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My era ends

8 years ago, and some of my gym buddies wanted to run this Spartan Race thing – the second Spartan ever, at Amesbury Sports Park. No “Sprints”, no trifectas and we didn’t even do burpees. None of us had any idea the rocket we were getting on, and where OCR would go.

6 years ago, I did the first year anniversary hurricane heat, two Sprint laps, and through a stroke of providence, met a whole bunch of amazing people and together, we founded the New England Spahtens. Right place, right time, indeed.

It was more work, more effort, more stress – with more ego’s and drama’s – and also more rewarding and fun and amazing than I could have anticipated – from running FB groups and pages, to setting up an e-commerce site, launching and operating a video series and a podcast, and operating #racelocal, supporting dozens of local OCRs … it was frequently fast paced chaos, and not everything ran smoothly. But it has been a blast.

A year ago, I made the decision to step back, and take my life down a new path. Running OCRs had lost it’s sparkle for me – I found myself frequently injured, and frequently away from my family at weekends. Coupled with a demanding day job that had me traveling mid week, I would land in Logan on a Friday and want nothing more than to spend the day with my loved ones, and not get up at 5am to drive somewhere to run another 5k OCR.

NES brought me so many amazing memories. So many amazing friends. We went from a few people sharing codes for race discounts, to a 501c7 organization that has raised money for Team Mike McNeil and others. We’ve clothed the homeless of Boston and seen individuals overcome personal demons, finish endurance races, earn medals and skulls- and I’ll always be proud of the part I’ve played in making that happen and bringing those experiences to people.

This last year, I’ve been spending my time moving daily operations over to the board, and this last few months stepping back almost entirely, and playing a support role. Long term, that’ll be what I do – when the board need technical help, I’ll help – and day to day decision making and operations (and the mistakes that will surely come with this learning curve!) will reside with them. Be patient. Give them your support – just like this last year, they are your elected board, so be engaged! The more involved YOU are, the better job THEY can do.

What next for me? I fully plan to be at the final Polar Bear Challenge – the best local race of the season, I believe, and Shale Hill’s swan song. For the foreseeable, it’ll be my final OCR. I’ve been so lucky to make so many good friends, we frequently have people from NES over at the house for smoked meats and drinks in the hot tub, and I hope those friendships last beyond OCR and NES. My brain will eventually latch onto another hobby, or project, and my life will be all consumed in a new direction – but until that happens – and I’m not looking for it, I’ll enjoy some piece and quiet.

A new era begins. “English” signing off.


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OCR World Championships *and* North American Championships have venues!

NA OCR Championships will be coming to Stratton, VT, August 10th-12th 2018
OCR World Championships will be going to Essex, UK, Oct 19th-21st 2018

Thats right – the North American OCR Championships will be in our *back yard*. New England, we won the OCR lottery 🙂

(personally, I’m thrilled the OCR WC is going to the UK, my home country!)

Who’s in? Sounds off in the comments …


NorAm OCR Championships 2018 Press Release

OCRWC 2018 Press Release

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Introducing, the 2018 NES Board

For the past several weeks, we have been accepting nominations, taking votes, and today we can finally introduce you to the New England Spahtens board that will lead the community through 2018.

But first, why have a board? Historically, we’ve had a small group of founders, who simply “admin’d” everything. In recent years, we involved enthusiastic regulars as Ambassadors who helped get stuff done, and spread the workload – as managing our community, our store, our #racelocal program and all the respective FB groups and social media outlets can somedays feel like a full time job.

So, we formed ourselves into a 501c7 (non-profit sports social club) and today, we announce our first fully elected board.

But first:

Thank you. To every single person who voted. It’s YOUR opinion that will drive the future of the NES community.
Thank you. To everyone who stood for a position, win or lose. Without your willingness to step up to the plate and lead, we wouldn’t have a strong community or strong board.
Thank you. To everyone who has helped us get here. From the original founders, who sat down at a Spartan Race way back in 2012 and said “what if?”, to the Ambassadors who have helped us progress, spread the workload, provided input on good (and terrible!) ideas as we’ve gone.

And those votes sure did count. 60% of our membership voted, and two of the contested positions came down to fewer than 10 votes.

Now, lets introduce you to the new, 2018 NES Board:

President: Paul Jones
Vice President: Kayleigh Elizabeth
Treasurer: Jessica Wohlen
Secretary: Sandy Rhee
Membership: Niki Leonard
Product: Hannah Hawley
#racelocal: Sean Martin
Social Media: Josh Chace
Training/Competitive: Kortney McKenzie
Youth: Shaina Brooks

and I look forward to working with each and every one of them!

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NES Puzzle – a TMM raffle!

Every now and then, we see something special and cool thats worth digging into. That happened the day I saw an order come in through the team store from Conrad, and his domain. What the heck is “newpuzzles”?

Turns out, he makes hand crafted jigsaw puzzles. And, they’re gorgeous.

and, we have one.

We commissioned Conrad Armstrong to make our famous New England Spahtens logo into a puzzle – and you could win it.
It’s a 41 piece puzzle, called “Spahten Pride” – and it’s truly one of a kind.

How can you win it? Simple – we’re always interested in supporting our friends at Team Mike McNeil – and if you donate $5 using this link, between now and Monday the 18th of September (Monday after Killington, 2017) – Mike Hastie will pull a random winner, and we’ll ship it on over.



Donate $5 (or multiples for more chances!)
Share with your friends!

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Ragnar Relay – whats all the fuss about?

This past weekend, I finished my third year of Ragnar Relay, Cape Cod. We run from Hull to P-Town, just shy of 190 miles as a team of 12.

The basics:

6 people per van, 2 vans per team. You go from person 1 to person 12, three times – and by the end, you’ll have run three times and anything from 15 to 25 (or more!) miles.

You start Friday morning, you finish Saturday afternoon – and yes, you run all night.

This isn’t my review of the 2017 Cape Cod Ragnar. You can find that here. This is my thoughts, feelings and guidance from several Ragnarians on how to best enjoy and experience Ragnar – especially if this is your first time as a team captain.

Because it is entirely possible to do it all wrong – and that will ruin your experience.

There are three things that will make, or break, your first Ragnar Experience.

  • Your ability.
  • Your attitude.
  • Your team captain (or if thats you, how you act as team captain).

Lets start out with the LEAST important one. Ability. Ragnar Relay is a running race, so you should be capable of running – however, it’s not necessarily competitive, so it doesn’t particularly matter how fast you run. What is important though, is that you are aware and honest about how fast you run. Ragnar will base your team start on the average running pace of the team, and your team mates will base their arrival at your exchanges on how fast they expect you to complete the leg. So if you run 11min/miles, put your time down as such – rather than pretending you are quicker, or getting in your own head and claiming you suck and run slower. Also, a team full of power walkers needs to know and prepare for a longer time on the course, than a team of hyper fast, competitive athletes. Be honest with yourself and your team.

Lets move onto the most important – your attitude. Because this, and this alone is what will ruin your experience. You are going to be running three times. You are going to be hot and sweaty. You will not sleep much (or at all) and you will be in a van – potentially a small cramped minivan. How do you react to that situation? If you react poorly to stress, you should be aware. Do you get grumpy when you’re sleepy? Let people around you know. Do you get confrontational with people under duress? Skip Ragnar all together! Ideally, you want to be relaxed, roll with the punches, enjoy the experience.

Team Captain is the toughest job of the lot. It starts well before the race weekend, ensuring everyone is on the same page, assigning legs, dropping and adding runners to your teams roster and communicating like it’s your job (hint: it is!). Then, on race weekend you have two vans and 11 other tired, stressed, sweaty runners to keep moving and motivating and on track. How you communicate with your team, or how you communicate with your captain will change your entire experience. Remember that there WILL be drama along the way, and you can respond to it well, or you can let it get to you and ruin your weekend. People will run late. There will be traffic. People won’t sleep. Someone will get an injury. There will be challenges.

For Ragnar 2017, we had 8 teams made up primarily of New England Spahtens and our friends. From a really competitive and fast mens team, to an experienced team of NES Ninja’s to several totally new teams, and new team captains. I asked them to give me their guidance – what lessons did they learn this year?

“If your runner doesn’t care to carry a cell phone while running, they should at least have the phone number for someone in their van on their person to call with any issues.” – Jessica Wohlen, Team NES Ninja’s

Jess is one of the most experienced Ragnar captains out there, and our team gelled well. Even so, we found ourselves losing 20 minutes when a sign wasn’t in place and we went to the wrong exchange. Our runner didn’t carry a phone, or have anyones numbers – and ultimately, shit happens. We backtracked, got our next runner out, and moved on with no drama.



“Leave your sh*tty attitude outside of the van in Hull somewhere.” – Sara Norman, Team Shut Up And Run

Wether it’s because of lack of sleep, or things not going “right”, or the weather, or injuries – so many things can work against you and bring out the worst side of people’s personalities. Always remember to take a deep breath, think before you speak and trust your captain! They want the same thing you do, and they generally have a plan to follow.




“Communication is key. I asked for a volunteer van captain and kept in a text communication all race. Every time a runner came in and out the Time was texted to me and we kept up the Google time doc. Checking in with the other van captain helped them feel supported too.” – Shaina Brooks, Team Wicked Unicorn Snack Masters

Communicate, communicate, communicate. About everything – how you feel, how fast you are, what you need – between vans you should communicate start and finish times of every leg, pacing, injuries, problems – the road to a bad experience is paved with the lack of communication!



“Be honest with team. We have had some replacements over the years and as long as you let everyone know where you are it’s fine. Don’t tell everyone your fine when your not and don’t fudge your pace.” – Scott Sweeney, NES Mens Team

Scott has captained the very successful, *very* competitive (and damned fast!) Mens team for four years, and the key – communication! If he can keep those guys pointing in the right direction, and on track – listen to his advice and be honest about your pace, your injuries and anything else going on, and trust that your captain will keep things moving along.


“When the captain posts ALL of the Ragnar documents and updates and details and advises you that you need to participate in the group chats, none of it is an option.” Margaret Hatch, Team Loch NES Monsters

You are ALL there for the same reasons. Know your legs. Know your timing. Know the rules and safety regulations. Read the race bible and talk to your captain if you have questions. Ragnar HQ do an amazing job bringing info down to team captains, so they will probably have the answers for you! We always have a Facebook Group for our whole team, and group txt chats for each van – with a Captain in one, and a co-captain in the other – it’s a solid way to stay in touch!


“Don’t over pack. Holy Christ the amount of things that came into my van that I said we wouldn’t need…” – Niki Leonard, Team OCR Rehab

It doesn’t matter how much you think you need, you don’t. I packed light, and still overpacked. The van has limited space and when you’re “that guy/gal” with FAR TOO MUCH stuff, it’s a pain for everyone, and you’ll never find all your stuff.



“Learn about your team. Get to know their personalities and quirks. That is a huge factor in grouping together the vans.” – Nicole Elizabeth, Team Worst Pace Scenario

How your van “gels” will make or break your experience – find your people, find your tribe!







“Realize that a positive attitude can be the difference between a good experience and a bad experience. 12 runners = 12 personalities.” – Mike Hastie, Team Mike McNeil

Lets wrap this up with the best advice of all. Your own attitude will make or break your experience, and as a Captain you have to handle everyone else’s attitudes. Check a bad attitude at the start line, relax and go with the flow.




Do you have advice from your Ragnar experience? Want to leave your own review? Our Community Reviews are right here


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Episode 38 – Ragnar Relay, Cape Cod

On this show, we chat with Mike Dionne of Ragnar Relay!

Mike is the race director for both the upcoming Cape Cod event, and the Reach The Beach event – and we talk with him about what his roll entails, how he gets prepared for an event that goes for 200 miles – and what keeps him up at night as Ragnar Cape Cod approaches.

(Apologies for the audio quality, Mike was at the Boston Marathon expo at time of recording!)

Would you like to buy team gear? Check out our store,
ould you like to find more team resources? Check our welcome page out,

We’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Join our Mailing List, and maybe even become a 2017 Member and support the community!

Don’t forget to subscribe, and leave us a review in iTunes – it’s the little things that help this podcast continue – your questions, your reviews, your feedback let us know you are out there, and you enjoy the content, and we’ll keep recording for you!

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The NE Spahtens Show – Episode 37

Josh issues a challenge! 500m row in 90s, and he’s 7s off that time. Give it a shot this weekend, and post your times to the comments!
This episode, it’s just Paul and Josh, with Sandy out sick – but we cover some good ground, talking about the new Bonefrog Endurance event, and general ettiquette for people running multiple laps, we talk about Hobie going back to the Spartan Pro Team, and the recent iOCRU poll – should OCR remain a sovreign sport, or be wrapped up in other Olympic style events.
With questions from Russ of OCR Buddy, and Kelly – we hope you enjoy Episode 37!

Would you like to buy team gear? Check out our store,
Would you like to find more team resources? Check our welcome page out,
We’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Join our Mailing List, and maybe even become a 2017 Member and support the community!
Don’t forget to subscribe, and leave us a review in iTunes – it’s the little things that help this podcast continue – your questions, your reviews, your feedback let us know you are out there, and you enjoy the content, and we’ll keep recording for you!

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The value of #racelocal

Many of my OCR friends and connections have complained this year that the annual Spartan Race elite season pass has gone up in price – now running $799 annually.

And, despite their own season passes running many months into 2017, there appears to be no pro-rating (although I have seen people claiming they have indeed got pro rated pricing).

This blog post isn’t to talk about that. I’ve spoken about Spartan season passes in years past and if you are at the pro or elite level, or have sponsor support, or simply have your heart set on running Spartan’s over and over, then it makes sense for you and you go nuts.

But what if there was an alternative? Of course, there is.

If you registered for:
The Endurance Society’s SnowShoe 10k
BoldrDash Race – Winter Dash
FIT Challenge’s trail race
FIT Challenge’s OCR event
Runzilla’s OCR
Wason Pond Pounder
Gauntlet Races Rock the Gauntlet
Tuff Scramblers
Bonefrog’s Challenge distance
Samurai Sprint Mud Run
BoldrDash Race’s Rocky Point event
Gauntlet Races’s Run the Gauntlet
(basically, every sub 10k #racelocal event currently open for registration)
The total with NO discount codes or pre-sales would be $793

Add in $35 for #racelocal registration, and you earn points as you go, and get prizes, and competition to push yourselves against others.

and you don’t even need to leave New England.

#racelocal – a lot of bang for your buck.

Of course, many of these events also have multiple lap options. Most race directors will be at the start line, the finish line, and will know your name and say hi.

Learn more about #racelocal, and find links to each of these race brands – and more events right here

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Spartan update their rules, and the internet loses its mind …

Update: Spartan HQ are editing these rules to make sure the intent is crystal clear – keep your hats on, folks!

The good folks at Spartan HQ updated their rule book today, and the collective OCR community promptly lost their shit …

The important bit, the bit that made people pull their hair out at the roots and go “NO WAY” is the T Shirt rule.

The history behind this is with Ryan Atkins and Lindsey Webster in 2015 – the Canadian elite power couple who have been dominating the North American OCR scene at Battlefrog, OCRWC, Spartan and more over the past couple of years. As Battlefrog sponsored athletes, they had a habit of wearing their sponsored gear on the podium, even if that podium happened to be at a Spartan Race. Fair enough, if you ask me – there was a company helping them meet their goals and dreams financially, so they were representing that company.

Unfortunately, someone at Spartan HQ took umbrage to this – and decided to adjust the shirts.

Photos courtesy of MudRunGuide –

Spartan quickly backtracked on this rather ham fisted approach, and said that they would request that athletes wore Spartan shirts, to help promote the brand, and that too, is fair enough.

Fast forward to 2016. Ryan and Lindsey do pretty good in the Spartan points series and at their World Championships, and Battlefrog exit stage left – leaving the power couple sans-sponsor. So, like any self respecting elite with no sponsor and a solid sense of humor, Ryan took the podium in a Tough Mudder T Shirt.

Photo courtesy of Obstacle Racing Media –

So here we are, at the start of the 2017 season, and the rule books are updated. Rather than being casual about it, and simply asking people nicely – the rules are clearly mandated. To stand on that podium, you will wear that finisher (or similar) shirt. A policy that will only affect the elite of the elite, and people are upset.

Possibly, as I’ve seen some commentators, this comes not from Spartan, but from Reebok. Reebok famously mandate that UFC fighters wear Reebok gear. Crossfit athletes heading to the games are required to wear Reebok gear – so all the puzzle pieces fit.

My thoughts? PARTLY: So what. The rules are clear. 3 men and 3 women per prize pool will be affected, and Spartan has a pretty solid lock up of their Pro Team at most races anyway. What this is really saying is that the casual shenanigans of Ryan and Lindsey are over, and Spartan HQ are sick of not being able to use their own race podium promo photos for their marketing and business development. Welcome to the world of OCR in 2017.

The other part – the bigger part? Let these elites wear what they want. Let them get support where they can. Let them be sponsored, and represent those sponsors. Treat them with respect – and get it in return. Quit with the cheesy editing and the ham fisted rule changes – and let the athletes who support the sport of OCR do that how they can.

Clearly, no easy answer.

Whats clear, and it’s been clear for a few years – Spartan have no interest in expanding the world of OCR. They are interested in expanding the brand of Spartan. Rightly or wrongly, if you care about OCR, you care about it regardless of brand. Spartan is not on that path.

Now, how about the requirement that we all must wear those stupid headbands, or face DQ? Can we have some uniting of the big headed runner who can’t wear them? Can we protest on social media about that?

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Welcoming more races to #racelocal …

You already know that registration is open for #racelocal in 2017 right?

When we last spoke, we had maybe 8 or 9 events on the schedule – but lets catch up, shall we?

We’ve more than doubled that. We are currently at 18 races.


Today alone, we added three more events – BoldrDash at Rocky Point in September, and both Tuff Scrambler events, May and October.

Are you registered yet? Blizzard Blast is just over a week away, and we’re not done with the surprises yet …