OCR Transformations-Bill Pollackov

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

When Bill was young, really for as long as he can remember, he was always a competitive athlete. From swimming to football and wrestling, Bill seemed to always be either practicing or competing. When he got to college, he joined the fire service and served as a firefighter/EMT for 9 years. Food was his escape. Anytime something was stressful, going wrong, or even good, eating helped him get through it. Sweets and ice cream were his go to. For many years this didn’t manifest as he was burning many of those calories.

Bill and his wife Tracy 2013

When Bill got married to his wife in 1995 they moved to Syracuse, NY. They moved so his wife could go through graduate school. It was there that his activity levels began to decrease, and his food intake didn’t change. By the time they moved to North Carolina in 1998, Bill had added about 50 lbs to his frame. “I was never a small guy, so even 50 lbs was manageable”. When he left the fire service is when the weight really began to hit him.

By 2013, Bill’s weight was over 450 lbs and it consumed his life. At that time he says fast food was about, 45-50 percent of his diet he was drinking between 2 and 2 ½ gallons of diet coke a day. One of the biggest shockers for Bill was when he went clothes shopping.  He was trying on shorts and surpassed the size 60 mark.

When Bills’ father passed away at age 59 in 2001 of a weight related disease, he was wearing a size 64 pants. “I remember cleaning out his closet and promising myself, I would never get to that size.” Bill describes that the feeling that came over him walking out of that store with a size 60 pair of shorts was overwhelming. He knew something had to change but was paralyzed with fear. He had tried with family to work out and exercise, but was constantly getting injured. He could not run or jog, and all movements caused him pain.

The motivation to change came from two really good friends that asked to meet with him one day. That morning was the day that reshaped his outlook on a lot of things. These men spoke to some of the areas that he was neglecting in his life including his; ministry, work, and family. It was not until then he realized that he was in a complete depression and was in the process of eating himself to death. He stepped on the scale that day and weighed right at 460 lbs. Something finally clicked for Bill. He had no idea what to do or how to do it, but something had to change.

Bill decided to meet with a surgeon to speak about bariatric surgery as an aid. This is what he now determines to be a turning point in his life. The doctor told Bill that this surgery, if he had it, was only a tool. Surgery would not solve his problems unless he dedicated himself to changing his diet and started exercising more. He was sold on this idea.

Bill’s surgery was on April 27, 2015. By surgery date he had already lost 55 lbs. He had completely abandoned fast food and his last diet coke was on January 3, 2015. There were some complications with his surgery as they had to remove his gallbladder as well, because it was basically one huge stone. In his follow up appointment is where the OCR seed was planted. Dr. Rao told him … “Here is your plan. In 2017 I want you to run the Gate River Run (15k) and in 2018 I want you to do a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race, deal?” He said he was definitely up for the challenge!

About 2 months after Bill’s surgery, he stepped back into the Gym. He walked in that morning very hesitant, not sure what to expect. In December 2015, he went to another gym to welcome a friend who was trying it out. He was very excited till he saw the workout….There in the middle of it was running….a full mile.

“I remember feeling my heart sink and I immediately accepted failure as my Goliath stood looming over me”. But he did his best, completed a full mile and was able to complete the rest of the workout as well. He shared that day with the group this was the first mile he had run since 1997.

The next morning, he went for a run on his own and completed a whole 5k. Over the next few weeks he pushed himself as far as 5 miles and felt good about it. He realized that something had really changed in himself. He was over 150 lbs down, and he felt great. Bill decided that he wanted to finish every distance of a running race that year. 5k, 10k, 15k and half marathon. Done, done, and done. On Thanksgiving day, with his friend Jim running by his side and his family cheering like crazy, he completed a half marathon. Bill ran the entire 13.1 miles with an 11 min pace….but his focus was 2 weeks away….SPARTAN.

When Bill decided to do the Spartan Race, he had about 5 months to train. Completing the Spartan however, has really kept him going! That was his first and only OCR. (That will drastically change this year) He says, “I can remember approaching the inverted wall and being terrified. I almost just went around and did the burpees. But my team was there, I jumped on, and zipped straight over. I was on top of the world…..I truly felt like a Spartan”.

Bill killing the obstacles at his first Spartan

Bill gives thanks first and foremost to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for guiding him through this gauntlet. Without his salvation, he says he would not have been able to endure this test.

Family 5k

His amazing wife, Tracey of 21 years and his kids Luke (16) and Chloe (13) are his greatest fans and partners.  They completed a 5k as a family this year, and he can see his influence in all of their training as Luke aspires to play college football one day and Chloe cheerleads and enjoys basketball and volleyball.

First Spartan finish with friends Anthony and Denea

Anthony and Denea Widener will always be credited with being the largest catalyst in showing Bill his true value and assisting him in achieving his goals and dreams. Jason Palmisano and his family for bravely following their dream of Trinity Fitness and spreading the gospel and wellness to all.

Bill trains 3 times a week in the morning at TF. Those workouts are all metabolic conditioning so they change up daily. No matter what the workout at the very end he adds in an extra ½ mile run. He also adds other runs usually once or twice a week. Sometimes it will be 3-5 miles running, other times it will be about 3 miles with breaks every ¼ mile for some type of bodyweight exercise (burpees, push ups, sit ups, ect…).

December 2014 – resting heart rate 97. BP 135/90. Weight 460 lbs
January 2017 – resting heart rate 61. BP 118/78. Weight 225 lbs.

OCR Transformations- Frannie Steele

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.
“I have grown so much not only physically and athletically, but mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.”

Frannie Steele grew up in Holland, Michigan up until her college years moving to the east side of the state in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. She spent her childhood running around on a farm and taking care of horses up until her parents divorced. She believes that was the turning point for her unhealthy lifestyle. Between puberty, peer pressure, bullies, and depression she had gained enough weight to launch her over 200lbs by the age of 15. It wasn’t until she got a puppy that really started her long journey to health. That puppy needed to be walked, and walking turned into running, and she hasn’t stopped accomplishing the goals she set for herself.

Frannie’s first OCR was the 2013 Indianapolis Sprint. At that race she slipped on the Slip Wall (ironically, she admits) and upon impact her knee hit one of the knots in the rope. She limped across the finish and after letting medical do what they could. She rode 4.5 hours back home straight to the hospital. After medical staff found no cartilage to be in her knee with the IT Band under the patella, they told her she would “probably never be able to run again.” But giving up running wasn’t really a choice for Frannie. After about a year in physical therapy she had started to train and condition the IT Band. So re-injury to her knee would be less likely to happen again. It was a hard time for her and there was plenty of pain. But, she says that first mile back running “never felt so good.” Every day she has to deal with her knee injury and some pain but the stronger she has gotten the easier it’s gotten.

Then in late 2015, Frannie saw an ad for Spartan Race again and thought, “you know what, I’m going to do this again and finish the way I should have finished.” Only this time she ran a Spartan Super instead of the Spartan Sprint. It was very difficult for her, but Frannie ended up doing much better than she expected. A few weeks after completing the Spartan Super she thought, “you know what, I’m going to go for the trifecta.” And that’s exactly what she did, which fueled the start of her 2016 racing.

There’s one event that Frannie states has greatly impacted her OCR and running lifestyle, which  was the overnight 2016 Chicago HH12HR. She doesn’t believe her mindset really changed until after completing her first endurance event.  Frannie didn’t even know what it was that she signed up for, she was just participating because a friend talked her into it. There she was introduced to something she didn’t even know what to expect. What they say about the hurricane heats, and the endurance events that Spartan puts on is that you can’t train for them. You can never know what to expect and she admits that it is 100% true.

Frannie believes she was better off not knowing a single thing about it starting out for her first one. She was forced to pull things from nowhere, from deep inside herself, and use knowledge she didn’t know she had. She pushed herself past the physical limits she had previously known that she was capable of and found something within herself that sparked a fire. From that day on it she says “it has been a nonstop grind to see what I’m capable of and the dedication and passion to push myself to accomplish my goals. I have grown so much not only physically and athletically, but mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.”

These are the things that pushed her to participate in the China Agoge. Frannie was medically removed from this race resulting in DNF. Even though she didn’t finish the race…she still left the Great Wall with things no material possession can replace. The things she learned and experienced she says she will have for a lifetime. The people she was with are people she will forever share a bond with. She believes by testing her mental fortitude with endurance events, she is able to physically push herself to the limits.

Endurance events teach you most importantly that you must work together as well as individually in order to complete a task, or reach a goal. The same is true for all things in life.”

Those who contribute to success are her family. Her family shows a huge support for her and her active lifestyle, knowing how much she has struggled with her weight. She is also thankful to Team Warrior State of Mind and Mark Petersen who supported her and had faith in her. Without Team WSOM she wouldn’t have been able to attend the AGOGE 003 in China. But more importantly she wouldn’t have met Mark, whom she says is a role model to her in every possible way.

Currently, Frannie Steele is training for a few things. For 2017, she has decided to switch gears from mainly running OCR to mainly running Ultras and endurance events. She is also gearing up to accomplish the Spartan AGOGE 006 UK at the Isle of Skye. Not far behind that goal is a 100 mile race, a handful of HH12HR, Ironman 70.3, and the Killington Ultrabeast.

For training she currently bikes 3 times a week, runs 5-7 times a week, and swims 1-2 times a week. Weight training is 2-3 times a week following a run usually to build endurance in strength. She also recently started yoga and meditation to satisfy the mind as well in a different way studying doesn’t quite cover.

From 219lbs at her heaviest to 141lbs now, Frannie Steele has changed herself not only physically, but mentally and hopes to inspire others to challenge themselves and to change their lives by being active. You can follow her on Instagram www.instagram.com/fmsteele1

How to Prepare for an Endurance Event

I’m not going to claim to be an expert, however I have participated in plenty of endurance events such as multiple BFX events, Spartan Hurricane Heat, Spartan Agoge Class 002, multiple road races and an ultramarathon. If you are interested in testing the waters or pushing your mind and body to the limits, you want to be as prepared as you possibly can for anything that might happen. Here are a few of my basic tips on how to prepare for an endurance event:

  1. Always follow the gear list. Then double check it. It may sound stupid, and you may think “I don’t need that item,” but you will. For instance, on my most recent Spartan Race HH12HR event, some of my gear list required 3 balls any size, a condom, a sharpie, a bucket with no handle, a headlamp, 1 gallon of water and a bag/ruck sack with 20lbs for females and 30lbs for males. If you don’t have everything you need, you may not finish. You have no idea what the item will be used for. You may or may not use all the required items during the event, but at least you will be prepared. Also always have duct tape, even if it’s not on the list. You can use duct tape to strap on all kinds of things to your bag or body to keep your hands free. Trust me, duct tape is a life saver.
    HH12 gear list
  2. Create a mantra. Ok, I know this sounds corny, but when you are exhausted and think you can’t continue another step it comes in handy. Being mentally strong is a big part of the battle during endurance events. You will be physically exhausted, but more times than not, it’s not the physical exhaustion that causes people to quit or DNF. It is the negativity that creeps into your mind that will make you feel like you can’t continue another step. Just know that whatever pain you are in, it’s only temporary and you can do it. I personally keep it simple. I just keep repeating to myself, “Don’t stop. Don’t quit. Just keep moving.”
  3. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. If I have an event on Saturday, I start hydrating on Monday or Wednesday at the latest. Cut back on caffeine, because it is a diuretic. My 7 hour drive to Nashville from South Carolina took 9 hours, because I stopped every hour on the hour to pee. Peeing every 10 seconds like a 9 month pregnant chick sucks on a long drive, but, if I hadn’t been hydrated I may have not finished. That wasn’t fun, but I was adequately hydrated for my event the next day. Not drinking enough fluid before a race, can lead to fatigue and muscle cramps. I personally experienced this a few weeks ago at the Asheville Spartan Super, I was so dehydrated that my run turned into a crawl. Fatigue from dehydration is no joke. For reference, if your urine is clear or pale you are well hydrated for race day. For you beer lovers this means, if your urine looks like a pale ale or IPA, you need to drink more water.

    IMG_0893 (1) My 7th pee stop on a 7 hour drive :/

  4. Switch up your training. I’m guilty of gravitating towards the weight section of the gym way too much. I’m not claiming to be a great endurance athlete, but I do know plenty of them. They alternate weights, with trail/hill running, HIIT (high intensity interval training), plyometrics and more. They don’t focus on one type of training, because in endurance events you can be doing anything from heavy carries up hills, sprints to regular PT (i.e. burpees, bear crawls and squats). Endurance athletes must be well rounded. And if it’s a Spartan endurance event, absolutely be prepared to go for long distances under heavy loads.
  5. Eat healthy for you. Now, I’m not going to say carbs are bad or good, or that you should only do a certain type of diet. We all can’t be amazing #wafflehouseelite athletes. Different diets work for different people, but you should try to eat foods in moderation. A well balanced diet that includes protein and carbohydrates to replace the glucose that is burned during  activity is important. Try to eat more natural foods versus processed foods. You can’t out train a bad diet. So eating pizzas, cake, and cheeseburgers aren’t going to make you feel that  amazing while running 10 miles. Common sense people.

    mind over matter

  6. Train your brain. This may go hand in hand with mantras, but honestly endurance events are just as mentally challenging as they are physical. Train your mind to avoid the negative. When you start to think negative thoughts like, “I can’t do this anymore” or “I’m too tired to go on” you need to change your thoughts. Focus on one thing at a time. Focus on that one task or obstacle, not how much more you have to do because it will overwhelm you. Think about how much you have already completed versus how much time you have left. Why quit when you have finished 10 out of 12 hours? 2 hours is nothing compared to all the hard things you already put yourself through! When times are really rough, vision yourself at the finish line getting your finishers medal or patch. Visualization is one of the best techniques that even Olympians have used to help them focus. Finally, just believe in yourself. If you had the guts to sign up for an endurance event in the first place, you must have had some faith in yourself that you could finish. So take that faith, work hard and make it happen.

Good luck and I hope to see you at a future endurance event! Next stop for me is the Spartan Agoge in China!!

HH12 Nashville

Spartan Race: Atlanta Sprint Weekend 2016 Review

Spartan Race - Atlanta - Team ORM

If you have any kind of social media account then I’m sure you know that this past weekend was the Spartan Race Atlanta Sprint Weekend. You’ve been bombarded with pictures of dirty people grinning ear to ear while holding a cool medal with a red ribbon on it. If you haven’t, well the Atlanta Sprint was held 3/5/16 and 3/6/17 at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia.

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This is the 6th year that Spartan Race has come to Atlanta to put on its unique obstacle course race. The first Georgia Spartan Race in 2011 was definitely different than the Spartan Race we saw this past weekend. Although we don’t have to battle Spartan warriors to cross the finish line anymore, it does seem that Spartan has made many improvements with better constructed and more difficult obstacles.

Driving up to the venue, later than normal,  I was surprised there wasn’t a long line for parking. It was quick and easy to pay for a parking spot and start walking towards the sound of loud country music (what did you expect: you’re in the south y’all). Clearly marked tents, made it easy for first time racers to know where to go.

Festival area photo by Joseph Mathieux

The festival area was bigger this year, with a bigger Spartan race Merchandise truck, food trucks, pull-up competitions, biggest team tent and even paid sponsor tents. Having food vendors at the race makes it easier on those with little Spartans running around waiting on Mom or Dad…that is not something they used to do. Plus, who isn’t starving after running 5 miles? A big old cheeseburger and beer are fantastic after working hard at killing the spear throw, right?

As for the race itself, it couldn’t have been a nicer day out. A tad nipply maybe, but it was really nice running weather until you hit the water obstacles. Thankfully, those weren’t at the beginning of the race. Once you were ready to hit the dirt running, you headed over to the first wall of the day, jump it and then wait for the Spartan announcer to give a speech and everyone say their “Aroo’s” then off you go. The motivational Spartan speech wasn’t nearly as amazing as it usually is because Dustin Dorough and his tiny short-shorts and memorized speech for “300” wasn’t present…that guy knows how to pump up a crowd. But nonetheless, we said our “Aroo’s” and took off.

12496342_10153306372276861_5491725660674464254_o After a short trail run, the first obstacle we came to was the hurdles, which are wooden beams you had to climb over. The second obstacle was stacks of hay you had to climb over; if you are vertically challenged, I recommend go to one of the outer ends where the hay isn’t so tall. A little more trail running, and then we came to our first official wall of the course – a 6ft’er – then on to a vertical net hung between trees, don’t be fooled – it’s easy to get knocked off when you’re climbing over the top and people are shaking the bottom.

Next was the inverted wall. This is always a challenging obstacle, but I was still surprised to see people taking the penalty rather than completing this obstacle. After the inverted wall, you came to the over-under-through (OUT) obstacle, which is always fun to complete. It’s like you’re a kid on the playground again, just a fun obstacle.

So far every obstacle was really well spaced, the trail running was fun, and it was just a great day to be running a Spartan Race. The hills weren’t crazy hard like Vermont or Wintergreen; they seemed to be gentle rolling hills. It was the perfect terrain for a newbie obstacle course racer! Next was the A-frame cargo net, then the monkey bars. The monkey bars seemed to be a little different this time. The bars were closer together, but they varied in height, so you would have to swing up or down as well as forward making it more of a challenge. After doing burpees, if you didn’t make the monkey bars, was the 8ft wall. Don’t be shy, get a little booty boost up the wall from a fellow Spartan. It’s better than doing burpees! The plate drag was up next. It’s where you pull a rope with a sled filled with weight, and then drag it back to the start.

After the plate drag was the Z-wall. Back in the olden days it was just 1 wall with hand and feet grips you scale across to ring a bell. Now it’s even harder with 3 walls making the shape of a Z. Grip strength and keeping your body close to the wall is the key to overcoming this obstacle. Then you were back to the trail.

After a little walk or run in the woods, you come to a really big hill. It was more of a wall than a hill, covered with a cargo net to climb up it. If you’re scared of heights this was not the obstacle for you, but if you’re a badass Spartan then you did it! Aroo! Then to one of the original burpee makers… the dreaded spear throw obstacle. If you don’t know how to do this, ORM has a tutorial you can watch. It just may save you from doing the 30 burpees, check it out.

The next obstacle is where it got freezing! The rolling mud with dunk wall was ice cold. It’s basically several hills of mud, then waist deep pools of muddy water you had to slide into, then a final wall you had to go under and get completely wet. There was a photographer waiting on the other side, waiting to get all those shocked face reactions on candid camera. I can’t wait to see my Jabba the Hut muddy face in my picture.  The 15th obstacle was the bucket brigade. In 2011, this was a pile of Georgia dirt you filled the bucket and went for a short walk. Now they use rocks. Fill your bucket to the line with rocks, and carry it without spilling. This wasn’t the hardest bucket brigade due to lack of a major hill, but it was still a challenge.

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Almost to the festival area, you can feel the end of the race getting near. The atlas carry was next. It may be just me, but I felt like the girls weight was the lightest it’s ever been. I’m not complaining though. Next was the rope climb. Spartan isn’t putting the ropes over water anymore making it easier for more people to complete the rope climb. There weren’t any knots in the rope, but a dry rope is easier than a wet one! It was nice to see that it seemed like a lot more racers were able to complete the rope climb this year.

barbed wire crawl

Of course it’s not a Spartan Race without a barbed wire crawl in some thick Georgia clay mud. Soon after the low crawl was the slip wall. Between the slip wall and the next obstacle the sandbag carry was where the terrain got a little fun. They had us dredge through a new area that they haven’t in past races, wading through knee-deep water and going through tunnels. It was a nice change of scenery.

Finish line photo taken by Jonathan Mathieu

The finish was near with only a few obstacles left, we left the woods and made our way back to the festival area for all the spectators to watch. There was a great viewing area for the spectators, they were able to see the Hercules hoist, the multi-rig, the 2nd barbed wire and of course the fire jump.

Overall, this was a great race. It was a beautiful venue; Spartan Race did a great job of spreading out the obstacles and used the terrain wisely. Packet pick-up was a breeze and the wait for a parking spot was minimal. Friends and family had great views of racers completing obstacle or doing their burpee penalties. With the rate that OCR is growing and all the new racers that join each year, I can’t wait to see what Spartan Race will bring to Atlanta next year.

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Conquer the King II Review

With OCR season officially off to a start, Conquer the King II was a great local Georgia race to test your skills. Conquer the King II was held at the OCR King Compound in Dallas, Georgia. The OCR King Compound is a “backyard” obstacle training center with trails and plenty of obstacles to play on, and they also offer bootcamps and training classes for those that want it.

When arriving for the event, parking was held down the street at the Silver comet trail parking, and people were shuttled to the race site. The shuttle made trips throughout the whole day, with a sweet smiling driver making rounds. The shuttle dropped you off in front of house, with several large obstacles to the left. At first glance, it was very deceiving because you can only see a few obstacles and not much else. After the course/event rules were explained it was clear that this event was not going to be easy.

Pro and Open wave rules

1 lap of the course is an awesome loop that starts out in a driveway of King Compound. Before you know it, however, you are behind the house, into the woods and running along some great technical terrain. The complete out and back is 1 mile. There’s even a bonus obstacle of a large cinder block carry while you are out there.

There were plenty of obstacles to choose from, and no penalties to worry about. Obstacles included : a rope climb, a rope traverse, monkey bars, 8ft wall, inverted wall, hercules hoist, tire pull, Z-wall, the weaver, a sternum checker, and King Compound’s pièce de ré·sis·tance. A 50 foot long monster, appropriately called RigZilla.  Lots of obstacles to choose to fulfill every OCR racers desire…or nightmare!

King Compound Trails

 

After each trail lap is completed, you were required to do 3 obstacles that are laid out over a stretch of “side yard”. For the pro laps, the obstacles were assigned. For instance, the first lap you were given a red band, so after you did a 1 mile trail run, you complete three obstacles marked with a red sign. After you finished that lap, you would go to the event tent and get a new color band and run another 1 mile trail loop again.  This continued for a 3 hour time period.

 

The open waves were at 12pm, 1pm and 2pm. Racers completing the open wave would do the trail run, choose any 3 of the obstacles that they wanted to do, then turn in lap completion. Goal was to complete as many laps possible within 1 hour.

Overall, this was a great race that I highly recommend checking out. The volunteers were amazing and helpful. Every obstacle I went to complete, there was someone to spot me, or just cheer me on. The trails were clearly marked. Obstacles were difficult, yet sturdy and well made. Justin Rose, Cody King, and Chrissy O’Neal- The OCR King Compound founders – did an amazing job at organizing and putting on this race. It’s called the toughest mile in OCR for a reason. This little race, with a big heart, is a great OCR to add to any level of athletes schedule.

OCR King Compound Co-founders with Male and Female first place winners Chris Acuff and Rachel Watters

Editor’s Note – When the King Compound put on its first race last year, they had only laid out 1/4 mile of running track around the house, and RigZilla had yet to be built. It was still well reviewed. That first race is reviewed here.

Spartan Agoge: What you should know

Agoge 000

When the Death Race and Spartan separated ways, Spartan Race gave birth to a new endurance event called the Agoge (pronounced Uh-go-gee). They have had only one Agoge event, held in the Fall of 2015, as sort of an experimental event. That class was composed of 7 civilians and 15 West Point military cadets.

With only one Agoge event in the books for Spartan Race, there isn’t a whole lot of information about what to expect at this event. Is the Agoge just a gentler, kinder Death Race? Or is it going to be more difficult than past Death Races?

Since I’m on a journey to obtain my Spartan Delta, I wanted to find out what to expect and how I should train for the Spartan Agoge. So I tracked down 3 Spartan Agoge class 000 finishers to get more information. I was able to speak with Andi Hardy, Alexander Ouellet, and Scott Gregor about their Agoge experiences. I asked each of them the same questions and was able to get some great information, without breaking their codes of silence. Hopefully, this will help anyone who chooses to do a future Spartan Agoge event.

Spartan Agoge Class 000

WHAT MAKES THE AGOGE SPARTAN RACE DIFFERENT FROM A DEATH RACE?

HARDY: It’s more team oriented. Think of it as “Death Race meets Hurricane Heat” It’s the best components of both events put together.

OUELLET: “A Death race is about breaking people. Agoge is about building better people.”

GREGOR: Death race had unknown distance, tasks, and duration. Knowing the duration makes this event more bearable. “Agoge”s tasks have a purpose…the tasks are meant to reinforce the principles outlined in the Spartan X training. Unlike the Death race, staff wants people to finish.”

ON THE REGISTRATION PAGE, IT RECOMMENDS BRINGING 1 WEEK OF FOOD.  WHAT DID YOU BRING?

HARDY: They took all my food away. I had no control over my food.

OUELLET: I didn’t have food because it was taken. But, MRE’s are a good idea.

GREGOR: “Class 000 was a beta test class and slightly different than how future Agoge events will be held.” There was a strict gear list, and food was not on the list, so it was confiscated at the beginning. Food was provided at staff’s discretion.

60 HOURS IS A LONG TIME. DID YOU GET ANY SLEEP DURING THE EVENT?

HARDY: Our Agoge was 48 hours. Not much, random 5-10 minute naps.

OUELLET: “We were able to steal a very minor amount of sleep, maybe an hour total.”

GREGOR: There was a small sleep break towards the end of the event, don’t count on this…you may not get one.

DID YOU CARRY EVERYTHING WITH YOU EVERYWHERE, OR DID YU DROP YOUR RUCKS OFF SOMEWHERE TO DO CHALLENGES?

HARDY: Only bring what you need. You pretty much carry all your stuff, all the time.

OUELLET: Get used to carrying heavy stuff everywhere.

GREGOR: “I can only recall one task where we didn’t have our gear on our backs.” We carried our gear everywhere.

Agoge Log CarryCAN YOU DESCRIBE ANY OF THE TASKS THAT YOU HAD TO DO INDIVIDUALLY OR AS A TEAM?

HARDY: A lot of manual labor, some fun stuff, and some stuff where you had to trust others with your life. But, I can’t really say specific tasks we did.

OUELLET: “Sometimes you were evaluated on your own performance, sometimes it’s a team task and your team is evaluated on your collective performance.”

GREGOR: Almost all the tasks were team oriented; we stayed together most of the time.

HOW WOULD YOU RECOMMEND SOMEONE PREPARE FOR AN AGOGE EVENT?

HARDY: Get used to time on your feet and doing “sucky things.” Train in the dark or at night. Train long and lots of hill training to prepare your legs and ankles.

OUELLET: “Sandbag workouts are your friend.” Work on your strength; then work on speed.

GREGOR: “Mostly just a hike with a heavy pack while getting creative with some extra PT or carrying other heavy stuff during the hike. This training session could be a 12-hour Hurricane Heat.” Being a well-rounded athlete is crucial to the Agoge.

WHEN YOU FINISHED, HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THE AGOGE?

HARDY: I was happy, sad, confused…mixed emotions about it. “The experience kept on post-event” because it was life changing.

OUELLET: “I learned a ton and think it’s fully worth doing.” I will be doing Agoge 001 in February and 002 in June as well.

GREGOR: “I was happy to finish since I could now get some food and sleep. I was sad that the event was over since I would soon leave me endurance event friends.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER COMPLETED AN AGOGE OR DEATH RACE BEFORE?

HARDY: Plan for the weekend to suck, it’s not a vacation. Tell yourself, “Monday will come” and “I’m going to get through this weekend.”

OUELLET: Focus on the given task, not what the next task will be. It’s only temporary.

GREGOR: “Live in the moment.” Don’t worry about how hard the next task will be, that will overwhelm you. For equipment, trekking poles are helpful and gloved are great for cold weather events.

GIVEN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN?

HARDY: Yes, it was a great experience. There are a lot of races on my 2016 schedule, so maybe in the summer or next year.

OUELLET: Yes. “I’m doing 001 and 002”

GREGOR: “Yes, I would do it again. I don’t feel as if I completed the whole thing since class 000 was 48 hours long and there is a 60-hour option.”

I hope the questions I asked these 3 previous Agoge class 000 finishers help you all. Without knowing what exactly to expect at the event, I do expect the weekend to suck and to come away with life a changing experience. Surviving the suckfest of the Spartan Agoge will probably be my biggest achievement and I can’t wait. I am going to train hard not only physically, but mentally as well in order to prepare for the Spartan Agoge class 002 this summer. I hope to see you there!