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Featured Review: Bone Frog Challenge New England 2016

bonefroglogoThis weekend, I took place in my second Bone Frog Challenge. Bone Frog is a 9 mile obstacle course race (with a 5K option and Tier-1, the 9 miler, plus the 5K) that takes place annually at Berkshire East in Charlemont, Massachusetts. At around 50 minutes away from my house, it’s my home town race and one of my favorite races of the year. This race is owned and run by Navy SEALs. A positive vibe permeates the race, which does an excellent job at paying homage to those in the armed forces and, at the same time, provides the rest of us with an enjoyable challenge.


Last year’s race was my favorite individual race of the year. (I say that so as not to compete with the wonderful racing I did at Shale Hill via my season pass last year. Both Bone Frog and Shale Hill are my favorite.) The race featured over 50 obstacles all of amazing build quality, the course was well-marked and well thought-out, the logistics were smooth, and when you crossed the finish line a former Navy SEAL draped a medal over your head. In my mind, those men deserve medals, so it’s an honor or get to meet a former SEAL in person and have them rewarding you for something that, for me, is a hobby. Suffice it to say, this year’s race was no different than last year’s. I had a blast.

Saturday was the prefect day for obstacle course racing. The weather was in the mid to upper 60s, meaning it was comfortable without being hot. The sky was overcast, which while certainly less exciting than a sunny day was helpful for keeping the temperature down and the sunburn at bay. Charlemont is a close drive, about 50 minutes west of my home in Amherst, so I was able to sleep until 7:00 a.m. before heading out for a pleasant drive into the Berkshires. Parking at Berkshire East is a snap. It’s the standard $10 you pay for race parking everywhere, and it’s onsite. No buses needed. Spectators are free at Bone Frog Challenge, which means that unless you purchase swag, the parking fee is all you need to spend for the day.


Check-in went very smoothly. There was a bit of a line, but that line moved very fast, and the volunteers were ultra organized. There was one volunteer making sure that everyone had their waver and ID out so that by the time you made it to the front of the line you were organized and the volunteer getting your packet could move like lightning. I couldn’t have waited in line for even five minutes, which is excellent for a race with a couple thousand people in attendance. The other area where the race was well organized was in having a good number of portable toilets. There was a bit of a wait last year, but they increased the number and, again, I only have to wait in line for a couple of minutes. I cannot image how hard these sorts of logistics are to nail down — Bone Frog has my respect for their eye-to-detail and high level of organization.

13243708_1051823098239369_3836953699555823705_oAfter checking in, I headed over to the NE Spahtens team tent. There was no set team wave time for Bone Frog, so I was hoping to find some friends to run the race with. As is so often the case with the Spahtens, my battle buddy was just a friend I hadn’t met yet. I ended up meeting Jennifer Daley who provided an extremely great person to take on Bone Frog’s 9 mile course with. We were very evenly paces and had similar skills on obstacles. Plus, she was a lot of fun!

After getting our gear ready (I highly recommend a hydration pack and nutrition if you’re doing the full 9 mile race or Tier-1), we headed over for the 9:30 a.m. wave. Announcement were brief and at exactly 9:30 a.m., we were off.

 Bone Frog 2016 New England Course Map
The course was packed with 40 obstacles. This was around a dozen fewer than last year. While I will say that I definitely missed having those extra twelve obstacles — they definitely added to the fun and difficulty factory — this is still a top-notch race. Some things that set the course apart from other races are the excellent build and the good obstacle distribution. May races fall prey to having most of their obstacles jumbled at the bottom of the mountain. I get that this is a logistical issue; however, somehow Bone Frog has tackled it, as they have good obstacle distribution along the trails at the top of the mountain too. This is key for a racer’s enjoyment. Bone Frog does a great job utilizing every inch of elevation Berkshire East has to offer. Sure this isn’t Killington, but some of us don’t want to hike uphill all day. The amount of hiking up brutal hills is just enough (actually just a little more than enough) at Bone Frog. This is paired with some really excellent trail running. Miles 7 though 8 are along some especially nice trails. We had a great time running that stretch of the race — it was beautiful and not so technical that the average trail runner couldn’t keep a decent pace. It felt nice to stretch our legs and run along the trails towards the end of the race.

As I mentioned before, the race featured 40 obstacles. Here’s my standard obstacle-by-obstacle breakdown. The couple of obstacle I have forgotten, I have left blank — sorry.

Bone Frog 2016 New England Obstacles
  • 1. Hurdles: Jump across some muddy trenches.
  • 2. Low crawl: Wire crawl. They used normal wire instead of barbed wire and the ground was not too rocky.
  • 3. 1st phase wall: Lower high wall — probably around 5′.
  • 4. Walk the plank: Walk across a wobbly balance beam. Meanwhile, exercise balls hang encapsulated in nets right along your path.
  • 5. Hell box
  • 6. Rope climb: Standard rope climb. Probably around 12′ to 15′.
  • 7. Ammo carry: Carry an ammo box along an uphill, then downhill loop. The ammo boxes, fortunately, came in two sizes, so the smaller folks, like me, could choose wisely. Also, at the top of the hill was a sign that featured six symbols on it. We had to memorize these six symbols and then recall the at obstacle #14, Mind Games.
  • 8. Night crawler: This obstacle featured three increasingly high “thru” walls. Last year, this entire obstacle was handled a bit differently. The entire thing was covered in a heavy black drape making it dark as night. People had to pass glow sticks along and provide directions so that everyone could make their way through. I was kind of sad to see that gone for this year, since the 2015 obstacle was one of the more inventive I’ve encountered.
  • 9. Stairway to Valhalla: 800 feet of elevation is less than half a mile. This was far longer of a climb than last year hoistand brutal. There were people camped out all along the climb who basically were not making it. One poor woman was dry heaving, another couple of people were felded by cramps. This climb was no joke. It reminded me of the lengthy uphill march at the Killington Spartan Beast. Midway through the climb, there was a net that you had to crawl under.
  • 10. The Kraken: A cargo net climb, then a roll across a cargo net, followed by a net down.
  • 11. Slide for life: We ended up doing the 25 burpee penalty and bypassing this obstacle based on the long wait. Last year I stuck it in there and waited in line, but I just didn’t want to again. This obstacle you have to hoist yourself through a hole in a platform. Once you’ve pulled yourself up and through, you then descend back to the ground via a rope traverse.
  • 12. Reverse wall: Wall at a 45 degree angle towards you. If I jumped high, I could grab it, which was great.
  • 13. Solar walls: Two back-to-back tall walls that you had to climb up and down with a rope.I would say these were pretty tall — definitely 12′ or more.
  • 14. Mind games: Here was where you had to recall the six images from the Ammo Carry. We remembered them and were able to go on to the next obstacle.
  • 15. 31 Heroes:This obstacle memorializes 30 fallen Navy SEAL officers and one K-9 officer. We did burpees for each person, saying his name. I think this obstacle is an excellent example of how Bone Frog does an excellent job honoring our men and women in uniform.
  • 16. 2nd phase wall: Slightly taller than the 1st phase wall. Probably around 7′.
  • 17. Seige wall
  • 18. The Punisher: This was a tall wall that you climbed with the help of a cargo net. At the top was a bar to grab and pull yourself through before going down the other side.
  • 19. Rolling thunder: Tires suspended horizontally on a pole. You had to jump really high to get over them. There were two sets. I am, in all honesty, not very good at this one. I try to stay to the side where there’s a chance of getting to grab the pole that the tires are on. Otherwise, my height tends to be a disadvantage and I roll right off.
  • 20. Mike & Murph: This obstacle seemed new from last year. We climbed up a ladder wall, then down a net. Then we reverse it.
  • 21. Deck of cards: I didn’t recall this obstacle, so I crowdsourced it. Per my NE Spahten friends, this obstacle ended up getting cut from the race.
  • 22. Cargo net: This was a huge cargo net — very tall — probably 20′. There was a bit of a wait at this one, but we stuck it out.
  • 23. Sand bag carry: We had to fill our own sandbag before carrying it on a loop through the woods. Filling a sand bag is kind of a challenge when the dirt you’re working with is just soil dug from the ground. I managed to increase my bag-filling speed by shoveling in dirt from a couple of people who had just emptied their sandbags.
  • 24. Water crossing: Brr! We had to wade across a snow pond at the top of the mountain and then wade back across again. By wade I mean that I had to swim in the middle. Okay, we swam. It was cold.
  • 25. Jacobs ladder: Ladder wall.
  • 26. Window walls: A through wall. This stretch was marked by some nice trail running. It was great to have a few obstacles to break up the trails!
  • 27. Tire roll: This was another set of tires on a horizontal pole. Basically, it was the same as the earlier Rolling Thunder obstacle.
  • 28. Spider wall: A traverse wall. I like this one because it has finger grips. Last year, this was down at the bottom of the mountain, so it was nice to have it here up at the top.
  • 29. Tire drag: These tires were heavy. I actually had to have Jennifer help me. She’s strong from cross fit.
  • 30. Swingers club: Yikes! My first of three failed obstacles of the day. This obstacle was American Ninja Warrior-style. It featured balls suspended on ropes. You had to swing from small ball to small ball. I had trouble reaching these and even more trouble getting going. I was actually disappointed at the number of obstacles I did fail this year. Last year’s Bone Frog was likely more challenging; however, this year I failed three obstacles to last year’s one. I have been doing a lot of running lately, but OCR season is upon us, and I think I need to hit the pull-up bar more.
  • 31. Sprint 31 Heroes: This was the 31 Heroes obstacle for those doing the Sprint length distance. For those doing the full 9 mile challenge, we did not end up doing 31 Heroes again.
  • 32. Get a grip: This was the obstacle I failed last year, and I failed it again. Hanging from poles were ropes with plastic handles attached. You had to swing from one to another to get across. The handles moves a lot. This will always be a tough one. If I was more handy and didn’t live in a condo, I’d say I should build one of these in my backyard.
  • 33. Traverse: Rope traverse across a snow pond at the bottom of the mountain. Like last year, they had you traverse the rope part way and then drop into the water and swim. I may have slightly “cheated” and gone a bit past the half way point on the rope because I didn’t want to get into the cold water.
  • 34. Hell’s gate: This was a great obstacle and new from last year. There were a nine closely packed walls of increasing height. You went over the first and then under the next, as the “overs” got taller and taller. This was a lot of fun. People did get bunched up and I was pretty cold waiting after I just got out of the water, but it was a good time.
  • 35. Water crossing: I was not super pleased to get back into the water; however, it was not an option. We had to wade into the water, which came up to chest height. In the middle there was a large ammo box we had to climb over. I was so cold at this point I was basically inept. In my flailing efforts, I hit my ankle enough to leave a bruise. I get it. Navy SEALS — water. Still. So. Cold.
  • 36. 3rd phase wall: The tallest basic wall yet. I’m putting it at 9′, though with my short person status, perhaps I am over exaggerating.
  • 37. Dead weight
  • 38. Drunken monkey: Instead of standard monkey bars, this featured a board with staggered pegs on either side. I had a blast on this obstacle last year (once someone lifted me up so I could reach it), yet this year, I failed it. Not pleased. Pull up. That’s all I have to say. On it!
  • 13268038_1051921574896188_6954103294714583909_o39. Dirty name: Similar to gut check at Shale Hill, this obstacle had a lower log from which you had to jump and then pull your self over a higher log. In this case, two were stacked. I am waiting for this obstacle to leave the OCR scene. It’s a menace and people are hurting themselves and bruising ribs on it all the time. I climbed up the side supports — hey, I want to live to race another day.
  • 40. Black ops: Very few things scare me. Black Ops scares me. This obstacle had you climb up a rope wall and then traverse a set of monkey bars before landing on a platform and climbing down a ladder. Here’s the thing. The monkey bars are really high up and below them is just this net. This obstacle is the last one, and it’s smack in front of the spectators. Last year I nailed it — there is video evidence. Still I was scared. I made it up the wall with the rope no problem. A volunteer was ready to lift me up to the monkey bars. I was seriously ready to just roll across the lower netting, but he encouraged me. I made it across, but I was shaking. Seriously, I never shake. I cannot think of any other obstacles in OCR that scare me, and I cannot say why this one does, but it definitely does. I tried for an early dismount and alarmed some volunteers who though I was going to fall back on the platform. I was super happy to climb down on shaky legs, find my battle buddy and run across the finish line!

I crossed the finish line in 4:08:34 having had a wonderful time all around. What a great day and a fantastic race!

Beyond what I’ve said already, here are some pros and some things I wish would get adjusted for next year.

Pros list:
– Amazing volunteers. Two people carried our hydration packs and everyone was super encouraging. Bone Frog has the best volunteers of pretty much anywhere. Hats off to these fine folks!
– Back-ups were much improved over last year. I probably spent an hour or more waiting in line last year. This year the lines were limited. We probably didn’t wait for more than 15 minutes total. The only thing that had a line we decided was too long to justify waiting for was Slide for Life. It had a wait last year too. Last year I did make the decision to wait in each and every line, but this year I was less than keen to do that since I had done the obstacles already. Still it’s a bummer since the obstacles are what we come here to do.
– Great finishers medal. Plus getting a medal from a retired Navy SEAL is very meaningful. Bone Frog also had great t-shirts in 2015. They had super soft women’s fit t-shirts. Alas, this year’s shirts were delayed in customs. Bone Frog is going to mail them out to everyone. Since last year’s shirt is pretty much one of the only OCR t-shirts I wear, I cannot wait for this year’s shirt to arrive.


Wishlist for 2017:
– Please add mile markers. We don’t all want to bring a GPS watch, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have interest in how far along we are in the course.
– Bring back some of the awesome obstacles from 2015 that were missing this year. I loved Operation Red Wings from last year. This was a stretch with around eleven obstacles back-to-back. It was basically the best thing ever, and I missed it this year!
– There are a number of obstacles that are kind of high up. I had to rely on the kindness of some taller gentlemen to help boost me up to reach a few of the hanging obstacles. Just a few more inches down would be a big help. I know of other shorter women competitors who felt the same way.

I am already signed up for the next Bone Frog Challenge in my area, the fall Bone Frog Championships on October 29 at Berkshire East. 6 miles and two dozen obstacles — I am looking forward to it.

Want to leave your own review, or see what the community thought? Click here for our community reviews, and contribute your own views!

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Featured Review: Blizzard Blast 2016

cropped-BBno5kBlizzard Blast holds a very special place on the New England OCR calendar. Every year – by virtue of their handy location, and early date, they get to launch the season – and for the past few years, we’ve brought the biggest team of OCR enthusiasts to Dracut, MA.

2016 – we did it again, with north of 250 people coming along for a mixture of competitive elite wave racing, multiple lap endurance – and pure fun single lap laughs. Considering there are current 985 finishes listed – thats a significant portion of the field!

Oh, and many of us did it wearing onesies. We’ve already established that the onesies were Sandy’s fault – and the weather certainly didn’t co-operate – but for sheer fun? Can’t be beat.

Lets get the big one out of the way – there wasn’t a lot of Blizzard going on at Blizzard Blast. Despite some snow a couple of weeks prior – we hadn’t had much snow, or even cold weather in the last ten days or so – in fact, race day was a spectacularly unseasonable 50+ degrees – which totally removed the Blizzard!

It’s ok – we still had a blast.

Lets get the next one out of the way – onesies SUCK in 50f weather. Sweaty, sticky mess. Many of us rolled our’s down to our waists for some ventilation. I also picked a dragon onesie with a knee height crotch – which made walls and climbing obstacles a whole bunch of “fun”.

12662734_10153274902087014_6955727160989491093_nStill – we did have a blast!

Buses from a remote parking lot seemed to be smooth all day, with no complains coming my way, and registration was pretty quick, despite a crowded tent. As is typical at a Smithfest event, you registered, then lined up for your shirt separately – NES members getting a nice perk here, and a temp tattoo to slap on you, if you’re inclined. Free bag check – which I didn’t use, but again – no complaints this way.

Plenty of indoor and in-tent seating – but the inclement weather meant you could comfortable hang outside if you want – no big problems there. Venue does great food, and a free bowl of chili (eh, last years was better) – and a full bar inside. Indoor bathrooms – with showers!

Biggest Team perk of a private room off to the back is ALWAYS appreciated. We can become quite the crowd, and having a single place to meet, mix and mingle is huge. HUGE. I can’t state this enough – if you’re a member of NES, and you make use of these facilities, please keep them clean, make sure the RD and staff and treated right – because we don’t always get them, and they make our lives so much better.

As people wandered in and out to do their elite waves, early waves and such – time ticked on to our noon biggest team photoshoot – kudos to Vince who left him home with bronchitis for this – he’s on the road to recovery, and needed to get out – but thank you! Onesies on! Team assembled!


I promptly headed to the start line – FIT Challenge RD Robb McCoy was assisting with the start, and sending waves out promptly – not more than a few minutes, and I was off – with my tail wagging away behind me, and the sweat starting to build inside my fleece dragon suit.

Lets be totally frank – Blizzard Blast is an event designed for a snowy day, with cold temperatures. Last year, we slid and slipped our way through the course, crossing frozen golf greens and more. A full five obstacles were 100% designed for the snow – including the super fun sledding.

12592549_10153998682181654_3017102760297941706_nWe had none of that. Because of the total lack of snow, the course had to be rerouted to stay on paths or wood trail – no crossing golf greens, no snowy sledding down the hill, no snow angel penalty. It led to a course that was 5.5 miles long – but definitely felt obstacle light. We got to the first obstacle about a mile in, and the next group of obstacle a further 1.5 miles in – after that, it felt more like an OCR, less like a trail event. I don’t think anyone expected this circumstance – but if I was to pick – I’d cut out the first two miles, and have a much more condensed, 5k course with a better concentration of obstacles. An OCR needs obstacles more than it needs distance.

12622228_913477785368182_1498038158742709941_oThe obstacles we did have were fun – a few walls (one was super wobbly though!), a nice keg carry right in front of the lodge windows, a wrist burning mini keg hoist (wrap the rope around a small stick), and a full hercules hoist with double kegs on the trail – the thin wet rope proving a pretty big challenge for many. The dreaded peg board climb (still can’t do it) and a short rope climb that was low enough not to be too challenging, although lots were struggling (knots and no knots were available).

We also saw the teeter totters – after witnessing a nasty fall on these (at another venue), I skip these unless I have my studded icebugs on – and having a fleece onesie around my ankles didn’t help – call it an educated decision after 6 years of OCR – I can see when I’m putting myself at way more risk than it’s worth! Right next to the teeter totters was a very awesome hot chocolate station – so while my race partners went over the totter – I enjoyed a hot coco with marshmallows. Very nice too!

Some more time in the woods – a paintball shoot, a football throw – both nailed easily, then a traverse wall to tire “monkey bar” rig that was pretty cool – before we hit the infamous christmas tree carry. Fortunately, my tree was considerably lighter than last years, which blew – and I spent 1/2 the carry proclaiming how much I loved my tree before we got to drop them off, and crawl through some open windows on abandoned cars, into a foam block pit in the middle – again, my giant dragon tail getting in the way … then onto Keg Kingdom, a much improved version over last year – I got a few kegs in this time, but ultimately, rigs are not my strong suit.

BlizzardBlastMedalOver the line to a kick ass medal, water and banana.

Blizzard Blast provides awesome swag, and a top notch social experience for members of the biggest team. Multiple laps were handled smoothly, logistics are all squared away and smooth. With snow on the ground, there would be few complaints – but without snow – people noticed the lack of obstacles in the first part of the course, and it was mentioned. 2017 – a shorter course backup plan may be in order to negate this.

However, 2016 Blizzard Blast gave us a stellar start to the season – we certainly sweated in our suits and earned our bling!

Do you have a Blizzard Blast story? Leave it right here!

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Review: LED Lenser Seo7R head lamp

Great review, Paul. Thanks for submitting it!

lightI’ve been using a pretty cheap, Petzl Tikka2 for some time now. At just $30 or $40, it was inexpensive,
“good enough”, and has survived a couple of Beasts and Hurricane Heats in my pack, without incident.

But, I rarely actually used it in the dark. I just had it there, in case.

At the debacle that was the 2014 VT Beast, when many of us got stuck out on the mountain in the dark, then discovered we had to share our headlamps with less prepared people, I figured the battery was low, it wasn’t too helpful – but then, with fresh power, I used it at the Cape Cod Ragnar Relay and it was – frankly – pretty shit. Amazon tells me it has 40 lumens, the measure of how much light it puts out.

I wanted to get something better – something that would be about the same size and weight, but much more useful when I actually did need it. Some reading and research led me to the LED Lenser Seo7R.

It’s not a lot bigger than the Petzl, but it does feel a bit front heavy when you wear it. There is a built in tilt mechanism, and you can even turn the bezel to focus the light from a tight beam, to a wide spread.

But it’s WAY more powerful. Like, 220 lumens powerful.

It has a few modes, including a red LED mode for night vision, and it’s run time isn’t quite as high as the lesser powerful Petzl, of course – but even five hours of light is enough for me. It has a USB jack on a battery pack, so you can pop the battery out, charge it anywhere – no more AAA’s (although it takes them too, if you need to switch out in a pinch). It even has a mode that is supposed to dim the light, when the ambient is bright enough to need it, but honestly, I’ve yet to notice this happen.

Some cons – like I mention, it feels front heavy on your head. I think thats just getting used to the heavier, bulkier unit though. When you have the focus ring set to the widest setting, there’s a dark “dead spot” in the middle, but bring it into any level beyond widest, and that goes away. It’s more expensive than a cheap headlamp, but it’s so much brighter!

This will be in my pack now – it’s crazy bright, and really, thats what I want in my head lamp – especially if I find myself on Killington in the dark, babysitting three unprepared athletes again …

Rating: 5 star (amazing)

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Review: Salomon Fellraiser

fellraiserThank you to Shaina for submitting this great review!

I found the Salomon Fellraisers for a pretty good price on Amazon and saw a good review so I figured I’d pick them up to replace my great, but too narrow Icebugs. The Fellraisers fit my wide feet pretty well, they are definitely comfortable. I like the Salomons style lacing in that you do not have to worry about tying your shoes, however I prefer an elastic lace and Salomon lacing does not allow for that. They also tend to get stuck when muddy. The shoe is actually quite comfortable, I’m used to minimal and this is not, so you don’t feel every rock and root as you run. I really enjoyed how well they did on trails, they really dig in to enable a fast up and easy downhill. However, the tread does not grip well to anything else, from wall to making a rope climb nearly impossible. For that, I could not recommend them for an OCR shoe, but a great trail running shoe, as they were meant for. The rating reflects the in between of the two!

Rating: 3 star (average)

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Out of Dagobah

Somebody crashed a damn X-Wing into my swamp and spoiled my slumber. Now I have to go fire up an ancient Macbook and take to the keys. 40 years old you become, cranky too, you will be.

“Fear is the path of the Darkside. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Master Yoda

The worst fear is the fear we don’t even realize we have, and that is the fear that leads to anger. Its not the fear from with out that breeds hate. Its the fear from within. The things we fear about ourselves that we fear will be let out into the light. Jung’s “shadow”. When we see it reflected inn others, that which we fear in ourselves, we lash out. When you take to the internet and condemn others, your own fears about yourself spill out.

“Just because you are a character, doesn’t mean you have character.” The Wolf

Everyone is the the lead character of their own story. Most people believe they are the Hero. But if you are the villain of someone else’s story. you are probably the Villain of your own as well. It’s been said time and again that most people are their own worst enemy and I think that’s accurate. If your choice of options is to belittle, degrade or dehumanize another person for some trumped up reason in your own mind, you’re a bad person. It’s really that simple. Instead of being someone who others look up too, you simply attract sycophants who agree with you out of fear. Which leads to anger, and hate, and then suffering. So instead of being a bright, happy, respectful person. You become a twisted, bitter, angry, wrathful wretch.

Character is one of those words which many can define yet, few seem to understand. It’s quite simply the moral and mental process which lead to an individual’s choices and actions. Correlation does not imply causation however. What I mean is just because you do something good for others to see, does not mean you really are good. Dave Barry the humorist wrote: “If someone is nice to you but rude to the waiter, they aren’t a nice person.” To really be nice, you first have to think nice, then speak nice, and then: AND THEN, do nice.

Dennis Prager wrote: “Goodness is about character- integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage and the like. More than anything else; it is about how we treat other people.” Similarly Buddhism is often attributed to these five factors when speaking; Is it spoken at the right time? Is it spoken in truth? Is it spoken affectionately? Is it spoken beneficially? Is it spoken with the mind of goodwill? With all of these things in mind, when you interact with other people either in person, or over the internet, if you can’t qualify your thought and your speech by these ideas, your probably speaking with fear. And with fear you will only find anger, hate and suffering.

Master Yoda told us that the path of fear would lead to the Darkside. Lucas however didn’t define the path of the light side. Probably because it would appear too religious and didn’t fit his sci-fi movie. But we can discern it for ourselves with no need to attach currently practiced religious canon. Understanding is the path of the Lightside. Understanding leads to joy. Joy leads to happiness. Happiness leads to love. Love never finds fault. Some guy long ago tried to teach these ideas. We haven’t come to understand his message or any other great teacher who tried. Some day we will though. Some day.

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Review: Drymax Cold Weather Run Crew Socks

Thanks to Danielle Carrier for the review!

drymax_logo_10_orangeI have an allergy to wool, so finding a cold weather running sock that actually keeps my foot warm has been quite the battle.  The battle is over!  This sock is a synthetic blend (42% olefin/48% polyester/5% elastane/5% nylon).  It is comfortable and the cuff stays up (no slouching) which is great for some extra ankle warmth.  It is thick, which worried me at first, but the added thickness did not feel uncomfortable in either my road shoes or my trail shoes.  I have used these for a few road runs with temps in the 20’s-30’s and for an hour and half work out with temps in the single digits.  Every time, my feet stay warm, dry and comfortable.  I have not had any issues with blisters with these socks either.  If you are looking for a nice, non-wool based, winter running sock, this product may be for you!

Rating: 5 star (amazing)

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Review: Spahten Drill Shirt

thewolfThank you to Alissa Comlin for the awesome drill shirt review!

Oh, the excitement when the drill shirts are in! Ladies, before I ordered my shirt, I was searching and asking for sizing info since these are unisex and I wasn’t sure what size to order. As a customized purchase, I wanted to get it right the first time and not have to worry about returning it. Although I have not worn it to a race yet so I can’t speak for durability, I can comment on overall size and fit to help you with your purchase decision.

I am 5’10” and 153lbs, lean to medium build and, most relevant to this review, long torso. I can safely say that a size Medium fits me perfectly, and I adore my race shirt. Truthfully, a size Large would probably fit me, but would be a baggier fit which I don’t prefer. The Medium was exactly right for me. A Small would have definitely been too small.

It is a snug fit, but not uncomfortably tight. The neck opening is tighter than I’m used to, but this just provides more skin coverage during a race, which I appreciate. When it comes to racing, I’m of the school of thought that more skin coverage is better, not for modesty’s sake but for practicality. The fewer bleeding skin wounds I have, the less distracted I will be when racing. (Although if I had Amelia Boone’s body, I might rethink that.)

My favorite feature of the shirt is the length of the torso. It gives me plenty of coverage, reaching well below the hips which is unusual (and welcomed!) for those of us with long torsos. As I said, the snug fit means that it doesn’t budge much when moving around, so there’s no constant adjusting/fixing the shirt. The short sleeve comfortably covers the biceps and allows plenty of free movement, but again keeping you covered.

Add your racing name to the back, nothing feels better on the course than knowing you’ve got your own persona for the team to see! Definitely a conversation starter/ice breaker.

Most importantly, enjoy that you are part of such as awesome team and wear your shirt with pride!

Rating: 5 star (amazing)

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Review: Quest Protein Chips

Thanks to Mike Downey for the review.

proteinchipsQuest Products, well known for their nutrition bars, has a new product on the market.

The protein chip (seal salt flavor) is 120 calories per bag, 21g of protein with 0g of sugar. No insane chemicals or other nasty things on the list.

The taste is less like a chip and more like a thin cracker with a hint of salt. If your trying to find a way to cut chips out of your meal this may be a option to consider. I was able to find these in stock at a local GNC but you can also get them from various other websites

Rating: 3 star (average)

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Beast 2014 – the recap

It’s customary after an OCR, to write about the event. Usually, it’s a review – but this is a bit different.


IMG_7644I finished the Beast, and had a grand old time, even when I hated it. I earned a medal in just under 10 hours, and finished in the dark – missing my personal goal of a daylight finish. I stuck both spears, which never happens, and was told by a volunteer to walk past the last wire/rolling mud/dunk wall combo because it was dark. I picked up three unprepared people with no headlamps, and told them to keep up or DNF – and they did, and were really nice people. I did some burpees, but probably lost count and didn’t do them all.


The venue had poor parking planning on Saturday morning with backlogs for shuttle buses, my mini had a BLAST at the kids race, and my wife lead an amazing group of Biggest Losers through the Sprint course – obstacles, burpees and all – earning them all Sprint medals too – for one of her most rewarding OCR experiences ever. Spectator access was great, merchandise ran out of venue shirts and trifecta plaques, and there were some good vendors.

Happy now?

IMG_7636We made this into a family weekend away in VT, we ALL did something active, challenging, hung out with the best people in the world – and I can’t tell you how much it means to me that Spartan enables us to do this stuff together as a family.

I will be back next year. My experience was awesome.

Complete obstacle run through, if thats your thing.

So – why, this week, has there been nothing but whining, moaning, groaning and complaining on the social media’s?

IMG_7602The course was too long? The obstacles not placed to your liking? Too high? Too many hills? There’s a Sprint in a flat field somewhere, waiting just for you.

Cheaters who cut the course, or didn’t do their burpees, or walked by an obstacle?

Unless you were in the top ten of the elite wave, really – who cares? It doesn’t diminish your race, or your achievement any.

It’s not all being flung back at my fellow athletes.

Spartan HQ? Fix the headlamp situation. There wasn’t anywhere near enough notification or noise made about it – and TOO MANY people were unprepared. Have every single headlamp checkpoint hand them out to those without them, or be prepared to pull people. If Smithfest can do it at Panic in the Dark, you can too. While I’m on that topic, there were FAR TOO MANY people simply unprepared. You knew – roughly – how long the average joe would be out there, why on earth were there heats of normal, regular people going out after noon?

IMG_7622You can’t fix stupid though. If you were sliding down the technical single track trails in your old sneakers, duck taped to your feet – what. on earth. were you thinking? The hard core, badass dude with no shirt on, shivering at an aid station at the summit? MORON. Didn’t bring a pack? Didn’t think you’d need nutrition? Thanks for making more work for the medics – they were clearly going to be sitting idle all day.

HQ can’t be blamed for these people – there will always be a lowest common denominator in any crowd, and we all saw the lowest common denominator during our own race.

There’s a bigger issue though – one that HQ needs to figure out, and quickly.

These unprepared people – the ones in sneakers, thinking they’ll finish *THE BEAST* in a few hours and head on out for a nice warm lunch and a few beers – they aren’t going away any time soon. They are the “ripped off the couch” folks, who ran a Sprint this year, saw the cool trifecta marketing and though – huh – I could get that weekend off and go to New Jersey, and having done that in my sneakers and cotton shorts, well, next stop VT. This is what the Spartan marketing machine is shooting for – fresh bodies, fresh wallets (and more power to them – they die if they don’t have fresh attendees)

Meanwhile. The fans. The super fans. The enthusiasts and regulars. The ones who show up with packs FULL of nutrition, because they know they’ll bump into a regular joe who doesn’t have any. The ones who keep Inov8, Solomon and Icebug in business. The ones who remember when Hobie had an obstacle named after him, and when they used to put dish soap on the slip wall, and CARE about litter on the course.

They’re leaving. They’re burning out. I’m likely to be one of them.

Read. Read. Read.

I ran my first Spartan in 2010. Since then, I’ve done a bunch of North East based Spartans every year. With the exception of this weekends Beast, I’ve not seen a new obstacle of note since the inverted wall was introduced. I’ve seen problems with merchandise fulfillment that haven’t been fixed. I’ve seen people who have thrown themselves into the Spartan lifestyle, and now, years later, it’s doing nothing for them. Spartan blazing a self serving trail – they don’t want OCR in the Olympics – they want SPARTAN in the Olympics. They don’t want to rip people off the couch – they want to rip them onto a SPARTAN course. Everyday joes are realizing that – no matter how much they push their training or how motivated they may be – they’ll never “progress” up the Spartan ladder anymore. This years Ultra Beast wasn’t even slightly close for most normal, “day job and kids” level athletes.

Where can you go from there?

IMG_7611There is competition. That competition is getting good. Some of that competition is getting GREAT. OCR is maturing, and it’s not in the direction Spartan is taking it. People who were huge Spartan advocates are now coming to races in Battlefrog sleeves, or skipping Spartan weekends to go run on trails in more intimate events like O2X. There are other options.

For me – while the VT Beast weekend still offers such good value for my whole family, and such positive atmospheres for people wanting to push out of their comfort zones – I’ll be there with my New England Spahtens and my family – but when it comes to taking a large chunk of cash for a Sprint distance event in 2015? I’ll save that money for a couple of high quality local OCRs instead.

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Ultra Beast and other Demon speak

Note from the editor: Horgan has been here since day dot. He has a reputation for being something of a Yoda, always around to say the right thing, to the right people, at the right time. I’ve been struggling to write my own recap of this race – and while my experience and sentiments were very different to Horgan’s, I thought this was well worth sharing, and showing a very different side of the weekends experience. Buckle up.

10702007_10152463378549811_1509408334021861424_nThe Spartan Ultra Beast.

Disclaimer: This blog was written under the duress of exhaustion and pain.
Disclaimer 2: If you have become accustomed to my blogs which attempt to find a positive aspect to my experiences you probably are not going to find one here.
Disclaimer 3: If you are looking for an inspirational story of willpower and grit with a triumphant ending or even a tongue in cheek best face forward resolution; stop now.

Warning: If you have not directly experienced my duress induced humor; which starts with philosophical Zen like koans and illogical quips on standard inspirational clichés. If you have not heard me speak in sharply sarcastic remarks, until I’m fully engrossed in darkly sardonic metaphors. If you have not been present when I have reached the frayed ends of sanity, where the voices in my head, spring forth spewing anger and filth through the open doors of my mouth. IF this will be your first experience with that side of me; then I might suggest that you stop reading now. I simply ask this because if this is will be new to you; there is nothing in this blog that you’ll want to read. The following article is not going to be pretty. It is going to be convoluted, rife with inconsistencies, contradictions, apathy, self-indulgent tangents, possible profanity and a heaping helping of self-loathing and pity.


Seriously if you’re looking for some motivating inspirational shit STOP right now. I don’t want to change any image you may have of me. I put on an excellent Jungian mask most times but this time you’re going to get the shadow and right now he’s not fucking pleased.

Still here? All right, strap in. This is going to be a bumpy fucking ride. Sit down, hold on, and shut up because I’m driving. These are my opinions and yours have not been solicited.


Before I begin let me get a little god in here first. Just in case at the end someone should strike me down they’ll know I looked higher at some point.

Proverbs 24:27-29
Prepare your work outside. Get everything ready for you in the field and after that build your house.
-Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.
-Do not say, ‘I will do to others as they have done to me. I will pay them back for what they have done.’

With that Norm Koch deserves all the credit in the world. He put together the most difficult Spartan Race ever created. He did his job and let no man be held under scrutiny for doing his job well and as asked. Now that I’ve said that I feel I have license to go on and say exactly how I feel, how I want to.

10178098_10152460126834811_6280330827670188269_nI didn’t come to the Ultra Beast to crush it or kill it or any other non-productive, completely ridiculous, pseudo-inspirational, two words on a gym wall motivationals. I came to face a Demon of my own. I came to look it in its eye. I came to break the bones of some skeletons that have been taking up space, collecting cobwebs. But I came to the Ultra Beast defeated. I was probably defeated the day I clicked the “check out” button on the registration page a year ago. I came to try and settle a score, but I didn’t bring any chips to the table. Maybe I thought I could gamble on an outstanding marker and expected that I could bluff far enough through the game to get some good cards later. That didn’t happen.

I don’t remember a lot of the race in any order. Lets just start with the swim. I actually thought I was doing pretty well until then. I remember looking at my watch and guessing I was on a pretty solid pace. A good friend reminded me that I could in fact swim. So with out PFD I swam out. It was cold but not miserable. I got up the ladder without difficulty, but it was at that point that I realized, no upper body strength. Bell tap, and then I was only able to get both hands on the first knot. I decided to drop.  So grabbing my hat I let go. Down, down, down deep. And I puked, underwater, through my nose. Talented I know, right? It made the swim to shore lovely. So I went and did my burpees…most of them. And no I don’t care what you think, so fuck off. Which led us back into the water. This became a swim for the full length of the pond because the FUCKS in front of me didn’t want to go in over shin deep and clung like turds on a bowl to the edges. In all honesty I was already cramping at this point so swimming was a relief to my legs. When I exited I met up with a most excellent friend and Spahten who looked at me with all honesty and said, “This isn’t fun.” No. No this was most certainly not fun. Even in the most sarcastic, sadistic sense of fun that I keep tucked away in the deeper recesses of my mind. None of this was fun, and it was only about 8am.

From here on it’s going to get a lot fuzzy. We went up the mountain. I had some mustard. You know what? Fuck this bullshit about mustard! I poured that shit down my throat all day and all it did was irritate my soft pallet and upper esophagus. If you want to argue with me about mustard I’ve got some left. You can slather it on a certain area of mine and suck it!

Moving on. Up the mountain! You know straight up just slogging up the mountain. Oh was there an obstacle? I didn’t see it. Wait I remember it was the phoned in, half forgotten, Fedex cargo net they inherited from Tom Hanks after he got off the island.

And then there was just more walking up. At some point I ran into some Cornfeds.  I managed to stay with them for a good bit. I stayed with them till just about to where we dragged a rock. It wasn’t particularly taxing until you get to end and your legs lock with 7 out of 10 pain. I know it was a 7 because I couldn’t breath to scream. I stood standing stiff as a board becoming, myself, an obstacle to other racers. And then I fell over. I managed to drag myself out of the way, by my hands. If you have ever tried to cry through the lump in your throat where a half strangled scream had been only recently stifled; you may begin to understand my agony. Then through tears:  one hand, one knee, one foot, one push and I was on my feet again.  In no longer than five minutes.

On to the memory: India 202-2871, and then a spear throw. Don Devaney gets all the credit. I learned the technique from his, via telephone, spear throwing lesson on Friday: “Hold it like a dart and push it at the target.” Perfect.  That would be the first, the last, and the only happy moment for me on the mountain that day.

If you haven’t stopped reading yet now would be a good time. It’s not going to get better and it’s going to get a lot darker and self-indulgent. Thankfully at this point, as I write, the anger is ebbing.

So we went down the mountain. I don’t know how long we were headed down but when we got down it was at the inverted wall. My Cornfriends (in fairness for background I’ve know both of them for a long time and they are friends) were ahead of me due to my leg cramps that just continued to shift from one leg to the other from one muscle to the other. But at the inverted wall they were sitting. Rick was hurting from an earlier injury and at this point we were not aware of another very serious injury he had. But this isn’t about him. I helped him over the wall. Then it was over to the bucket carry. I think it was number 2. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. For the purposes of  this it is the one where I saw another Spahten spectating. This Spahten is an animal and is always there with honest encouragement. During the carry I had to stop too many times and I sat down. That’s the race killer there. Once I finally completed the carry I asked if he could work some magic on one of the cramps that was locking. He did, but said the best thing is to walk it out even if its Frankenstien walking, His last piece of advice was “but if it is really that bad, stop your race.” Death knell. He certainly didn’t mean it to be a coffin nail.  He was only truly looking out for my safety.

I’m not entirely sure but I believe this next part was the direct climb up, under the gondola. Again for purposes of my story timeline and not giving a damn about facts, this is where I started to stare at my demon. He’s only man size and not much bigger than me. He has a pronounced dragon like head with a torso covered in tight shiny green scales like a snake. His wings project backwards and would look only like a decoration. His red tongue dances and darts from his mouth through crocodile arranged teeth. He speaks telepathically in a soothing condescending voice. He never told me to quit. He made me convince myself that the race was over. That I couldn’t finish.  That I was a fraud. That I should just walk down the mountain. I wanted to. But I was too high at that point. And now I was with another set of forlorn souls, Golan and Bill. Golan from Wisconsin and Bill from NH. But this is not their story. So I walked. And I sat. And I stood and walked and sat. I stared blankly down over the parking lot. I looked over the valley at a perfectly cut timberline and thought “Oh there’s a utility line over there.” And I began to break old skeleton bones. Feeling them crack in my hands.

The thing about dragging skeletons out of closets is, they don’t want to come willingly. You gotta start with small bones. “You never thought you would actually finish this year anyway: Snap!” Then the Demon speaks and he says, “but did they have to make this so fucking hard?” And you pull out a bigger bone and think, “well you were pretty nonchalant about the whole thing, you were just trying to act cool: Snap!” And then the Demon says, “If you do go to the top you can take the gondola down.”  You reach in and grab a hand full of ribs and say “I didn’t put a damn bit of effort into this race and I fucked myself right into this shitty mountain and I have no other fucking person to blame but myself! Snap! Cackle! Pop!” The Demon speaks again, he’s so cunning, He says “oh but you had so much on your plate. You don’t sleep. You have a crazy schedule. Your wife, your kids, the dog.” Now you dig in and you grab that skull. That grinning, gape mouthed fucker and you hold him up to the light for the last time and you say, “I’m a quitter that’s what I do. I quit. I quit. I quit. IFQ!” And you take that skull and you crush it under your heel and you stand up and you look at the absurdity of your situation which is: Go ahead fucking quit. But what the hell are you going to do? Go down the way you came, or go down by going forward? Forward. Up and forward.

And then down. Down, down and more down. There was no trail left. I felt like George of the jungle swinging from tree to tree. Legs cramped so fucking bad and then a horrifying collapse. My water bladder collapsed not me. It collapsed because I was out. Out of water. Great. At some point this was bound to happen but really, now? Now I went to pull a tire. Great obstacle. I’d have rather been pulling a noose around my neck at this point. Cop out obstacle. Up side, I was able to get Golan a walking stick to brace himself. Kid has the guts of a martyr but he was toast and I don’t blame him. His knee wasn’t getting any better. It was the last pitch down to safety. A stick was my parting gift to him. I left him with a crossfitter named Susan from ME. She’s pretty badass, completing a Goruck heavy. We knew some of the same people.

And the Demon managed to stick a new skeleton into my closet. A skeleton whose bones where rotting green with mold and mud. I left an injured person clearly in pain on a mountain. Fuck you Green Demon. Fuck you Ultra Beast.

When Dante descended into hell with the poet Virgil he passed through it’s many levels and the inhabitants there of. As I walked down this nasty half excuse of a goat trail I couldn’t help but think of Dante. I knew there were nine rings and that Satan was at the bottom frozen up to his waist eating those denizens of the ninth circle: Betrayers. Was that what I have become a betrayer? Turns out with a little research no I wasn’t destined for the ninth circle quite yet. I’m destined for the eighth. Circle eight that’s where I sit. The fraudulent: liars, deceivers, false prophets, panderers, seducers and thieves! These, these are my vices and those are my people. And sandbags apparently.  Two sandbags because: “Fuck it I’m going to quit anyway but I’m Ultra so I have to carry two.” I want to say it was about 2 pm. I think I had it in my head that I already hadn’t made a cut off but it didn’t matter though because when I was done. I was going to quit. 10 feet. Stop. 10 feet. Stop. 10 feet. Stop. Wow that took like 16 minutes and I’m…fuck im like one one hundredth of the way there! The Demon says, “You said you’re quitting, just put the bags down and walk.” No that just means somebody else has to clean up my mess. 10 feet. “Your going to leave just leave.” No because how could I write about this later if I have to tell 3300 Spahtens not only did I quit; I trashed the course for them to pick up? The Demons is not so subtle any more: “Fuck them he say’s.” NO Demon: FUCK YOU. 10 feet. A wonderful gentleman with a beautiful smile and an ancestry I guessed to be Mexican said to me “You can’t quit now man were headed down.” I said thank you but when I’m done I’m going right through that arch, I quit. Then he, in the most elegant, cheery, Spanish accented English said. “Well I hope you change you mind.” Fuck you feelings: 10 feet!

When I got to the bottom I couldn’t quit. I couldn’t quit because telling someone I quit would be harder than actually doing it. It would have been easier to lie down and die right there than make the effort to quit. And it was so easy. It would never be easier than right there to quit. Strangely enough, you see a lot of things you need to see, only when you need to see them. Yes I’m patriotic but I don’t go busting my zipper every time I see a flag go by. I know what it means to me. That’s what matters to me. But when you see a flag on a Spartan course, it is usually being carried by someone for a reason; and usually by someone I know. If you have ever seen a man who looks like he jumped off of the pages of Robinson Caruso, its Stephen Reid. Bones. That was his flag and that was he. It dawned on me that with his “more faith than fear and more heart than scars” I just needed to keep going, off into the woods. Fill the water first.

The next last bits you know. The anger is subsiding as I write. I can tell you that at the race. at this point, my venom was toxic and it was killing me quickly. I didn’t care any more. I got to try my hand at the new obstacle. Some rings and swing bars. NO problem I nailed it, until the rope. One hand two hands; and faster than you can say fireman on a pole I was in the dirt. Slicker than snot on a doorknob. I tried to burpee. My legs wouldn’t unlock. So in the now rigid, prone position where I lay. I gave three or four more attempts and I had to give up even trying, You can start breaking the bones on that skeleton your holding right now because we’re going to need the space.

Now off to the Tyrolean traverse. It said in the rules if any body part touches the water you failed. So I got on top of the rope and sank. And I went out further and it sank further. How the fuck can I keep my body out of the water when the fucking rope is under the water. So I floated my bloated, cramped, broken ass. Hand over hand down the line. Slapped the bell, rolled off and swam in.  I still did it right.

Rope climb, fail. Limped past the two volunteers who couldn’t even be bothered to look up from their iPhones. Spear throw: Perfect. Perfectly short. It did stick in the ground underneath. I limped to the burpee coral. 5 or 6 until my arms couldn’t move. More broken skeleton bones. Don’t get too angry just yet, I blow off plenty of more burpees.

Texans. Why is it always Texans! They are always big happy and helpful. Hobbling now I approached the wall. My defeated face must have given me away. He asked if I needed help. I could only say yes. And that was it. Knee, shoulders, wall. Crushed my testicles in spectacular fashion and then guided myself down…to barbed wire. At this point any prone position is a lightning storm of fiery pain and agony. I made it all the way through and then through the rolling mud. I could not physically bring myself through the last section. I had indeed; quit. And so I walked.  Past the American Ninja Turtle, this is only here for the elite heat to look epic on TV, 30 yards of pipe BS obstacle. No I didn’t attempt it, or burpees. Why? Fuck you that’s why.  Just staying on my feet at this point was torture.  Up and over and down and then to the Herculean hoist.  The rope was slick but I made it no issue. Monkey bars: I’ve lost count but I think I have done 15 Spartan races, 4 or 5 hurricane heats and sometimes multiple laps of the same course. I have never, ever, ever failed the money bars. I couldn’t hold on for 1 transition. NO I didn’t do burpees. Why? Why are you still reading?

At the long over grown blow down ascent which actually might have been kinda cool I caught up with Haidar Hachem. I’m not sure what intrigued me the most, the hat, the hairiness or the stash. Either way, this is Spartan Race. You come for the race and you stay for the people. Hadir is more than a competent athlete.  He began to tell me his story, a similar one to my own except he was actually on pace to finish his Ultra.  As we all were at one point.  But now to finish, to simply try and finish, we just had to walk up this hill and down. That’s all.

The very last bag of bones I can shove into my closet is this:  I pulled my sleeves over my coveted green armbands and hobbled toward… the finish. Fraud. Coward. Quitter. Liar. Cheater.

At the start line I had given up. At mile 3 I had quit. And I stayed quit until the end of my race, the whole Beast distance. My race. NOT yours. Not yours to measure against mine. Not yours to tell me what I did wrong. Not yours to tell me that you are disappointed in me. Not yours to tell me you have lost respect for me. My race. Yes I took a 2014 Beast Medal. I crossed the start line and the finish line and at no point in between did I cut the course, or not carry the weight. I went as long as I could, as far as I could, as well as I could until I could not. No I did not do all the burpees. NO I could not do all the obstacles. It was medically irresponsible for me to continue. It was also ethically irresponsible for me to destroy myself into irreparable harm for a race. Once I finished and took my medal I went to my truck to leave.  And that should have been the end.

253292_10100600883117453_6769654311866755350_nHowever providence struck again as it always does in Sandy Rhee. She made a bus driver stop and let her off as she went by. Sandy has always been there for me, as she has for so many others but Sandy just seems to be there right when she’s needed the most, for me. I was changing to leave. Angry. Demoralized, Crushed. Belittled. Betrayed. Broken physically and mentally. Friendless in a sea of brothers and sisters; and then a friend. So instead I decided to stay. To watch some of my heroes actually complete their Ultra Beast. I did get a chance to meet teammates I only know online.

So yes I am proof that I can finish a Beast, mostly, without any training. But not an ultra. I may never finish an Ultra race. I’m positive I will never finish an Ultra Beast. Now that it is all said and done. I’m done. I’m done with Beasts and trifectas and Spartan races. I will end my Spartan relationship the same place it started. When I started it was fun. It was hard and brutal but fun. Sunday was not fun. It was not fun and it got worse the further I went. That whole useless awful race catered to the Sprint distance at the end and NBC. That’s my opinion, which you are welcome to disagree with, or not. If I wanted to aimlessly hike straight up and down a mountain I would do it in Colorado for free. The distinct lack of obstacle spacing was bullshit and simply carrying something heavy up a hill is not an obstacle. Shit I would have rather the atlas stone carry 5 more times than just some endless up hill sand bag or bucket. No, Spartan has lost any allure for me. I will gladly encourage my teammates to set and accomplish goals. I would even volunteer at a Spartan Race to see and encourage others, but to give my money to that? Not anymore. Racelocal and have fun.

Like all good things this came to and end. I rattled some bones.  I had open and frank discussions with my demon. He wasn’t crushed, quelled, released or any manner of exorcised. He’s still there and he speaks, a lot. A great deal of what you have just suffered through was written on that mountain in between fits of rage and despair. In the end I thought mostly of my Spahten family. I thought about the people, you people. The people I would have to tell “I quit.” Not because I was physically injured requiring immediate medical attention. No I would have to tell you I quit and then suffer all the “good effort man, you really tried” comments. As well-meaning as those are they don’t break skeleton bones. Instead I chose to finish the only way that I could. And if that means I left burpees on Killington that’s fine with me. They are up there with my ego, my pride, some dignity, a couple of aspirations and a belt buckle.  But when it was really. sincerely, all done. I got in my truck put TOOL radio on Pandora and drove 3 hours straight home, by myself, and was still at work at 7am this morning.

Authors note:  This was originally published without reflection or edit.  It was published in raw form, The media added were not mine and the sole choice of the editor, which I am happy with.  After being able to review this I have not changed anything with the exception of deleting some occasional profanities which were unnecessary.  I write what I feel.  After closer inspection I would simply like to say that anyone choosing to do a Spartan Race should most certainly do one or many.  To have the aspiration to complete an obstacle course race on the caliber of Spartan Race is excellent.  My personal experience is varied, and should not influence anyone not to do a race.  I work with my Demon every day and everyday he wins some battles and I try to push through the losses the best that I can.  I don’t do many things for myself and OCR are my chance to beat on that voice inside my head.  On Sunday the Demon had a lot of time and distance to dance in my head and he did so without restraint.  When I write down what I was experiencing you only get the edited 1% of those thoughts.  So again, if you choose to judge me or my choices remember you are judging less than 1% of one race, on one day in the life that I live 24 hours a day, everyday.  Thank you for reading.