Posted on

Playing in the Mud – Monday Memory “Fear Before Killington”

Weekly, I have been posting on the New England Spahtens Facebook page. These posts have motivated people, reminded people of their worth, shown people that they are not alone in the world and also shown everyone that we are all one family. The obstacle course world is the same. People feel alone. People do not feel worthy when compared to others. People do want to continue because they just don’t have that motivation.   I hope that these posts help change you and show you that you are all amazing people.

Besides weekly new posts, on Mondays I will be posting a “Monday Memory” of a Facebook post of the past. These memories will posted here, with a current introduction.

Be epic and as always, keep playing in the mud.

September 15, 2016 – Two days before the Spartan Killington Beast

Two or three days before Killington, people start to freak out.

I wanted to remind people that we are all scared. We all have fears. We all have worries. However, that fear also brings us all together.  Fear drives us and pushes us. I wanted people to begin to channel that energy for something positive and based upon the people I met on that mountain, I believe it worked.

I bring you fear.

Fear.

Fear can do one of two things, it can freeze you or it can drive you.

In two days, I will be on a mountain in Vermont. Standing at the base of the mountain that is scary. You look up and think, how the hell am I going to get all the way up there? You look and you see obstacles and carries and all these people around and you think…”30% of these people will not finish this race”.

You have a choice. You head into the race wondering if you will be a statistic, a number, a DNF and wondering if you gave it your all.

Or, you use your fear of the unknown and of that mountain and you use it to drive you. You motivate your friends, your battle buddies and your race family and you will tell them that they will make those climbs, they will carry those carries, they will complete the obstacles and the crawls and they will jump the fire. You use this Beast in front of you as motivation to make yourself a better person, a stronger person and someone who will not listen to the voice on your head saying ” I cannot”.

There is no alternative. There are no insecurities. There are no options in your day that includes failure. Stand in the starting corral, look to your left and look to your right. Let them see your eyes and your confidence and show them all that “We ALL got this”.

Let’s all congregate up in Killington tomorrow and conquer the Beast.

Posted on

Playing in the Mud – What is an Obstacle Course Racer?

Editors note: Russ Blatt of the award winning OCR scheduling app, OCR Buddy has frequently posted some amazing, motivational content to our community. Many have benefitted from his word and his views. I asked if he would be interested in capturing them for the website, somewhere they would be archived and collected forevermore, and I’m grateful he said yes.

What is an obstacle course racer? Who are those crazy people that run through mud, climb over walls, jump fire, swim through ice water, crawl under barbed wire and trail up and down mountains? Who are you? Who are any of us?

I have been racing through obstacle courses since 2013. Since that day, I have gotten confused looks from my friends and family. They have seen me limping the day after races, holding my back in pain and bruised and cut up. Then when I tell them about my day, they look even more confused as I light up and tell them about my day on the course.

They see me spend money on racing shoes, socks, race jerseys, entry fees, travel, hotels, gloves…over and over. When asked about my hobby, I tell them that there is nothing else I would rather be doing.

In 2014, when I broke my ribs during a race, the questions kept coming. Is it worth getting hurt? Is it worth the money you spend and the time away from home? I even got told by someone, “You are father now, when are you going to stop doing these crazy things?” While I was having trouble breathing in the hospital being checked for a collapsed lung and a potential of other internal injuries, I was proud to say, “I still finished the race” and showed them my medal.

So who are we? Are we crazy? Are we insane? Are we gluttons for punishment? Are we sadists?

Are we happy? Are we having fun? Are we having a great time with amazing friends? Is this something that we want to do again and again?

The answer to everything is yes. We are all of those and so much more.

We are just like you. We really aren’t that different. We just did something that so many haven’t tried yet. We signed up and went to the starting line. Whether we finished or not really does not matter. From that moment you step to a starting line, you are an obstacle course racer.

Obstacle course racing is not only about how fast you finish a race or about the shiny medals and t-shirts. It is about the journey from the starting line to the finish line. It is about the friends you meet and the bonds that join you together. It is facing something that is in front of you head on and doing everything you can to overcome it. It is about the teamwork that is takes to complete obstacles and feeling part of a greater community. It is also about the individual growth that happens while you are on that course and the different person that you are when you complete a race.

So what is an obstacle course racer? There are gym rats and couch potatoes, doctors and nurses, veterans and enlisted military, engineers and schoolteachers, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters and everything else in between. Some people are on pro and elite teams and others train on their own or do not train at all.

We are you. We are “normal” people who have jobs, go to school, have goals and dreams and families. However, and this is a huge however, something happens to us when we get to a race. We change. We are no longer those doctors and everything else listed above. We are one large community. We are obstacle course racers. We reach out and help each other. We do not leave anyone behind. We teach one another how to overcome fears and how to prove that anything is just an obstacle and it can be overcome. We become one.

So while the world goes on around us with all of the problems and battles that this planet throws at us, we are one large community with one goal…to be a team and to be sure that each and every one of us gets to the finish line.

So when you ask us who we are and you ask us why do we subject ourselves to the things that we do, maybe you should be asking yourself why you are not one of us. We are just like you. We just found something that we believe makes us a better person. It may not be for everyone and not everyone will enjoy an obstacle course race.   However it may be something that can change your life, just like it changed mine.

What is an obstacle course racer? Look in the mirror. There is an obstacle course racer in you.

Posted on

Spahten Story: Chris Marinin – A battle buddy who believes in you. Yes, you!

spartan-muckChris Marinin, AKA Lunchbox, was nominated for a Spahten Story by friend, Nathalie Beaudoin.

The Spahtens are what they are because of people like you.

Chris’s Nomination

Why are you nominating them?

He is the best battle buddy, teammate and friend to have out on the course!

What about them inspires you?

The fact that he goes out there and helps others no matter what it takes to confront obstacles and will encourage you no matter what it takes to get you through.

helping-new-friendsWhat quote would you use to describe them?

“Believe in yourself.”

Chris’s Responses

What was your first reaction when you found out you were nominated?

Successful, After my first race I got so much encouragement and help I wanted to keep that feeling on the course for others. Doing one of these races can be really scary for some people, and knowing there might be a helping hand when needed can put someones fears at ease.

When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race and/or what got you into OCR.spartan-cheesing

My first race was the 2013 Spartan Sprint at Fenway Park! I had never even heard of Spartan Races or OCR until a month before when an old high school (Andrew Fogarty) friend put the bug in my ear that it would be fun. Once I accepted the challenge that Andrew but before me I trained as hard as I could with a month till race day. That was also my first race with the New England Spahtens!! Needless to say I was instantly addicted.

What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)hugs

For me completing a race is the biggest accomplishment. Starting a race for me is easy. You are surrounded by family and love, then you begin the journey. It’s the middle that scares the life out of me. Basically it’s all the What if’s that can and will go wrong that makes the completion of the race worth every step. It’s all about how far will you push yourself when your mind says your are crazy stop.

What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?

The People!! I have met some of the most amazing people while racing! The friendships and bonds made on these courses can’t be described with words. Not a day goes by that I don’t talk to at least one member of my OCR Family

What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?hugs

Next Season is there is going to be a lot of juggling. We have our first baby Spahten due on Nov 1 so even if I’m not racing a lot you will see the newest NES member at several races. My biggest goal for myself next year is to just continue working on obstacles that have been issues for me this year specifically the Rope Climb and the Rig.

Is there anything else you think we should know?

If you are reading this and thinking I can never do one of these races I have two things to tell you:
1. Believe in yourself and amazing things can happen.
2. If you have trouble believing in yourself come find the New England Spahtens and we will help you along the way!!

spartan-finishHow has your racing changed because of the Spahtens?

Spahtens is really all I know. My first race was with NES and I wouldn’t want to change it. It was a perfect fit and no need to change something amazing.
Do you have someone YOU would like to nominate for a Spahten Story? Click here!

Posted on

Spahten Story: Kim Frechette – A woman on her own journey.

On August 23, Kim Frechette shared a before and after photo and a brief message:

“So its hard for me to post this picture. From FB PostI am not proud of the June 2015 side. I had left myself get that big. I didn’t eat healthy or eat for what my body needed. In Jan 2016 I started eating for my body. I started belly dancing and Zumba. I then started walking. In June I did my first Spartan Sprint. Thanks to the support of Chris Marinin I finished it with a time of 3 hours 20 mins. Then with the support of this group I signed up for the Super. I completed that with my friend Amy, this past weekend. With a time of 4 hours and 27 min! I am super proud of the Aug 2016 pic. I am super proud of my finishes! I am down 55lbs and hope to lose more. I am hoping to sign up for more races this year and next! You all are an amazing group that has welcomed me in and supported me out on the course. You have now become a part of my journey to being healthier and I just want to say thank you!”

I reached out to Kim to get a little more information to share.  This woman is amazing and a total inspiration!

When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race and/or what got you into OCR.

Finished the Sprint with ChrisI started ocr this past June. I did my first Spartan Sprint in Barre, ma. Prior to that I had heard of ocr but hadn’t thought I would ever be able to do one. I asked my friend Chris about Spartan because I knew he had done a few. He told me all about it and had me join the group NE Spahtens. My first race I was excited, scared, nervous, hoping I didn’t kill myself on one of the obstacle and just hoping I could get to the finish line. My friend Chris was right there beside me, along with other NE Spahtens, rooting me on and challenging me to try every obstacle. I’m not sure I would have made it through without him there. I was so happy when I got to the finish line, I just wanted to collapse. I couldn’t believe that I had done it. 6.1 miles 20 something obstacles! I think I was in a state of shock for a few days afterwards, but what a great feeling to have accomplished it. I did my second Spartan race a few weeks ago, the Super in Barre, ma again. This time I brought my friend Amy to do her first Spartan. I was excited this time and new I would finish no matter what.

What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)

I think my biggest accomplishment at my first race was just finishing. At that point I had lost about 40lbs and had only been walking a few miles a day. So to get to the end and not have given up was amazing to me. My biggest obstacle accomplishment was that dam slip wall! My first race I went up and came right back down. Thanks to Chris and other racers helping me and encouraging me to try again. I was able to get up and over it! This last time at the Super I made it up and over with the help of Chris and my friend Amy the first time! That felt amazing. Knowing that even though I still needed help I was stronger and able to get over in one try was the best feeling!

What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?

Well first I think ocr are like potato chips, once you’ve done one you are hooked! I was first attracted to ocr for the challenge. I had been doing belly dancing, zumba, walking and some weight lifting. I had been losing weight and felt so much healthier and full of energy. I had seen others do ocr and seen how much fun it looked. I wanted to see if I could do one myself. I wanted to see if all my hard work was paying off.

What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?

Top of the Dunk WallMy next goal is to do the F.I.T Trailfecta with my mom! We just signed up for all three and I think it is going to be a great thing to do together. I am also thinking of signing up for the F.I.T Challenge with my husband. It would be great to get the whole family involved. I know my two little ones can’t wait until next summer when they can do the Spartan Kids race. What is in my

future? Well I hope more races, more Spartans. I would love to get my trifecta next year. I want to be the healthiest that I can be.

Is there anything else you think we should know?

So I started this journey to be healthier about a year ago. I started small by signing up for belly dancing and zumba. About 8 months ago I really changed my eating habits. I have pcos (poly cystic ovarian syndrome.) This makes it hard to lose weight; it makes you crave sugar and carbs. In lots of cases it makes it hard if not impossible to have children. We ending up adopting 3 great kids. Looking back I can say that I used this in part as an excuse for letting myself gain so much. I thought it’s too hard to lose weight, it’s too hard to exercise I have pcos. I was up to 259lbs! I didn’t want to see 260 on that scale. So Kim and Amy at the Dunk WallI cut way down on carbs and sugar. I stared walking more and for longer distances. And guess what? The weight started coming off! I could do it. Was it hard? Yes in the beginning it was, I had cravings. I was obsessed with the amount of carbs in each thing I ate. Did it become easier? Of course. I have now lost 55lbs. I still eat low carb/low sugar but I don’t deny myself the occasional treat. Like the yummy ice cream at Carter and Steven’s Farm at the end of the Spartan Race! If I can do it so can everyone else. Start small; don’t try to do it all at once. Take each day one step at a time.

How has your racing changed because of the Spahtens?

The NE Spahtens are an amazing group of people that support each other no matter what. It feels
amazing to be part of a team, there like a big extended family. I think my racing has changed because of the Spahtens in the fact that I know if I go out on the course I’m not alone. They will always be there to help me over that obstacle I just can’t get over yet or to cheer me on as I get over one that I couldn’t the last time. They also push me to join more races and give encouragement on my goals.

Finished the SuperOne piece of advice you would offer to a newbie?

Believe in yourself. You can do it! Try everything; even if it looks impossible try it at least once. You are
never alone out on the course. Sorry that’s more than one piece of advice but I think it all goes hand in hand. 

*All photos courtesy of Kim Frechette.

Posted on

Spahten Story: Danielle Mitchell – Tackling obstacles on and off the race course.

    Danielle was nominated by good friend and teammate Michael Downey, one of our Ambassadors!

muddyDanielle Mitchell’s Nomination

Why are you nominating them?

In part doing OCR helped her realize she is a much better person when sober.

What about them inspires you?

The fact no obstacle stops her and she dosent fail, she finds a way

What quote would you use to describe them?

Anyone who has Danielle as a friend is a VERY lucky person. She is loyal to all her friends and will always go above and beyond for a friend at a moments notice. She is one of the most fun people to battle buddy with at races and event when it gets challenging her spirit never changes

Danielle’s Responses

What was your first reaction when you found out you were nominated?

Surprised!

When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race and/or what got you into OCR.

fenway with mikeMy first OCR was Fenway Park 2012. I had no idea what I was getting into but because it was at Fenway
and no mud I said lets try. It took me and my friend Mike over 2 and a half hours to complete it. I was huffing and puffing the whole time, wondering what I had gotten myself into and vowing to never do this again. It pointed out every flaw and how out of shape I really was

What was your biggest accomplishment at an fenwayobstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)

My biggest accomplishment, oh boy. I think my biggest accomplishment was finally getting up the rope at a Spartan race, not only once but three times out of the four laps I ran at Fenway in 2015. Heights are one of my biggest fears and I tend to scare myself once I am half way up the rope about how high I am and how the heck am I going to get down.

What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?

I keep coming back to OCRs because I want to continue to improve physically and it is a mental escape. You don’t think about anything other then the what is in front of you. I also like to see how far I have come and how much strength I have gained.

hubbyWhat are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?

After finishing my double trifecta last season, I don’t know what is in my future. I want to continue to have fun, push myself and see how many more obstacles I can over come.

Is there anything else you think we should know?

One year ago 3/10/15 I decided it was time to change my life. I become sober. The friends that I have made in this group have stood behind me 100% and I know I can always count on them. Whether its some one checking in on me or reminding me that they are on the same boat if I never need it, is one of the many reasons I love the family that has been built within this group. I have come so far since deciding this both in my racing and regular life that I can not wait to see what the next year has in store. Always remember there is someone that understands what you are going through, whether it is sobriety, or things like weight gain, low self esteem, lack of confidence or just needing that push to get your butt going again. There is someone there to talk to. Reach out you will be presently surprised 🙂

How has your racing changed because of the Spahtens?fit

Racing with the Spahtens has made me try things I would never think were possible. They push you to be someone better physically and mentally. The peer pressure to do new races or races that you have done and said “never again” is sometimes needed and a healthy reminder to keep pushing and never give up on yourself. It can be done and the finish line will be crossed.

 

Posted on

So you signed up for 24 Hours of Shale Hell, now what!

24 Hours of Shale HellSo you bit the bullet and signed up for 24 Hours of Shale Hell or 8 hours, or some other race where you must go as many laps as possible in a given time period.  Your reasoning might have been a desire to challenge yourself to see what you are capable of or you might have been suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out) but at this point, the why matters a little less and the how matters a little more.

A 24 hour race takes a little more than just showing up.  Many of us can show up and fake our way through a 5k or even a 10k.  To go for 24 hours, you must pay attention to your nutrition, you hydration, your feet, and your body.  You also have to keep your head in the game.

where-magic-happensSet a goal.  It gives you something to push towards or something to push beyond.  The way you set your goal is your choice.  You are going to go as long as you can, regardless of how many laps that gets you.  You want to get at least 5 laps or more than 3 laps.  You might want to go the entire time and take less than 20 minutes between each.  Whatever will drive you forward.

Know your why.  This can be a part of your goal but doesn’t have to be.  You want to push yourself.  You are running in memory or honor of someone.

 

Stephanie Rios Bin Drop
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Rios

Head Games.  Your mind will try to tell you that you are too tired to go on, that you can’t do it.  Find a way to silence that voice.  That being said, listen to your body and stop before it gets injured.

 

Despite telling you to watch out for head games, if you decide you are done and have had enough, that is okay. Just make sure it is a rational choice and not an emotional “I QUIT!”

So now that your head is in the game you need to take care of everything else!

Stephanie Rios Food Bin
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Rios

Hydration.  Start early. Start now. If you normally drink 3-4 liters in a day, up that should be plenty.  If you drink less, up it.  While Shale Hill has 4 water stations on course, I encourage you to carry water with you in a bottle, a belt, or a hydration pack.  The last thing you want is to get dehydrated while running multiple laps in the hot sun.  If you like your water icy cold, bring a cooler with ice, don’t count on a venue to have it.  If you like having something mixed in your water, electrolytes, sugars, such as Nuun or Tailwind, you can pre-mix in liters or gallons and keep in your cooler ready to refill.

Stephanie Rios Food
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Rios

Nutrition.  Keep your tummy happy, don’t try new foods on race day.  If you know bean burritos give you an upset stomach don’t eat them the night before or during the race.  Make sure to consume calories during your run and in between your laps.  This can be in the form of gels and chews while on the course, or via tailwind,
but could also be real food, almonds and dried mangos.  When you come in to transition, in addition to refilling your water, make sure you to consume calories.  Eight to ten hours into a 24 hour even is not the time you want to bonk.  Bring more food with you than you think you will need.  Remember, food for fuel and food for happy.

Foot Care. Keep your feet dry and happy.  Change your shoes on socks as often as necessary to keep your feet dry. Apply Trail Toes or some other type of moisture barrier.  Powder your feet to remove moisture, drain blisters as they form to keep them from getting worse. Blisters are not your own problem, keeping your feet dry is imperative to keeping away maceration.  Maceration, if severe enough, can end your race.

Body and Chafing. Lube is your friend.  Inner thighs, where the waist pack or hydration pack rubs, shoulders, and especially between your butt cheeks.  Finding out you chafed when you get in the shower is not a pleasant experience.

Stephanie Rios Bin
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Rios

Gear List. Towels, headlamp(s), spare batteries, water, food, gels, hydration pack, water bottle, socks, shoes, two to three sets of running clothes, long sleeve, hat, sun glasses, tent, chair, first aid kit, foot care kit, sunblock, bug spray, and a roller if you want one. Don’t forget a bin or bag to hold it all and keep it organized!

That’s it! Oh, and remember to have fun.

Posted on

Featured Review: FIT Challenge VI

Featured Review provided by Niki Leonard!

12983970_1223786367633245_4042024135233288105_oSaturday many of us, over 200 actually, Spahtens found ourselves back at Diamond Hill Park in Cumberland, Rhode Island to attempt the 6th FIT Challenge, put on by one of our own, Robb McCoy, with the assistance of Aaron Farb and Scott Sweeney. The course is a roughly 3.5 mile course, this year sporting around 40 obstacles, and multiple steep climbs up the “hill” to get a total of approximately 1000 feet of elevation gained throughout the race. This is a race with a history of challenging all fitness levels and our expectations were, yet again, exceeded.

12976863_1026538087434537_3067915853513334222_o

12977245_1223786460966569_8668604565435259688_oThe morning was cool and crisp as I headed to the course for the 8:10 start for multi-lappers. With this course being so close to where I live I was lucky to leave a bit later than most and arrive an hour before start. Parking was $10, however, with the earlier arrival, I was mere steps from the start line. It was easy to find the registration, get my bib, and find the multi-lap tent where I set up my drop bin and changed into my race shoes before dropping my changing bag (and brownies) over to the team “tent” (no tent was yet set up at this time in the morning, as the area is designated for us, but the tent is ours to bring) area for when I was finished. Everything was easy to find, easy to get to, and in the middle of the excitement. Fred Smith was at the start line getting everyone ready. There were plenty of vendors, and an amazing paleo food truck offering food all day. The venue even has running toilets!

12961340_1223789367632945_5307750161171682029_oThe elite men set out at 8am sharp after Robb challenges anyone to beat this course in under 45 minutes, followed by the elite women at 8:10am, who were also pumped up by the duo of Fred and Robb. Finally, at 8:10, me and about 100 of my newest friends got our multilap bracelets, a challenge to do more than 5 laps, never mind 6, and off we went. Throughout the day I could hear Fred doing an awesome job of pumping up the racers in each heat, and Robb, Scott, and Aaron could be found throughout the course making sure everything ran smoothly. This also included giving me hugs every time I saw one of them! The course was full of volunteers, and they were some of the most supportive volunteers of any course I’ve been on.

12957634_1025865820835097_6732159135716748193_oUnfortunately, I kept accidentally turning off the GPS on my watch, so I don’t have accurate elevation or distance. However, most people with the higher tech watches seemed to have something closer to 3.8 miles and over 1000 feet of elevation. We saw a new larger version of the Destroyer, which had its own small team helping and coaching people over. We saw all of Novembers new obstacles back, as well as some new creations; the monkey cargo net traverse, and a floating 12 foot wall (which basically became an inverted wall by the time you reached the top), which were both incredibly innovating and challenging. The first half the race had way more hills than obstacles, whereas the second half had more obstacles than hills. The race was extremely challenging through and through, but nothing was impossible. The course is meant to challenge you to try everything, but there is no penalty if you couldn’t do something. Also, what was nice, was if you were a multi-lapper, you were allowed to cut any back-ups at obstacles. I didn’t actually need to use this incentive until my third lap and only on the obstacles on the first half of the course, which tells you the course was well spaced out.

13002470_1025865804168432_2362046597193212489_oThe swag at this race was amazing. A gorgeous finishers medal, which looked clean and crisp, as well as a higher quality t-shirt. The t-shirt, again, wasn’t offered in extra small, so unfortunately will be hard for me to wear comfortably, and the text on the back was a bit too dark, however, the softness and great front graphic will ensure that it will be loved by almost everyone. Multilappers got a pin for each additional lap completed to add to their medal’s lanyard as well as a really cool patch. Those who completed 3 or more laps had (or will receive) a wooden “trophy” signifying the amount of laps completed. Over 250 people chose to multilap this event, versus the 50 who did in November, so unfortunately the trophies ran out, particularly for those who completed 3 laps, however, their name and contact information was taken so that it can be sent them later.

12961305_1223792237632658_1305860694978636668_oMulti-lapping at this even was a cinch. We had our own covered tent area to keep our dropbins, we had our own 2 volunteers to assist us and keep us on track. Equipped with a cool FIT Challenge silicone bracelet, we had the ability to “cut” any line at any obstacles. When you finished a lap, you headed over to the multilap volunteer’s table, which was against the multilap tent next to the start line. You check in with them, tell them you’re going out again, and they’d mark you down for another lap. Get whatever you need, head over to Fred and let him know you’re going again, and if he gives you the thumbs up, off you went. Originally they had you swapping bibs each lap, but due to the unexpected numbers of multilappers, the same bib ended up being used after lap 2 for all additional laps. When you were all done running, you grab your cash ($10 per extra lap), then head over to the volunteer table, pay up your divvy, and in return you got your pins and your patch, and any awards you may have gotten.

12961213_1025195287568817_1520714528005170547_oThe turnout was amazing. The weather, while chilly in the morning, was amazing for most of the race. The venue was great, and the obstacles were outstanding. I think Diamond Hill deserves an award for most hated hill to climb. Robb and his crew surpassed everyone’s expectations for a good race. He’s a director who will listen and make sure everyone is taken care of. I haven’t heard a single bad thing about this race and I don’t expect to either. It is my personal favorite local 5k races, and I expect I’m not alone in saying this. If you have yet to try out this race series then you are missing what OCR is really about. Check it out!

Posted on

Spahten Story: Chris Bordenca – Leading by Example

Chris Bordenca was nominated for a Spahten Story by his friend, Greg Hale.

The Spahtens are what they are because of people like you.

Chris Bordenca’s Nomination10488123_10206387606716352_8251714795455945340_n 

Why are you nominating them?

He inspires us younger guys to keep at it, stay in shape and to drink less and run more.

What about them inspires you?

Everything: Mainly his attitude and the example which he sets by encouraging his wife and kids to be their best.

What quote would you use to describe them?

There isn’t any one, but a multitude of such that all  describe him in one way or another.

Chris’s Responses

What was your first reaction when you found out you were nominated?

What the?! What?!

When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race and/or what got you into OCR.

The 2013 Amesbury Spartan was my first race of any kind. 12494885_10207658049636631_7427289713903728076_n My wife has a way of inspiring / tricking me into getting healthier and better.  First she got me running and then doing P90X.  Until then I hadn’t really been too active except for chasing our kids around.  I was a smoker on and off for over twenty years and really struggled with quitting.  My brother, who’d done the Sprint the year before, asked if I wanted to give it a shot since he knew I’d started working out and trying to get healthier. A mixture or terror and excitement were all I felt for months leading up to that first race. The adrenaline, the fear, the challenge and afterward the feeling of accomplishment had me hooked immediately. When a Sprint was announced for Killington that would run alongside the Beast a few weeks later I signed up and then right away signed up for the Fenway Sprint and convinced my wife to join me.

Once she was hooked it was like a landslide and we started looking for as many OCR’s as we could find.  We even got our three kids running kids’ races too. That’s when I reconnected with Al Heard and Tony Demauro, old friends I hadn’t seen in over a decade, save for Facebook, who noticed the Spartan race pics being posted.  They opened my eyes to the magical (super expensive) world (addiction) of all the other obstacle races out there and to the New England Spahtens.  

What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)

11022622_10205994213681772_7363817972493487220_nFinishing the 2014 VT Beast with has to be the hardest thing I’ve ever accomplished. It wouldn’t have happened if my wife, Andrea, wasn’t there to keep my spirits up and not let me quit when my legs cramped up somewhere around mile 10.  The one I’m most proud of is finishing the 2015 VT Beast penalty free and with a pretty decent time.  I ran solo on that one, but ran into some great Spahtens, like Kevin Grant, along the way who kept me going with encouragement when cramping was slowing me down greatly.

Oh, and every single time I do Walk the Plank at Tough Mudder it’s an accomplishment.  That makes one me crazy.

What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?

Obstacle races are far more exciting than straight up road races.  They’re more interesting than triathlons. The people, the camaraderie, the sense of insane purpose.  I love that most of us are just out there competing with ourselves, just trying to get better.  I love the challenge of a new obstacle or the feeling of knowing you’ve got one nailed.  I even love the frustration of failing an obstacle and stewing on it until I get another chance at it.  I love feeling like a teenager running through the woods from the cops after a party got busted up.

What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future? 

In 2014 I earned my first trifecta.  In 2015 I earned the 11393272_10205236356641383_6259984117709668951_ndouble trifecta.  The new goal for this season, is to see how long I can continue to train and race without drinking.  I had a tendency to finish a race and go a little crazy with the feeling of having done something super healthy, which meant I could indulge that much more afterward.  There was nothing better than drinking a ton of beer and smoking a bunch of cigarettes after a race.  I’m not kidding.

Training for a race was the time when I’d really stop everything so that I could be prepared.  But after a race, all bets were off and eventually that attitude slid into the days following a race.  Suddenly I’d be a proper smoker again.  Craziness.  The same held true for drinking to the extent that the feeling that I could be a little more unhealthy for a few days following a race led to a few more hangovers than were necessary.

11665599_10206465292338444_8004200105871781027_nI’ve got at least one OCR a month booked this season to keep me focused and training.  So far, so good!

Is there anything else you think we should know?

I think the mustard craze we all experienced last year in regards to cramping was manufactured by big mustard to boost sales.

How has your racing changed because of the Spahtens?

Races are no longer solitary events.  The Spahtens have forced me to engage with more people.  I’m generally an introvert, I work from home and I spend more time with my kids than I do with actual adults. The Spahtens are this unique blend of people who all love the same relatively off-beat sport as m1508990_792732887481726_7374552293348113464_ne with a matched level of enthusiasm and as a result an obstacle race where I’m surrounded by blue team jersey’s has become one of places in the world where I feel at home even when it’s miles from Massachusetts.  I love seeing the same faces at different races.  I love when the crew that I tend to run with, recently dubbed Al’s Crew at Blizzard blast, encounters another Spahten who asks if they can run with us because they’re new, or got separated from the people they were supposed to run with.  If it weren’t for the Spahtens my races wouldn’t be as full of smiles, laughs and pretty cool swag too.

The main thing that’s changed though… I do waaaaaaaaay more races because of the Spahtens.

See what Chris does when he isn’t running obstacle course races at his website, www.bordenca.com.

 

Posted on

Spahten Story: Larry King – Dad, Friend, Survivor, Inspiration

 BlizzardBlastOnesieLarry King was nominated by a friend and since I neglected to ask who was doing the nominating in my original form, I have no name to thank!  If this was you, please step forward as I would love for Larry to know who finds him inspiring.  

The Spahtens are what they are because of people like you.

Larry King’s Nomination

Why are you nominating them?

He’s a dad, a computer programer, amazing friend, a cancer survivor, bowling master, obstacle crushing, inspiring, hard working man. And he is the lime to my tequila. And he manages to crush the courses even though he had a knee replaced!

What about them inspires you?

His uncanny ability to be there for anyone who needs him no matter what he is going through, always TMElectriclifts people up (figuratively and literally) on and off the course. I am a better person for knowing him. He is the one on the course to high five and clap every person he meets, lend a hand or a knee to complete strangers, and always pushed me further than I could have dreamed.

What quote would you use to describe them?

“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me”

Larry’s Responses

What was your first reaction when you found out you were nominated?

I was surprised. This NE Spahtens is a fantastic group with lots of people who are an inspiration and to be singled out was surprising.

When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race and/or what got you into OCR.

I have done OCR for about 4 years. My first race was a foam fest and that turned me on to other races. I had gone through a lot of medical issues including cancer and knee replacement but wanted to show myself I could do it and also others that they don’t have to stop an athletic life after major issues.

SpartanGroupWhat was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)

My biggest was the Killington Beast in 2015. I had never done Killington before and a month before tore the MCL in my “good” knee so it was going to be even harder. This combined made it mentally challenging to get up for it. The great thing was that I was staying with a group of other Spahtens (none of whom I had met before) who were all emailing and posting how great it was going to be get to know each other and race together.

What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?

The camaraderie that comes with racing with the Spahtens and finding people who are willing to challenge themselves no matter what their own personal story may be. They inspire you to be there and make it a great place to meet friends. The OCR courses themselves present a challenge to each of us in different ways and BattlefrogGroupfinishing them and seeing the smiles of everyone else who finishes makes it all worthwhile. Ok, the beer at the end is a kinda nice treat too…

What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?

My future will be continuing to rehab the ‘good’ knee and be able to do 6 to 8 races this year. I am also going to take up biking which will have less impact on the joints. I plan to volunteer at several races to see the NE Spahtens team and be able to support them as they race.

Is there anything else you think we should know?

The NE Spahtens attitude and support is without any bias or restriction. Anyone who wants to try is fully supported and encouraged. This has made me a better person and something I will share with my children as they get to try OCRs.

BattlefrogWallHow has your racing changed because of the Spahtens?

The Spahtens has shown me a reason for racing rather than just for my own accomplishment. Everyone is truly happy for everyone else who finishes and that type of selflessness is just not seen that much anymore. It makes me want to be with the Spahtens more.

Follow Larry on Twitter @kingerredsox

Posted on

Spahten Story: Stephen Sweetser – All it takes is a little courage.

blizzard blast wall top backOn February 1, Stephen Sweetser shared a photo of himself going over an 8-foot wall and a small story on the challenges he faced before the race and how his own courage and the encouragement of his battle buddies got him through.

“I normally don’t post anything like this, but the overwhelming urge is killing me. I just want to throw out a huge thanks to the people I met at Blizzard Blast. It was my first OCR ever, and it was a very emotional and motivational event for me, and it may be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

When I told people I wanted to get into the OCR scene, I was mocked, jeered, and put down by most. I’ve heard it all from “You can’t do that” to being laughed at while I get a disheartening and mocking “Good luck”. Even a family member of mine had little faith, and was so surprised about it that it destroyed me on the inside. But thanks to my brother Brian, I didn’t have a choice but to prove everyone wrong (he bought the tickets, thanks again!). And I did.

blizzard blast wall topYes, I’m overweight. You can say I’m obese. It’s obvious, I can’t hide it, Yet society never lets me forget that I am. So therefore, I’m fat, and I’m not fit. Right? It was so easy to be discouraged by stereotypes. I’m 340ish pounds, and thanks to society, I thought that I was basically “going to kill myself” at this event. I didn’t think I could do a single obstacle. I thought that I was going to be a quitter and just throw in the towel half way through. But thanks to all of the NES I met so far, and my family running beside me, I gathered the courage to go out there. I felt like a totally different person while I was around you. I wasn’t fat anymore. No one looked at me and said “you can’t do this” or “what is this guy doing here?”. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more accepted in my life. And for that, I thank all of you, even those I haven’t met, because I already know that you all have the same mentality.

I’ll try and keep this short. I could write a 12 page essay on this, but I’ll save some time for everyone. I was a nervous wreck getting out there. Finally 1 PM came, and I was off. And of course, the 8-foot wall was the first obstacle. Here comes the negative thoughts. I can’t do this, just walk around it. But for some reason, then and there, I shut everything out, and I said to myself “no, we are going to do this”. And to my surprise, I made it. I climbed that wall. I made it to the top, and went down the other side. I wished everyone that doubted me was there to witness that. I proved them all wrong. I did it. That one obstacle meant more to me than anything I’ve done in my life since graduating high school.

So again… THANK YOU to everyone. Without the support of people like you, I’d still have so much self doubt and negativity. It’s time to blizzard blast wallturn things around for myself. I look forward to MANY new adventures with you all, and I hope I get to meet more and more of you. It was so much fun out there, and I feel like a new person in just one day.

But for now, I’m off to rest my sore muscles and join a gym, I have so much I can improve on!”

The courage to step out of your comfort zone is pretty incredible.  Stephen has it in spades and was able to answer a few more questions to go just a little bit deeper into how it helped get him through
.

What made you decide to sign up for Blizzard Blast, your first OCR?

Well, my brother signed me up, along with my sister and my mother. This race was our Christmas gift from my brother. I’m glad he did it too.

bb end groupStepping outside your comfort zone is never easy, especially when mocked and jeered, but you did it. How hard was it to not give up?

It was really tough. While waiting at the starting line, I started to feel really anxious. To the point that I felt sick. My mind was telling me to give up before I even got to the first obstacle. It definitely helped to have some NES and family with me, because I didn’t want to be “that guy” and throw in the towel, they helped me keep going.

What are your plans for this next season?

I’m already signing up for races left and right! I can’t remember a time that I’ve felt so motivated and so determined to do better, and be better. So far you will be able to find me at Boldrdash Winter Dash, F.I.T. Challenge, Wason Pond Pounder, and the Spartan Boston Sprint (in Barre). I can’t get enough! Like I told my brother, I have to see how far I can push myself, and how much I can improve!

One piece of advice you would offer to a newbie?

Don’t be afraid of failure! I think that all my fears boil down to being afraid to fail. Becuase unless you are Spiderman, you are most likely going to fail at least one obstacle. And you can NOT let it stop you from trying. Like I was saying about the 8-foot wall, I didn’t think I could do it, but I tried it anyway. And I DID do it! Like my brother said to me when I voiced my concerns about OCR to him “you are going to surprise yourself”. And I did. And so should you.