“What’s a Spartan Combine?” You ask? Well, it’s like if the NFL and Crossfit had a baby, but not really, I just wanted to say that. It’s more like Spartan and the NFL Combine had a baby. In the week between the two SoCal Spartan weekends, Spartan WOD mastermind Joe DiStefano is offering 30+ athletes (Elite or Not, but mostly elite) the chance to test their athletic abilities and obstacle racing skills in a combine format instead of a traditional point-to-point race. Spartan will measure and score participants on anything from 40 yard dash, and vertical leap, burpees for time, and even hand size. Hand size? I was so intrigued by this new format that I had to call Joe Di and ask what the combine was all about. “Each obstacle is a unique event,” He told me. So you won’t have to run from wall, to spear throw, to barbwire, you’ll complete each obstacle or challenge as a separate event. Other challenges will include multiple spear throws, multiple rope climbs for time, multiple wall climbs, and more.
Besides the fun factor, the top male and female will take home a $1000! Plus top 3 men and women will get free race entries AND Worlds Qualifier coinage! But wait… what does Spartan get out of this, and what’s with measuring hand size? DiStefano told me that Spartan’s interests lie in finding the attributes and skills that turn good obstacle racers into awesome obstacle racers. “We don’t even know what we’re looking for,” he explained, so they’ll just measure everything. I agree, data is the new mud. I asked him to send me the findings when the combine concludes and he agreed to release anonymous stats for analysis, because I’d love to know what kind of trends show up in the fastest people. What other sports might translate well to OCR? Does a soccer player have a good chance up against an MMA fighter, or a gymnast vs. a cross-country runner? Stay tuned and we’ll find out. I think creating standardized benchmarks without the pressure and risk of a full race may allow crossover athletes to dip their toes in the proverbial mud and gauge their abilities against the Ryan’s and Amelia’s of the OCR World without ever breaking a nail.
Another likely benefit to the Spartan Brand is the more spectator and camera friendly format that Hobie Call has been begging for all along. Although, still not taking advantage of Hobie’s short course style, the Combine will easily allow filming of all the action and then editing down for bite-sized, ADHD, YouTube consumption. More eyeballs means more butts inspired to get off the couch (Registration $$$) and more Sponsors $$$ will help too, because our sport is hemorrhaging cash. Let’s face it, even as we whine about the cost of race entries, spectator fees, venue food, and parking, events are unbelievably expensive to produce. So the more revenue streams the better, and TV/Spectator money is the holy grail. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the combine ended up on TV.
UPDATE 10pm 1/9/15:
Spartan Race now has a link up to register: info.spartan.com/special-event.php
Sounds like you can some one-of-a-kind swag, and discounts on season passes to boot!
Joe DeSena spent the summer of 2014 flying around the world, supporting and growing Spartan Race, but also interviewing some of the most interesting people in the world for his new show Spartan Up! The Podcast. For his book of the same name, the Spartan CEO outlined his story and his theory on how to live the Spartan life. In this new Podcast, Joe challenges that theory by exploring the lives of successful people, how they define success, and how they got there. Do they live the Spartan life, or did they do it another way? Find out the answers from ultra-successful business moguls like Richard Branson, to more behind-the-scenes heroes like the Navy Seal who shot Osama Bin Laden. Watch Episode Zero above to get a good intro to the first 100 episodes (already recorded!), then check out the other episodes (first five up as of 1/6/15) on YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher, or direct download from their website.
After just listening to the intro, I can say I’m pretty excited to listen to (or watch) the coming episodes. It doesn’t sound like Spartan UP! will be too OCR specific, as none of the first few interviewees are into Obstacle Racing (except triathlete/entrepreneur Ben Greenfield). Many mud run/ocr-centric podcasts have come and gone, but with 100 episodes already recorded, it will be at the very least, consistent (Thanks to Matty B. for keeping the ORM podcast rolling out weekly). Spartan UP! promises to deliver more of an exploration in lifestyle, success, and resiliency, than a roll in the mud, so if you are looking for more interviews with Hunter, Amelia, the Bear, or Ryan, this one is probably not for you. If you like popular health/lifestyle/success podcasts like The Bulletproof Executive and The Art of Greatness, you’ll probably like watching/listening to Joe and his team. Go check it out!
Also, Stay tuned for my next interview with Joe DeSena where we’ll wrap up 2014, talk about the new podcast, and I’ll even ask him some of the tough questions like: Why doesn’t Spartan play nice with others (OCRWC)? What happened to the governing body they promised us? And, when will we see more short course action?
I put quotes on “Selfie” not because I’m a grammar nerd and I hate pop-culture terms, but because I’m talking about the new ABC show that debuted this fall and recently based an entire episode on two of the main characters competing in a mud run. ‘Selfie’ Episode 12: Stick in the Mud aired on 12/22/2014, but you can still catch it on hulu if you’re interested. I’ve never watched ‘Selfie’ prior to this mud run episode, but I was generally aware of its existence and a quick read of the hulu synopsis brought me up to speed.
Instafamous Eliza Dooley has 263,000 followers who hang on to her every post, tweet and selfie. But one lonely day, she has a revelation: being friended is not the same as having actual friends. She asks marketing guru Henry to rebrand her self-obsessed reputation and teach her how to connect with people in the real world. Selfie explores the modern struggles of Eliza and Henry, as he tries to teach her how to live life offline—whether she ‘likes’ it or not.
‘Stick in the Mud’ finds Henry (Harold from Harold and Kumar!) competing against Eliza’s boyfriend Freddy in the annual company fundraiser mud run. In previous years the corporate challenge was a 10k that Henry dominated with his distance runner’s frame, while the Alpha-Brosquad-Jock-Type Freddy was left in the dust. This year however, since running on pavement is boring, the company plans an obstacle race instead, with Freddy planning to dominate. Eliza has some sister issues going on, so she doesn’t participate, but she does show up for moral support and some questionable pit nutrition.
‘Selfie’ surprised me. I found myself actually laughing out loud at a number of jokes and the obstacle course they put together included all the right elements: mud, walls, barbwire, ropes, beer, and even a fire jump at the end. Freddy’s character looked and talked like some one you might line up next to at a Spartan Race, and the quick-witted banter, along with obligatory dub-step montage, showed a relatively good understanding of OCR culture.
I’m now a fan of ‘Selfie’ thanks to Ep. 12, and I’m definitely going back to watch from the beginning. At the very least, I’ll re-watch their mud run episode, just for the laughs, while I’m running on the dreadmill. While most of the OCR world is hibernating and we’re all starved for more mud, check this episode out and then we can all debate Freddy’s form during his impromptu elevator-air-squats (don’t get me started on the boss’ push-ups!).
A lot of top athletes in obstacle racing use beet juice to boost performance by drinking it straight or through concentrated forms like Beet Elite. You’ve probably even seen a lot of Beet Elite athletes on the podium of Spartan Races and other local OCRs. Why are they using it? The benefits touted by these athletes and the companies that sponsor them, come from the high levels of nitrate found in beets (also in spinach, celery, and chard). According to a recent article written by Mark McClusky on the blog of my favorite entrepreneur/performance-enhancing-bio-hacker Tim Ferris, nitrate converts to nitrite in the body. Nitrite is then converted to nitric oxide which can dilate blood vessels and improve mitochondrial function (mitochondria are the tiny energy producing engines in our cells).
You should read the full article here: Is Beet Juice Really a Performance Enhancing “Drug”? Digging In…
I’m a huge Tim Ferris fan and his site has tons of other great information on athletics, efficiency, life, and work, but the article contains a lot of scientific talk about statistics and biology, so I’ll break it down for you in a few points below:
- Beet juice is for real, but some athletes respond more than others.
- Some athletes don’t respond at all, but there’s no harm (other than funny looking pee and poo), so give it a try.
- Elite athletes will have less of a benefit than Age-Groupers, but every second counts, so give it a try.
- The research that supports positive effects has only been done for events lasting up to 30 minutes.
- Longer events have not been studied very much yet.
- The effects of re-dosing during exercise have not been studied very much yet either.
- The researchers used 500 – 600 mL (or equivalent) of beet juice taken 2 to 2 1/2 hours before exercise, so that is the recommended dose and timing for best effects.
Have you used beet juice or concentrated beet juice products to gain an edge in OCR? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo Courtesy of William Ismael used under Creative Commons License
As the dawn light settled into the hills surrounding the Mines and Meadows ATV park in Wampum, PA on September 27th, the fog began to lift, revealing the most unique obstacle course ever created. Heavy favorites Ryan Atkins and Corinna Coffin came to this BattleFrog Series race fresh off of their respective 2nd place finishes at the Spartan World Championship only one week before, but this course had some surprises that might not make it a sure-win for either racer. Though not racing due to injury, elite OCR athlete Laura Messner sang an inspiring National Anthem following the BattleFrog’s signature Flag Presentation, in which Old Glory is honored while active military members and veterans gather around a memorial for lost comrades. The hushed crowd stood in awe and reverence as they remembered the fallen, then broke into cheers and hooyahs as the competitors approached the starting line.
With CoachPain Dwayne on the mic pumping up the athletes, the last few hooyahs came through the crisp fall air and the race was on. Immediately, Ryan Atkins moved to the front with mountain runner Jordan McDougal right behind. Atkins set a blistering pace even through the opening obstacles and down into a treacherous creek bed for the first mile. After some trail running, Atkins emerged from the woods and turning the corner, faced the mine. A mile of underground running, swimming, and bone chilling cold awaited as he plunged into darkness.
The chase vehicle lost sight of Ryan in the mine, but here’s what the athletes encountered: After receiving a headlamp at the mouth of the mine, their hot breath mixed with the cold air, and obscured the only view they had as the steam floated up through the dim beam of their LED headlamp. Racers splashed through puddles, negotiated obstacles, and eventually came to an underground lake, where they were granted a stars and stripes inflatable tube as their only reprieve from the cold dark water. As lifeguards and volunteers stood watch over the swimmers, they navigated the subterranean waters by following glow sticks around a maze of buoys and jagged rock walls. Finally exciting the frigid lake, racers had one more task to complete that is unique to the BattleFrog Series and even more unique to this course: Glow-in-the-dark Paintballs. Athletes had three shots on each of three targets shooting from prone, kneeling, and standing positions. Upon hitting the paintball targets, the obstacle racers finally hit solid ground again and excited the mine through a series of concrete passageways. Bodies still numb from the 50 degree mine water, athletes emerged into the fresh air as the welcome warmth of the sun lit up their skin and forced them to squint into the bright new world.
Now the chase vehicle caught up to Ryan again with Jordan still in contention. Corinna Coffin kept pace with the chase pack of males through mile two and three then into the mine, but it was the Rock-Grip Monkey bars at mile 4 that blew the race apart. Racers climbed up into a barn, the smell of hay and ancient wood hanging dense in the air, then climbed a 12 foot rope to ring a bell, only to be greeted on the other side with one of the most difficult obstacles seen to date, with an attrition rate similar to the Tarzan Swing in Killington. The Rock-Grip Monkey Bars, were a late addition to the elite course and were required for eligibility of cash and prizes. The obstacle consists of a several wooden beams paralleling each other about 15 feet long and sloping downward over a water pit. On each side of the the beams were rock-climbing hand-holds bolted to the wood, requiring athletes to swing along using mostly fingertips until two monkey bars were reached in the middle, then continuing on with more rock-grips to a platform on the other side. It was a game-changer.
Ryan sized-up the obstacle and muscled through with excellent grip strength and a staggered technique that proved resourceful. Jordan however tried to go in between the beams using outward facing palms and fell about half-way through. As Jordan hit the water, Ryan disappeared up the hill and onto the well-marked ATV trails. Jordan regrouped and this time attempted to swing from the middle bars all the way to the platform. Everyone held their breath as this looked like a total face-breaking technique, but again, Jordan hit the water. Now other racers reached the obstacle and started falling to the muddy depths below. The Rock-Grip bars humbled elite after elite as they tumbled into the water, until finally, local athlete Kevin Drago made a desperate launch for the platform and hung on, now in 2nd place over five minutes behind Ryan.
The remainder of the race went smoothly for Atkins, who nearly managed to beat the chase vehicle to a couple of checkpoints, while overcoming BattleFrog’s signature obastacles like the “Tip of the Spear”, “Tsunami,” and “Hooyah.” The later two obstacles again destroyed the field of elite athletes as the go-or-no-go rules required every competitor to complete the obstacle, try again, or relinquish their elite armband. As the morning wore on, the mud accumulating on the ropes of the Tsunami and Hooyah made them nearly impossible, but in an inspiring show of true grit and resilience, accomplished road runner-turned-obstacle racer MaCharia “Mooch” Yuot refused to give up. After over 40 minutes and 12 attempts, he scaled the last obstacle to a hale of cheers and even a few tears, finishing well back from the winners, but with renewed pride and a deeper determination to win in our sport.
Ryan Atkins finished decisively in a time of 1:08:03, taking home $1000, while Kevin Drago held onto second, and Ben Kinsinger rounded out the top three males. For the Women, Corinna Coffin held onto her lead, despite some confusion and a time penalty, finishing 1st in a total time of 1:36:16. Heather Wheeler came in 2nd, and Melissa Berke held off the remainder of the elite females to claim the 3rd place podium spot. As soon as the video is finished, you can find interviews and race footage updated right here on our site, facebook, and twitter.
After all the morning’s competitive festivities wrapped up, I dropped my cameras and microphones, then changed into my signature tiger-stripe “shorts” to head out onto the 15k course. The mine was amazing and I enjoyed running the course that the elite racers had just taken on. BattleFrog puts on an exceptional race, with huge, unique obstacles, excellent terrain, and overall lots of fun. I finished in 2:11, just under my goal time of 2x Ryan’s time, covering the 9 miles much more comfortably than last week’s gut-check on Killington Mountain in Vermont. I also had a great time meeting new racers, greeting old friends, and sharing stories of the course. The staff at BattleFrog were friendly, while the Navy Seals out on the course encouraged us to battle foward. This was one of the most memorable obstacle courses I’ve ever done and I felt very welcome at my first BattleFrog Series experience.
Photos of My Race
The 2014 Reebok Spartan Race World Championship Weekend kicked off this evening with an even bigger press conference than last year, hosting many more cameras, press, and athletes. After Spartan CEO Joe DeSena said a few words, our favorite announcer and MC, TC Anderson asked the panel of Spartan Pro Team Elite Athletes a few questions about the upcoming race. Among the questions were inquiries about the course, mental preparation, cold preparation, and how the absence of last year’s winners would affect their strategies going into the Beast. TC then opened up the questions to the press and ION host Joel Getty got in a question along with Matt B. Davis of Obstacle Racing Media, and Margaret Schlachter from DirtInYourSkirt.com The panel consisted of John Yatsko, April Dee, Matt Novakovich, Rose Wetzel-Sinnett, Hunter McIntyre, Deanna Blegg, James Appleton, and TyAnn Clark. All were well spoken, and answered questions confidently with Matt “The Bear” cracking jokes with Hunter, and John Yatsko showing a complete lack of respect to the mountain that has claimed so many. We’ll see if John can hold off veterans like Matt, Hunter, and Cody, while keeping an eye on Dark Horse racers like Ryan Atkins and Knut Hoehler. On the women’s side, with Amelia out, it’s truly anyone’s game, but Deanna Blegg has always been consistent, so she promises to do well, and who doesn’t love that Australian accent?
In April of 2014 ION traveled to NYC to tackle the 2nd ever CitiField Spartan Stadium Sprint and report on all the race action. Watch the race unfold in this exclusive behind the scenes footage of elite OCR racers like Hunter McIntyre, Miguel Medina, Shaun Provost, Karlee Whipple, and Laura Messner.
In late April of 2014 Inside Obstacle News host Joel Getty interviewed OCR elite Glenn Racz to find out all the details on his win in Las Vegas and how he joined the Spartan Pro Team.
In a press release yesterday Spartan Race announced Barcelona, Spain as the host of the first ever European Championship. Taking place only one week after their World Championship in Killington, VT, Spartan has set the bar high with another Beast for their European racers, and if that weren’t enough, you can earn your entire Trifecta in that one weekend. The prize money is pretty good at 13,500 Euros (about $17,500 US Dollars for us Yanks) with first place male and female taking home 3,750 EUR (around $4800 USD), which is not as much as the WC purse, but more than a regular Beast.
Spartan continues to up the prize money and championship races this fall with the creation of the new-for-2014 Triple Crown. The Triple Crown includes $500,000 in total prizes starting with the Vermont World Championship Beast on Sept. 20th, the South Carolina Beast OR Sacramento Super on October 25th, and finishing up at the Texas Team Championship (Beast Distance) on November 1st. The New European Championship will not be included in the Triple Crown, but the date does allow elite racer who plan on traveling back and forth, more opportunities to win prize money and raise their profile.
Another interesting aspect of the European Championship will be it’s traveling nature, in which the race will be held in a new country around Europe each year. There could be a very interesting partnership with the Tough Guy venue in the UK to hold a European Spartan Championship in England next year and give a big middle finger to Tough Mudder. Either way, Europe is ripe for OCR expansion and Spartan Race seems to be the most ambitious. Will they divide and conquer or start acquiring established races like the Fisherman’s Friend Strongman Race which has dominated Germany since 2006 and already expanded to other nearby countries? When asked, Joe DeSena, Spartan CEO said, “We are blazing our own trail… Spartans are strong enough to do this!” Lastly, Joe confirmed that with the addition of this European Championship will we see more Regional Championships like North American, South American and AustraliAsian Championships in the future.
Read the full press releas below:
BARCELONA TO HOST INAUGURAL REEBOK SPARTAN RACE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Sept. 27, 2014
Prize purse of over 13,500 Euros for top 3 male and female finishers
BARCELONA, Spain (September 9, 2014) – If participating in the toughest obstacle race in the world (according to Outside magazine) weren’t enough, there’s another motivation for Reebok Spartan Race Beast competitors on 27th September 2014. On that date Barcelona will host the European Championship for the Beast distance (over 20 km, 25+ obstacles). Each year the Reebok Spartan Race European Championship will rotate to different cities, with Spain being its inaugural host city.
Besides being recognized as winners, the top three Elite Heat finishers, both male and female, will split a prize purse worth 13,500 Euros – that’s first place of 3,750 Euros, second place wins 2,000 Euros, and third place finishers receive 1,000 Euros.
There are no age limitations when it comes to overcoming obstacles. Age group winners will also be recognized as Reebok Spartan Race European Champions. As the only obstacle race with world rankings, Reebok Spartan Race finishers will be able to compare their results with Spartans around the globe. Currently, Reebok Spartan Race is in nine European countries and seven non-European countries.
The Barcelona event, to be held 27th and 28th September, will also provide an opportunity for Spartans to achieve the Trifecta medal in one weekend, as Beast, Super and Sprint length races will be held on the spectacular Les Comes venue with its 518 hectares of land and more than 60 km of forest tracks in Suria, Spain. There will also be a Spartan Juniors race to provide kids ages four through 13 with their first taste of obstacle racing.
Spartan Up! AROOO!!!!
EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS
Spartan Race recently released details of the Triple Crown prize breakouts to ION exclusively, including total prize money, and other details that should answer many of your questions. Since announcing their Triple Crown Series back in July, Spartan Race and Reebok have been holding onto details of where the promised $500,000 would go. Another update at the end of August added new information about the Texas Team Championship, but not much else, and you can see the full press release below. Now we’ll try to answer the burning questions you’ve all had since the announcement.
1. Will the $500,000 be awarded all at once or spread out over the events?
Spread Out – The total prize breakouts will be spread between the Vermont Championship $250K, Age Group Championships $43,800 (East: SC Beast and West: Sacramento Super), Texas Team Championships $30,800, 2014 Elite Points Series $42K, and finally the Triple Crown itself totaling a possible $82,000. It’s true, that doesn’t add up to $500,000, but the remainder is made up of season passes, event passes, and other prizes (remember the Xplore tablet last year?) We’ll list prize breakouts for each event in future posts.
2. Do I need to register for the Triple Crown specifically?
No. Every elite racer who finishes three of the four required events (VT WC, either SC Beast OR Sacramento Super, and TX Team) will be eligible for the Triple Crown Prizes. Sign up for any of the events here.
This is where it gets a little tricky, but not impossible. Cash prizes are awarded to the top three Male and top three Female points winners only. Take the place that you finished for each race and add the three numbers together. (Example: Three first places would be 1+1+1=3) This number is your Placement Score. Lowest Score wins. To calculate your payment, subtract that number from 18. (Example: 1+1+1=3 now 18-3=15) Multiply the final number by $1000 and you have your cash prize. So in the example given, the Triple Crown winners if they were number one in every event would get $15,000 male and female. The most money a second place person could be awarded would be $14,000 because they could get 2nd in VT, 1st in the opposing October race, and be on the same 1st place team as the VT winner and still get 14 points (18 – (2+1+1)=14) Now, you can imagine all kinds of scenarios, but just keep going back to the math, because it will all be figured out and prizes awarded at the Texas Beast on November 1st.
4. So what’s the most an elite Spartan could win during the Triple Crown Series?
Let’s imagine 1st place in every race. $15,000 for the World Championship, plus $2,000 in SC or CA, plus $2,000 (per team member=$8k total) for TX Team, and $15,000 for the Triple Crown Prize = $34,000 Total Possible for a male AND a female. That’s a pretty serious payday for six weeks of racing and it’s definitely enough to live off of if you train full-time and live a Spartan lifestyle. This doesn’t include other races during that time period like the UltraBeast, the new World Championship Short Course Exhibition Race, and the Elite Points Series. Win all of those and you could take home an extra $9,000.
Questions and Comments?
Enter your questions and comments below, on facebook, or twitter. We’ll do the best we can to explain and below you can read the original press release. Ready to register? Click here for Spartan’s Official Triple Crown webpage.
SPARTAN RACE ANNOUNCES FIRST EVER “TRIPLE CROWN”
Four events, one Triple Crown Championship and over $500,000 in prize money and awards
BOSTON (Aug. 20, 2014) – Never satisfied with the same old thing and always looking to advance the sport of obstacle racing, Spartan Race is changing the face of the sport once again in an effort to find the world’s fittest athletes. The 2014 Spartan Race Triple Crown is the first-ever obstacle racing championship series of its kind. Racers will battle it out at three of four Reebok Spartan Race events this fall. The series features the world’s best obstacle racers and athletes competing for over $500,000 in prize money and awards.
“We have some of the world’s top athletes competing in our races where a mix of obstacles and terrain test their physical strength and mental resolve,” said Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena. “We are kicking it up a notch by giving these athletes an opportunity to ‘compete and repeat’ to prove their dominance in the sport.”
In order to be eligible, racers must kick off their Triple Crown challenge by competing in the Killington, VT, Reebok Spartan World Championship, September 20, 2014, and finish with the first-ever Team Championship in Dallas, Texas, November 1, 2014. Competitors must round out their Triple Crown by competing in either the South Carolina Reebok Spartan Race Beast, or the Sacramento Reebok Spartan Race Super, both on October 25, 2014.
The 2014 Reebok Spartan Race Team Championship held in Texas will be the first-ever team-racing event for Reebok Spartan Race. Teams of four men and four women will compete on a 13+mile obstacle course featuring specially designed obstacles requiring them to work together to succeed.
The Triple Crown promises to be a memorable experience for racers and spectators alike featuring competitors from across the globe. Athletes from as far away as Australia and Slovakia will compete against local favorites like Hunter McIntyre, Cody Moat, Matt “The Bear” Novakovich, Amelia Boone and more.
The Reebok Spartan Race Triple Crown $500,000 prize purse will be awarded in Texas to the top Elite Men and Women who have the best cumulative performance over the three races.