Spartan Race Boston Sprint 2016: Built For Runners & Bovine Manure!!

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Photo Courtesy of Brandon Narciso

While the Spartan Pro Team and other highly ranked Elite Spartan Racers had their sights locked on the large payout and potential face-time on NBC courtesy of the Golden State Classic Super in Monterey California; many North Region Spartan hopefuls toed the line this weekend with dreams of conquering obstacles and claiming their one-way coin West to the Spartan World Championship in October.

SpartanRaceBostonSprint2016-Map Photo Courtesy of Brandon Narciso

The 5.2 mile runners dream came true with just Hay Walls and Monkey Bars in the first mile followed by a few additional walls and sporatic obstacles in the second mile. The proverbial cherry on top revealed itself in mile three where A net, A-frame, and A speedbump of a Sandbag Carry helped these speedsters continue to crush all 15,840 feet of the course thus far.  The Rolling Mud with Dunk Wall and Barbed Wire Crawl of Mile 4 provided little resistance for the sprinters however the obstacle assault of the last half mile bogged down the racers with the Herc Hoist, Rope Climb, Bucket Brigade, Spearman, followed by the Atlas Carry to finish the course but…too little too late for those who favor the physical demands of the obstacles over the faster pace of uninterrupted mileage.

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Photo Courtesy of Nelson “Runaway” Diaz

To add insult to injury, the 80+ degree heat and hives, reportedly from the hay, did not make things any easier. Translation: Other dreams were simply buried in the bovine manure surrounding the Carter & Stevens Dairy Farm. Yes, my dream included.

SpartanRaceBostonSprint2016-bovine Photo Courtesy of Nelson “Runaway” Diaz

The Saturday Elite male landslide, all from Massachusettes, consisted of Ryan Kempson 1st, Junyong Pak 2nd, and Joshua Fiore 3rd of Nor’Easter OCR who now owns a streak of 3 podium finishes in 3 weeks including 2nd at the Endurance Society Infinitus 88k and 3rd at the Bone Frog New England.

For the Saturday Elite females Kathleen Lanphear, Orla Marie Walsh, and Nicole FitzGerald finished 1st through 3rd respectively.

The Sunday Elite Male heat re-introduced the Nor’Easter OCR storm to the Spartan Race community led by Kiaran McCormack 1st, Michael Miraglia 2nd, and Shane Leighton 3rd.

While the Elite females kept it in high gear with Debbie Koch 1st, Kelly Sullivan 2nd (also of Nor’Easter OCR), and Serra Langone 3rd.

Could this race have uncovered an underdog in the Nor’Easter OCR Pro-Team for us to rally behind? The fact is that at least 5 of their members have qualified for the Spartan World Championship at this race alone, and there is still plenty of time for the rest of their team to earn some coin. Do they have enough to upset the Spartan Pro-Team? Can Nor’Easter OCR run with the big dogs or just bark from the porch? Time will reveal.

Spartan inspiration provided by Adaptive athlete Misty Diaz at the rope climb reminded us that we have officially run out of excuses for our laziness…again.

SpartanRaceBostonSprint2016-MistyDiaz Photo Courtesy of Spartan Race

A friend recently reminded me that most of us understand fear of failure and some of us are accustomed to living with that fear. At the same time, some of us have a genuine fear of success and are accustomed to living with this fear. Fear of success is equally real and a true hindrance to our God-created potential. Fear in any form and for any reason is futile. However, there is a reason to fear NOT – so find it – and be prepared to be amazed on the Spartan course but more importantly throughout the course of your life. #inspiresomebody

HESCO Bone Frog Challenge New England 2016

If you haven’t run a Bone Frog Challenge before… you’re doing OCR wrong.

I could simply end the review there but for those of you who still aren’t convinced, let me spend the next 840 words changing your mind.

Former Navy SEAL Brian Carney’s HESCO Bone Frog Challenge, now in it’s fourth year, has attracted the likes of OCR heavyweights Hobie Call, Junyong Pak, Amelia Boone, Cody Moat, Josh Chace and more. Why haven’t you heard about it? Well, if you’re an OCR enthusiast and not just a single brand-loyal racer (Spartan AROO’er, Mudder, or that other Frog), hopefully you have. Nestled deep within the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts, the HESCO Bone Frog Challenge started in 2013 and then expanded to several other locations in the last few years – also launching the Bone Frog Championships, a 6-mile obstacle intense course for  all the marbles at the end of the year. Now when I say “obstacle intense”, I mean that HESCO Bone Frog Challenge has some of the most challenging and original obstacles in the industry today, hands down.

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Before we talk obstacles, let’s look at the choice of distances offered. HESCO Bone Frog Challenge has expanded it’s offerings in the last few years in an attempt to draw the hardcore OCR enthusiasts as well as capture the folks new to the industry. In New England this past weekend, they offered the following race options:

Sprint – 5K
Challenge – 9 Mile
Tier 1 – 12+ Mile

I opted for the Tier 1 course because I can not get enough of Bone Frog’s obstacles. From their extra-high sternum checker (appropriately named the ‘Dirty Name’ because people are constantly swearing as they round the corner towards this thing) to the highest monkey bars you’ll ever do (also conveniently placed directly in front of the festival area for maximum exposure). Bone Frog crams 40 great non-filler style obstacles into their Challenge and 20+ into their Sprint. You get the usual rope climbs, hoists, wall climbs and more but intertwined between those staples in OCR are some amazing hurdles. A tyrolean traverse over a freezing cold lake – that was only after two previous submersions atop Berkshire East. Great upper body testers like handhold monkey bars, some Ninja Warrior style grip traverses that have still defeated me after 3 years and walls that range from A-frame style, to traverse and inverted options – but it was the Stairway to Valhalla that deserves honorable mention today. Each mountain course typically has what the racers like to refer to as a ‘Death March’. A hike that looks like a crowd of zombies from The Walking Dead is slowly walking up, single file. Last years Stairway was only about 350 feet and started more than halfway up the mountain – well Robb McCoy (of F.I.T. Challenge fame), who was brought on as Co-Race Coordinator this year, decided that this needed to be stepped up a notch or twelve. If you don’t know Robb, know this: Robb McCoy loves hills like I love post-race McDonald’s cheeseburgers (see):

And Robb uses every foot of a hill to beat, batter and bully his racers – in a good way, of course! The Stairway to Valhalla this year started at the base of the mountain and went straight up 800 feet of elevation and over half a mile in distance. If you opted for the Tier 1 race, you had the dubious distinction of climbing this beast twice. Thanks Robb. My calves look epic now thanks to you.

Bone Frog got a little extra boost of exposure this year thanks to Mr. Hobie Call. You may recall that Hobie challenged Ryan Atkins  earlier this month (and took the title of UnBFeated away from Mr. Atkins in quite an upset). Never satisfied, Hobie then moved on to challenge 2x reigning Bone Frog Challenge winner Junyong Pak and wouldn’t you know it, he handily slayed that dragon today as well.

13260062_10100643111022330_100897026324349499_n Photo courtesy: Yvette Tetrault on Facebook

All of this made for a great day at Bone Frog Challenge and hopefully a day worth inspiring more racers to attend in the weeks and months to come. I promise you, this is an event worth marking on your calendar – they’ve got five events left in 2016, seen here: http://www.bonefrogchallenge.com/events/

The event wasn’t without it’s small share of logistical missteps: unfortunately UPS decided not to drop off the race shirts until after the course had shut down, so racers will be getting those in the mail in the follow days/weeks. Beyond that, Bone Frog has mastered the parking, festival, spectator areas and food/vendor balance at a relatively small resort at Berkshire East. What they do have is an AMAZING mountain full of challenging terrain and a staff that truly loves building some of those most amazing obstacles in the industry. They were also all over the course throughout the day calling in requests for more water at plentiful water stops, and there to help out the few that needed medical attention.

To top it all off, at the end of the race, you are handed your medals by a tried and true Navy SEAL – for me it was from a gentleman who had served from 1977 to 2006. Bone Frog really knows how to pay respect to the folks who share the race’s namesake. Bravo. In summary: A++++ would do business with again!

HESCO Bone Frog - Finish Line

HESCO Bone Frog - Course

HESCO Bone Frog - Obstacle

Bone Frog Challenge Discount Code

Bone Frog Challenge Discount Code

Five questions for World’s Toughest Mudder 2016

World's Toughest Mudder Black and White

Tough Mudder held its fifth annual “World’s Toughest Mudder” race last month. World’s Toughest Mudder is the final event on the Tough Mudder calendar and is widely known as the most difficult championship race in Obstacle Course Racing. It is a 24 hour race on a five mile looped course with 21 obstacles each lap. This years course was considered to be one of the most difficult Tough Mudder has held.

Following the victories by Chad Trammell, Amelia Boone, and Team Sinergy, and as we look forward to WTM 2016, here are five questions we would love to have answered.

1. Can Junyong Pak win another WTM? Can he FINISH another one?
Junyong Pak Is Cold

Junyong Pak became a bit of a legend in the Tough Mudder community by winning the first two WTM’s ever held and finishing second in year three to a rookie named Ryan Atkins.

However, in 2014, Pak had his first truly disappointing performance at a World’s Toughest Mudder. He finished with “only” 45 miles and his first WTM DNF. Atkins repeated as champion with 95 miles. 

For the 2015 race, Atkins and several other strong racers moved to the team division, leaving the perfect opportunity for Pak to reclaim his throne, but it would not happen this year. Pak had his second WTM DNF in a row, leaving with 50 miles.

We won’t know the answer to this question until November of 2016, but here’s a hint: This past December, Pak raced in the inaugural Viper 2 Four race in Malaysia. Viper 2 Four is the only 24-hour race in Asia. Pak won the race handily, completing 87 miles. The race was held during monsoon season in Malaysia and two hours were lost when they stopped the race because of lightning strikes.

The competition at WTM will be more intense and more skilled than Viper 2 Four, but I would never bet against Junyong Pak.

2. Will Amelia Boone 3-peat?
Amelia Boone Gutting It Out

Amelia Boone has won the past two WTM’s and three of the past four. In 2012, she was nine minutes shy of winning first place overall, narrowly losing to Junyong Pak. She is unquestionably the most dominant WTM racer in the women’s division and maybe overall. Tim Ferriss recently called her “The Michael Jordan of Obstacle Course Racing”. When they sell tickets to World’s Toughest Mudder, they have to pay royalties to Boone because she OWNS this race.

But for how long?

Lindsay Webster, the best female racer not named Amelia Boone, told Matt B. Davis in a recent interview that she’s going to compete for the first time at WTM 2016. Webster had an amazing 2015. She won both the independent OCR World Championship and the Battlefrog Championship. She also placed second in the Spartan Race World Championship, finishing one minute and change ahead of Boone. 

World’s Toughest Mudder 2016 will be a great race.

3. Will Ryan Atkins keep chasing the $100k or go back to the individual category?
Ryan Atkins Leaping Logs

Tough Mudder and Cellucor announced a new prize this year: $100,000 to the winning team, but only if they completed 100 miles. 100 miles has only been reached once, by Ryan Atkins in 2013 when he had three guys on his tail who each finished with 95 miles. After winning the solo championship in 2013 and 2014 Atkins moved to the Team Division for 2015. His team, Sinergy Sports, won with 80 miles. Sinergy finished well ahead of second place but well behind its 100-mile goal.

First place in the solo division comes with a $10,000 prize. First place in the team division comes with a $12,000 prize split (at least) four ways. If you can’t reach 100 miles with a team, it’s much more profitable to go for 100 miles by yourself.

Atkins is recently engaged to Lindsay Webster. You can pay for quite a honeymoon with $100,000. Go for it Ryan!

4. Can the Wolfpack make a comeback?
Spartan Wolfpack on the WTM Podium

The Spartan Wolfpack entered the 2014 WTM unknown and if you asked them, disrespected. They won the WTM Team Division last year with 76 miles. For 2015, they were considered one of the favorites to make a run at the “$100,000 for 100 miles” team prize.

They had a disappointing race this year. One of their team members had an injury and the team was unable to finish the race. Wolfpack chose to disband in the middle of the night. Adding to the disappointment was Team Sinergy Sports’ winning with 80 miles, just above Wolfpack’s total from last year. The anticipated Wolfpack/Sinergy battle would have been great to watch if Wolfpack was at full health.

Wolfpack hasn’t announced their plans for 2016, but everyone loves a good comeback story. Come back fellas!

5. Who will win WTM 2016?
Nobody knows – but I’ll tell you.

First, the dark horse picks.
Men: Trevor Cichosz
Women: April Hartwig
Team: Getting Tough

Cichosz has finished in third and second in the last two WTM’s. 2016 could be his breakthrough year. Hartwig led the women for most of the 24 hours, before Boone passed her for the win, and will only be better next year. Getting Tough won second place last year and did it with six guys. If they trim down to four guys, they’ll be faster and could give Atkins and Sinergy Sports trouble.

My actual picks to win.
Men: Junyong Pak
Women: Amelia Boone
Team: Sinergy Sports

Yes – those are mostly favorites. Yes – Chad Trammell had an impressive win (and Trammell could easily repeat. He’s a stud!), but the way it looks now, these are my picks to win.

Here’s a bonus pick: Amelia Boone and Lindsay Webster are going to push each other hard. Whoever wins the battle between them will also finish in the top three overall.

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