Norm Koch Leaves Spartan Race

Norm Koch Spartan Race

Norm Koch has been a familiar face at Spartan Race since 2012. Many of us encountered him at the first ever Spartan Ultra Beast in Killington, VT. in September of that year. Back then, he was one of the only full time race directors at Spartan. He was known to design courses that tested athletes in ways that surpassed their limits. He is a visionary in the realm of obstacle course design and execution.

Participants developed a love, hate relationship with his particular style of torture.  In turn they birthed the battle cry , “EFF NORM!” This infamous cry became the racers mantra and echoed through courses (and Facebook) around the country.

His Spartan journey began as an early participant (and finisher) of the now defunct Death Races. He soon began working for Joe, and grew shortly thereafter into an iconic race director. He informed me yesterday that he is leaving Spartan Race.

These are his words:

So its finally happening, I will not be representing Spartan moving forward. My opinions and ideas are mine and mine alone. Muhahahah

I would like to thank most of the Spartan Staff for the opportunity to work with everyone on the team. We have had some good times. I will miss the build crews and a few of the office people. The best has been meeting all the volunteers and competitors. It’s been so cool to find so many like-minded people.

I do love seeing everyone at races no matter what the race series is. I am looking forward to being more supportive of OCR community.

• I would say I’m leaving Spartan, not OCR.

• My ideas and Spartan have changed, I feel an inability to make the changes that I wanted to due to the size of the company

• Everyone knows I’m proud of being part of Spartan since the early days and help shaped its growth over the years.

• I love Spartan and it will always be a part of me, literally my calf tattoo is representative of my Death Race participation – The good old days.

• This is not me leaving the sport moreover me looking to do something new.

• I would love to do something like designing courses for existing series and working with their brands to offer signature courses,

Starting a new series where I have complete creative control over the process is my goal. Any investors feel free to hit me up…. hahahaha.

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!

Death Race 2013 Updates

 

Death Race updates

Summer Death Race 2013-The Year of the Gambler

While we continue to upload and edit the hours of footage, here Joe Desena discusses his “Extreme Gardening Workshop”

Stairway To

Extreme Gardening Workshopshort

 

 

We have hours of DR coverage and interviews being edited now. Here is a sneak peak of Joe Desena addressing racers, some who wanted to quit, Sunday morning at the 2-3 mile swim.

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Stay tuned as we bring you the rest of the coverage…

June 25, 2013  1:45pm

Peak Races has officially declared the placement of the first 5 men and the top (and only) women for the 2013 Summer Death Race.

Your winners are:

Olof Death Race

This was Olof 36 hours in on Saturday Night. It would take him another 38 hours to earn his 4th skull.

Male: PJ Rakoski (2nd DR Skull)  Female: Camille Adams (First DR Skull)

The remaining top placers are:

Men

2) Ken Lubin (1st Skull)

3) Don Schwartz (2nd Skull)

4) Olof Dallner (4th Skull) (May be only human with 4 Skulls, we are working on to confirm)

5) Will Bowden

Women
2) Stacie Preston  (First Skull)

3) Amelia Boone (Her 3rd Skull)

4) Shelly Koenig (Last Summer’s DR winner, her 2nd Skull)

(only 4 women received skulls)

We are still working on a list of all men and women who received skulls for this year’s event.

We may eventually get a list of “non quitters” who got bibs as well, but that is not in stone.

In the meantime, if you haven’t seen the now famous “Todd Sedlak Quits The Death Race” video, here is your chance.

 

June 23, 2013  11:30pm

A lot has happened today. Most of which can be found on our twitter feed @obstaclemedia.

We will have lots of photos and will catch you up in detail as much as we can in a later post.

For now, you need to know the last challenge of the evening is called The Fitness Challenge which takes place at the poolhouse on Joe’s farm.

When racers arrive they draw a card. The card corresponds to some physical exercise they have to do. (100 burpees, 100 squats, 5 minute plank, etc). They do the exercise, then come back and draw another card. They do this a total of 13 times.

So far there are 15 people who have completed all 13 exercises. These people are now the leaders in the race. Here they are in the order that they finished .

1. PJ Rakoski

2. Donn Schwartz

3. Ken Lubin

4. Olof Dallner

5. Pierre Luc Tremblay

6. Camille Adams

7. Stacie Preston

8. Amelia Boone

9. Alfred Esposito

10. Jeff “Tire Guy” Foster

11. Adam Snider

12. Steven Olivarr

13. Will Bowden

14. Roupen

15. Shelly Koenig

These people were told that the next challenge in the morning will be at The Casino. The Casino is closed until 6:00 a.m. So they can sleep or do whatever they want until then.

There are another 25 or so people also currently doing the exercises. We are not sure how they will handle the remainder of the participants who are somewhere between here and the previous challenge which was the Iron Mine Casino. We assume there will be a cutoff.

 

June 23, 2013  1:30am

Here is the latest list of DNF’s that we believe is 95% accurate.

Aaron McMahon
Adam Lieb
Adam Pichet
Anastasia Drew
Ande Wegner
Andrew Koenig
Angela Emily
Anthony Puntel
Barclay Williamson
Benjamin Sexton
Bill Schlageter
Brian Bresee
Carol Vavrock
Chris Rubino
Christopher Bertini
Christopher Kappil
Christopher Simister
Christopher Sterling
Commodore Mann
Craig Vavrock
Daniel Dodson
Daniel Ricci
Darrel Wurzbach
David Copper
Doug Bowman
Eric Olsen
Erick Garcia
Erick Olsen
Ericka Spelko
Franck Yelles
Gabriel Berkey
Gary Duncan
Hugh Tower Pierce
J.Lee Hoffman
Jacob Bean
James Althaus
James Korak
James Lehner
Jason Bence
Jason Harsayne
Jean Francois Morin
Jeff Fruhwirt
Jeff Mcaslin
Jeremy Jenkins
Jim Goundry
Joe Benoit
John Darling
John Pollock
John Ruane
Kristopher Cicowski
Lance Sanson
Louis Turnbull
Mark Harvey
Matthew Fullum
Matthew Zupan
Michael Mills
Michael Moore
Mike Miller
Mike Sandercock
Nele Schulze
Oliver Butler
Pierre Svartman
Rhett Pyrdum
Rob Genzlinger
RT Kaufman
Ryan Washington
Sabastian Ewerfzumrode
Stephen Reid
Steve Pigott
Stuart Klaas
Timothy Byker
Timothy Francis
Todd Sedlak
William Betteridge
Zoltan Torrico

 

June 23, 2013  12:30am

At around 8:00pm, all the racers left gathered at Riverside Farm. Many had been there for hours having gotten through the various tasks in plenty of time. We also watched a few make it just in time. The ones who had been there a while had time to change clothes, eat a meal and spend some quality time with family. It was for the most part a joyous occasion.

Andy Weinberg came around at about 10 minutes past and reminded them of what was next.

There were others would did not arrive to Riverside until after 8:00pm. Those latecomers were told they were out of the race. Some of them asked to get back in. If they opted to, they could hike up to Roger’s which was 3 miles away. There, they could do chores with others who had been quarantined there all day for various penalties. None of these people at Roger’s know if they are ever going to get out and get to join the Death Race again. They may be put to work for all those hours, then sent home anyway. It’s the year of the gambler, and the racers all know this so no one should be surprised regardless of the outcome.

Andy then gave a speech where he told them they were going to hike for 30 miles. They were told if they are the first to get to the end they can rest. They are going for a 3 mile swim in the morning, but not until the sun comes up. So if you get there early, you can relax and do whatever.

At that point, a few more people dropped out. Then, the remaining 117 or so left Riverside. Almost right after it started to rain. This caused a few more immediate dropouts.

The last count we have as of this writing is 110 still in the race with 15-17 of those at Roger’s doing special tasks and not on the main trail to Blood Root.

Here are several photos from around that time.

 

June 22, 2013  7:45pm

This morning consisted of planting grass and hay bales as the finishing touch to the steps they built last night/this morning.

Next was hours of splitting wood and carrying logs. Then, the racers had to walk with a rock all the way from Amee Farm to Tweed Road carrying a large rock. Then, they had to hike all the way up Tweed where they would meet Peter at a little card table.Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.21.54 PM They had to go through a very intense stretch of barbed wire to retrieve a playing card. Then come back up and present it to Peter. Peter would then draw a “random” card from his deck. If the racers card was higher, they were given a chip and could head back down to Riverside for a break. If their card was lower, they had to crawl back through the barbed wire to get another card.

It didn’t take long to figure out the athletes would lose more than they would win. Everyone came back up with a 2,3,4, or 5. Peter always drew a 6 or higher. The rules were after the first two “card fetches”, you could lose your pack and just go through by without it.

We watched several experienced racers including Mark Webb, get very frustrated after losing this game time after time. Thank goodness 5 times was the maximum number they could go down without moving on either way.

They were told be back at Riverside by 8pm (dusk) for the first major cutoff. We will see what happens then. So far, Joe and Andy have kept their word for the most part. This includes allowing people to rest at Riverside if they did the card/barbed wire challenge and had enough time. We saw many relaxing who were taking advantage of this.

As of now 55 are out of the race. We will see what happens at the dusk cutoff. We are told those who make it to the cutoff will then be rewarded with a 30 mile hike.

Stay tuned for more updates on facebook and twitter.

For now, here are a few more photos.

Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.22.17 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.22.28 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.22.55 PM

 

Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.24.48 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.24.33 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.23.56 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.23.34 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.23.25 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.23.15 PM

June 22, 2013  1:05am

Here are several photos from a hike up the mountain we took with Joe DeSena inspecting the work of the Death Racers. Some of the participants were doing brute force work moving some massive rocks up the mountain. Some were doing excruciating detailed work.  Digging current rocks out, digging around them, getting them placed properly. Neither job looks like a lot of fun, but most we found were in really good spirits.

Last we heard they will keep going until its finished or 5:00am. Click the photos for a closer look.

 

 

June 21, 2013  11:55pm

As promised, the participants have spent the last 8 plus hours building the never ending stone staircase all the way up the side of the mountain starting at Riverside Farm. We walked the length of the trail with Joe DeSena as he inspected their work. Some was up to par, a lot of it wasn’t, which brings us to our 2nd audio bonus clip of the weekend.

A few hours into the daunting task of building all these steps, athletes were allowed to leave and go buy food for themselves and their teammates. I asked Joe why he was being so nice to them. This is his response.   130621_018

June 21, 2013  5:30pm

At 2pm, all of the participants were gathered up for a big speech by Joe and Andy. Many of them (including the veterans

Joe and Andy explain it all, sort of.

Joe and Andy explain it all, sort of.

that had been taken away earlier that morning) had been working on the “Stairway to Heaven”. A staircase made of giant rocks going 1 mile up and covering 1,000 feet of elevation.  Little did they know that the next task would be more of the same, we will get back to that.  For now, here is the highlights of the 2:00pm “start of the race” speech.

  • Any chips received for work done yesterday with Don Devaney were now null and void because the Devaney Casino went bankrupt
  • The first cutoff is going to be at Riverside Farm at dusk tomorrow (Saturday) night
  • The next cutoff is Sunday at Noon-Top 100 people continue
  • The next cutoff is Sunday afternoon-Top 40 people continue
  • You will need x amount of cards and x amount of chips (plus your tux) to be considered a finisher and get a skull
  • They are serious about cutoffs this year.
  • If you drop out between now and 8pm, you can go straight home. If you drop out after that, you won’t get your keys for 6 hours after drop out so that you can nap prior to leaving for safety reasons
  • If you finish a task early, you can nap in the “pony barn”
  • Teams then broke into groups of 10
  • Groups may have a chance to vote you out of their group at some point for not working hard(more details will be given later)
  • They only have 40 skulls, when they get down to 40 the race is over
  • You may get a chance to get back in if you miss a time cutoff. There is no guarantee, but you may get a chance to get back in by doing various chores for Roger who lives on a nearby mountain.
  • Your support crew can do hard work with you, (ie building the staircase) but they can’t carry your pack, etc.
  • If you finish in 24 hours, you get $100,000

Bonus audio clip: This is what the chaos sounded  like shortly after Joe and Andy stopped talking. 130621_011

The participants then began the task of finishing the “Stairway to Heaven” which will take them all night.

 

Eagerly awaiting instructions from above

Eagerly awaiting instructions from above

 

Stones

Stones

 

Breaking it up

Breaking it up

 

Gathering Rocks

Gathering Rocks

 

Winter DR winner Nele Schulze carrying rocks

Winter DR winner Nele Schulze carrying buckets of stones up the hill

_________________________________________________

June 21, 2013    1:40pm

Here is where we are right now.

These two check everyone in.

These two check everyone in.

Registration took place from 6:00am-9:00am.

Racers checked in and were sent on a short hike to Andy’s house. When they got there, they were met by his 11 year old daughter Jade were they had to roll dice or spin a dreidel to determine a small amount of burpees they would have to do.

After that, they were asked to do a variety of chores such as breaking up rocks into pebbles, digging a ditch, etc. Since many of the DR veterans did not show up until closer to 9:00am. They were punished for “sandbagging it”. So Joe and Andy sent all of the  previous death race finishers out to do some extra chores elsewhere. We have not seen them since.

One particular veteran, Todd Sedlak showed up a few minutes after 9:00am and was punished

Todd Sedlak explains why he showed up at 10 past 9.

Todd Sedlak explains why he showed up at 10 past 9.

with 1,000 burpees. After chores at Andy’s, the rest of the competitors (the official count for starters is 194), were sent up and over Joe’s mountain back down to Amee Farm. At that checkpoint, they were handed a poker chip with a number on it. From there, they were sent back down to Riverside to wait for “the race to start” at 2pm.

We are assuming this is where we will be reunited with all of the veterans who were being punished elsewhere.

Stay tuned on Facebook and Twitter for more updates. In the meantime, here are some photos from this morning’s action.

 

Smashing Rocks

Smashing Rocks

Michael Mills gets his bib and sweatshirt.

Michael Mills gets his bib and sweatshirt.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Pak does burpees for cursing.

Pak does burpees for cursing.

Peter Borden, one of 3 people that know everything, stands with his wife and Norm Koch.

Peter Borden, one of 3 people that knows everything, stands with his wife and Norm Koch.

 

Death Race vets off for extra chores.

Death Race vets off for extra chores.

 

 

 

__________________________________________________

June 20, 2013 | 11:53pm

We spent some time with veteran death racers at a couple of pre race pasta parties earlier this evening. The mood was jovial for most (veterans) and a little frightful for others (newbies).

Registration was officially announced to be between 6:00am-9:00am tomorrow (Friday). I asked several veterans if they thought it was better to show up later or earlier. The overwhelming majority said “later” banking on the notion that earlier means “doing extra work”. We will find out if they are going to be rewarded or punished for that decision here in a few hours.

In the meantime, enjoy these moments we caught on the eve of the official start of the Death Race.

Anthony Matesi and Daren De Heras. Two "Unofficial" 2012 finishers back for redemption.

Anthony Matesi and Daren De Heras. Two “Unofficial” 2012 finishers back for redemption.

 

The one and only Mark Webb

The one and only Mark Webb

Will they be smiling tomorrow?

Will they be smiling tomorrow?

 

Cornfed meets NESpahten. While not strangers to the world of death race, this is their first official attempt.

Cornfed meets NESpahten. While not strangers to the world of death race, this is their first official attempt.

 

4.5 hours of hard work earned you this from Don Devaney.

 

June 20, 2013 | 1:35pm

On Wednesday a call went out to let Death Racers know that they could earn an extra chip if they showed up at 7:00am today

(Thursday). 35 participants from all over the US (all first timer Death Racers) were met by Don Devaney who led them through a small taste of what is to come this weekend. They spend 4 and a half hours doing several tasks. The first was moving heavy beams of wood from Trailside to Riverside, which is about 6.5 miles. Some of them were then asked to count what amounted to 63,000 pieces of broken glass while others removed nails out of the beams of wood.

They all earned one chip.

How much will this chip be worth in the grand scheme of the race? Something? Nothing? Everything? We shall see.

4.5 hours of hard work earned you this from Don Devaney.

 

June 18, 2013

The updates will begin Thursday night, June 20, 2013 and end when

a) the last person finishes OR

b) the last person drops and no one finishes OR

c) when Joe and Andy fall asleep.

Come back early and often to see how your favorite Death Racers are doing.

 

 

The Glamazon Returns to Pittsfield

Endurance athlete Laura Svette, affectionately known as Glamazon West, will make her triumphant return to Pittsfield, Vermont this weekend for the 2013 Summer Death Race.

For those new to the fold, The Death Race is a 48-72 contest of endurance. Participants are asked to do a number of physical or mental tasks. Any one of which would be enough for one person’s workout for the entire weekend. The Death Race is all about finishing. Most participants don’t. Of the hundreds that have participated in past Summer and Winter Death Race, only 15% finish. Those proud 15% do not walk away with fabulous cash and/or prizes. Just the pride of being called a finisher and a tiny skull.

Laura Svette Death Racer

Laura back when she was called Lola.

Laura was born and raised in a small farm town Bainbridge, OH. She later played collegiate volleyball at university of Virginia. Her potential pro volleyball career was cut short by injury.

She got acquainted with the Death Race after meeting some like minded athletes back in 2011. She eventually teamed up with Katy McCabe and formed Team Glamazon. They were 2 women determined to make it through together, unfortunately  they did not. Laura took herself out at hour 34. She told us “DNF changes you, teaches you about yourself,  your limits, your goals”. She was set for redemption in 2012 but suffered an achilles rupture just months before the race. “It was devestating to not go back, prove myself and be with all the amazing racers and friends I had made”.

Since then she has trained harder than ever as an avid runner, volleyball player, and crossfitter. This past February, she competed in the world’s first 70k Survival Run.  It was “only” 20 hours and was great Death Race practice. Some said the event, although much shorter, was on par with the misery/ecstasy of a Death Race experience. She was one of only a few women to compete and outlasted she several male competitors

She said she is very much looking forward to getting back on the mountain with all of your insane friends in Pittsfield. She specifically mentioned Kristopher Cisowski. She told us  “We found eachother on the course and raced most of the 2011 DR together. This year we go back to finish”

We asked what is going to be different this year versus what happened in 2011. She said “Mentally I know I am stronger. Am I the best i can be? Certainly not, we all have weaknesses and can always be better”.

“I have had to overcome many emotional challenges in my life, and now I am physically changed with 2 surgically repaired achilles. I have learned to accept that I am no longer a quick young volleyball stud that can jump out of a gym or run fast. I accept what my body can give me daily and I still work hard. I never hesitate to take on new challenges”.

Survival Run Laura Svette

Laura at the Survival Run with DR Legend Johnny Waite.

Want to know everything that is going/went down in Pittsfield this weekend? Check out more Death Race updates.