a dog upon leaving the water.
The first food I pulled from my backpack after my run was stale pretzels from a race
nearly a month ago—I ate them down, dipping my wet finger into the salt at the bottom
of the Ziploc…pure gold nuggets.
I fill the tub in my hotel room with only cold water, and here in Quebec City that means
very cold. For the final time this afternoon I hesitantly set each leg in the tub, ask
forgiveness and I surrender to the healing cold.
My legs are sore, my knees ache; my spirit is peaceful, the day complete.

1 Jeff: … and a few Death Races, too. We met Spartan Race founders for the first time at the Spartan Death Race in 2010. At the time Tammy
just didn’t see the “fun” in the event. The race absolutely kicked my ass. I had the endurance to run for 24 hours, but didn’t have the strength to

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CHAPTER 9
T R A IN F O R YO U R L I F E

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WHAT IS A SPARTAN LIFE?
Joe: Race day only comes around so often, even for the most hardcore Spartan Warriors.
But the Spartan Lifestyle finds its expression in every aspect of your daily life. Like an
obstacle race, the Spartan Code is endlessly challenging and impossible to perfect, but
exhilarating and rewarding to practice.

SPARTAN CODE
A Spartan pushes his/her mind and body to its limits.
A Spartan masters his/her emotions.
A Spartan learns continuously.
A Spartan gives generously.
A Spartan leads.
A Spartan stands up for his/her beliefs, no matter the cost.
A Spartan knows his/her flaws as well as his/her strengths.
A Spartan proves himself/herself through actions, not words.
A Spartan lives every day as if it were his/her last.
You’ll find your own interpretation of the Spartan Code if you practice it as diligently as
your training regimen. This isn’t religious dogma, and there is no single right answer,
but there are several keys to success.

A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Andy: The first key to the Spartan Lifestyle is keeping the big picture. It’s not healthy to
get too focused on any one aspect of your life, to the detriment of others.
Healthy foods, healthy attitude, healthy relationships, healthy mind, and healthy body
together define a full Spartan Lifestyle—the Spartan Code in action.
While it may sound ironic, we have found that the easiest way to commence and
maintain the Spartan Lifestyle is to register for an event. Once you sign up for an event,
you have made a commitment to push yourself beyond your previously known physical,
mental and emotional limits. That commitment will lead you to find a new balance in
your life. See it through.

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SPARTAN NUTRITION: FOOD AS FUEL
Joe: Our bodies and minds require certain basic foods to fuel healthy function. It should
be common sense that as animals, we should be eating foods that grow naturally on
the planet we live on—meats, fish, vegetables, seeds or fruit. If you accept that humans
have been on the planet for over 900,000 years, then it becomes apparent that the
reason we still exist is because we ate off this planet for almost that entire period. It
wasn’t Cap’n Crunch™ or Coca-Cola™ or any other recently invented processed food
products that got us here.
We were retrained in our 21st-century Western society to eat what is sold to us, so much
so that we often consume very unhealthy products instead of actual food. A child today
is pounded on a daily basis with sugar and highly processed foods by the companies
that are selling them. There is no way for that child to know how to eat. Many adults
don’t have the first idea how to choose foods to fuel a healthy body and mind.
At Spartan HQ, we have meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. For the vegan
perspective, here’s Liz Cotter, founder and owner of Bikram Yoga Pittsfield 1 and yoga
instructor to Spartan HQ:
Liz: The Spartan diet is very elemental, plant-based, whole food centered. Spartans
believe that maintaining excellent eating habits enables a person to achieve something
truly extraordinary. Just as with training, consistency is the key.
As Emerson wrote, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a
habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
The refinement of character begins when you make a definite decision to target your life
toward a specific destination. In this case, that destination is pure health.
The more researchers understand about the nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, herbs,
nuts, and seeds, the more impressed they are with the power of those compounds—not
only to create health and strength in the body, but also to retard many of the physical
breakdown processes that result in cancer and chronic degenerative illnesses. Author
and lecturer Dr. Michael Klaper wrote, “There is absolutely no nutrient, no protein, no
vitamin, no mineral that can’t be obtained from plant based foods.” Many Spartans like
me choose a totally vegan, raw food diet on our path to pure health, and we find that
we feel stronger, more beautiful, and more balanced as a result.

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So, we find, at the root of it all, that lasting vitality, strength, and well-being are tied a
decision to eat real, whole, vegetable-based superfoods: physiologically, at least, you
really are what you eat.
It’s easier—and much more satisfying—than most meat-eaters expect it to be to adopt
a raw vegan diet, but you don’t want to make the switch all at once. You wouldn’t go
from not exercising at all to entering a Spartan Beast; you would start by creating a
daily training practice, and slowly increasing the length and intensity of your workouts
until you attained total fitness. It’s the same with making a commitment to your diet:
you are (re)conditioning your body for improved health, so take it as a process, just like
your workout regimen. Also just like your training, consult a dietician or doctor if you
have any preexisting health concerns or experience any new health concerns.
Steps to becoming a raw vegan Spartan
1. Bring nutrient-rich, plant-based, whole superfoods and juices into your diet. Start
slowly and begin by adding this fruit, that fruit, this vegetable, and that sprout. It is
about adding foods to your diet, not about denial. Bringing nutrient-rich foods into your
diet and allowing the body to shift at its own pace will allow you to reorient your palate,
so that cooked, nutrient-void foods begin to lose their appeal.
2. Phase out and break your body’s addiction to refined sugars, sodas, and foods with
cooked starch such as bread, rice, pasta, chips, simple sweets, etc.
3. Choose ‘good fats’: avocado, coconut, coconut oils, nuts, seeds, olives.
4. Create balance in your body between acidic foods and alkaline foods.
5. Choose food combinations that promote proper digestion, maximum nutrient
absorption, and energy release to the body.2
6. Phase out dairy products.
7. Choose the best and most assimilable sources of protein to build muscle, reduce
inflammation, and offer instant energy production: spirulina, blue-green algae,
chlorella, hemp seeds, olives, durian, sprouts, bee pollen, green vegetables, powdered
grasses, and green superfoods.
8. Drink pure water—a lot of it.

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Joe: Spartan Racing demands nutritional healthy eating. Ripped, lean, mean fighting
machines rely on adequate quantities of naturally occurring proteins, carbohydrates,
fats, vitamins, and other nutrients, consumed in appropriate ratios.
Even if the raw vegan diet isn’t your path, many of the steps Liz suggests still apply. Most
importantly, you should eliminate processed food products—starting right now—and
replace them with naturally occurring, real foods.
One other note: maybe you have a career that involves a lot of travel. At Spartan HQ,
we know from experience how difficult it can be to obtain healthy foods while traveling.
You find a way to push through in your training regimen, so don’t give up on your
diet. Make it happen. Your body and mind will respond beyond anything you’ve ever
experienced before.

ATTITUDE: SPARTANS HAVE POSITIVE ONES
Andy: Attitude in life is everything—it’s the foundation of all movements. With the right
attitude, mountains can be moved. Can attitude be taught? At Spartan Race, we believe
it can. The way to create great attitudes is to push through adversity. Once you have
seen the dark side, everything looks brighter. The reason we make our courses so brutal
is to put people in positions that bring them to their breaking points. This allows them
to confront difficulty head-on. When people succeed where they thought they could not,
positive attitudes are cultivated and strengthened.
Chris Davis3 has the ultimate Spartan attitude. No matter what is asked of him, he keeps
moving forward: he dropped his job, gave up his credit card, gave up his car…. No
retreat, no surrender. He just keeps an intense focus on his finish line: losing 500 pounds.
Life is full of obstacles, and the clock is always ticking. Spartans commit to surmount their
obstacles or do their burpees and move on. That commitment produces determination,
fulfillment, and exhilaration that lead to greatness in life, not only on the racecourse.
You won’t win every race you enter or even surmount every obstacle you face. But each
experience of success or failure presents you a unique opportunity to learn something
about yourself and to become stronger, faster, and more resilient. Like Andi Hardy
and Rose Marie Jarry, the most successful Spartan Racers smile and laugh during their
burpees and other setbacks because they aren’t fazed by them. They accept the lesson
and keep moving.
Take the Spartan attitude everywhere you go, and you’ll amaze yourself and everyone
around you with what you accomplish.

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CHARITY: GIVE GENEROUSLY
Joe: Our philosophy toward generosity is simple: we believe in helping people achieve.
Spartan Race HQ aligns with various charitable organizations because all kinds of
people need assistance within different situations and contexts at different times. We
want to spread the Spartan good will around. We will work with any charity that is
legitimate and is an inspirational pillar of the community or has a special meaning
to an individual, community, or organization in the Spartan Tribe. We have worked
consistently with Homes for Our Troops since our start. We have also worked with
Operation Gratitude 4 and Susan G Koman Chicagoland. 5 And we are proud to shine a
race day spotlight on Spartans racing for charity 6 to raise funds and draw attention to
worthwhile causes.
Whether you do it in teams or on your own, on race day or in another setting, there
is no greater activity on this planet than helping others. You are greater than you can
imagine, powerful beyond measure.
Put your greatness to use by helping someone else fulfill theirs.

CAMARADERIE: SPARTAN TEAMWORK
Joe: Spartans leave no one behind. It is great to push yourself alone, but it is even
greater to compete along with friends and acquaintances to help bring your game—
and your relationship—to a new level.
When you race as a team there is a new psychological factor to consider. There will be
moments when your team members are stronger or weaker than you. These dynamics
will test your ability to remain rational and supportive, and to keep your focus on the
benefit of the team.
Total dedication to your team is every bit as important in life as it is on the course.
Spartan teamwork is incredibly apparent to me when I am on a course. At the 2012
Utah Beast, I decided to do the course carrying two 40-pound sandbags. No fewer
than 200 people stopped to talk to me during the event, and to ask me if I needed help
carrying one or both of the sandbags. Now, on that particular day I was in the mood
to suffer, so I declined; but that expression of camaraderie among participants in an
all-out competition like Spartan Race is phenomenal.

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FAMILY: SPARTANS KEEP CLOSE TIES
Joe: Spartan family units are the ultimate teams. A family that lives the Spartan code
stays together. Bonds are strengthened after they’re stretched. That is why we host
events that are family-oriented and have a place for men, women, and children to
share a healthy experience of overcoming obstacles for a day: so families can take the
experience home with them and live it.

SPARTAN KIDS: AGES 4-13 APPLY
Andy: The ancient Spartans believed that a healthy person has both a healthy mind
and a healthy body. We share that belief, for Spartans of all ages. There is no reason
to wait until adulthood to develop mind-body fitness. Spartan has partnered with the
Kids Fit Foundation 7 to put on world-class obstacle racing events for Spartan Kids. This
legion of young competitors will grow up in the not-too-distant future to become the
Spartans of tomorrow.
Remember, obstacle racing comes naturally to kids. They want to run and jump and
swing and crawl and roll and throw and all the rest. Encouraging them and participating
with them is a great way to set them on the path to lifelong health.
Joe: Jack (6 years old), Jade (10), and Charlie (4) recently did a Super Spartan. How is
that possible? They are humans—animals—and as such can easily walk 10 miles, climb
over walls, and yes, crawl under barbed wire. And, unlike in the savanna or the jungle,
Spartan Races have food at aid stations!
I took these three kids out, thinking we would do maybe a mile of the course, and they
didn’t stop. Jack was wearing crocs; there was no fancy gear on any of them, and yet
mile by mile these three kids worked their way through and over obstacles—with my
help, of course—to finally get to the finish line and receive their medals.
Are these kids special? If they are, it’s due to the lack of conventional parenting. We are
trying to keep them out of the overprotection bubble. Charlie swam a mile last week
with a life jacket. Jade has done a marathon. Jack does two hours of Kung Fu a day
and skis 50+ days a year. Jack and Charlie both speak fluent Mandarin. Catherine,
their younger sister, has done sets of 100 burpees.
We are Spartans if we choose to be. We can live a Spartan life if we want to. It simply
depends on what and where you want to be in your life. These kids don’t know any
better; they are just acting human. Are you?

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A Texas Beast cub in training
(Photo credit: Nuvision)

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YOUR SPARTAN LIFE TRANSFORMATION
Joe: At every Spartan Race, finish times determine the winners of each competition
division. Obstacle racing is a sport, first and foremost.
But on a deeper level, each time you enter a Spartan Race, you get to test yourself on
how well you have been living a Spartan Life:


Have you been training?



Have you been eating well?



Have you been focused on the important things in life?

How does one live a Spartan life? Even at Spartan HQ, we don’t live the perfect Spartan
life yet, though we aspire to.
I dream of it every day and hopefully someday will live it to perfection. You might
succeed before I do. Get started.

TRAIN CHAPTERS 5-8
Joe: You’ve heard a lot about training in Chapters 5 -8, and there’s more for you in
Appendix B.
The perfect Spartan day starts for me at 5:00 a.m. with a glass of warm water and
lemon, to help clean out my system. Our bodies operate like swimming pools with
pumps and filters; it’s our job to run the pump and clean the filters. Warm water and
lemon first thing jump-starts the cleaning.
From there it’s a 90-minute workout until 7:00 a.m. I prefer no food or water during
this workout—very Spartan—as it trains the body not to rely on food and water to get
through it, and it turns on fat-burning switches. During this 90-minute workout, you
must sweat. Our bodies are made to sweat, both to process wastes and to cool our
systems. Skin is an organ—use it.
After your workout is done, do you really need a hot shower? Take a cold shower
instead to shock the system and really get your blood flowing.
When you are at work, don’t take the elevator. Take the stairs. When you can avoid a
ride, take a walk. Those little differences throughout a day can lead to being in great
shape and burning lots of calories, as well as making you feel awake and alert and
energized instead of passive and inert. Besides, why waste all that fuel and electric
power when your body is so strong and capable?

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Finally, do yoga—lots of it. Make full-length yoga classes a regular part of your
training regimen. Your body is meant to be pliable. Keeping your body flexible and
loose increases your sense of well-being, helps you maintain a clear mind and heart,
and also makes you more likely to remain injury free over your lifetime. Take several
opportunities during the day to stretch and breathe. What are you doing right now? Put
down this book right this moment, and stretch for 10 minutes.
Really. Do it now.
I’ll wait.
There. Much better. Now make that a habit and repeat it whenever you can.

EAT WELL
Joe: How should you eat? You’ve also heard our views about that. Make conscious
decisions about what and how you eat, and remember that raw natural foods are
much better for you than foods that are processed or cooked. This applies to everyone,
committed carnivores included: incorporate as much healthy raw food as possible into
your diet.
Do you need supplements? Not if you eat a lot of raw foods. How many meals per day?
Meals should be eaten four hours apart, to avoid stacking new food on previouslyeaten, undigested foods in your stomach. Don’t eat more than you need.
Whenever possible, eat at a leisurely pace, so you can actually enjoy the food that fuels
your body. Better yet, eat with people you care about. Make eating well a practice you
share together.

FOCUS ON THE IMPORTANT THINGS
Joe: Less is more. Specifically, less “stuff” is more. Stuff owns you, you don’t own it. Just
look at Spartan Race, Inc. It’s a good business. It’s exciting, it’s staffed by awesome
Spartans, and it’s incredibly gratifying that we are changing lives. But it is also 20-hour
days, with hundreds of emails and phone calls. Is that any way to live? If you believe the
American dream, owning a big house is the way to happiness. Really? Taxes, mowing,
maintenance, cleaning, repairs... Believe me, it doesn’t create happiness, it just makes you
work more to pay the bills. Besides, everything that you see as “wrong” with the house or
the things in it weighs on you. Think about how free you feel on vacation—why? Because
you don’t own the hotel room or the car you rented, and you’re not sweating all the other
things you own back home (Are they locked up? Broken? Do they need to be cleaned?).

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We are on the planet for a very short time, and that is our most precious asset: our time.
In light of that fact, we need to maximize our time on earth, not by worrying about all
the stuff we have accumulated, but instead by staying healthy and doing great things
every day.
So what are the great things to do every day? Invest in the people around you. Spartan
relationships are strong. Build them strong and keep them that way. Invest in developing
self-awareness and self-mastery. Take advantage of opportunities to learn all the time.
Discover the causes that you really care about, and find ways to support them. Act on
your conscience. Lead by your actions and your character. A true Spartan Life starts
with total physical fitness, but it encompasses emotional and intellectual fitness as well.
Living a Spartan Life means expressing the full potential of your entire person.
The Spartan Life is as simple—and as hard—as applying your common sense. Throw the
norm out the window. For most people in our contemporary Western culture, “normal”
is whatever is easy or provides instant gratification. Fast food is normal, consuming
alcohol is normal, not exercising is normal, cutting corners is normal, watching hours
of TV every day is normal, cheating is normal... Common sense tells you that this
definition of normal is unhealthy, unsatisfying, and degrading. So f—— normal and
follow your common sense. Exercise your body, heart, and mind.
Which would you rather be: normal, or a Spartan?
It’s your life. Choose.

SPARTAN LIFE LORE: ADITYA
Joe: My good friend Jeff Funicello8 has worked or trained with some pretty impressive
people, including Olympic Gold medalists, UFC & Pride Fighting Champions, World
Champion Grapplers, as well as US Special Forces and other Special Operations
Commandos. When asked about the Spartan Life—or as he calls it, Spartanism—Jeff
describes a young man by the name of Aditya as the embodiment of the Spartan Ideal,
because Aditya had the will to persevere, no matter how many setbacks he suffered. I
believe this is the real Spartan spirit.
Jeff F: As Joe mentioned, I am privileged to work with very tough men and women. The
toughest person I have ever met was a very unassuming guy named Aditya, who was an
undergraduate student from India about ten years ago. Prior to his arrival in the United
States, the most aggressive thing that he had ever done was to play tennis. For whatever

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reason, when he came to Arizona State University, he decided to join the mixed martial
arts (MMA) program where I was coaching. When I met him, Aditya was approximately
5’11” and 180 pounds, a tall, extremely soft skinny-fat guy—once overweight but since
slimmed down, with many residual stretch marks—with no muscle tone at all. He had
to have been the weakest and clumsiest individual I have ever met. When he first came
in, he asked me if I could show him some exercises in the weight room since he had
never lifted weights before in his life. I showed him a few exercises and brought him to
the bench press, thinking he might not hurt himself on this movement. I had to spot him
as he struggled with the 45-pound bar. At first I thought he was joking around. I have
seen elementary kids do more weight than this. But he was for real.
I started observing Aditya in training, and noticed that he had some neurological
problems—there was some kind of short somewhere in the wiring of his system. It
seemed as though his motor functions were a half a second behind his brain signals.
During one warm-up game an athlete threw a taped towel-ball to him, and it hit him
in the chest and fell to the floor; a full second later he swatted his hands together to
catch the towel-ball that was by then long gone. He would frequently fall over when
bumped. He was routinely beaten in sparring matches with small 100-110-pound
female partners.
Aditya was terrible at everything physical, but he kept coming back with a smile on his
face, ready to go for every session. Although the guys in the program were very patient,
kind, and ginger with him, he got beaten every practice. Because he was so weak and
uncoordinated, it was a difficult task for them to let him win even an occasional match.
Though 99.9% of our members are young, able-bodied collegiate athletes, we
occasionally have someone with health issues in the program who really just wants to
be a part of the team. At this same time we had a young guy named Trevor with severe
Cerebral Palsy who was in an electric wheelchair. He could not stand for more than
two seconds before falling over. He would drive himself into training by controlling his
wheelchair with his joystick, and then allow himself to be lifted out of his chair and
placed on the mat. We came to realize very quickly that Trevor’s best and only tactic
was to use a lapel choke with his opponent’s shirt collar, as his forearms were fairly
strong relative to the rest of his body. Most of the athletes in the program would work
with Aditya or Trevor when resting between rounds. One day Aditya and Trevor paired
up during a practice. Aditya started to circle around Trevor, who was on the floor like
a fish out of water. Trevor snatched Aditya down and choked him like a crocodile

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drowning its prey. Aditya was so weak he was helpless against Trevor. This was amazing
for Trevor’s confidence, but it truly was a pathetic moment for Aditya.
Every week I encouraged Aditya to keep trying, every week expecting not to see him again.
Defying my expectations, Aditya continued to come in and take his beatings every week
for about two years. Throughout this period I urged him to see a doctor, a chiropractor,
or a neurological specialist of some sort, and explained that he more than likely had
some sort of nerve interference in his system. Aditya simply kept coming and taking his
lumps without excuse or complaint. I was amazed at the mental toughness he displayed
to keep coming back, again and again. Then one day, we were going live, and the
team was divided into smaller teams warring against each other. Aditya got paired up
with a new guy and managed to submit him. The whole team stopped in their tracks
and erupted in a standing ovation. I ran out onto the mat and held Aditya’s hand
up in victory. Aditya left his hand up in the air for an extra bit of time, savoring the
moment, with tears in his eyes. It was as if he had won the Olympic Games. The entire
team continued to clap and chant for him. The new guy was puzzled so I pulled him
aside and explained what was happening. He was very understanding. Within about
two weeks he was able to crush Aditya. However, after that, Aditya was always able
to defend himself against the new guys before they were able to catch on. He would
anticipate their movements, and place himself in a position where it took very little
power to control his opponent. He became used to being throttled around, and dealt
with it. It was absolutely astonishing to watch him. By the end of his two and a half years
in the program, he was able to squeak out another 10 or 15 wins.
When he moved to Florida for graduate school, Aditya continued his training at a local
Brazilian jiu-jitsu school. He contacted me once and said he wanted to thank us for
having him. On the contrary, I am grateful to him for coming.
I think about Aditya often, and frequently tell his story to motivate people. Imagine
being crushed for two years by young girls not much more than half your size, and
being so helpless that severely disabled people owned you. Imagine not having a single
victory in practice for years, all the while knowing that people are taking it easy on
you. It had to have been incredibly demoralizing. However, he kept coming and always
had a champion attitude. Aditya is proof that anything is possible if you have desire.
Having known him, I am not very sympathetic to excuses. I hear them all the time from
people with amazing gifts. If these people were one quarter as determined as Aditya,
they could achieve greatness.

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Physical conditioning can make you strong, and practice can make you skilled. Deciding
that quitting is not an option can make you truly powerful.

SPARTAN WARRIOR: CHRIS DAVIS
Andy: Chris Davis is on an epic journey to go from weighing 700 pounds and facing
a foreshortened life expectancy and limited quality of life to becoming a super-fit
200-pound Spartan. In the process, he’s transformed himself from an invisible guy in
the shadows to a real live hero. It’s a huge shift, and Chris is pursuing it with honesty,
courage, and determination. At the time this was written, in June 2012, Chris has
already lost more than 350 pounds and had become an inspiration to thousands of
people who follow his blog.9
Chris: I first started to get active when I moved to Atlanta about a year ago. All kinds of
incredible things have happened since then.
I started walking by joining the Dunwoody Running group, 10 and did my first 5K walk on
October 1st, 2011. A number of the members came and supported me on my first walk. I
did several more, and early in 2012 I set a goal of doing one per month. At these events
I kept running into one of my coworkers, Shane. One day at the office, he called me over
and told me he was entering a Spartan Race. He asked me if I’d like to do it with him.
I said, “sure.” Of course, I had no idea what it was. I thought it was some small little
event in Sparta, Georgia. I went back to my desk and Googled it, and thought, “Oh, no.
Well, I guess that’s one way to die.” But I decided to go ahead and do it, figuring that if
I crossed the finish line that would be all that mattered. I signed up and committed to do
it. I went back to my running club and told them about it, and they were kind of stunned.
I figured I would either cross the finish line or find myself on a stretcher, and either way
it would be a great experience. I met up with a friend of mine to do the Atlanta Spartan
race, and we were the last people to finish at something like three hours. But we finished
it. I got a ride from Tom McCormick and told him about how I had lost 300 pounds and
finished my first Spartan Sprint. He offered me a free ticket to enter the next year so I
could measure my progress.
On St. Patty’s Day I was in a car crash in which my car flipped 720 degrees (two
complete end-over-end flips), struck several other vehicles, and shut down all five lanes
of Interstate 85 outside Atlanta. I was the most injured person and suffered only a
seat belt rash across my neck and some bruising on my legs—another amazing event.
The following day Joe called and invited me to train at Spartan HQ. My head was still
spinning, but I jumped at the invitation and came to Vermont.

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Chris with his Beast and
Trifecta medals
(personal archive)

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Comcast gave me a leave of absence to train (so my job would be waiting for me when I
returned), and I came to Vermont. Comcast as a whole—and HR specifically—has been
very supportive to help me get healthy. They worked with my insurance to cover bariatric
surgery in 2010, and have been great at helping me get healthier. They also follow my
progress on Facebook and on my Spartan Race blog, and send lots of encouragement by
email and phone. Several people at Comcast have gotten interested in Spartan Races as
a result, and I expect to involve a few people with me next year. My coworker Shane has
done three or four Spartan Races now, and will come up in September to do the Beast
with me. On the other hand, it will be really difficult to leave the people I’ve met here
in Vermont. Although I’ve had some rough times and pretty bad lows, I’ve been able to
build wonderful friendships that helped me to get through them.
My blog has drawn a really strong response, and I’ve been amazed by the people who
have responded with their own weight loss goals and achievements. I post both good
and bad experiences; lately there’s been more bad than good, and I’ve received a lot
of support from total strangers. I’ve probably had more than 100 people add me as a
friend of Facebook based on my blog posts. I’ve never met most of them, but it’s really
important to me to have that connection. I’ve gotten emails from Canada, Australia—lots
of places—with encouraging words and people sharing their own stories. It’s incredible.
At the same time, the attention I’ve received is a little unsettling, and I don’t really know
how to handle it. That’s something I’m working on. I’ve been a very quiet person my
whole life before this—a programmer, working in a corner or a dark closet, coming out
occasionally for a Hot Pocket. I’m doing this to learn how to be healthy, and to live the
rest of my life, so I don’t know how to handle other people’s reactions. I appreciate their
support and I’m glad they feel inspired by me, but I’m still figuring out how to process it.
My family and friends are also very supportive—and very concerned. There have been
some nutritional concerns along the way, and also some concerns about physical
exertion and “overdoing it.” They are behind me 100% on every decision I make, but
they want me to do it in a safe way. Right now I’m on that knife’s edge between safety
and catastrophe. All it takes is one accident, one misstep, and I could be looking at a
serious injury. For example, today we were carrying a log as a group. I mis-stepped and
lost my balance; I was able to tuck and roll, but unfortunately I went off the trail and
down the hill. Six months ago I would have suffered a broken hip or other serious injury
from a fall like that. With the kung-fu, yoga, and 70-pound weight-loss since then, I only
came away with a sore knee and some bruises. I’ve gained the confidence and ability to
roll instead of fall flat. But I’m still learning those things.

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At the obstacle race in Atlanta, I had a moment when I was climbing cargo nets, and
I couldn’t quite believe it was me. I thought, “Really? A computer guy like me—I never
imagined myself doing anything like this.” It was astonishing. This is all really new to me.
My greatest highlight of the past year was at the Spartan Sprint in Tuxedo Ridge, where
Joe had me out working out with sandbags. The next wave was coming through, and I
saw them at about the halfway point of the course. I went over to talk to them and met a
woman who realized I was the guy behind the blog, and she told me she was doing the
race because of me. It hit me really hard because I never looked at myself that way. I’m
a computer guy. I try to find technological ways to make life easier for people. But then I
realized I had helped to change this woman’s life. It hit me incredibly hard. She was the
last one to complete the course, and so I waited for her at the finish. I was really proud
to give her the medal when she finished. That was profound.
I’m not doing this as a stunt. I want to travel, enjoy life, skydive, fly a plane…. Those life
experience goals motivate me. I need to be under 225 pounds to do many things, and
under 250 to do others. Those aspirations keep me focused. Also the races—I’m looking
forward to the Ultra Beast in September 2012 here in Vermont. When I pull that off, it
will be doing the impossible. That goal is just this side of ludicrous.
I know we’re training to push the limits, but I’m not 100% sure that we know what my
limits really are. Joe is used to working with people who are physically fit. I am not
physically fit. I depend on him to let me know when I’ve pushed myself too far, because
I haven’t ever trained before and don’t know how to tell. But I’m not sure he can tell for
me, either. This is all new for him, too. Again, remember that I completed my first 5K
walk on October 1st, 2011. So I’m going from my first 5K walk to a 26-mile obstacle
race in less than a year. Am I pushing my limits? Absolutely. Is it possible? I don’t know.
But I’m going to find out.

SPARTAN WARRIOR: ALEC BLENIS
Andy: Ranging in age from 16 to 67, the Blenis family trio—son Alec Blenis, father Robert
Blenis, and grandfather Bob Blenis—all completed the Spartan Trifecta in 2011, finishing
a Sprint, Super, and Beast in one calendar year. At the time, fewer than 100 people had
achieved the same feat, and Bob and Alec were respectively the oldest and youngest to
do so.11 In 2012, the Blenis family will compete in the Spartan Ultra Beast, the world’s
first ever marathon-distance obstacle race. They are a Spartan Family in action!

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Alec: This is in some sense a story about how I motivated my friends and family to get
off the couch. But it is more about how they, in return, motivate me to be the best that I
can be, each and every day.
I had always been an athlete. At least, I thought I had. Growing up, I played baseball
and tennis, lifted weights, ran cross-country, pole-vaulted, and more, yet it wasn’t until I
got involved with obstacle racing that I truly knew what it meant to be an athlete.
An obstacle race like Spartan Race will teach you a lot about your body—your physical
strengths, your physical weaknesses. Simultaneously, it reveals the magnificent spirit
and the courageous heart in each of us. Fast and slow, young and old, all who compete
benefit from the experience, gaining knowledge and wisdom along the way. The strength
it takes to overcome obstacles on the course translates directly to life: while an ordinary
person may view each circumstance as a blessing or a curse, a Spartan meets everything
as a challenge, an opportunity to endure, to conquer, and to grow. There is no better
place to learn these lessons than on the racecourse.
More valuable still, while motivating oneself, a Spartan also motivates others.
When I first discovered Spartan Race, I knew it would be a great fit for me. With a diverse
athletic background, I had the perfect balance of speed, strength, and adventurousness.
What I did not have, however, was someone to race with me. I never have liked racing
alone, so, by a miracle, I had both of my parents sign up for the race. They, in turn, had
some of their friends sign up as well. We all entered the Georgia Spartan Sprint 2011
together. As we lined up between the white columns at the starting line, I scanned the
area around me and found myself surrounded by phenomenal athletes. I knew I was in
good company in the competitive wave (even though I was also the youngest at 16 years
old) but began to worry about my friends and family who would race thirty minutes later.
With a loud, “Aroo!” we were off and onto the course. Within a minute, I was soaked in
water, my shoes caked in mud, and my heart pounding. I loved it.
I finished third overall out of a few thousand athletes that day. As I crossed the finish
line, I thought of my family again, wondering if they would be upset that I signed them
up for such a hard race or if they would love it as much as I did. Luckily, they loved it too.
My workaholic dad, who never exercised and put in 20-hour days at times, started
working out with me and inquiring about future races. It was great to see him making
positive changes to his lifestyle while he was juggling his demanding job. He still ate
junk food, but this was a major step in the right direction. He even wanted to do another

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From left to right, Bob Blenis,
Alec Blenis, and Robert Blenis,
after finishing the June 2011
South Carolina Super.
(Photo credit: Nuvision)

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Spartan Race a few months later for his birthday. Further, he invited his own father to
our next Spartan Race—a Super in South Carolina, June 2011. Not only would our next
Spartan Race be twice as difficult as our previous one, granddad was 67 years old,
making him the oldest competitor and me the youngest. Our friends who had run in
Georgia travelled with us to Carolina. We were three generations of family and friends,
all hooked on obstacle racing! It was inspiring to watch my grandfather tackle the
challenging Super Spartan course (more inspiring was the fact that he competed with a
bad ear infection that made the course even more grueling). Nothing could stop him. He
fought through and, yes, even won his age group. I got second place overall. My dad
finished fairly well too, improving significantly over his race two months prior. In a way,
I felt like they were working harder than I was. I was the athlete—this stuff should be
easy for me. They weren’t athletes, and what they were doing was very hard. Watching
the hard work that they put into these races motivated me to become more diligent with
my own training.
Another two months later, we were registered to run Spartan Race’s toughest event, the
Beast, 12 in Killington, Vermont. This would be the hardest physical challenge that any of
us had ever completed. Before, the Spartan Races had been hard only for them; this time,
the race would be a test for all of us. The Beast involved repeated hikes up Killington’s
ski slopes, including once with a sandbag, and thirteen miles of the most brutal terrain
we had ever seen. The race took me three hours, my dad and granddad roughly six.
Upon completion, we were changed men. We truly felt we were now Spartans. The
transformation that had begun months earlier was now complete. On our return from
the race, the rest of the family noticed a change in our attitudes and personalities for
the better, and asked us, “What happened to y’all?”
Since the Spartan Beast in August 2011, we have run multiple marathons and ultramarathons, four more Spartan Races (with more to come), and countless other trail races
and adventure runs. Our friends have started racing with us and coordinating group
workouts. What started as just one person entering a Spartan Race has turned into a
tightly bonded group of nearly twenty family and friends all supporting one another in
fitness, nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle. While I am still the only “competitive athlete”
in our group, I am personally motivated by everyone else, all of whom are training and
competing later in life and balancing more responsibilities than I have at 17 years old.
As I begin my college career, I have a big future ahead of me. Thanks to Spartan Race,
I see everything—whether easy, hard, or uncertain—in terms of possibilities. Consumed
by responsibility, my dad has found an outlet from the everyday pressures of running a

23 6

business. The value of this cannot be overstated: my dad has realized that his health is
as important to his family as his work. My grandfather decided at an early age that he
would always stay active. Through obstacle racing, he can stay true to his word while
spending time with family. He knows that age is just a number.
I once heard that hard things are put in our way not to stop us, but to call out our
strength and courage. To that, my granddad, dad, and I would add, “Aroo!”

1 See http://www.bikramyogapittsfield.com/studio.php
2 See, for example, http://www.shape.com/latest-news-trends/healthy-food-combinations-better-nutrition
3 Coming up at the end of this chapter
4 See www.operationgratitude.com/
5 See www.komenchicago.org/
6 See, for example, http://spartanrace.tv/?v=carolinas
7 Check out http://kidsfitfoundation.org/ or http://www.Facebook.com/KidsFitFoundation
8 http://americanpankration.net/
9 See http://blog.spartanrace.com/?s=chris+davis
10 See http://www.meetup.com/DunRun/
11 As of July 2012, Bob Blenis is still the oldest Spartan to complete the Trifecta. A 14-year-old Spartan completed the Trifecta in 2012,
surpassing Alec as the youngest to do so.
12 About to become the second-toughest, following the inaugural Ultra Beast in September 2012

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CHAPTER 10
MA K E T H E F U T U R E

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WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? ENTER A RACE!
Andy: Come join the sport! Become an obstacle racer!
Spartan Race really is for everyone. Since you’ve read this far, you know that, because
it’s a timed event, it appeals to people who like competition—whether it be competition
with themselves or against the field. They want to see what they can do and to race
other people. You also know that other people enter because they’ve set goals to lose
weight or to accomplish something they’ve never done before. Anyone can get off the
couch and have a great race experience. Whichever category applies to you, Spartansanctioned obstacle races are for you.
People often show up to do a Spartan Race when it’s their first race of any kind—ever.
They start off nervous because they have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into,
but they always walk away with a smile. Then you also see stud athletes show up all
swagger and bravado, only to walk away with their tails between their legs. Spartan
Races really get under people’s skin.
The June 2012 race in Tuxedo Ridge had about 12,000 entrants, and each race is bigger
than the last. Everywhere I go in the athletic community, people are talking about it. On
one end of the spectrum, so many people are accustomed to their sedentary habits and
don’t really try new things. On the other end, accomplished racers can also get bored
and soft with their routine. Obstacle racing gives both groups a great way to experience
something new. At the finish line of a Spartan Race, people really feel like they’ve done
something—and there’s a distance for everybody, even the most hardcore competitors.
We’ve had Olympians, Division 1 athletes, Marines, SEALs, and lots of other serious
athletes; they all get something rewarding out of it. As you’ve read again and again in
the stories in this book, for many people it’s a life-changing experience.
Two-time Olympian and gold medalist swimmer Steve Lundquist1 said that every time
he stepped on the blocks he truly believed he was going to win. Whether he was right
or not, his belief proved correct. There are lots of versions of this maxim, and they’re
all true. They’re all core to the Spartan Race experience.
That maxim holds true for you, too: if you set your mind to complete a race—or win
one—you will prevail.
So start now: decide you can do your first obstacle race, and go crush it!

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RINSE AND REPEAT
Andy: Once you’ve set your sights on a Spartan Race, trained, and crossed the finish
line, you’re bound to want more.
If you ask people about their race experiences, they’ll say that they’ve done all sorts of
things but Spartan Race is really the top event. In just a few years the Spartan model of
obstacle racing has grown unbelievably quickly. People are just insanely excited.
More and more people are also going to mud events for a day of getting stoked up,
and that’s great for people who are looking for more of a party atmosphere. The
average person who shows up at a Spartan Race is more driven, someone who wants
to really compete against themselves and against other athletes. We are ecstatic that
more and more people are taking it seriously, and that motivates us to expand Spartan
Race even faster.
As of July 2012, we have more than 1.7 million people following Spartan Race on
Facebook, and over 135,000 subscribers to our Workout of the Day (WOD) feed. They
talk about it, travel to races, and tell their friends.
You will, too.

THE FUTURE OF OBSTACLE RACING STARTS NOW
Andy: We intentionally approached obstacle racing as a sport from the very beginning
and designed our events to be as serious as they are fun.
Joe: Right now Spartan Race, Inc. is the de facto governing body. We purposely wrote
our rulebook as The Spartan International Obstacle Race Rulebook (see Appendix E),
because we aim to build an internationally sanctioned sport in the next few years. As of
June 2012, we hold races in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico,
Slovakia, and Australia, and in 2013 we will inaugurate events in more countries (to
be announced).2
That’s how Spartan Race has grown so far, and that’s how we are going to see you at
the Olympics!

SPARTAN RACE LORE: FIRST OLYMPIC OBSTACLE RACE
Andy: We believe in the inevitability of obstacle racing as a 21st century Olympic sport,
and we want to share that vision with you. To help you feel the inevitability with us,
here’s a brief glimpse into the future, contributed by Spartan Warrior Jason Jaksetic.

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OPENING CEREMONIES: NAIROBI OLYMPIC STADIUM, 2032 SUMMER GAMES
Jack Charles squinted through the dim light of the stadium tunnel towards the US
Olympic Wrestling Team, who were waiting along with all the other American athletes to
march onto the field in what promised to be a visual and sonic explosion, broadcast to
more than three billion people and every time zone. Judging by the ceremony holograph
just below the hallway ceiling, Jack and his countrymen and countrywomen were due to
enter the global spotlight in about seven minutes.
Among the wrestlers, Jack spotted his former training partner, Kingston Jordan, a favorite
for a medal in Greco-Roman wrestling. At the Olympic training facility in Colorado, Jack
and Kingston had turned long, mountainous runs into a good-natured two-man grudge
contest in the early season. They had subsequently become friends as they prepared for
this day—their Olympic debut.
Jack threw Kingston a wave but was unable to get his attention. Not just Jack and
Kingston, but everyone seemed consumed by a fury of anticipation, nerves, and sheer
awe at the immensity of the moment. It’s not every day you participate in the Opening
Ceremony for the Olympic Games.
Jack had once dreamed of being an Olympic wrestler like Kingston. That was before he
left his high school coach speechless, when he left wrestling to pursue obstacle racing—a
fringe sport that was supposed to be his ‘off-season’ training event. The coach’s shock
was understandable, considering this was back in the early 2020s and obstacle racing
was just approaching NCAA adoption. At that point, collegiate competition was limited
to a few dozen extramural racing clubs who showed up to compete at the Spartan Racesponsored Obstacle Racing World Championships.
No one believed then that obstacle racers had a shot at Olympic glory. But Jack had
learned that setting boundaries on possibility was a futile and dumb thing to do. He knew
that people often achieve the “impossible.” The present moment was a demonstration of
this fact. Despite all the people who said it would never happen, that he was crazy and
out of his mind, here he was, one of six men and women who won the right to represent
the United States on the 2032 Olympic Obstacle Racing Team.
The tri-guys understood. Jack looked for the triathletes but couldn’t see them over the
basketball players to his left. They only came to the Olympics in 2000, a sport born from
grass roots enthusiasm—some fitness-nuts who began experimenting with endurance
sports in the 1970s. They were now Olympic veterans with a rich event legacy. What was
once novelty is now the norm.

24 2

Jack imagined walking onto the field in the coming minutes, looking up to section 213
where he knew his family would be sitting. His father and step-mother had met at a
Spartan Race back in 2015, back when obstacle racing was new. What must it be like
for them to be here, among the families of some of the world’s finest athletes?
The wrestling coach might have been dismayed by Jack’s defection to Obstacle Racing,
but his father and step-mother had never been prouder. They encouraged him. Jack
could still remember how his father had marveled at the depth of the international field
in 2022, when Jack won his first Spartan Junior World Championship. Even then his
father warned that the Australians were asserting dominance. Jack should have listened.
But he just wrote it off as one of his father’s rants about ‘the good old days of obstacle
racing,’ when it was ‘underground.’
Casting a quick glance back to the ceremony display above him, Jack saw Max Morrison
step onto the 400-meter track for his ceremonial lap with the Australian delegation. Jack
again reran the words his coach had been pounding into his head continuously for the
last 6 months: “Do not let Max open a gap on you on the rope climb! Remember what
he did with a 1-meter lead on you in Toronto?”
Luckily, the rope climb was early in the Olympic course, and Jack knew he could keep
up. The Olympic Committee had only just unveiled the finalized obstacle design and
course layout three weeks ago—not much time to encode the rhythm of running and
lifting and crawling and jumping that would be needed to navigate the course. When
Jack complained about this to his father, his father only laughed, launching into some
well-worn stories about how when Spartan Race started, the officials didn’t release the
course maps ‘til race morning (if they released anything at all). “That’s the whole point,
Jack,” his father said, for easily the hundredth time. “You need to be able to handle
anything as an obstacle racer.”
Here in Nairobi, the Olympic Committee had done an exquisite job melding the new
Freestyle Moto-Cross course into the finishing section for the inaugural Olympic
Obstacle Course. It would be quite a show for the spectators. This was a far cry from
the Steeplechase, the great grandfather of obstacle racing. Obstacle racing’s Olympic
debut course was set to include 30 obstacles over 10 kilometers.
The racers would cover the first 8.5 kilometers over outdoor terrain before battling it
out inside the deafening stadium. On the approach into the stadium there was a fierce
paved rise for the sandbag carry, reaching its apex right at the stadium doors. Then the
stadium crowd would be able to switch their attention from the hi-res holographics above

243

them to the course below. The spear throw, the balance beams, the walls, the hurdles—
any of these could bring a competitor to his breaking point, providing heart-stopping
drama for the spectators, and presenting the competitors plenty of opportunities for the
lead to change.
Jack knew from the trials that even on such a grueling course, the race could easily come
down to the final hundred-meter sprint to the finishing line. He visualized extending his
stride, accelerating to the finish, Max somewhere behind his right shoulder. He was pure
breath and speed, leaning forward to break the timing plane…
A hand on his shoulder brought Jack back to the present. It was Kingston.
“You ready for this, man?” he asked. “Japan just took the field. We’re next.”
Before Jack could reply, there was movement in the ranks of athletes. A new surge
of energy mounted as the US team came to attention and started to move forward in
unison, building themselves into a focused wave of athletes and spilling out onto the
field and into history.

SPARTAN WARRIOR: HOBIE CALL
Andy: Hobie Call entered his first Spartan Race in 2011, at the SoCal Super, and
just totally dominated the field. It was Hobie and then everyone else. We were all
blown away by his performance because we had never seen someone come out and
crush the field that way. What has really amazed us since then is that in every single
race he is consistently phenomenal. It’s almost as though he was made for obstacle
racing. Now when Hobie enters a Spartan Race, all of the elite competitors get fired
up to beat him. Some people specifically travel to races where he is registered because
they don’t just want to win a Spartan Race; they specifically want to best Hobie in
head-to-head competition. Hobie goes out of his way to encourage new racers and
spends a significant amount of time at events and between events sharing his infectious
enthusiasm with people who are new to obstacle racing. By being such an electrifying
force on the course and a great ambassador for obstacle racing, Hobie is creating
great buzz for the sport.
Hobie: I first heard about Spartan Race through Facebook; someone mentioned it to my
wife.3 She said she thought I would like it, and showed it to me. I saw a picture of a girl
crawling under barbed wire in mud and thought, “Nah. That’s not for me.” But my wife
kept bugging me so I said, “Well, we’ll see.” That was pretty much that in my mind. For
some reason I later decided to look into it. Joe did a one-time publicity stunt ($100k to

24 4

Hobie hauling a sandbag in
the 2012 Palmerton, PA Sprint
(Photo credit: Nuvision)

245

anyone who could win all of his US races in 2011), that wasn’t even publicized all that
much. It was just in one news story I saw. I thought, “Really. Maybe mud ain’t so bad.”
I’m a decent runner but I also have decent upper-body strength, so I thought I might
have a chance. I called to see if it was for real and they said yes. So I showed up in
California and said, “I’m here to sweep the season.” Joe sort of smiled, but they were
pretty skeptical.
That first race was a Spartan Super. I didn’t really know what to expect, but my first
reaction on the course was, “Holy cow, this is so much fun!” I’m scaling an eight-foot
wall and I don’t know if I ever did that before, except maybe at a neighbor’s house as
a kid. I felt like a kid again for the first time in I don’t know how many years. Winning
was just a bonus at the end. Road races themselves aren’t actually fun. I’ve run all kinds
of great races in interesting places, but none of them were this much fun. I was hooked
after that first race, as most people are. That’s why these races are getting so popular.
I think the Spartan Races are so addicting because of that childlike sense of play, but they’re
also extremely well designed events. Each event is in a great setting. You have a unique trail
run in a beautiful place, and you have really cool obstacles. The combination is great. You
have no idea what you’re going to run into around the next corner, it could be anything—a
wall, a Rubik’s cube, a spear throw, who knows. You’re going to hit an obstacle you never
hit before, and you don’t know how you’re going to do it. The other thing is that every single
race is unique. A half-marathon is a half-marathon. But these are all different. The course is
different and the obstacles are in different places, in different combinations. Even the races
I’ve done on the same courses are still different. They stay exciting and interesting.
I personally like the Sprints the most, because I like obstacles, and they’re the most
obstacle-intense. You get a lot more per mile. We’ve only had one Beast, and it was
above and beyond: tons of miles, tons of obstacles, tons of hills. It was just brutal.
Training for obstacle races is also more demanding and more fun. Basically there are
three factors in fitness (speed, strength, endurance). In most road or cross-country races,
strength really isn’t a factor at all—it’s some combination of speed and endurance. In
obstacle races, it’s more strength and endurance. I wear a weight vest when I run, and I
do a lot of lunges to build strength. For upper body, I always maintain a minimum level
of strength, but more importantly for obstacle races you have to work high-intensity
aerobic strength. There are all of these well-defined fitness buffs who anyone can see
are obviously stronger than Hobie, but they get worn out because they’re not accustomed
to working their muscles at high intensity.

24 6

Oh, goodness, kids are going to love it. Spartan Race already offers kids’ races, and
has to run two or three waves of kids because they love it. It’s boring just to run, but kids
love obstacles. It’s like recess. No one is going to run around an oval, but give kids a
playground, and they’ll have a blast. They don’t know they’re working out; they’re just
playing and having a great time. There will be a professional obstacle racing sport, and
it’s going to be very competitive because the kids who are racing in the next few years
are going to become really fit and they will have a great time competing. They’ll also be
incredibly fun for spectators to watch.
I really believe that obstacle racing has a future as an organized sport in the form of
team racing, like cross-country racing. Ten or twelve races per year would pit teams
against each other again and again, and develop rivalries. The season would culminate
with the top teams going head-to head, like the SuperBowl of obstacle racing. It would
be perfect for ESPN.
My biggest goal as a competitor now is just to inspire other people to live healthier
and not give up on their dreams. I was 34 years old when I encountered these obstacle
racing events. Before that I had a hundred opportunities to give up on my dreams: year
after year of mediocre race results, and nothing to show for it. It was almost like magic
that these races popped up and it was almost like they were just for me. I don’t race to
win, I need to win to inspire others and influence the way the sport develops. When I
meet people who say, “I’m here at this race because of you,” that’s far more important
than any wins. My other goal is to get beer out of the races, because I really want to
focus people’s attention on healthy living, and I want to see kids get more involved.
Schools won’t get involved, for example, if there’s a lot of promotion around beer.
It’s good to bring your kids to races, but I don’t really want my kids to be associating
obstacle racing with beer. I realize that for obstacle racing to become a professional
sport, there’s definitely a sponsorship issue there, but I really want to inspire people to
have healthy lives.
Healthy living encompasses everything. In terms of physical fitness, don’t be crazy and
obsess on it like me—I train all the time. But be healthy enough to go outside and enjoy
life, go to the park and have a good time, fit enough to do the things you want to do.
Eat healthier so you have energy throughout the day and don’t have to be at the doctor
all the time. There are lots of diseases that you can’t control, but most of the common
diseases among Americans are preventable. Eat healthy and get good exercise (come
out and run obstacle races!) and live a good life.

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SPARTAN WARRIORS: JOHANNE AND LEYLA DI CORI
Andy: Leyla di Cori is a frequent Spartan Racer and Spartan Chick who originally
posted a version of this story on the Spartan Race blog. It was such a great story we just
had to give Johanne and Leyla the anchor position in this book. Everything we aimed
to convey, starting with the first word of the Preface, is summed up in their narrative.
The future of obstacle racing belongs to people like Johanne and Leyla, and like you—
ready for a new challenge at any age.
Aroo!
Johanne: The adventure I took part in with my daughter Leyla happened on Sunday,
June 10th, 2012 at Mont-Tremblant.
I made my decision to run the Spartan Sprint with my daughter on our drive back home
on Saturday the 9th after spending a good part of the day on the race site. This was the
second time I accompanied Leyla to a Spartan event.
The first time I witnessed what I call Spartan Fever was when my daughter raced in a
Spartan Hurricane Heat in Staten Island the year before. I was astonished by the crowd
and the vibe of the whole thing.
My daughter had tried to convince me a few times to race with her, but I simply didn’t
feel like I could; and I expected that I may look silly more than anything.
That all changed on that Saturday at Mont Tremblant. Seeing all the people racing on
that sunny afternoon gave me the urge to race as well. I caught Spartan Fever!
I absolutely wanted to give it my best shot and prove to myself that, despite my age, I
could complete the racecourse and all its challenges. I thought, “After all, age is just a
number!” If a person feels they are capable, that they have the strength, the endurance,
and the will, why not just go for it?
Leyla: After racing the 2012 Tuxedo Sprint with my boyfriend Kevin Laplatney4 and
spending a week in Long Island, I made the trek back to my hometown of Montreal to
take part in the Super on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday.
My mother was sweet enough to drive me to my race on Saturday morning. The drive
was a good hour and a half. On our way there, my mother and I had some motherdaughter bonding time. My mother Johanne has always questioned my “Spartan” way
of life: the back-to-back races, the intense training, the so-called battle wounds and
scars.... But she was also amazingly supportive.

24 8

Leyla and Johanne finish the
2012 Mont Tremblant Sprint.
Spartans take a knee for
her accomplishment.
(personal archive)

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On Saturday, I took part in the competitive heat of the Super at 10:00 a.m. Finishing in
the top eight, I was pleased with myself, and my mom was pretty proud of me. As we
posed together at the picture both, my mother looked at me and said: “I want to race
with you tomorrow.” I looked at her in shock. I had tried to convince her in the past to try
a Spartan Sprint, but she refused. And there she was, my 72-year-old mother, saying she
wanted to race! I was thrilled. We started preparing that night: I decked my mom out in
my thigh high socks, my race shorts, my trusty Salomon Speedcross 3’s, and a Spartan
Tech T-shirt. If she was going to race, she was going to look the part too!
Sunday morning arrived. Believe it or not, my mother only told my father that very
morning she would race. He was stunned, and, by the look on his face, a bit worried.
You have to understand: my mother had not been training for a Spartan race. Despite
her age (and trust me, you’d never think she was 72 if you looked at her!), she is quite
active; she bikes, walks to the grocery store and back with bags, gardens, and doesn’t
mind to get dirty! But that is a far stretch from being ready for a Spartan Race. My
biggest concern was that my mother suffers from asthma—a very serious challenge! I
vowed to not leave her side. I was going to stand by my mother no matter how long it
took. We were in this together!
Came 10:15 a.m., arm-in-arm with my mother, I led her to the front of the start line.
The siren sounded, and off we ran! The smoke affected my mom’s breathing from the
very beginning, but she managed to run the first kilometer. Racers were not noticing a
72-year-old was racing with them. She was shoved and pushed like any other racer,
but that did not stop her. As the hills grew higher, we slowed down and power-walked
through the mountain. The forest was hilly and muddy. It certainly was tough terrain for
her but she was doing awesome. Funny enough, two men, probably in their late forties,
were walking the trail as well. I am glad to say we Chicked them!
Johanne: The experience was the utmost memorable. Yes, it was difficult at some
moments, but the support my daughter gave me throughout the race, her unstoppable
encouragement with every step I took, made me complete my very first Spartan Sprint
at the age of 72.
Leyla: We did all the obstacles: the sandbag carry, the rope ladder, and so many others.
My mom was amazing, strong, and determined not to give up. The only thing that
worried her was the 220-yard barbed wire crawl. The mud was incredibly deep and she
even got stuck in it. She was in knee-high and the suction was so strong she couldn’t
get out. Her legs cramped up and she couldn’t move for a good minute. Fellow Spartans

25 0

helped her out. So many racers encouraged her and were in awe. With every step we
took, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly proud. I kept telling her how remarkable she was
for doing this. She is a grandmother, after all!
My mom was determined to finish and kept a smile the entire time. She even joked with
me that giving birth was easier than a Spartan Race (what a sigh of relief I had after
hearing her say that!). As we continued racing, the bonding we had was probably the
best thing. It certainly brought us closer than ever. She finally understood what I call
“mud fever” and what it feels like to go beyond your limits. There is nothing quite like the
feeling of being powerful beyond measure, and she was certainly in that state of mind.
Less than a mile away from the finish line, there was a series of obstacles. The only
one my mother missed was the spear throw. I did the burpees for her. She climbed up
the eight-foot wall like a cat! She went through the tunnels. She made her way to the
electric barbed wire. She went up the cargo nets with great agility. She ran the inclined
platforms. Then came the final obstacle before facing the gladiators: the inclined
slippery wall with rope. I guided my mother, telling her how to position her body. We
were side by side. She barely had any strength left in her arms. She said she couldn’t
take another step. I said to her: “Mom! This is the last one!!! Now give it all that you’ve
got! And I know you have it! Now pull! PULL!! YOU CAN DO IT! Take baby steps and pull
yourself up there!!!” Another Spartan Chick was at the bottom and helped me by guiding
my mother as I was extending my hand from the top of the ramp. The crowd was going
wild seeing my mom. She was near the top and said she couldn’t get over. I remember
yelling, “YOU GOT THIS, MOM!!! DO IT!!!!! DO IT!!!!!”
And she did!
The crowd roared!!! It was a magical moment. I think my heart stopped when I saw her
legs make it over. A few yards ahead, the gladiators were waiting—our final obstacle
before the finish line. I had promised my mother I wouldn’t let any gladiator tackle
her. She was going to stay at my side and I was going to shove anyone who dared to
approach her. As we advanced, I eyed the gladiators cautiously.
The most amazing thing happened: all four gladiators bowed down in front of us! They
all applauded my mom. Everyone around the finishing area was applauding and cheering.
Arm in arm, we crossed the finish line with tears in our eyes. My mom had made it!
Johanne: What a surprise to see the gladiators bow down to my daughter and me at the
finish line. The crowd was roaring. It was exhilarating!

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I cannot thank the Spartan organization enough for letting me race. I will never forget
this amazing experience.
I must thank my daughter for being by my side the entire time. She helped me go beyond
my limits.
Leyla: My father was waiting for us at the finish line. His face said it all. He hugged
both of us and then held my mom in his arms. Clearly you could tell how emotional he
was to see his muddy wife finish a Spartan Race, despite not having trained for it and
suffering from asthma.
I can tell you my mom was a Spartan Super Star! She was stopped by strangers left
and right and everyone wanted their pictures taken with her. The MC even made an
announcement about Johanne Di Cori, the 72-year-old Spartan Chick/grandmother who
just finished the course. Words couldn’t and still can’t express how proud I am of my
mother. I am so blessed to be her daughter.
My mother is such a down-to-earth person. She doesn’t realize her achievement. For
her it was a race she completed, a challenge she wanted to try. More than that, she has
become an inspiration for many people who were there to witness her finish the race,
and many more who have read her story. The best part for me is that she plans to race
with me again!
Johanne: Leyla has told me the reaction that my race (our race) caused in the Spartan
world. I never expected to have such an impact on people! I took up the challenge as
a personal goal. I never thought people would care much for a 72-year-old woman
completing an obstacle course. I’m happy if I have convinced people to go out there
and just do it!
As Pierre de Coubertin, innovator of the modern Olympic Games said, “ Toujours plus
haut. Toujours plus fort.” [Always higher. Always stronger.]

1 See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Lundquist
2 If you don’t see an upcoming Spartan-sanctioned obstacle race in your area, demand one! Here’s how: first, on the Spartan Race website—
www.spartanrace.com—double-check our Event page—http://www1.spartanrace.com/spartan-obstacle-racing-events.php —to see if there
are any races coming. If you are in the US, mouse over your state. If there is no race there, you will see our “Click To Demand It” pop-up,
which you can click to provide us your email. We will keep track of emails in your state and, if the demand is high enough, we will add that
state to our “Possible Locations” page. If you are outside the US, email us to demand a race in your country. We track those requests as well.
In other words, more demand equals greater probability of a new event location, so get your friends, teammates, workout buddies, family
members, teachers, coaches, principal, and everyone else to make their voices heard, too.
3 Hobie’s wife Irene has become a frequent visitor to the podium as well!
4 See Kevin’s reviews of mud and obstacle races at http://mudmanreport.blogspot.ca/

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A FT E R WOR D

253

As long as humans have been competing, we have been tackling and overcoming obstacles.
In the golden era of Antarctic exploration, Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton, and
Roald Amundsen raced across countless barriers to reach the South Pole. Their treks
across the icy expanses of the Antarctic glaciers, mountain ranges, and sea ice were,
for all intents and purposes, races through innumerable obstacles to the finish.
Around the time Amundsen was returning to a hero’s welcome in Norway, small groups
of mildly inebriated enthusiasts were making late-night bar bets that they would be the
first to reach the top of “this mountain” or be first to paddle down “that river.” These
bets were occasionally enacted, despite the clarity brought on by bright sunshine and
the reality of a sharp hangover. One noteworthy example is the Texas Water Safari,
a 262-mile jaunt from San Marcos in the hill country of Texas to Seadrift on the Gulf
Coast, first run in 1963. Frank Brown started the race after he and Big Willie George
paddled, waded, dragged and sailed “500 miles” (actually 330 miles) from San Marcos
to Corpus Christi in a little over 20 days. 126 men and one woman started the inaugural
race, and the winners finished in 110 hours and 35 minutes. The current record is 26
hours 46 minutes, set by a six-man canoe/kayak in 1997—no adult beverages required.
Modern-day obstacle racing hearkens partly to these impromptu challenges, and partly
to formalized events like the Devizes-to-Westminster International Canoe Race (started
in 1948 in the UK), which covers a variety of watery terrain and requires teams of two
to cross 77 locks, the Modern Pentathlon, steeple chase, and military obstacle courses.
In any case, these competitions continue to hold as much allure for spectators as they
do for competitors—perhaps even more so.
One of the earliest televised competitions that had the look and feel of today’s shortformat races was the series “Survival of the Fittest.” Director Barry Frank and colleagues
(who may or may not have been under the influence of adult beverages—Frank claims
to have been driving home from playing golf when he devised the show) dreamed
up the show in the 1970s and produced it until the late 1990s. This was a multipart, multi-sport competition that included rock climbing, descending, hill running
(both up and down), extreme downhill mountain biking, gladiator style combat, ropes
courses, white water skills (on and in the water) and a variety of specially devised tests.
Champion athletes from all sports were invited to see who was the best, and the event
was inevitably won by Nordic skiers, rock climbers or multi-sport athletes.

25 4

In a similar vein, television programs American Gladiators (1989-96) and World’s
Strongest Man (1978-present) drew large followings but restricted the competitors to
the super elite. Adventure Racing ushered in the modern age of mass participation
in the 1980s, starting as an ultra-distance multi-sport and evolving to much shorter
races requiring less equipment and featuring more obstacles. The Hi-Tec Adventure
Races (later Balance Bar, 1997-2007) involved running, mountain biking, and canoe
paddling with a host of obstacles on a relatively short (2-4 hour) course that catered to
large athlete fields in relatively small venues such as state parks.
Today competitors and spectators alike can experience the challenge, excitement and
ethereal runner’s high in a few hours in shorter, more intense obstacle races such as the
Spartan Race, Muddy Buddy and Tough Mudder. These events allow our inner warrior
to escape the humdrum life of the office and the ‘burbs in the relatively controlled
safety of a structured event. As you have read here, and possibly already experienced
for yourself, obstacle racing is growing at a furious pace, drawing in more competitors
and spectators with every event.
What will be the future of obstacle racing? Who will become the great champions, the
legendary coaches, the famous course designers, the first commissioner, the expert
reporters and commentators, the devoted season ticketholders and the high-profile fans?
That future is not yet decided, and you have the opportunity to help shape it.
— Ian Adamson, seven-time Adventure Race World Champion and three-time
Guinness World Record Holder, endurance kayak

255

Ian in action in action near
Vail, Colorado
(Photo credit: Dan Campbell)

25 6

A P P E ND IX A :
T O P T E N T IP S F O R
CON Q UE R ING A SP A R T A N R A C E
AN D R E C LA IMING Y O U R L I F E
Courtesy of Spartan Chicked1 founder
Carrie Adams and WOD editor Jason Jaksetic

257

1. BITE OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW WHEN TRAINING. Training isn’t meant
to be comfortable. You don’t find out how far you can go until you push yourself past
where you’ve been.
2. GET LOST. IT MAKES FOR BETTER TRAINING. Routine has it place, but predictability
brings its own limits. Break it up by striking out somewhere you’ve never been before.
3. WAKE UP EARLY. AVERAGE PEOPLE DON’T. Get up, get out, get moving—the earlier,
the better.
4. CARRY WEIGHT. IT WILL MAKE YOUR OTHER PROBLEMS INSIGNIFICANT. Training
with weight grants perspective. It’s easier to run without a 40-pound backpack, but it’s
easier to run with a 40-pound backpack than with a 70-pound rock. All three have their
place in your training.
5. EVERYONE WANTS IT TO BE EASY. IT WON’T BE. The moment things become
challenging is when you should lean in and NOT ease up. “Easy” and “hard” are
relative terms. It’s you who gets to decide.
6. PUSH HARDER! YOU WON’T DIE. AND IF YOU DO, WHO CARES: YOU’LL BE DEAD.
Fact.2
7. IF YOU’RE NOT HUNGRY, YOU’RE EATING TOO MUCH. IF YOU’RE NOT COLD,
YOU’RE WEARING TOO MUCH. IF YOU’RE NOT SWEATING, YOU’RE THINKING TOO
MUCH. Learn to thrive with less than you think you need to survive. It’s amazing how
little that actually is, and it’s even more amazing how much you’ll actually enjoy how
that feels.
8. NOTHING BEATS HARD WORK AND PERSISTENCE. You can’t get something for
nothing. Most things in life worth having don’t come without struggle, sacrifice, and
commitment. Make friends with these actions and see how far you can go.
9. WANT SPEED? RUN FASTER. WANT STRENGTH? LIFT HEAVIER. WANT AGILITY?
CLIMB HIGHER. Go back to your primal roots as a human being. We are born to run,
we are born to move, lift, crawl, climb, and carry. We are born of this Earth, so go
outside and explore what it has to offer.
10. IF YOU WANT TO BE BETTER AT SOMETHING, CRUSH YOURSELF DOING IT. Never
be satisfied. Keep pushing. Never believe you’ve arrived or that you have reached the
end. That’s actually just the beginning.

25 8

A P P E ND IX B :
N OTE S O N T R A INING G U I D EL I N ES
IN C H A P T E R S 5 T H RO U G H 7
Courtesy of Spartan Warrior Jeff Godin, Department Chair, Exercise and
Sport Science at Fitchburg State University; ultra-endurance racer; and
Director of Certification for Spartan Race Coaching

259

Welcome to the Spartan Race training program! You are about to undertake a journey
that will challenge you physically and mentally. Spartan-sanctioned obstacle races are
hard. They are not your average 10K or half-marathon. At every distance a Spartan
Race requires stamina, strength, muscle endurance, agility, balance, and power—one
needs to have good levels of fitness across all dimensions in order to be successful in
the event.
The programs presented in Chapters 5 through 8 are designed to balance all five
elements of fitness covered in Chapter 3 so that you will develop total fitness and be
physically prepared to complete the race you have entered. If you follow the plan, train
consistently, and have fun, you will finish your Spartan Race. All of the hard work that
you put in will pay off in the end, and you will gain a new level of mental indomitability.
As the founders say, “You’ll know at the finish line.”
As you read the training programs, you may be surprised by how different they are from
mainstream training. We do not simply suggest you go out and run or bike a certain
number of miles at a steady pace for set time period; Spartans train outside of the norm
and like to do things differently. These training programs call for a great deal of body
weight exercises. During your obstacle race you will be pulling and pushing your body
over and under obstacles. You will see that the majority of your exercise will focus on
these movements; exercises such as pull-ups and push-ups are used quite often.
Your goal for the first week of training should be to exercise every day of a scheduled
workout. Maybe you won’t be able to complete the workout, or perform the recommended
repetitions, or perform it at the recommended intensity, but your goal is to show up
every day and to make a solid attempt. You will become better at training as a result.
Within a couple of weeks you should start feeling stronger and be able to tolerate
longer and more intense exercise. You will find you can complete more repetitions and
begin to exercise a little harder.
Pay attention to how you feel, and work within your limits. If you feel lightheaded,
nauseous, or have any unusual pain, you need to stop exercising immediately and see
your doctor. You should work hard, test you limits, and stretch your boundaries, but you
don’t need to be incapacitated for the rest of the day from your workout. Work hard,
but don’t overwork. If you want a full glass of water, you stop pouring when the water
reaches the rim. If you continued to pour after the glass was full, the water would spill,
be wasted, and create a mess. Exercise is the same way. You just need to do enough—
more than enough isn’t better.

26 0

Conversely, if you are feeling strong and think that the dosage of exercise suggested is
insufficient for your needs, then feel free to add sets, increase time, or even do multiple
sessions per day. You could also add extra steady-state exercise such as running, cycling,
or swimming into the mix. You may also add yoga or other group exercise practice.

EXERCISES REFERENCED THROUGHOUT CHAPTERS 5-7
BURPEES
Start by standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your hands by your
side. Quickly drop down to a squat position and place your hands on the floor, two feet
in front of you. Explode your feet back so that your body is in a push-up position, lower
your chest to the floor, and in one smooth, quick motion push upwards and flex your
hips rapidly so that your feet are back underneath your hips and you are in the squat
position. Jump up as high as possible and repeat. The complete repetition should be
done in a fluid motion, not discrete steps as it is described. They should be done as fast
as possible, while maintaining good form. Good form: maintain a neutral spine; avoid
hyperextension or a great deal of flexion in your spine while transitioning from squat
to push-up (and vice versa).

PLANK
Lie face down on a mat. Rest on your forearms with your palms flat on the floor. Push
off the floor, raising up onto your toes and resting on your elbows. Keep your back flat
and in a straight line from head to heels. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals
to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle. Hold for
the desired amount of time.

PLANK WITH ROW
Similar to above. Grasp a moderate-weight dumbbell in each hand. Start in the pushup position with your legs straight and your arms fully extended. Keep your back flat—
in a straight line from head to heels. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to
prevent your rear-end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle. Hold the
plank position and alternate rowing the dumbbell to the side. Try not to rotate your hips
to compensate for the rowing motion.

MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
Place your hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your hips should
be higher than your shoulders (pike position). Position one leg forward, bent under your

261

body, and extend the other leg back. Hold your upper body in place, and alternate leg
positions by pushing hips up while immediately extending forward leg back and pulling
rear leg forward under body, landing on the forefoot of both feet simultaneously. Repeat
the sequence quickly.

SPIDERMAN PUSH-UP
Start in the standard push-up position with your hands under your shoulders and your
body in a straight line. As you lower your torso towards the floor, bend your elbows out
to the side and at the same time, lift one foot off the floor, flex the knee and hip on one
leg, bringing the knee to hip level. Push back up and extend the hip and knee back to
their original starting position. Repeat the action on the opposite leg.

INVERTED PULL-UP
Set up a bar on the squat rack or between two benches. The bar should be set at a
height so that you can just reach the bar with your fingertips while lying on the floor with
arms fully extended. Lie underneath the bar with your legs extended. Grasp the bar and
pull your chest up until it touches the bar. Keep your heels in contact with the floor to act
as an axis of rotation for the body. Your hips should stay high and your torso rigid and
plank-like. Don’t bend at the waist or hips throughout the exercise. Return to the start
position and repeat. The exercise is performed with the shoulders and elbows—don’t
thrust your hips. To increase the difficulty, elevate your feet off of the floor by placing
them on a bench.

SQUAT JUMP
Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart. Quickly drop into a quarter-squat position
and jump as high as possible.

LUNGE JUMP
Stand with one leg forward and the other back (lunge position). Flex the forward and
back knee and hip quickly, and jump as high as possible. Cycle your legs in midair so
that the position is reversed upon landing. This exercise can be modified so that the
jump is straight up without the cycling.

SCISSOR KICKS
Lie in the supine position with legs extended and arms straight by your side. Raise
your legs so that your feet are about 12 inches off of the floor. Alternate flexing and

26 2

extending your hip in a kicking motion (like swimming). The key is to maintain a neutral
lower spine during the exercise. Brace the stomach muscles as if someone were going
to punch you in the gut, and keep your back from arching. This exercise is most difficult
with legs fully extended; bending your knees will reduce the intensity.

EXERCISES REFERENCED UNDER AB 500
CRUNCHES
Lie in the supine position with knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor.
Interlace your hands behind your neck and point your elbows out. Slowly curl your torso
upwards, until your shoulder blades are an inch or two off of the floor. Slowly return to
the start position. Don’t pull on your neck while doing this exercise; keep your elbows
back and your head and neck in a neutral position.

BICYCLES
Lie in the supine position with legs extended and hands interlaced behind your neck.
Crunch up slightly and hold. While holding the crunch position, flex your right hip and
knee and rotate your torso so that your left elbow moves towards your right knee. Staying
in crunch position, bring your left knee to right elbow. Continue for the desired repetitions.

BACK SCRATCHERS
Lie in the supine position with knees bent at 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor, and arms
straight by your side. Curl up so that your shoulder blades are just off of the floor, and
tuck your chin in to take stress off of your neck. Laterally flex your spine from side to
side, first touching one heel and then the other.

ROTATING CRUNCH
Lie in the supine position with knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Flex
your right hip and place your right foot on your left knee with your right knee pointing
outward. Keep your right arm straight by your side. Place your left hand behind your
head and point your left elbow to the side. Curl up and rotate towards your right knee.
Keep your elbow out and think about bringing your left shoulder toward your right
knee. Perform the desired number of repetitions and then switch to the other side.

LEG LOWERS
Lie in the supine position with legs extended, and arms straight by your side. Begin by
flexing your knees and hips moving your knees towards your chest. Once your hips

263

are fully flexed, extend your knees and slowly lower your straightened legs to the floor.
When your feet are about six inches from the floor repeat the sequence. The key to
this exercise is to maintain a neutral lower spine throughout the movement. Brace your
stomach muscles as if someone were going to punch you in the gut. Keep your back
from arching.

SCISSOR KICKS
Lie in the supine position with legs extended and arms straight by your side. Raise
your legs so that your feet are about 12 inches off of the floor. Alternate flexing and
extending your hip in a kicking motion (like swimming). The key is to maintain a neutral
lower spine during the exercise. Brace the stomach muscles as if someone were going
to punch you in the gut, and keep your back from arching. This exercise is most difficult
with legs fully extended; bending your knees will reduce the intensity.

SIDE CRUNCH
Lie in the supine position with knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Roll
your hips to one side, but keep both shoulders flat on the floor. Crunch up by lifting
your shoulders off the floor. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then
repeat on the other side.

VERTICAL TOE-TOUCHES
Lie in the supine position with your knees straight and your legs flexed at the hip so
they form a 90-degree angle to the floor. Your feet should be pointed towards the
ceiling. Crunch up and touch your toes. Your shoulder blades should come off the floor
by about six inches. Perform the repetitions under control. Tuck your chin to prevent
straining your neck.

A FEW NOTES ON TARGET HEART RATE
Maximal heart rate (MHR) is the fastest possible rate at which your heart can beat per
minute (bpm). MHR is variable among individuals and depends mostly on age. You can
estimate your MHR with the following formula:
207 – (.67 * age)
Aerobic exercise intensity is frequently measured as a percentage of MHR. In the plans
in Chapters 5 through 8, we refer to both percentages and heart zones. In some cases
we suggest you exercise at a percentage of your maximal heart rate (for example,

26 4

65% of MHR). In this case, just multiply your maximum heart rate by that percentage
(for example, 191*.65 = 124). To determine your heart rate while exercising, find
your pulse on your wrist (just below your thumb) and count the number of pulses
you feel in 10 seconds. Multiply by 6 to get beats per minute. Your objective is to
reach that intensity within 5 beats. In other cases we refer to heart rate zones. Use the
spreadsheet below to calculate your heart rate zones. You will need your resting heart
rate in addition to your maximal heart rate. It is best to take your resting heart rate first
thing in the morning, before you rise. Find your pulse on your wrist or neck and count
the pulses for 30 seconds then multiply by two.
Heart Rate Zone

% of MHR

Zone 1 (Z1) – Recovery

50 – 59

Zone 2 (Z2) – Extensive Endurance

60 – 69

Zone 3 (Z3) – Intensive Endurance

70 – 79

Zone 4 (Z4) – Threshold/Temp

80 – 89

Zone 5 (Z5) – Max VO2

90 – 100

Here are the example zones for a 30-year-old:
MHR = 207 – (.67 * 30), or 187 bpm.
Z1 = 94-110
Z2 = 111 – 129
Z3 = 130 – 147
Z4 = 148 – 166
Z5 = 167 - 187

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26 6

A P P E ND IX C :
FITN E SS T E ST ING PRO T O C O L S
Courtesy of Spartan Warrior Jeff Godin

267

As referenced in Chapter 3, these are standard protocols that you can use to assess
your own fitness.
Before conducting any tests, it is advisable that you warm up thoroughly beforehand.
Five to ten minutes of steady state aerobic activity followed by dynamic full range
of motion movement is recommended. Please note that you will need assistance to
perform this assessment—do not attempt to do these tests on your own.

1.5-MILE RUN
Equipment: stopwatch, quarter-mile track.
Procedure: Complete the timed 1.5-mile run (6 laps) as quickly as possible, at a pace
that can be maintained for the entire distance. Try to avoid starting out too fast or too
slow. You should finish the distance with very little left in the proverbial tank.

1-REPETITION MAXIMUM (RM) BACK SQUAT
1-Repetition Maximum means the greatest amount of weight you can lift one time.
Equipment: squat rack, spotter, barbell, and weight plates, safety collars
Procedure:


1. Start with a warm-up set that you can easily lift for 5-10 repetitions.



2. Recover for one minute



3. Estimate a load that you can complete for 3-5 repetitions (an additional 10-20%


from the warm-up workload)



4. Recover for 2 minutes



5. Estimate a conservative yet near maximal load that you can lift 2 times



(an additional 10 – 20%)



6. Recover for 2-4 minutes



7. Attempt a maximal lift with an additional 10-20%.



8. If successful, repeat the previous step after recovering for 2-4 minutes



9. If unsuccessful, reduce the weight by 5-10% and attempt maximal lift.

Note: proper squatting technique is imperative. Do not attempt this without at
least one spotter, preferably two.
Alternately, you can estimate 1RM Back Squat by following first three steps of the
procedure above to find a weight that you can only lift 5 times. Divide that weight by
87% (or multiply by 1.15—same thing).

26 8

PUSH-UP
Equipment: floor mat (optional).
Procedure:


1. Assume the standard push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart,



your elbows fully extended, and your torso rigid and straight.



2. Lower your body until your upper arm is parallel to the ground.



3. Return to the start position



Note: the normative range for women is based on of the modified position,



in which the knees are in contact with the ground.

SIDE-PLANK
Equipment: floor mat, stopwatch.
Procedure:


1. Lie on your side on the mat with your legs extended.



2. Place your top foot in front of your bottom foot on the floor for support.



3. Lift your hips so that you are supporting yourself on one elbow and your feet.



4. Hold the position as long as possible.

ONE-MINUTE TIMED SIT-UP
Equipment: floor mat, stopwatch, partner
Procedure:



1. Lie in the prone position with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent
at a ninety-degree angle.



2. Cross the arms on the chest with the elbows held high.



3. Have a partner hold your feet firmly to the ground.



4. Sit up until your elbows touch the top of the knees.



5. Return to the starting position so that the shoulders come in contact with the mat.



6. Complete as many repetitions as possible in one minute.

Note: Perform the repetitions under control. Do not do this exercise if you have a history
of lower back pain.

SIT AND REACH
Equipment: yardstick, ruler, or measuring tape; tape

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Procedure:


1. Tape the yardstick or measuring tape to the floor.



2. Place a second strip of tape about 24 inches long at a right angle on the 15-inch




mark on the ruler.
3. Sit with legs extended and heels touching the tape at the 15-inch mark.



4. Slowly bend forward at the hips, keeping your legs straight, and reach as forward


along the ruler as possible.



5. Repeat for a total of 3 reaches.



6. Record the furthest distance reached.

BODY COMPOSITION
There is no good way to test this yourself. It is best to have your body composition
measured by your coach or fitness professional. Another option is to use a bioelectrical
impedance scale or handheld bioelectrical impedance device.

40-YARD SPRINT
Equipment: stopwatch, flat running surface of at least 60 yards, partner
Procedure:


1. Conduct at least two trial runs at submaximal speed.



2. Start in a three-point stance.



3. On an auditory signal from your partner, sprint 40 yards at maximal speed.



4. Your partner starts the stopwatch on his or her signal, and stops the timer when



your body has crossed the 40-yard mark.

5. Repeat.


6. Record the average time of the two trials to the nearest tenth of a second.

VERTICAL JUMP
Equipment: chalk, wall with a high ceiling, measuring stick or tape
Procedure:


1. Stand with your preferred arm to the wall. Reach as high as possible and make




a mark with the chalk.

2. Without a preparatory step, quickly flex the knees and hips, swing the arms



backwards, and jump as high as possible to make a second mark on the wall



at your peak height.



3. Repeat the jump twice.



4. Record the best of the three trials.

27 0

STANDING LONG JUMP
Equipment: flat jumping area about 20 feet in length, tape measure, duct tape
Procedure:


1. Place a three-foot strip of tape on the floor to serve as the starting line.



2. Stand with your toes behind the line.



3. Using the same counter movement as that in the vertical jump, jump as far




forward as possible.

4. You must land on your feet for the score to be counted.



5. Place a marker at your heels and measure the distance from the starting line



to the tape.



6. Repeat the jump twice.



7. Record the best of three trials.

300-YARD SHUTTLE RUN
Equipment: stopwatch, two parallel lines 25 yards apart on a flat surface, partner.
Procedure:


1. Start behind one line.



2. At your partner’s signal, run to the second line 25 yards away.



3. On making contact with the second line turn around and run back to the start.



4. Repeat this for a total of 6 times as fast as possible without stopping.



5. Record the time.



6. Recover for exactly 5 minutes and repeat.



7. Record the average of the two trials to the nearest tenth of a second.

HEXAGON
Equipment: colored adhesive tape, measuring stick, stop watch, flat floor with good
traction, goniometer or protractor, partner
Procedure:


1. Using the adhesive tape, create a hexagon on the floor with 24-inch sides and



120° angles.



2. Start in the middle of the hexagon.



3. On your partner’s signal, hop from the center over one side and back to

the center.


4. Jump in a clockwise pattern until all six sides have been covered 3 times.

271



5. Recover for two minutes and repeat.



6. Recover for two minutes and repeat again.



7. Record the best of three trials, to the nearest tenth of a second.

T-TEST
Equipment: four cones about 6 inches high, tape measure, stopwatch, flat surface with
good traction, partner
Procedure:


1. Arrange the cones to form a T. (see figure)



2. On your partner’s signal, run from cone A to cone B.



3. Facing forward, side shuffle to the left of cone C.



4. Then side shuffle to the far right cone.



5. Side shuffle back to the center cone B.



6. Run backwards to the finish (cone A).



7. Recover for two minutes and repeat.



8. Record the better of the two trials to the nearest tenth of a second.

27 2

A P P E ND IX D :

,
B R E T T B LA NC H A RD S
L E T T E R T O E D U C A T O RS

273

Andy: Joe and I and everyone at Spartan Race feel very strongly about preparing
children and young adults to pursue lifelong health and fitness. That’s why we have
Spartan Kids races, schedule age-group waves for school-age competitors, and
encourage athletes as young as 14 to enter the adult waves. We aim to see obstacle
racing become a recognized sport for kids from 4-18 and become a sanctioned high
school varsity and NCAA collegiate sport.
Spartan Warrior Brett Blanchard (Principal of Fair Haven Union High School in Fairhaven,
Vermont, and featured in Chapter 2) graciously shared the letter and attachment he
sent to educators all over the Northeast United States in May 2012, encouraging them
to incorporate obstacle racing into their physical education curricula.
If you’re interested in convincing your local school district or college to start an obstacle
racing program, show them Brett’s letter, or use it as a template to draft your own.

May 4, 2012
Dear Fellow Educators;
As educators, all the countless studies that have been published have come to support
what we knew by observation: students who engage in regular physical activity, especially
as a member of a team, are more successful academically and more productive
overall. Students who engage in meaningful physical fitness while participating in
school activities have better attendance, positive peer relationships and higher self
esteem. Unfortunately, it has also been made clear the consequences for students who
do not exercise and who are not involved in school activities. While the obesity rate
and diabetes for school-age kids has tripled in the past two decades, according to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 20% of our schools require
daily physical education and even fewer of our students leave our educational system
prepared for life-long fitness.

27 4

With life-long fitness as a goal for everyone involved in our schools, a new and exciting
opportunity is being made available to all our students and staff. This September
at Killington Mountain Resort, the first Vermont Spartan High School Obstacle Race
Challenge has been created. Already hundreds of our students have formed obstacle
racing teams with over a thousand participants anticipated. While the Vermont
Principals’ Association sent out a brief announcement of support last month, details
and official registration may be found at http://hub.spartanrace.com/2012-spartanrace-high-school-challenge-vt
Included with this letter are some benefits of getting our students involved with this new
life-long fitness opportunity, as well as a high visibility poster that directs students to
more information.
Castleton State College graduate and Spartan Race High School Challenge coordinator
Jennifer Macari is available to assist with any questions you may have. She may be
contacted at [email protected]
Sincerely,
Brett C. Blanchard
Brett C. Blanchard, Principal

WHY START OBSTACLE RACING?
We need to prepare our students for life-long fitness. Participating in obstacle racing
(OR) helps our students meet that goal in a variety of ways.
Time flexibility with training is mandatory. Currently all high school sports take place in
a set time at a set place. With obstacle racing teams both the time and place of practice
become flexible.
Personal motivation is built. Motivation entails setting an attainable but difficult goal,
having others support your effort and the knowledge that YOU actually directly control
your accomplishments. OR allows student-athletes to be an active member of a team while
directly being responsible for her/his results. Hard work will, for certain, earn student
success in OR. Students also can have a direct voice in how training is accomplished.
Every athlete on an obstacle racing team participates equally, fully and completely. No
one is left sitting, watching or waiting to join in.

275

Completing the course earns meaningful self worth. A sense of belonging and pride
comes with being part of a team. In obstacle course racing, values that are learned
go beyond the sport. OR directly affects how one handles discomfort, abnormal
circumstances, personal doubt and fears all in a safe and encouraging environment.
The challenges occur with others who are experiencing the same feelings at the same
time. OR racers truly develop a feeling of personal empowerment individually and
share it with others. The Spartan Race “You’ll know at the Finish Line.”
OR is a sport of true fitness. It hits every aspect of health. OR develops both physical
and mental strength and endurance.
Students will experience personal growth. Each chooses their starting level of intensity
but advance in skill as opting out becomes less of an option. Participants will develop
muscular improvement, mental strength, and a sense of fearlessness for challenges.
There is minimal cost to starting an OR team or participating on one. What do you
need? Shoes, shorts, shirt and motivation. No special equipment is needed. This
remains true forever!
Top quality Workout of the Day (WOD) will be available to all participants. These
workouts are created and administered by certified Spartan trainers as well as other
fitness professionals. Spartan trainers are of true professional grade holding a current
certification from major organizations in the field and/or Bachelors or higher in Exercise
Science. They are not just fitness specialists but live the lifestyle of life-long health.

27 6

A P P E ND IX E:
SPA R T A N INT E R N A T I O N A L
OBS T A C LE R A C E RU L EB O O K

277

The Spartan International Obstacle Race Rules serve as racers’ and Race Directors’
common reference and guide. These standards for racer behavior shall apply before,
during and after all Spartan-sanctioned events, in any country or territory.
By the very nature of Spartan Race obstacle racing and because of the wide variety
of terrain and venues worldwide, Spartan Races vary from one race to the next. In a
world overrun with dull, outdated pavement-pounding parades, this variety is a primary
source of the challenge and thrill of Spartan Race obstacle racing.
Embracing the unknown regarding the courses, this guide is meant to make expectations
of racers on those courses (and at the venues in general) universally understood.
The physical and mental tests of a Spartan Race in the Alps and at another in the
Nevada desert obviously vary. The quality of the experience, from zero tolerance for
unsportsmanlike behavior to enforcement of obstacle rules, shall be universal.
Aroo!
Joe De Sena
Founder and CEO
Spartan International Obstacle Racing
June 2012

INTRODUCTION
Almost all other modern sports cater to our need for certainty and predictability – a
100-yard football field, a marathon that’s always 26.22 miles, spectators and support
crews, water and rest stations. But is that the real world? And don’t those confines,
well… confine us? Spartan International Obstacle Racing (IOR) provides the joy and
challenge we knew as innocent kids. Remember when just running and jumping over
something was its own reward? It felt so good because that part of childhood was
primal – we’re wired to do it. Not all that long ago in our past running over and
under whatever got in our way is how we avoided becoming someone else’s lunch. Or
caught our own. Fast-forward to today, and it’s how we’ll avoid a whole raft of modern
dangers, from choosing to sit still instead of moving to quitting because that “confined”
activity got a little too predictable. They don’t call it a treadmill for nothing.
The rules herein create global consistency in Spartan International Obstacle Race
racer experience and race management. Yes, it’s ironic; a rulebook for a sport born
of an urge to bust out and run the way we were meant to. As a concession to modern

27 8

civilization we do it. And because the original urge to break free and run for ourselves
is so deep, we have tried to keep it short and simple.
Our modern attorneys have asked us to note:
These rules should not be considered an assurance or suggestion of racer, spectator,
race staff, race volunteer, venue staff, or vendor safety. Spartan Race, Inc. makes no
such assurance or suggestion.

MEMBERSHIP OR SINGLE-EVENT PASS REQUIREMENTS
To enter a Spartan Race, a racer must either be a Spartan International Obstacle Racing
Association member in good standing or include in their race registration and payment
a one-day temporary membership. Cards for each may be used for discounts at the
race venue and in some cases online. These are not guaranteed and vary widely.

MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES
Elite Memberships
Elite Annual Memberships are by application only, for highly competitive athletes with
elite race credentials. To apply, contact www.obstacleracing.com. Not all who apply
shall be granted Elite Membership. There are two Elite Membership types:
Elite Adult
• Elite Adult Members are eligible to receive prize money related to top finishes
at individual races, when such prizes are offered, as well as prize money related to
season-long competitions, when offered. Minimum age is 18 at the time of application.
Elite Collegiate


All criteria above apply for application. Elite Collegiate Members may not receive

prize money.


Members 14 through college are not eligible for prize money unless submitting a

specific application proving they qualify.
Elite Members comprise a competition category of their own and may not compete as
Standard Members of their age group. At race registration, Elite Members must declare
their elite status and run the race as members of that competition category. Violations will
result in a minimum one-year suspension of any category of Spartan IOR membership.
Standard Memberships
Standard Adult – Must be 18 years or older at time of application.

279

Standard Youth – Must be 17 years or younger at time of application.
Standard Senior – Must be 55 years or older at time of application.

SPECIAL ACCESS MEMBERSHIPS
Racers with disabilities may apply for Special Access Membership at www.obstacleracing.
com and are required to submit a medical description of physical disability from primary
care physician.
Lower Extremity - This includes single below-the-knee amputees
Upper Extremity - This is an athlete who has one arm amputated above or below the elbow
Visually Impaired - This is for athletes who are legally blind, 20/200 with best-corrected
vision, requiring a guide throughout the race. If a guide is needed, they may be tethered
during the race.
Upon review of information received, all eligible athletes will be registered for the
physically challenged heat. Any application received with incomplete information will
not be processed. Any decision on whether or not an athlete meets the criteria for a
specific division is at Spartan Race Inc. sole discretion.

REGISTRATION AND QUALIFICATION
Racers competing for cash prizes must register for the Competitive Wave.
All team members must register to run in the same wave.
A team’s race time is derived as the average of the team’s top 4 finishers’ times.
Racers wishing to change from their assigned wave to a different wave must request
the change through the Spartan Race website registration tab titled “Wave Change
Request.” This request must be submitted no later than 14 days before the race.

PRIZES & AWARDS
Some awards may relate to national or international Spartan Challenges, whether
single-day or ongoing. Others are wholly at the discretion of the Race Director.
Examples include the following:


Finisher’s Medal: Every finisher of a Spartan Race shall receive, at the Finish Line,

a Spartan Medal.
• Merchandise
• Cash


Special Recognition



Sponsor-Supported Awards



Charity-Supported Awards

28 0

BIB & CHIP RULES


Chips must be properly secured to wrist. Racers are responsible for checking to see

that his/her chip is functioning properly.


Bibs must be worn from Start to Finish.

WAVE PARTICIPATION & START RULES


Racers must start in the Wave to which they have been assigned.



Racers must report to the start corral 10 minutes before their Wave start time.



Racers must not leave the starting mat until their Wave is released.

CLOTHING AND GEAR
Common sense prevails, but rules do, too:


Clothing must be socially acceptable by local norms



Clothing must not be used any way to assist a racer’s efforts (for example, it may

not be used as a rope when climbing, or as a sail when swimming)


No glass of any kind on the course



No weapons



No highly flammable or explosive substances



Fluids and food carried on course may not contain alcohol or other mind-altering

substances.


Carry-in, Carry-out, leaving nothing behind. Infractions will be penalized at Race

Officials’ discretion, minimum 30 burpees.

COURSE RULES
KNOWLEDGE OF COURSE
The unknown is a signature feature of Spartan Racing. Distances, obstacles and their
placements, elevation changes… all of these are to be seen and experienced for the
first time when running the race. Racers may not


Preview the course



Seek information about the course from finishers



Offer information about the course to racers who have not yet run.

281

STAYING ON COURSE
Racers must follow all course markings.
Off-course racers shall be subject to disqualification.
For exceptions, see section below titled, “If You Need To Leave The Course.”

IF YOU NEED TO LEAVE THE COURSE
It happens. Nature calls. But race officials will view a racer returning to the beaten path
as having failed to stay within bounds, which would result in disqualification. If you need
to leave the course, find a race official, who will take your bib number. Return to the
course at the same place and check-in with the same official before resuming your race.

OBSTACLE RULES
Each obstacle will have a minimum of 3 race officials monitoring racers’ progress and
completion of the task(s).
Cameras may be stationed at obstacles to provide additional accuracy as to judging.
Racers competing for anything other than a finisher’s medal must navigate every
obstacle (see “Obstacle Success,” below), to the attending race officials’ satisfaction.
All other racers may advance beyond each obstacle by either:
• Obstacle success: Navigating the obstacle to the satisfaction of attending race
officials.


Obstacle penalty: After trying at least twice and failing to navigate an obstacle, a

racer must move to the marked penalty zone and complete 30 burpees. Both the failed
obstacle attempt and the 30 burpees must be approved by attending race officials.
• Obstacle-specific directions: Every obstacle has a set of rules posted at the
obstacle’s approach area. Avoid penalties by understanding the obstacle.

GENERAL CONDUCT
The Spartan ethic should be evident from initial online entry and throughout the
experience, from the parking lot through registration, around the venue and, obviously,
on the course.
Racers are expected to remember they are part of a community of racer-athletes. They
are therefore to behave such that no one at the venue, on the course, or online shall be

28 2

offended, hurt, discouraged or hindered in any way from running the race to the best
of their ability. The same shall apply regarding consideration of everyone’s enjoyment
of the broader event’s atmosphere of fun, challenge, spirited competition, and mutual
support.

CONDUCT TOWARDS RACE OFFICIALS
It’s very simple: Respect and obey them.

CONDUCT TOWARDS OTHER COMPETITORS
Single Track rules
Slower and faster racers must demonstrate mutual respect, especially in single-track
situations. On single tracks:
• Faster racers must pass on the left, doing nothing to interfere with the slower
racer’s progress. A good pass is often begun with fair warning by calling “On your left!”


Slower racers may remain on the single track but must use sportsmanlike common

sense in making the faster racer’s pass possible.


Absolutely no blocking or hindering.



An unsportsmanlike block, hindrance, or pass is subject to a penalty.

Behavior in Bottlenecks/Lines
Common sense and good sportsmanship are racer’s guides.


A racer causing a bottleneck is expected to yield immediately to end the clog.



Passers must respect the racer who has yielded by causing him/her no undue delay

or any harm.
Hindering/Obstructing fellow racers
Physical contact with other racers is inevitable, but it is every racer’s responsibility
to ensure that contact does nothing to interfere with another racer’s efforts. Even
accidental interference may result in a penalty.
Racers cannot help fellow racers unless someone is injured and in need of assistance.
Hazing/Mocking/Intimidating
Spartan Races have a zero-tolerance hazing policy. Race officials possess the authority
to penalize and even expel racers for such behavior. If the racer is more than a Spartan

283

Race Day-Member, expulsions will trigger a review of and possible revocation of
membership.
Race officials will act as final judges and have the authority to disqualify for hazing,
mocking or intimidating.

INFRACTIONS
Race officials alone may identify infractions, at their discretion.
Standard Infractions
The most common Standard Infraction is failure to navigate an obstacle. Standard
Infractions may also include minor course misconduct or mistakes. All are at the sole
discretion of race officials.
Technical Infractions
These are more serious mistakes and offenses that may result in harm to self, others or
environment, or blatant unfair advantage.

PENALTIES
The standard penalty “denomination” is a set of 30 burpees, executed to a race official’s
satisfaction.
The penalty for a technical infraction is disqualification/expulsion from the event/
revocation of Spartan IOR Membership.
Time Penalties
There are none. But penalty burpees can seriously affect a racer’s time.
Burpees
What’s a Burpee, Anyway?
• Stand.


Squat, hands on ground.



Thrust legs back in a single motion, placing body in plank position.



Do a push-up.



Draw legs back to squat position in a single motion



Jump straight up.

That’s 1 burpee.
As noted above, burpees may play a significant role for racers unable to navigate an
obstacle, or who commit other Standard Infractions.

28 4

• At obstacles, racers will complete burpees in the marked penalty area unless
otherwise directed by race officials.


At non-obstacle locations, a race official will direct you.

Approval
Race officials alone have the discretion to approve or deny the successful execution of
burpees. Make sure you are observed by a race official. Failure to advance in the race
without a race official’s approval may result in disqualification.

APPEALS
Racers assessed a Standard Infraction penalty who wish to appeal must:


Perform the Penalty Task.

• Tell the race official who imposed the penalty that he/she plans to appeal the
penalty.


Provide the race official his/her bib number. (The Race official will radio the racer’s

bib number to the Finish area so that officials there will expect the racer to appear)


Take the race official’s ID number.



Continue racing.



After finishing, inform race officials in the finish area that he/she wishes to make

an appeal to the Race Director.
Racers assessed a Technical Infraction Penalty who wish to appeal must:
• Tell the race official who imposed the penalty that he/she plans to appeal the
penalty.


Provide the race official his/her bib number



Take the race official’s ID number.



Disengage from the race and walk along the edge of the course to the Finish area.



In the Finish area, inform race officials that you wish to make an appeal to the Race

Director.
Appeals Decisions shall be made exclusively by the Race Director on-site. The Race
Director’s decisions are final.

REPORTING MEDICAL EVENTS
Racers must report to the nearest race official any racer’s medical emergency.
Racers must report to the nearest race official any racer’s safety emergency (someone
struggling unsafely in the water, for example)

285

In medical and safety emergencies racers are expected to use their best judgment about
staying to assist a person or people in trouble, or running to the nearest official for help.
Under no circumstances are racers who have witnessed an unattended medical or safety
emergency to continue racing until a race official has arrived. Failure to assist a racer
in significant danger or distress is wrong, un-spartan and subject to disqualification.
Racers who lose significant race time assisting someone are entitled to re-run the race
in a different Wave. After the emergency has passed they may speak to the race official
present about a new start time.

THE RACE CATEGORIES
SPARTAN RACE OBSTACLE MINIMUMS
All Spartan IOR racecourses, whether Sprint, Super or Beast, must include at least these
obstacles:


Balance Beam



Barbed Wire Crawl



Fire Jump (venue/weather dependent, replaced with alternative if necessary)



Kettle Bell Pull

• Over/Under/Through


Rope Climb



Sand Bag Carry



Gladiator Pit



Traverse Wall



Water Crossing (venue/weather dependent, replaced with alternative if necessary)

Additional obstacles required in Spartan Super races and Spartan Beast races are noted
in the Race Categories section. See also the Obstacle Descriptions Addendum.

SPARTAN SPRINT
Length – A minimum of 3 miles and a maximum of 4 miles in length.
Obstacles – A minimum of 15 obstacles, which must include


Slippery wall



8-foot wall



Spear throw



Rope climb



Traverse wall



Barbed wire crawl

28 6



Weight carry



Tractor pull

Terrain – Varies by region and venue. Expect it to be a factor.

SPARTAN SUPER
Length – A minimum of 8 miles and a maximum of 9 miles in length.
Obstacles – A minimum of 20 obstacles, which must include


Slippery wall



8-foot wall



Spear throw



Rope climb



Traverse wall



Barbed wire crawl



Weight carry



Tractor pull

Terrain – Varies by region and venue. Expect it to be a moderately significant factor.

SPARTAN BEAST
Length – A minimum of 10 miles and a maximum of 12 miles in length.
Obstacles – A minimum of 25 obstacles, which must include


Slippery wall



8-foot wall



Spear throw



Rope climb



Traverse wall



Barbed wire crawl



Weight carry



Tractor pull

Terrain – Varies by region and venue. Expect it to be a major factor.

SPARTAN ULTRA BEAST
Length – Full marathon length (around 26 miles)—twice around the main Beast course
Obstacles – All the obstacles of the Beast—twice!
Terrain – Varies by region and venue. Expect it to be a huge factor.

287

28 8

A P P E ND IX F :
A FEW P A R T ING W O R D S F R O M
T H E F O UND IN G F EW

289

A FEW WORDS WITH MIKE MORRIS
What does obstacle racing mean to you?
It is a novel concept in the world of endurance racing, introducing challenges never seen
before in sport; an opportunity to develop something amazing that provides a medium
for millions of people to find the motivation and inspiration to change their lives who
otherwise would not have.
Why do people love it?
It’s new, challenging, and, given how intense and hard it is has proven to be, very rewarding
for many people. It’s like being a kid again. Getting muddy, playing in the woods.
Where is obstacle racing going?
It’s still too early to tell, but I think obstacle racing will stay and mud runs and 13-mile
obstacle playgrounds will become a fad. Racing creates a following and makes it more
challenging. It tugs on many primal components of the human spirit.
Why it is taking the world by storm?
Because Joe doesn’t give up. And obstacle racing attracts competitors who don’t, either.
Why could obstacle racing become an Olympic sport?
The ability to watch top athletes traverse obstacles against one another under the added
pressure of a race, and potentially in a team-based event, is incredibly fascinating for
most people.
Why do Sprint, Super, Beast, and Ultra Beast distances make sense?
The distinct distances provide natural progression for an athlete or average Joe looking
to continually test themselves and add challenge.
What training do you recommended to succeed in obstacle racing?
Trail runs over constantly changing (hilly) terrain, full body high intensity strength
circuits, and burpees. Lots of them.
What sport did you come from and how do you approach obstacle racing, coming
from that sport?
My background is adventure racing and the sports that accompany that (mountain
biking, trail running, orienteering, kayaking). I’ve learned to expect the unexpected and
adapt to the situation at hand as best as possible.
What are your 3 favorite quotes?
“You can’t prepare yourself for a kick in the balls.”—a wise man

Mike and his mountain bike
in a swamp in the Adirondacks,
during a 12-hour endurance
race circa 2008
(personal archive)

291

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man
who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who
strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort
without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows
great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at
the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he
fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold
and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”—Teddy Roosevelt, 4/23/1910
“A true test of character is what you do and how you act when nobody is looking.”—wise
person
Who are your 3 most influential people?
My father, my mother, and my brother.

A FEW WORDS WITH NOEL HANNA
Where did you come from, and how did you get involved in obstacle racing?
I was born in 1967 in Northern Ireland. I played soccer/Gaelic from the age of 6. I
joined the police force (RUC) in 1987 and served in anti-terrorist unit and canine unit
in Belfast. In 1997, at the age of 30, I decided to get into more extreme running and
entered the Himalayan 100-mile stage race. This was my first multi-day running race,
and I was hooked. I won the race. During the race you could see 3-4 of the world’s
highest mountains—this is when I thought to myself, “Someday, I will be on top of them.”
I went on to compete in numerous running events (Los Angeles crest 100-miler/Vermont
100-miler/Badwater 135-miler/Marathon Des Sables - paced 1st USA female to name
a few).
In 1999, I decided to enter an Irish (2 from the North, 2 from the South) team into the
famous ECO-challenge race in Patagonia (then classed as the toughest race on the
planet). All our team were adventure race virgins, never having done a multi-sport
adventure race before. I never looked back. After racing all over the world with numerous
teams for 2-3 years, I met and raced along with Joe De Sena from New York.
By 2002, I resigned from the RUC because I was getting my adrenaline from a different
source now and did not get enough holidays to allow me to fulfill my dreams.

29 2

In 2004, Joe and I decided that we would set ourselves a new challenge: to climb to the
highest point on each of the 7 continents (known as the 7 summits).
I said to Joe, “Why not make it harder? When we reach the summit, we should travel
all the way to the sea by human power—walk/run/ski/bike?” This had never been done
before. I started this ultra-challenge in January 2005 but, due to work commitments, Joe
was unable to accompany me on the first one in South America. In 2010, I completed
the challenge in Antarctica by climbing to the summit of Vinson, then skiing to Hercules
inlet.
After South America I met with Joe and, along with a few others (all of us having raced
and competed worldwide for numerous years), we all decided to help Joe plan a race
to challenge the strongest, hardest, and fittest of athletes. The Death Race was started.
Eventually the Spartan Race took shape and became as it is today—the world leader in
obstacle racing for all.
Why do you see Spartan as the world leader in obstacle racing?
I feel that Spartan is the leader in obstacle racing because all the founders have a
background of competing in the world’s toughest adventure races and the longest
endurance running races (and we all know what Joe Bloggs wants in a race). We also
have races of different lengths to suit all abilities so that the whole family can compete.
What are your most recent accomplishments?
May, 2011 – Climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest
July-August, 2011 – Climbed to the summit of Mt. Blanc three times
October-November, 2011 – Completed advanced bodyguard course in South Africa.
May, 2012 – Climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest.
20th May, 2012 – Stood on the top of Everest for the 5th time. My adventure continues,
and so can yours.
What is your favorite quote?
“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”—James Dean

A FEW WORDS WITH SELICA SEVIGNY AND RICHARD LEE
What does obstacle racing mean to you?
Selica It means everything, we have given all our personal and professional time,
blood, sweat and tears to provide these events to the public. There is so much hard work
and passion that goes into this...it’s not about profit...we are motivated by our mission
to get people off the couch and build a healthy legacy for our community and the world.

293

Noel on the summit of Everest,
May 2012
(Personal archive)

Selica and Richard clearing the
fire at the 2011 Tuxedo Sprint
(Photo credit: Nuvision)

295

We joined the team Joe had assembled reluctantly, as he really did not want to start
another business. The team was Brian, Andy, Noel, Sean, Mike, and we came in shortly
after they started. At the beginning, Richard and I spent endless hours marketing,
proposing branding ideas, but our sights were set on licensing Canada and the UK, and
we did all the initial work with Joe to launch those communities.
This is a dream come true. When I was young, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do.
I was asked to do a time capsule: write myself a letter, put it away, and open in it in
10 years. The 10-year anniversary just happened, and when I opened the letter I was
amazed to read, it said I didn’t quite know what job I would be doing but I would be
inspiring great change in people’s lives and fundraising through my talents...and voila!
Here I am today doing exactly that!
Richard I come from a military background, and a big contingent of what they call “allaround fitness” is obstacle racing. I see value in obstacle races because they’re a good
determiner of that. You’ve got to have good core strength, upper-body strength, cardio,
balance, and agility. In other sports, training goes towards one particular aspect of
fitness, but obstacle racing trains the whole body. It’s the perfect sport.
Where is obstacle racing going, and why is it taking the world by storm?
Selica International championships. Acceptance as a proper sport. It will become
bigger than Ironman.
People are bored with their lives. They are seeking adventure, fun, and more healthconscious activity. Obstacle racing is fun, unpredictable, affordable—and it’s good for you.
Obstacle racing allows people to feel confident, overcome challenges, and realize they
are capable of doing anything they set their mind to. It’s inspiring to see and meet so
many different people and yet feel connected to one another almost instantly during and
after the race. It’s a return to our ancient roots. Trail running is in our DNA as hunters
and gatherers. Humans were meant to be outdoors, not in houses and on couches. Our
events trigger something very deep that has been dormant. It’s an exciting day, and it’s
a day where anything can happen!
Richard I think, in part, it’s because of its accessibility. We have a race for everyone,
something that appeals to everyone. The message of obstacle racing is very different from
that of other sports in that you’re not expected to have experience or to have significant
training. Most people would never just try a marathon, but obstacle races are something
you might actually, say, convince your friend to do with you over the weekend. Obstacle

29 6

races are a lot more welcoming than, for instance, triathlons. And what’s really interesting
about this sport is that some people come out who you never would have thought would
win the race. In a marathon or a triathlon, you can predict the winner on paper, and
it’s usually very accurate; with obstacle racing, it’s very different. In a recent Beast, an
Olympic biathlete and gold-medalist was defeated at the last minute by a seventeen-yearold construction worker who at the time had no prior experience in competitive running.
Obstacle races are unpredictable, and that’s one reason I love them.
Why should it be an Olympic sport?
Selica It’s an intense full body workout, it’s entertaining to watch, it’s very much
returning to the roots of the ancient Olympics.
Richard I think, ultimately, where it’s got to go—if we want to gain credibility for
the sport—is to have a governing body that regulates the difficulty levels and point
schemes. Not only that, but I think that, with the competitive nature of the sport, we’re
going to start to draw in the more serious athletes. In the future, I think that people will
differentiate more between, say, mud runs and serious obstacle races. I think it’s very
apparent that we’re the only player in the sport right now that takes things seriously in
terms of the racing element.
Obstacle racing is very much like the triathlon. Forty years ago, the triathlon wasn’t a
serious sport, but now it’s the benchmark for toughness. I don’t see why obstacle racing
wouldn’t become an Olympic sport. With the current volume of participants, it could take
a while; but anything is possible.
Why do Sprint, Super, Beast, and Ultra Beast distances make sense?
Selica It’s a natural progression of challenge and people can either remain at the
same level or work their way up to becoming a different style of athlete.
Richard It’s a progression. The Super, for instance, serves as a middle ground between
a real test of endurance and a short, sprinty race anyone can do. You’ve got to have
achievable goals, and if the race doesn’t seem possible, nobody will do it.
What sport do you come from and how do you approach obstacle racing, coming
from that sport? What training do you recommend to succeed at obstacle racing?
Selica I had never done a race before doing the Death Race in 2009—this was my
introduction into the world of racing. I loved the sense of accomplishment when I finished
it and placed 3rd. I was always into playing team sports beforehand. I recommend cross

297

training, not just running. Having excellent upper body will help...no need to be bulky
and very muscular.
Richard A huge part of training in the military was built around physical fitness, and we
would often use obstacle courses in our training. As a trainee I encountered hundreds
of obstacle courses all over the world, before sustaining military career-ending injuries.
When I was younger I did a lot of cross-country running and fell [mountain] running, and
I’ve also done triathlons.
What is your favorite quote?
Selica

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”—Walt Disney

“If it’s not fun, why do it?”—Ben and Jerry’s
“Everyone quits at something one day and that is why we (Spartan Race) are so
enamored with people that are unwavering. Unwavering resolve in the face of all odds
is something amazing and should be cultivated! If you do NOTHING else in life, just
don’t quit what you are doing—make a commitment and follow it through to the end.
You might just inspire the world with that unwavering commitment!”—Joe De Sena
“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”— Henry Ford
“Just do it”- Nike
Richard I do enjoy reading the quotes of the day on Spartan Race, but other than that,
I can’t think of anything.
Who are your three most influential people?
Selica My mother who has taught me everything about integrity, hard work, and the
importance of not giving up.
Richard Branson: he is always pushing the boundaries and doing it with a smile. You can
tell he loves what he does!
Richard For me it was my fellow military trainees and the core values that were instilled
in me, the value system—that you can achieve anything, that you’re unbreakable. The
platoon is such a tight-knit community. You grow as a platoon. It’s almost two years of
training, and your platoon becomes your family, in a way. You see the progression from
day one to finishing training, and it’s just incredible—all the accomplishments, things
you never thought you could achieve.

29 8

Brian showing show his
spear throwing technique
(Personal archive)

299

A FEW WORDS WITH BRIAN DUNCANSON
I started my career as an adventure racer after watching Eco Challenge on TV. I quickly
enrolled in a camp in West Virginia to learn how to navigate, mountain bike, paddle,
and race for days on end. This led me to starting my own company, Genesis Adventures.
I started running my own camps and events in 2002 all over the Northeast. At one of
my events a friend of mine, Mike Halovatch, rolled in with a friend of his—Joe De Sena.
They were somewhat comical as they were out for an all-night bike ride and showed up
at the adventure race with hardly any equipment and even less of a clue about how to
get through a course. However, they made it to the finish line.
A few months later Joe contacted me about staging a private race for a bunch of his
clients out in the Hamptons of Long Island. What was supposed to be 20-30 people
turned out to be over 80, and the event was almost shut down by the local park police.
It was a great event that included paddling, mountain biking, a climb up the lighthouse,
and a long beach run to the finish. Everything went great until a team went missing
on us right near the end of the event. They passed the previous checkpoint at the start
of the beach run, and all they had to do was run straight on the beach to the finish—
pretty hard to get lost. The rest of the field was waiting at the finish line and finally the
last team showed up. Turns out they had stopped off at a bar along the beach! First
adventure racing team I’ve ever seen walking across the finish line smoking cigarettes
and drinking margaritas.
Less than five months after the first group meeting to organize Spartan Races, we had
our first race in Vermont with 500 people attending. I think it was Richard’s idea to have
someone dressed like a gladiator, and we purchased our first pugel stick. Anthony was
a huge kid and we hid him in the woods. Racers had to go through a tight section of
evergreen trees and they burst out into an opening when they met our first gladiator.
The feedback was priceless. Spectators, who were all over the course, quickly migrated
to the spot in the woods where all of the screams were coming from to watch people get
lit up. We decided right there that the gladiators would always be located right at the
finish line so that everyone could watch.

A FEW WORDS WITH SHAUN BAIN
I started ultra-marathon canoe racing while I was still in college. The Texas Water
Safari, a 260-mile, unsupported, non-stop canoe race dubbed, “The World’s Toughest
Canoe Race” was my relief from finals and a good way to keep me in shape mentally
and physically. Water and sleep deprivation (probably not the best company to keep)

30 0

provide some of the best hallucinations endurance racing has to offer. The race would
tear you down and you swore you would never do it again but as sure as the feeling
started to come back in your extremities the thought of doing it faster and better the next
time would win over…this process repeated itself many times.
Growing up, soccer was king and a great sport to develop a strong balance of speed,
endurance, and strength. But when we were not playing organized sports we made up
our own challenges…of course the common variations on football and baseball, but
we also always had an obstacle course. When family got together this was our form
of sport that consisted of ”no touch” sections and climbing up and down anything that
was available while running the stopwatch to see how much faster you could run it each
successive time. Looking back, it was not so much about the time as it was about the
experience and laughing as everyone took their turn trying to go as fast as possible.
Racing and pushing oneself to the limits brings many things into perspective. A change
of perspective/mindset can make the pain start to fade. Three hundred miles into a race
and your feet are just begging for mercy…. I think about what people do with chronic
pain. They make it through every day; they learn to adapt. When the foot strikes and the
brain is told that there is pain, mentally you have the ability to rewire your perception
of that pain. Going the extra mile, pushing through the pain, trying harder than you
ever have before in your life, we find a sense of belonging and solidarity with those with
whom we share the pain.
What we do as a race team is not all about play and fun—we grow as people. Our
races pack a lot of life experiences and emotion in a short amount of time. We enjoy the
challenge and dynamics involved in making the team and teammates the best that we
can be, and the challenges we face give us a huge boost in self-confidence that helps
us handle whatever life throws our way. Our experiences make us better people, and we
become stronger. The reward through the process of pushing to the limit and beyond is
you find yourself working harder, living fuller, and loving stronger!
Where is obstacle racing going, and why is it taking the world by storm?
Obstacle racing will not fade because it is woven into our genetic makeup. Spartan
Races are just bringing an organized format to the masses!
What is your favorite quote?
“The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the
impossible.”—Arthur C. Clarke

301

Shaun Bain pushing
hard in Hunstville
(Personal archive)

30 2

A FEW (MORE) WORDS WITH JOE DE SENA AND ANDY WEINBERG
What are your personal highlights from your adventure and competition experience
so far?
Joe There is no greater experience than being “crushed” physically and mentally for
hours, days or weeks, only to arrive back in our cushy lives and really being able to then
appreciate all that we have.
Doing the Iditarod by foot in 30-below weather really put everything in its proper
perspective.
Andy

I don’t do triple Ironmans because they are fun; I do them because—what kind

of coach would I be if I didn’t suffer like I ask my team?
What are your personal highlights from Spartan racing/obstacle racing to date?
Joe The hands-down, number-one personal highlight is when someone turns to me and
says, “Thank you for putting on the Spartan race series, you changed my life.” That
happens ten times a day, so it is a pretty rewarding existence.
Andy

I love coaching, as I have been coached or coached for my whole life. Imagine

being able to coach 500,000 people! People all over the US and other countries are
changing their lives and thanking us for it.
What are your personal short-term and long-term aspirations for obstacle racing
as a sport?
Joe Near-term, we just need to satisfy the world’s hunger for it and get races in all of
the countries demanding it. Longer-term, this is an Olympic sport and a lifestyle that will
change the world.
Andy

My long-term goal is to get the message out to the youth of America and to their

public school administrators: your health and fitness are important. We have full control
of our health and fitness and it’s time that we take responsibility for that. I also really
enjoy getting out with the participants and having fun with them. I also want to raise a
happy and healthy family.
What are your personal aspirations as an athlete and competitor—what do you aim
to achieve that you haven’t accomplished yet?
Joe I just need to stay fit for as long as Jack La Lane did, that’s all I need.
Andy

I need to swim the English channel and bike to Siberia.

303

Joe (left) and Andy (right),
all cleaned up
(Photo credit: Cronin Hill Photography)

30 4

What are your favorite quotes?
Joe “Great minds discuss ideas; mediocre minds discuss events; small minds discuss
people.”—Eleanor Roosevelt
Andy

“You can talk about it or you can do it.”—Unknown

Who inspires you?
Joe Chris Davis
Andy

Frank Weinberg and all athletes who are willing to step outside their comfort

zone and push themselves beyond their limits.
What one thing should readers take away from this book?
Joe You can change your life in an instant
Andy

You get one body to live in, make the most of it.

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