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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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Whats in a date?

In New England, we’re so very very lucky. We have a ton of race options available to us – not only obstacle course racing, but trail and road too.

It means that the job of a race director for scheduling is a tricky one.

One hand – you need to pick a date that has availability for your chosen venue, and all you vendors, thats far enough out that you can get your medals and shirts orders and market properly.

Other hand – you need to be aware of the calendar, and what else is going on.

Once a year, it seems everyone screws that last bit up.

In 2016, if you are looking for a race to do, May 14th has PLENTY of choice.

Ragnar Relay
BoldrDash
Muckfest
The Thunder Run
Gladiator Training Grounds — UPDATE: Gladiator have since moved their date to 7/16
Tuff Scramblers

On a map, thats nuts. This is just in ONE day!

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 12.38.20 PM

Now, I DO get it – some events have traditionally held their races that weekend.
I get that some venues are ONLY available that weekend.
I’m not trying to call any of these races out – they have their reasons for picking this particular date, I’m sure.

But ultimately, this means they will all have fewer people to pull from. Fewer people available to come to their race. Enthusiasts maybe fitting two events in this weekend with a couple of Sunday race options, but for the vast majority of the New England OCR crowd, one is enough.

Personally, I’m at Ragnar Relay – and after a 48 hour stint in a van, I’m baked and ready to sleep.

How do we avoid this?
We offer a free events calendar, that covers New England OCRs that can be found here.
We have a VERY active events list in our Facebook group, that covers any event the New England Spahtens are at, anywhere. That can be found here.

Where will you be racing on May 14th?

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Featured Review: BoldrDash on the Beach 2015

boldrdashWhile this was a bit of a drive for me, I had so much fun last year that it was worth the drive to run it again.  Who wouldn’t want to race on the beach!

The weather was scheduled to be beautiful but was chilly on the car ride in.  Scarborough Beach was easy to find with GPS.  I followed Sandy, aka Mama Hen, and Vince in to the parking area.  Parking was free but that they were accepting $5 donations for Meeting Street and in exchange you would given a BoldrDash air freshener.  I did not donate so I do not know what the air freshener is like.  It was slightly awkward to have it listed that they were accepting donations.  Personally, I would much rather have it state that the parking was free, or that parking was $5 per car with all proceeds being donated to Meeting Street.   Parking was plentiful and an easy walk to registration and to the start and finish line.groupstart

Registration was located under one of the shelters to the side.  It was not in the middle of the start/finish zone, the location seemed to work well.  What didn’t work well was the different lines for registration but people didn’t realize this and so the line was really long.  Picking up my packet was easy but instead of having all of my bibs ready to be paid for, the volunteer had to send me to another line.  So after waiting to pick up my packet, I had to wait to pay for my bibs.  While they had me on the list for the requested number, when I asked about prepaying and if I didn’t run them all did I come back to this table to get my money back, I was told I wouldn’t be able to get my money back.  This was not what we had been told but since I knew that I was only going to run a max of two extra laps, I decided to just pay for both of them and worry about the details later.  Luckily I didn’t have to worry about getting my money back as I did run both of my extra laps.  Not everyone has been so lucky.  It was time to move on to another line to wait to pick up my t-shirt.  I opted for the technical shirt, which feels great and I love the design, I likely won’t wear it as it is white.  Not the first race to have white shirts of course but lowers the likelihood I will wear it.  Unfortunately, registration was not smooth and does not earn a thumbs up from me.  That being said, I loved the concept of emailing the RD and getting on a list for multiple laps and having them available at the finish line so that I didn’t have to traipse all over to get my additional bibs.

start3Despite the struggles and frustrations with registration, the course was fantastic.  The start was a short walk from the finish line and festival area.       We started out on the grass, with a short down and back that at first felt like a waste but I was soon grateful for the chance to warm up before grabbing a bolder to carry down and back over 3 different walls.  While there appeared to be a few backups by simply walking in between the walls meant that I didn’t have to wait.  The next obstacle was deceptively challenging!  A boulder attached to a chain.  At first glance it appears that it will be easy but the boulders really don’t do anything other than give you a something to hold on to.  The chain was heavy!  Dragging it up the hill and back down was hard.  A spider crawl, which I don’t remember from last year.  At first I tried to go  in the middle option but the walls were too far apart for me to reach!  Luckily the other sets were closer together and I could complete the obstacle.  It wasn’t anything I had ever seen before which made it fun, for the first lap.  Simply energy sapping on the 2nd and 3rd.

The balance beam supported by chains was just as challenging as I remembered.  teamworkAnother new obstacle!  A wall scale to a cargo crawl and down a firemen’s pole! It is much easier going down the pole than it is going up it.  I was starting to get a bit worried we had spent so much time on the grass but that was soon to be remedied as we were sent down to the beach and a 100# Wreck Bag carry.  Sandy and I carried it together but my two additional laps I had help getting it on my shoulders and proceeded to carry it myself!  The tire horse.  I can’t get the ups I need in the sand, so this one I crawl up and over.

A sandy crawl under a platform that runners later in the course were traversing with buckets of water.  The drill Sargent they had working this was encouraging them to dump water on us and yelling at us to get our butts down under the cargo net in the middle.  It was good fun.  I stayed dry on lap bldrdsh wreckone, but laps two and three both involved water fights with other NES members.  Which admittedly felt great in the hot sun.  From there we went on to one of my favorite sections.  We just had to navigate along all the rocks.  I know it tears peoples fits up and can lead to a lot of rolled ankles if not careful but I really enjoy rock hopping and find that I can maintain a fairly decent pace!

The volunteers on course have thus far been great.  One even got a great jumping shot of me and she didn’t even realize it till after the shot was taken.

Tires, a wall that was super slick from the salt and sand and I needed to use the supports to get up and jumpover with a little help from my friends, even crawling up Michael on my last lap and then helping to haul him and his ruck up.  Sandbag carry, of course Sandy and I take the 50# option, why would we take less?  A wall with three options for getting up and over.  No help, some kickers and grabbers, and a full ladder style.  Was a great way to still do the wall even once tired.

Balance beam with slosh pipe.  Was great that the volunteers offered to bring the slosh pipes back to the start for us but on the third lap none of the slosh-pipes were at the start and so people just ran up and over the balance beam.

The buckets, woman grab one, men grab two, there were different sizes.  I grabbed two for each lap.  This was totally brutal on my hands as the handles are so thin.  Water fights did ensue!

Over under through, with a 50# buoy.  I downgraded to the 35# for the 2nd and 3rd laps.  BuoyI believe it was in this obstacle that I lost my FitBit.  I looked briefly on laps 2 and 3 but couldn’t find it.  I know other people helped look for it as well.  Very sad!

Tire hop, similar to the log hop but stacked tires with wood on the top.  They wiggle and sink and are super fun.  I get a lot of enjoyment from these, a little more than I feel is truly necessary!  On to the slant wall, again with different amounts of help.  As the day wore on and the sand and salt built up on the wood, it got slicker and slicker.  First lap I went with the harder, but not hardest, option, and by the end I was using all the help I could get.  Sliding down the backside was a bit scary as I was afraid of falling.  Silly irrational fears!

slantSomewhere between the buckets and slanted wall was a tire drag. Through the sand. With different weighted tires.  Blue rope was the lightest, the first two the heaviest.  They were heavy but I did them, all three laps!  The sand and the rope chewed up my hands though.  Between the swelling, the heat, the friction of the sand.  Ouch.

On to the monkey bars.  It was only at FIT Challenge a few weeks ago that I managed to get the monkey bars on my own.  I even did the larger spaced ones with help on the upwards bars.  At the Beast, where the bars are thicker, I did all but the highest up on my own, that one up I needed help.  But BoldrDash? I DID THE HARDEST UP AND DOWN MONKEY BARS!!! ALL THREE LAPS!!! WITHOUT HELP!!! Okay.  Sorry, not sorry.  I did it on my own and its one of the proudest moments I have ever head at a race.

topofwallParallel bars that I fell off of and so used my legs to help get through, a tire wall up and over, and then it was the dreaded potato sack.  I am actually pretty efficient at hopping in a sack but all the jumping brings out the calf cramps like nobodies business.  I had to miss this obstacle on lap two as they were taking someone away in ambulance.  I haven’t heard an update but he was alive when taken away and have been thinking of him a lot.  I don’t know the details but it was certainly scary.

The tire swing, maneuvering from tire to tire without touching the ground.  I have a great method but wish the ropes were a little thicker as they continue to sackjumptake a major toll on my hand.

Finish line! Fruit, chia bars, bottled water.  Was great to cross the finish line and be able to stuff my face with something.  Certainly made a difference in getting back out for my multiple laps.  They took my timing chip, handed me my medal, and right there was my next bib.  It took just a minute to get and I was able to be off again.

I sadly didn’t get to enjoy any of the festival area or see what was around for vendors but there were plenty of porta-potties and that was all that mattered at the time!

 

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Renegade Playground Challenge 2014 opens it’s calendar

Renegade Playground Challenge logoRenegade Playground Challenge – a race traditionally held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and with a relatively poor history just announced their 2014 calendar, and ambitiously, they’ve opened up multiple new venues and dates.

June 21st – RPC Boston at the Marshfield Fairgrounds. A venue recently vacated by Ruckus. Sadly, they now collide with the dramatically better Civilian Military Combine, the new comer friendly 5k Foam Fest and our good friends in VT, ORTC at Shale Hill Adventure’s Benson Bear.

July 21st – RPC NH at the Rochester Fairgrounds. New venue, not at the Speedway. Also collides with the new Tri-Obstaclon at Shale Hill.

They have three more dates / venues on the list, but they aren’t allowing for registration yet – the Cape in August, RI in September and Boston again in the fall.

It doesn’t sound like the Speedway is involved again this year, which would be a crying shame – it’s widely considered the only reason they were so much better in 2013 than in 2012 was due to their involvement.

So – would you register for this event?

Read the 2013 Featured Review here

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Renegade Playground Challenge, 2013

Renegade Playground Challenge was one of the regions early birds. They held their first race in 2010, and I ran them in 2011. Held at the New Hampshire Motorspeedway, they had a good amount of wooded trails and open space to host a race. Their obstacles were more along the “fun” side than the challenging side – but overall, a good solid 5k race.

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Then, late 2011/early 2012, the owners sold the series, and you could feel the change on their social media. The fun nicknames and tie die shirts were gone – and then the 2012 race was held.

It didn’t go so well.

Reports of the course being poor – with obstacles failing and not having staff or volunteers nearby to fix them. Water stops running out early in the day. No water or worse – beer -once you crossed the finish line.

Of course, this was 2012 – and while we thought the OCR world was booming then, things in 2013 have exploded. It’s worth another look at Renegade Playground Challenge ahead of their 2013 race.

The elephant in the room – the owners and people behind it are fully aware of the 2012 races short comings. They heard the feedback from the last race, and have assured me they will be fixing everything they can. From staffing every obstacle with volunteers *and* walkie talkies, putting on another water stop (making three in a 5k race) – and more. They are certainly aware they have some ground to make up, and some reputation that needs restoring. I’ve spent some time talking with the new organizers, both online, via email and phone – and everything I heard was encouraging.

Here’s why I think they’ll do it too – this isn’t just the new Renegade owners, learning from their mistakes … The entire New Hampshire Motor Speedway organization is now involved, and invested, and ready to make this work. The Speedway regularly hosts events with crowds bigger than any OCR, and they have a volunteer pool that is bigger than many OCR’s entire weekend attendance.

I polled the Spahten community – I asked if people would race an RPC again – or if they were “one and done” – the results were interesting, with no one saying they wouldn’t race it again – despite the negative experiences from last year. Several said they definitely would, a few more said it would depend on the changes being made – but with no one counting RPC out, thats an encouraging sign for the organizers – as I told them, you can recover from a poor race. Many have done it – but you can’t recover from multiple poor races – they need to get this right, and they know it.

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I also had a couple of people who ran 2012 ask some specific questions – and Renegade Playground Challenge answered them in great detail – here you go:

Sabrina – With all the amazing local craft Brewers that New England has to offer, why do you not try and use them for post race beer? (I ask that question to myself at a lot of events). 

A question we’ve also asked! While partnering with the speedway to take our challenge to the next level, we are currently speaking with local and national beer companies to see if we can work together! The Speedway’s Official beer is MillerLite, but we are able to utilize other local brews as long as the distributor that supplies the speedway carries it. So, in short, we agree and we are attempting to make headway on this 🙂

Also, what prompted you to decide to make changes? (bad feedback vs. low sales).

From the moment we started getting lines at registration, we knew something was happening and it wasn’t good.  Our number 1 priority will always be safety, although these events come with a risk, we aim to lower that risk and provide a challenge in a safe and fun environment. After speaking with the events team at the speedway, they were not interested in hosting the event again until we made major changes. So, we partnered with them to help the Renegade Team succeed. The team from the speedway that is putting together the 2013 Renegade Playground Challenge has   hosted “Mega” events (that draw over 100,000 people), and knows the in’s and out’s of the property. They have also worked with organizations like Tough Mudder and The Color Run. We did not utilize the speedway’s resources in 2012 to their full potential and will do so this year to ensure a smooth event. After the 2012 event, we responded to feedback about the event and discussed the changes that would need to happen to make 2013 a success.

What errors do YOU think were made in the event in 2012? (as opposed to what you just got feedback on) What do you want your event to be like in the future (basically where do you see yourself in 5 years race edition)?

Our growth was too fast…As the company changed hands, we experienced a tremendous growth that surprised the new leadership team. Of course, we have taken every suggestion (and criticism) into account and we understand we will have some people that we’ve lost  to the Renegade Playground Challenge, it’s no one else’s fault but our own. We will work to build the confidence that came with the event prior to 2012. As far as a 5 year plan, we will work with the Speedway to grow the event in Loudon, NH. Once the event  has been successful and has seen growth again, we will continue to look to other venues to host the event in the New England Area.

* Sandy – I did the run last year and fell while in one of the trail sections. When I returned to the festival area, trying to find a medic was impossible. I never did find anyone. I did find two guys sitting on an ATV next to the ambulance who said they had access to ice when I requested it – then they proceeded to give me an entire 5-pound bag of ice because they didn’t have anything smaller nor did they have any paper towels or wound cleaning abilities. So, my question would be what arrangements have they made with emergency medical technicians to be very visible, very easy to contact, and fully stocked for different medical needs?

Renegade Playground Challenge has plans to create a first aid tent area setup within the festival, not only did the ambulance not have basic first aid items (they were prepared for major trauma, not cuts and bruises)  we also feel that we need clear signage to direct folks to the correct people. RPC’s first aid will have “Boo-boo” items (ice packs, band aids, disinfectant spray, sting and rash spray and other basic items). Contacting First Aid falls back to having enough volunteers on the course to ensure we are adequately covering each obstacle and area. Partnering with the Speedway, we will be paying non-profit groups a per volunteer donation to ensure we are staffed for the day. We will also have a radio at each obstacle location and at point along the course that will be directly tied in with ambulances and safety personnel.

Clearly, they are trying very very hard to improve.

They also want to work with teams – we have a pretty sweet discount, and Spahtens are already registered for the 10:40am heat. If you want to join in, save some cash.

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Register: https://racewire.com/register.php?id=2885

They are also planning on changing the course up to help it flow better – adding in some new obstacles – which include a super soaker station, a mountain of mud – and a color festival that will blast you with colored cornstarch – ala Flying Color 5k.

We also covered logistics – something as simple as the registration process last year was botched, because everything was in separate piles – you gave them your ID, and the poor registration volunteer had to go to several different places for your bib, your shirt, your pins, your timing chips – the organizers of RPC and the Speedway are looking at streamlining everything. One packet, one stop. By the way, their new T Shirts are pretty badass, and being a nice cotton blend shirt, you’ll be wearing this one more than once!

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There will be plenty of other things going on too – they plan a mud tug of war competition, biggest team prizes – they have other ideas too, to spice things up a bit.

All I can tell you is that compared to the very poorly rated 2012 event, they are looking to bounce back. They would like to bounce back to at least their former glory – but with the organization and experience of the Speedway behind them now, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to do an even better job than our old friends Tie Dye, Wolf Man and Pony Girl  did.

 

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“What the ruck, cover your mouth when you burpee” Challenge.

This past weekend, with no big obstacle course event on the calendar, the New England Spahtens paid a visit to the Music for Life, Rock N Run 5k in Westminster, MA.

Mike M, the race director, has run with the Spahtens before at Spartan Race and the Fall Ruckus, and knows that we like things a little off kilter – so he offered a prize. A growler of Wachusett Brewery beer to the first person to cross the finish line, having worn a ruck and done 30 burpees at three points during the race.

Corrine won the growler (and doesn’t even drink beer), and in the few days we were offered the same deal by the race director of the Huff and Cuff 5k in Denvers, just down the road from the MuckFest MS venue. Run his 5k with rucks, burpee 30 times at each mile marker, and the winner gets a growler of beer.

Sign up here: http://huffncuff5k.com/

Who are we to say no to something like that?

Huff and Cuff 2012 startline
Huff and Cuff 2012 startline

On top of that, Spahten supermom to be – Shaina – is organizing her own 5k, and has extended the same offer – ruck, burpee, cross the line first for a prize.

Sign up here: http://www.firstgiving.com/luk/LUK5k2013

Shaina with a ruck, double wide and baby on board!
Shaina with a ruck, double wide and baby on board!

We’re now 700 + strong. We’ve made a clear impact on OCR events coming to New England – now, even the “normal” 5k road races are paying attention.

We’ve said it before, but this will be a great year to be involved with the New England Spahtens. 

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Miami Spartan Super 2/23/2013

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t05AD8C9KVY&feature=share&list=UUkYqSTqRQtgd-DTsiNw5zMg]

Read the team reviews!

The second Spartan Super of 2013 arrived in North Miami this weekend. 80+ degree temps, high humidity, ample sunshine, and a powerful  UV index were in abundance.  This event holds unique importance to me because it marks the one year anniversary of my introduction to obstacle course running.  I didn’t participate in Miami Spartan 2012, but some friends did.  Their pictures ignited an obstacle race Google search and I quickly went from beginner to enthusiast.  Now, a year later, I was eager to meet a handful of robust fellow enthusiasts representing the NE Spahtens who made the journey seeking tropical spartan glory.

Oleta River State Park requires a 5-10 minute shuttle from a separate parking location just like Amesbury. The shuttle bus actually drove under a cargo net bridge created by the stacks of two by two cargo containers. Athletes were rolling over the top of the net as shuttles passed through underneath.  The festival area seemed tight and chaotic at times, but any tent/service I needed was utilized in a timely manner. Free samples of coconut water, protein bars/drinks, etc. we’re notably absent or were hidden.

The 8.3 mile course highlighted the South Florida inshore ecosystem of bays, estuaries, mangroves, seagrapes, pine, bamboo, and limestone. Several miles of mountain bike trails meandered through the forest. Here’s the list of obstacles in order thanks to a spectator map:

  • Under over under over walls
  • Water crossing via bay
  • Over under through walls
  • Monkey Bars
  • Water crossing with buoy line
  • 7 foot walls
  • 6 foot walls
  • Rolling mud (trenches)
  • Tractor Pull
  • Sandbag carry
  • Cargo net bridge
  • Atlas lift (lift large chuck of concrete, walk, 5 burpees, lift and return)
  • 8 foot walls
  • Tire flip (three over and three back)
  • Hercules hoist
  • Bucket hoist (repel down embankment, fill three homer buckets, spill H2O, climb back up)
  • Rope climb
  • Traverse wall
  • Mud crawl under barbed-wire
  • Slippery wall
  • Gladiator pit

Spectators had excellent access to the final five obstacles as well as a walking trail to view others.  I was pleased to complete all of the obstacles with zero penalty burpees.  I did complete 30 “team” burpees for the two locals I ran with.  I also learned a valuable lesson:  Don’t make Spartan races any harder than necessary.  For example, I chose the one XL tire because I was impatient.  The body strain nearly left me with a soprano voice and sent me to the OR to repair soft tissue tears.

I found it difficult to  partition my time among several local factions, the traveling Spahtens, and my family.  I look forward to seeing new and familiar Spahtens as we travel around the globe seeking new challenges.  Thank you to Keith (solid man), Nele (Naila-friendly beast), Corrine (sweet soul), Tom (proud dad), Ellen (cat who swallowed canary smile), Betty (saw her for a second), and Yvette (self-proclaimed bag crasher).  I’ll see you at the Ruckus!