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Spartan Race, Inc. 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






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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.


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


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



Joe and Andy training in Pittsfield, 2008


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.

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?


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.

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.


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.




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.


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.

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.



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


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.

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


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


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

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.

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;


2. 3.

clear and well-documented rules (to support consistent and fair officiating) standardized distances and difficulty levels (to enable objective third-party record-keeping and competitor rankings across events and seasons)


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.

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).


Military training using an obstacle course, circa 191714


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.


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

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


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.

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


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

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.

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,


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.

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,


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


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


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.


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.”


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)


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.”


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 Yes, that really is the URL. 2 3 4 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 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 File:Training_at_the_Royal_Military_College_of_Canada.jpg#filelinks (public domain image) 15 16 See, for example, 17’s_Combat_Challenge 18 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 22 23 See, for example,


24 See, for example, 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, 30 31 Flacière, Robert. Daily Life in Greece at the Time of Pericles. Trans. Peter Green. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1965. 32 33 See Appendix E 34 See, for example,; Read more about it in Appendix B. 35 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:// 42 Jason Rita is a Spartan Legend in his own right. You’ll get to read his narrative in Chapter 2. 43




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.


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.

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—


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.

Joe: All Spartan-sanctioned obstacle racecourses, whether Sprint, Super or Beast, must include at least these obstacles: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 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 (venue/weather dependent, replaced with alternative if necessary) Additional obstacles required in Spartan Super and Spartan Beast races include: i. ii. iv. v. Slippery wall 8-foot wall Rope climb Traverse wall

10. Water Crossing

iii. Spear throw

vi. Barbed wire crawl


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.

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.

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


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.

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


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: 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


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


“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

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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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,


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


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, 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 6 See 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)




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.

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. 2. 3. 4. 5. Cardiorespiratory endurance (CRE)—the ability of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system to supply oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles; Muscle strength (MS)—the maximal amount of force that can be produced by a muscle or muscle group; Muscle endurance (ME)—the ability of a muscle or muscle group to maintain submaximal force or repeated contractions over a period of time; Flexibility (FL)—the ability to move a joint through its full range of motion; and Body composition (BC)—the relative amounts of fat and lean mass that contribute to body weight.


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. B. Speed—the ability to perform a movement in a short period of time; Anaerobic power—the ability to exert force rapidly; amounts of force over a short period of time (30-90 seconds); D. E. F. Coordination—the ability to perform motor tasks accurately and smoothly using body movements and the senses; Agility—the ability to change direction or body position quickly; and Reaction time—the ability to respond and react quickly to a stimulus.

C. Anaerobic capacity—the ability to produce and sustain production of large

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;


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 (y value), even for the performance fitness levels. Adult Males Fitness Measure Cardiorespiratory Endurance 1.5 mile run (min:sec) Muscle Strength 1-RM back squat (as a proportion of body weight) 1.0 2.0 . 85 1.85 Health Performance 22.5

90 >35

180 >55

>19.0 >24.0 21-27 NA NA NA NA NA NA 13 – 19 90

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...PROJ420 – Project Risk Management JC Gear Case Study Risk: A Case Study: "Risk Options: The Automated Production Control System Case" The following short case will give you a good idea of how risks surface in business and project planning and what companies do about it. Consider that you are the Risk Manager as you look at this case, as it will be a good exercise for the time when you will be that Risk Manager! The JC Gear Company has decided to initiate a project aimed at automating its production planning and control system. Among the options, the company focuses on two alternatives: (1) purchasing the most suitable system off of the shelf and modifying it according to its individual production needs; or (2) developing a system that will support all of the specific production-planning policies and procedures currently in use. The first alternative represents a project of relatively low development risk; however, the benefits may be minimal. This is because most off-the-shelf software packages have limited flexibility and can only rarely be made 100% compatible with the existing work environment. The second alternative offers a higher chance of achieving the technological and functional goals, but involves a significant software development risk. The development and integration risks are higher with the second alternative, and consequently, the risk of schedule delays and budget overruns is also higher. Yet the opportunity in the second risk area is greater because of......

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...1/32 From Nobel Prize to Project Management: Getting Risks Right by Bent Flyvbjerg, Ph.D. & Dr. Techn. Aalborg University, Denmark Printed in Project Management Journal, vol. 37, no. 3, August 2006, pp. 5-15 See in-print version here: 2/32 Abstract A major source of risk in project management is inaccurate forecasts of project costs, demand, and other impacts. The paper presents a promising new approach to mitigating such risk, based on theories of decision making under uncertainty which won the 2002 Nobel prize in economics. First, the paper documents inaccuracy and risk in project management. Second, it explains inaccuracy in terms of optimism bias and strategic misrepresentation. Third, the theoretical basis is presented for a promising new method called "reference class forecasting," which achieves accuracy by basing forecasts on actual performance in a reference class of comparable projects and thereby bypassing both optimism bias and strategic misrepresentation. Fourth, the paper presents the first instance of practical reference class forecasting, which concerns cost forecasts for large transportation infrastructure projects. Finally, potentials for and barriers to reference class forecasting are assessed. The American Planning Association Endorses Reference Class Forecasting In April 2005, based on a study of inaccuracy in demand forecasts for public works projects by Flyvbjerg, Holm,......

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...University Chapter 1 * What is Project management? “Is the application of knowledge, skill, tool and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements” (Kloppenborg, T. J. 2012). Project management aids in the process and activity of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources, procedures and protocols to achieve specific goals in scientific or daily problems. * List four common causes of project failure. 1. Not enough resources are available for project completion 2. Project expectation are not clear 3. Not enough time has been given to the project 4. Adequate project planning is not used * What are the three common ways to classifying a project? 1. Classifying by size. 2. Classifying by timing of project scope clarity. 3. Classifying by industry * List and describe each of the managerial and associate role. * Managerial Role: 1. Project manager = “the person assigned by the performing organization to lead the team that is responsible for achieving the project objectives” (Kloppenborg, T. J. 2012). 2. Functional Manager = Are the departments heads, in charge of how the work is going to be accomplished and can negotiated who does the work. 3. Facilitator = assist the project manager with the process of running meetings and making decisions. * Associate Roles: 1. Core team members = Does most of the planning and makes most of the project –level decisions. 2. Subject......

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...s a project manager, you’ll need to define Project Scope no matter what methodology you choose to use. Defining what is needed is the first step towards establishing a project timeline, setting project goals and allocating project resources. These steps will help you define the work that needs to be done – or in other words, define the Scope of the project (CIO, 2011). Scope is the summation of all deliverables required as a part of the project. This includes all products, services and results (Kerzner). The Scope here, is to successfully transition from manufacturing of ‘cruiser’ motorcycles, which have an engine or motor size ranging from 500 cc - 1,000 cc, to manufacturing of ‘touring’ motorcycles, which have an engine or motor size of 1,100 cc or larger. Project Scope, is the work that must be completed to achieve the final scope of the project, namely the products, services, and results. In this case, the Project Scope will include delivery of a larger engine or motor and transitioning from manufacturing ‘cruiser’ motorcycles, to ‘touring’ motorcycles. The Project Scope will list work that needs to be accomplished to deliver a product or service, with the specified features and functions. It will include benefits of the product to target audience, such as, comfort while driving long distances on the ‘touring’ motorcycles, engine or motor design, fuel efficiency, and others. The Project Scope will include acceptance criteria for the deliverables – since this is a product,...

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...The Leading Niche (/jobs/The-Leading-Niche/cc190ac2) Project Manager Posted 16 days ago in Healthcare (  Save ( Share   (,+GA,+US&z=9) Atlanta, GA (/candidate/search?search=&location=Atlanta,%20GA&radius=50) JOB ID: CDCPJM-001 TITLE: PROJECT MANAGER LOCATION: Atlanta, GA ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY We are looking to hire a full-time project manager for an IT project that we are pursuing out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. RESPONSIBILITIES INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO: ·Responsible for all aspects of the development and implementation of assigned projects and provides a single point of contact for those projects. ·Takes projects from original concept through final implementation. ·Interfaces with all areas affected by the project including end users, computer services, and client services. ·Defines project scope and objectives. ·Develops detailed work plans, schedules, project estimates, resource plans, and status reports. Conducts project meetings and is responsible for project tracking and analysis. ·Ensures adherence to quality standards and reviews project deliverables. ·Manages the integration of vendor tasks and tracks and reviews vendor deliverables. ·Provides technical and analytical guidance to project team. ·Recommends and takes action to direct the analysis and solutions of problems. MINIMUM......

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... | |Applied Position | | |Education |2002/09 -- 2006/07 East China University of Science and Technology Bachelor | | |20011/12 -- now East China University of Science and Technology Master | Self Assessment: ← Master in Project Management & Bachelor in computer science or related major with good command. ← At least 6+ years’ solid experience in software, 3+ years’ experiences of people management and project management. ← In-depth business knowledge in software project management related business processes. ← Experience in evaluating and selecting suppliers and creating and managing service level agreements.. ← Proven ability to concurrently manage a complex range of tasks and projects, where achievement is dependent on other’s efforts. ← An innate ability to foresee problems, identify risk and develop plausible solutions. Ability to think strategically ← Familiar with control the scope, the progress,...

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Project Manager was tasked with hiring four engineers to be supervised for a crucial two-year project. Six months into the project the PM concludes that one of the recently hired engineers is not performing at an acceptable level. Human Resources is leaving it up to the PM to resolve the matter. The following courses of action can be taken by the PM to rectify the situation: 1. The PM could keep the employee. • Pros (benefits):  There would be no additional investment in training required. • Cons (costs):  Extra time is spent dealing with a non-performer and focus is taken away from the main PM tasks.  The schedule could slip and/or the project could be over-budget.  The rest of the team sees they are carrying the low performer’s weight. There is little motivation to work harder to pick up the slack (lack of accountability on poor performer's part)  Return on Investment (ROI) is poor. The company has already invested the time and money into training this employee, but is getting very little out of the investment. 2. The PM could keep the employee and work with him to strengthen the areas that need improvement. • Pros (benefits):  This shows that the PM is dedicated and willing to make an investment in his people/team.  The PM promotes an inclusive culture where everyone can bring something to the table.  The employee has already been trained for the project.  The team is already familiar with the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. ......

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