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Featured Athlete: Mary Bowen

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* Name: Mary Bowen
* Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/mary.bowen.796
* Age: 29

* What is your day job, and do you have other hobbies?:
I have managed Off the Map Tattoo in Easthampton, MA for the past 6 years. I didn’t necessarily intended on landing in the tattoo industry. I actually graduated UMass Amherst with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Administration with a focus on restaurant management, so needless to say I had a pretty different idea for the future. I can honestly say I have one of the coolest jobs on the planet where I’m able to make a good living, travel often and be surrounded by amazing, creative people every day. I absolutely love what I do.

Outside of work and obstacle courses, I can often be found in the air doing circus aerials at Show Circus in Easthampton. Circus is a newly developing passion of mine. I’ve been taking aerial yoga, aerial silks, trapeze and other assorted circus classes for a year now. I have 4 fur kids (2 cats, 2 dogs) who get lots of my time and attention. We often hit the pavement and trails together. I’m also quite a foodie with an affinity for fine wines & whiskey. I equally enjoy eating out and cooking in!

* When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race
My first race was Rugged Maniac September 2012. My chiropractor Mindi, encouraged me to join her team, and it didn’t take much convincing on my end. Two of my best friends joined, as well as two seasoned OCR runners, and fellow Spahtens, Heather Gannoe and Geoff Hart. I had no idea what to expect, neither did my parents who came to cheerlead, expecting that I was running a road 5k. I think all of us got much more than we expected that day. The enthusiasm and welcoming nature Heather and Geoff had, was an amazing first glance at the OCR community. I remember them telling me about Warrior Dash, the Spartan Ultra Beast, and other races they had conquered and immediately I wanted in on all of it.

The race itself was a great first run. Well organized, fun and challenging. My best friend and I pretty immediately set the goal of running Tough Mudder that spring, which was this past June, and we did in fact annihilate Tough Mudder as our second ever obstacle course. I have since also participated in a 5k and 10k road race, Warrior Dash and Foam Fest and I have a long list of upcoming events!

* What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)
Running my first obstacle course, just doing it, is- and will, remain one of my proudest moments and biggest accomplishments in terms of OCRs and life. In 2010 I was my heaviest at 228 lbs. I was unathletic, unhappy and unmotivated. A series of major life changes followed that lead to 60 lbs of weight loss and a huge shift in my overall attitude, appearance and athleticism. When Mindi asked me to do Rugged Maniac, I went in sort of blindly, not knowing what to expect (certainly not expecting the addiction), but feeling confident because I had been working with a personal trainer for 6 months and attending bootcamps, and the like, for over a year. What surprised me the most about the race, was it’s affects on my mind. Every single obstacle was within my reach physically, but still, at every stop, I questioned myself. In my head I was still 228lb Mary that couldn’t do a push up, let alone run a mile or climb over 10 foot walls. I was overcome with joy, and a sense of pride ever
y time I pulled myself over, under or across an obstacle that I was absolutely convinced I wouldn’t be able to do. It’s a hard thing to explain to someone who’s always been fit, or was never over weight, but your body changes much faster than your brain does and often times we sell ourselves incredibly short. Completing Rugged Maniac was a culmination of many things for me, but mostly a reminder that pushing what we believe to be our own limits, is the only way to really find out what they are.

* What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?
The desire to push myself further. To have something to work for. To have fun! Races definitely help keep me in check physically, and I love a challenge. I also love the camaraderie of the events. I have the best friend in the world, Shawn, who has been by my side for every race to date, and I have made some incredible friends along the way- not just in OCRs but on my weight loss journey. Through classes and events with like minded people on a similar path, I have developed some of the more solid friendships I’ve ever had. Friends that sweat together- stick together!

Oh, and the free beer.

* What are your training and/or diet routines? Do you have other athletic pursuits?
I work out just about every day, all sorts of assorted stuff including running, strength training, spin, circus aerials, yoga, hiking and whatever other fun physical activities I can jump into. I try to keep my diet as natural as possible- I suppose paleo-ish, but without as many rules. I also sporadically do juice cleanses, which I think are an incredible way to detox and reboot.

I am currently training for  the Rock and Roll half marathon in Las Vegas this November. I would like to eventually do a full marathon as well as the Dopey Challenge at Disney, which is 4 days of running- a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon then a full. In the world of OCRs I want to be a 10 time Mudder in the next year, as well as take on the Spartan Trifecta and Ultrabeast. I will definitely be getting season passes for both next year.

* Were you always athletic? If not, what athletic changes have you made to keep up the obstacle course race lifestyle?
As I mentioned, in previous years I was quite over weight and unhealthy. My clean eating, exercise and healthy lifestyle changes in general definitely help facilitate better performance in races, but it definitely goes both ways. Races keep me in check and strict on maintaining my level of fitness. Nothing like the fear of doing 30 Burpees at a failed obstacle to keep you motivated.

* Who, alive or dead, would you invite to run an obstacle course race with you?
Lady Gaga- because we would totally have the most badass costumes on the course.

* Tell us a fun fact about yourself that we may not know!
I was featured as #21 on Buzz Feed’s “31 Reasons Tough Mudder Races are for Crazy People”

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjkiebus/31-reasons-tough-mudder-races-are-for-crazy-people

* What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?
The Big 3-0 is in October, so I’m working towards being in the best shape of my life for that day. Overall, I just want to keep living a healthy conscious lifestyle, adding more obstacle course notches to the bed post, running farther & faster. Maybe running away with the circus someday…

I really look forward to connecting with more Spahtens at upcoming races and being more involved in the OCR community! It’s been an awesome ride so more, and I know it’s just begun!

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Featured Athlete: Joe Benoit

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* Name: Joe Benoit

* Websitehttp://www.edibleendurance.com/

* Age: 9/19/1965

* What is your day job, and do you have other hobbies?:
I work at Trader Joe’s in Shrewsbury,Ma. about 35hrs a week and my own Co.(Edible Endurance) about 20,but that #is growing all the time :). Before TJ’s i ran a asphalt crew for around 20yrs. Ive done many athletic challenges over the years including Body building,Strong man and straight out  running races. Within all this i have studied many different styles of training and countless hrs on nutrition. I did get a personal trainers certificate from The American Academy of Personal Training..a 8month course which included just about everything. I also am a certified Archery hunter and love fishing for Strippers down the cape. Mostly what i love to do is hike mountains..Ive done all 4000ftrs in New Hampshire more than once and several many times.

* When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race
My 1st race was a TM in May of 11,had a blast and racing since,it was also my 2nd(where i placed 5th) and 3rd(3rd). My first SR was the Ultrabeast last year..finished 32nd and it took me10:04,actually left to much in the tank trying to pace myself, as i never did anything like that before,and feel i could have done much better. Won a free season pass and have raced alot this year..which lead me here :). I am having a great time racing and meeting new people,up and down the east coast, and groups,and still learning every race.

* What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)
Ultrabeast. Death Race on radar for next year!

* What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?
Attraction is the competition..keep coming back because of the great people i meet.

* What are your training and/or diet routines? Do you have other athletic pursuits?
At this point in my life nutrition far out ways the training..and is really what i attribute my capabilities to. I run once a week,between 3 and 6 miles,climb/hike once a week and do some strength training in between.Eating right is a daily routine..ALWAYS.

* Were you always athletic? If not, what athletic changes have you made to keep up the obstacle course race lifestyle?
Ive always been an athlete. Started playing hockey at 7 and played through my college years at New Hampshire College,on a scholarship. Dabbled in Lax a bit as well.

* Who, alive or dead, would you invite to run an obstacle course race with you?
Everyone needs to enjoy the fun and people at these events! 🙂

* Tell us a fun fact about yourself that we may not know!
n/a 🙂

* What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?
I would like to finish this year in the top 50 and #1 in my age group across the nation.

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Featured Athlete: Tom Turck

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* Name: Tom Turck
* Website: https://www.facebook.com/tom.turck
* Age: 49

* What is your day job, and do you have other hobbies?:
System Administrator, Microsoft Application Server specialist. Firewall and F5 dilettante I’m the “internet guy” the “e-mail guy” and sometimes “the firewall guy.” I have worked at IT for a few organizations in Boston, but now I work for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the Department of Revenue.
I love oudoor activities like hiking, camping, paddling. Also very intersted in traditional living skills, history and study the natiive language Abenaki-Penobscot. I put some of that together and do “Native” re-enacting as it is known in the re-enactor world.

* When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race
Warrior Dash New Hampshire Sept 2012 was my first OCR. I started training for it in August by doing the Tough Mudder bootcamp and trail running in the Middlesex Fells. I went to the back of the wave, everyone looked so fit and buff… Well you know I charged up the hill and began passing people, younger people, ripped dudes with no shirts on. Near the top I was neck and neck with a really thin, fit looking 20 year old guy. We hauled ourselves over the wall and he about collapsed. I took off and never saw him again. By the time I went down the mudslide I was in love, it was everything I loved about rugby, except getting hit by a couple 200 lbs 6 foot dudes.

* What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)
Running the Tough Mudder at Gunstock this year Saturday and Sunday. Saturday I tagged along with a team and it took like 5 hours, but Sunday I just ran it and it only took 3. I absolutely doubted I could even do one when I registerd for the Mudder in the fall of 2012. I have serious back problems and had a corrective operation when I was 16 and I always allowed the back pain to limit myself.

* What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?
Getting dirty, bruised, cut up, banged up, bug bit, sun burned and worn down makes me happy! I also like the functional fitness aspect of OCR’s where it helps to have whole body fitness instead of just one area. I keep coming back for the fun atmosphere at the races.

* What are your training and/or diet routines? Do you have other athletic pursuits?
I eat a pretty paleo-friendly diet no refined carbs, lots of fiber and lean protien. I eat dairy and corn. We have a farm share and I try to use it 100% so I get a lot of quality rabbit food. I cheat a little on the weekends and eat a pizza and a pastry. I also use a lot of supplements, Isopure Zero Carb Whey Protein, creatine, bcaas, glutamine, hmb, zma, glucosamine, chondroitin.
Working out: M-W-F I use the Spartacus Workouts from mens health, except I insert burpees, ski jumpers or jump rope where it says “rest for 2 minutes” Often I try to do two differnt Spartacus routines with an ab workout to seperate them. Thurs, Sat and Sun are running days when I try to get a long run in, My favorite place to run is the Skyline Trail in the Middlesex Fells with Bear Hill.
I really enjoy running and trail running. I just finished my first marathon and I am dreaming of Leadville.

* Were you always athletic? If not, what athletic changes have you made to keep up the obstacle course race lifestyle?
As a kid I was very active. I played soccer, and I wrestled. When I was 16 my back pain became really severe and I underwent surgery for Spondylolisthesis which is a displaced vertebrae. The doctor read me the riot act: no contact sports, minimal exercise, nothing weight bearing like backpacking or lifting. Thus I let my nerd flag fly and became increasingly a sedentary computer nerd.
Four years ago I weighed in at about 235 lbs and had two epic raiding toons in the World of Warcraft. I suffered a lot from back pain, fell asleep after lunch, got a lot of sinus infections, saw stars when I turned my head. I saw the light and cut some weight. For a long time I was at a reasonable 180 lbs and my weight would go up and down. Then it became clear, I was a dude with problems and I liked it that way. So I decided to make my problem that I work out too much, that I spend too much on supplements and race registrations, had too many athletic shoes. Instead of accepting “good enough” to ramp it up and learn to love the pain in the gym, on the trail and that was a good problem to have. Well that attitude got me from 180 to 168 and from size XL to size Medium. It gives me endless energy to take care of my kids and play with them.

* Who, alive or dead, would you invite to run an obstacle course race with you?
Remember the Apocalypto movie? Those guys!

* Tell us a fun fact about yourself that we may not know!
I am good at starting bow drill fires and flint and steel fires.

* What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?
Spartan Beast Saturday and Sunday this year and the Trail Animals Ultra in the Middlesex Fells this December.

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Featured Athlete: Vince Rhee

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* Name: Vince Rhee
* Website:
* Age: 45

* What is your day job, and do you have other hobbies?:
By day, I’m a software solutions consultant for a mobile analytics shop, meaning I develop custom software solutions and provide data analysis for some of the big mobile operators in the country (think AT&T big). Could do without the 50-minute commute (one-way) into Westborough, but it’s a been a pretty good gig so far.

My main hobbies are photography (shocking, I know) and travel, and the two dovetail nicely. I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel this country and part of the world in my adult life, and for the past 10 some-odd years, it’s always been with a camera not too far away. Wish I had time to do both a lot more…

* When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race
Technically, my first obstacle race was the Warrior Dash in 2011 at Amesbury. I say “technically”, as less than half a mile into the race, I was badly acquainted with a muddy slope and suffered a grade 1 strain of my hamstring… got to be carted down the hill on one of the gators and everything. End of race.

Realistically, my first race was the Spartan Sprint in 2011, also at Amesbury. Finished the race this time–even managed to get the spear throw!… and I hated every single minute of the whole ordeal. Never been more miserable. No sense of accomplishment, just finality–I’m done, give me my medal, and the f*** if I’m ever doing this again.

* What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)
Honestly, my biggest accomplishment has little to do with any given race itself, but rather just the fact that I’m racing at all. Overcoming the mental hurdle of my past miserable experience and now actively engaging in obstacle races–that’s the accomplishment.

Something more tangible? Ask me again at the end of 2013–the good stuff is yet to come. 🙂

* What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?
My main attraction has little to do with the obstacles or the races. The main attraction for me is the group I now run these races with. Not just one person or two people, but 10… 20… a hundred and more. It took me a while, but I finally came to understand why Sandy considered the New England Spahtens to be her second family… because that what the Spahtens are. Friends, supporters, eggers-on, pick-me-uppers. This team–beyond any individual accomplishment I may derive–is the reason I race. This team is my inspiration.

(Hallmark moment over.)

Granted, I have a newfound appreciation for the races themselves, but without the camaraderie, I don’t know that I’d actually enjoy them.

* What are your training and/or diet routines? Do you have other athletic pursuits?
My training plan is fairly uninteresting and possibly inadequate: Try to run 3 times a week, gym once a week (slacking badly on even this miniscule target) for some strength work, and soon to add at-home HIIT work a couple times a week.

Diet? Now that’s funny.

My only other athletic pursuit is very related to OCR, and it’s a rediscovered love of plain ol’ running. 5K, 10K, (more?), that sort of thing.

* Were you always athletic? If not, what athletic changes have you made to keep up the obstacle course race lifestyle?
Athletic? Not sure about that, but I did used to always find myself doing stuff.

As a kid and into high school, I played tons of soccer. City league mostly, but I did play for the high school team my freshman year. Then it was golf (* – saving discussions of golf as a “sport” for another time…) for three years on the high school team after that.

In college–especially in grad school–I picked up road racing for fun. Mostly 5K, 10K sort of stuff. Once I moved to Austin for grad school, I discovered that city had pretty much year-round running events, and I actually got pretty decent–5K in around 26:00, 10K in the low 50s. But once I left school, I pretty much stopped. Not sure why… kinda wish I hadn’t, though, but at least I’m now reacquainting myself with that past love.

* Who, alive or dead, would you invite to run an obstacle course race with you?
My dad, bar none. Back in the day, he was an athlete himself (national-caliber gymnast), and he’s always been doing something. When I comes to pretty much anything sports, he’s the one who taught me.

Courtesy of a horrific car accident back in 2000 that nearly killed him, he doesn’t get around as well these days (though I know he still wants to get at it). But whether it would be running with my dad of old or just slowly working my way through with my dad of today, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

* Tell us a fun fact about yourself that we may not know!
I own CDs by both ABBA and the Bee Gees. Does that count as fun?

* What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?
As of the time I’m writing this (late July), I have two main goals: (1) Complete the Spartan Sprint (Amesbury) in August and the Super (Tri-State) and Beast (VT) in September for my 2013 Spartan trifecta… from loathing my one and only Spartan to date to knocking off the trifecta, that would be something; and (2) Complete the Smuttynose half-marathon in October–my first half-marathon ever and the longest single road race I’ll have ever run (so far?).

2014? Who knows… but I’m sure it will be fun.

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Featured Athlete: Louise Benson

* Name: Louise Benson
* Age: 57

* Career: Special Education Teacher/ Team Facilitator Lawrence

* Hobbies: Baking, sewing, gardening, yoga

* When did I start OCR:

I started attending events with my husband last year.  I offered to watch people’s keys and bags during the events and became an un-official Spahten, lol.
I was attracted to this group because of the positive attitude and friendly people in the group.

* Training and Diet:

I do moderate yoga stretching, walking on the treadmill, and try really hard not to eat too many treats. I have never been what anyone would call an athlete.  I am a person with physical disabilities from Polio.

* Fun Facts:

* I was born A “perfect Baby Girl” on Sept. 6, 1955 with a head full of fiery red hair, a true “carrot top”.  I know this to be true because it is in my baby book.
*A week later Dr. Saulk perfected the Polio Vaccine.
6 weeks later I was admitted to the hospital with PoIio. I spent a year in Boston Children’s Hospital and 18 months in a full body cast. My left arm is paralyzed. I also have weaker leg muscles.
The doctors were going to fit me for braces because,  “ She will never be able to walk without them.” Luck was on my side. I had a reaction to the tape and plaster cast and my rash covered swollen legs could not be fitted. We went home without a cast and doctor’s orders “DO NOT let her get up on her feet! She will hurt her hip alignment and spine” Well, I climbed all over my crib, climbed the chairs, and never did get those braces. The doctors were very pleasantly surprised that I had more muscles than they thought.

* My Role Model:

Mom was a woman with tremendous will to overcome greater impairment than my own. She had Polio also. She raised 4 children from a wheelchair, with 3 paralyzed limbs. A better role model I could never ask for. She did everything to take care of her family.

I was raised in a “ No Excuses, you can do anything you really put your mind to atmosphere”. I have graduated from College, Master’s Degree in Special education and do as much as I can to help others who struggle with disabilities. The goal is not perfection it is progress.

* My Goal:

Exercise to improve my strength and balance to the best of my ability. The virtual Races are perfect for me. I can do the miles on my treadmill at home. They motivate me to be more consistent with my exercises. I believe that if you practice you will make progress.

New England Spahten and Virtual Event participant

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Featured Athlete: Michael Downey

* Name: michael downey
* Website:
* Age: 32

* What is your day job, and do you have other hobbies?:
i work for a commercial kitchen repair company for a living just kinda doing the normal office stuff nothing to exciting but gets me the $$$$ for OCR .a few of my hobbies are computers , gaming ( though this has been cut back quiet a bit with me focusing more time on getting healtiy) , and playing box lacrosse. i play in a amateur  tournament one a year with other fans of the NLL who come from all across the U.S.A. and Canada and we have a great time and this tournament is very much like the commendatory i feel from OCR just people having fun doing something new

* When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race

My first OCR was the spartan sprint at fenway park in 2012. a few months back the spahtens published a little write up about my first race. in short it was living hell for me and i honestly did not think i was going to finish but once i broke through the wall i just got into the zone and kept moving forward till i hit the finish line http://www.newenglandspahtens.com/spahten-story-mike-downey/

* What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)

so far my accomplishment to date was doing the citi field sprint in 1hr 38 min . for me it was a big accomplishment because going into the race i set a goal of finishing in 2 hours flat and i smashed that goal. but i am not done by a long shot i got bigger and better goals that i will reach in OCR races

* What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?

to me i stink at running so i like the fact the obstacles help break up the running aspect of the race and i think its honestly something fun and different to do to keep me moving and exercising and its a great way to spend a Saturday outside  . what keeps me coming back is the fact that i have a LOT of room for improvement and there is room for me to get better and faster and that drives me to want to come back and prove to myself that i am better

* What are your training and/or diet routines? Do you have other athletic pursuits?
i am just in the begining phase of getting my training to more of a formal routine. i joined a low end national chain gym the beginning of this year just to kinda get the ball rolling and now i am in the process of moving to a better gym, i have a amazing workout program i got from a friend of the spahtens Rich over at mountain strength cross fit. my diet is somewhere i am still very much a work in progress but i have been working on more fruits, cutting the soda WAY down and eating better meals and less late night snacking. right now i dont have much else for athletic pursuits but i might try and pick up a few new classes at the gym to make it fun

* Were you always athletic? If not, what athletic changes have you made to keep up the obstacle course race lifestyle?
not really when i was a kid i played baseball and hockey but by the time i was a teenager i kinda replaced that with working a lot and up until 2010 was not all that active. even when i was getting ready for the spartan sprint at fenway i was not super active and dident do all that much to prepare for it because i really dident know what to expect. it was only after that butt whooping i got that i open my eyes and see i need to change things. a few changes i have made are to walk a bit more, even at lunch if i can get away from my desk take a quik stroll around the complex and keep the blood flowing and just anytime i am in a situation where there is a EASY way to do or get somewhere or the harder way i pick the harder way now.

* Who, alive or dead, would you invite to run an obstacle course race with you?
George Washington, i think it would be cool to get one on one time with a founding father and get to show him how far this country has gone and what we now do for fun, also there is just so much that i would love to ask and talk to him about with what we have gotten right and what we missed on with how we interpreted there words and original ideas

* Tell us a fun fact about yourself that we may not know!
i am sure this is always the hardest part for everyone to fill out. i guess the fact its taken me like 15 mins to fill out this part should tell you i am not all that fun lol. for the most part i am a quiet laid back type of guy and OCR racing this year has been my main focal point. i am a big movie buff and have a collection that is entirely to big for the average person. last year while at mayhem fest had a revelation that i was now that guy that all the younger kids were wondering way i was there cause i look to old for that crowd. i also enjoy spending time and playing with my roomates pugs i think they are the coolest dogs in the world

* What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?
just like most of us in the OCR racing i would love to get a TRIFECTA next year ( this year is out due to money and time constraints ) i would also like to complete a tough mudder and maybe find a few other big challenging races out there i always love to find a new race that pushes me that much more out of my comfort zone.

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A chat with Ruckus

I just got off the phone with the CEO of Ruckus Sports.

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He heard us, loud and clear. He understands and accepts that they dropped the ball. They want to make things better, and improve their events, and work through the things people complained about.

  • His priority is the course – previously, they have had innovative and challenging courses and course design – and this year, well, not so much. They understand that we missed the signature obstacles we loved from previous years.
  • He discussed spectator tickets – as an event that has a history of being the most spectator friendly event on the calendar (which I would agree with whole-heartedly), they get that charging your spouses $20 a head to get in isn’t so friendly.
  • We also talked about “medalgate”, and the possible options they have for the future, especially now that glasses are going to be expected by many.

 

It was a very positive call – Ruckus prides themselves on being leaders in the industry, and are going to great lengths to present a more professional event and experience, something I’ve seen first hand with my behind the scenes work with them. They are also a data driven company – as reviews of their races come in, they make changes to respond to those reviews and ratings.

Which is where I think many of the issues stem from – when someone reviews an obstacle and marks it poorly, is it because the obstacle was at fault, or because they couldn’t do it? That’s the reason the Air Loops were missing – the poorest rated obstacle from 2012. When a review lets Ruckus know that 70% of respondents want glasses instead of medals, that didn’t take into account the emotion the remaining 30% have for medals – or the new runners coming out with their friends and families for their first medal, or that medals are displayed proudly back at home in many places.

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Data is something you have to use, but neglecting the emotion and personal feelings is what gave us the lowest ranked event in Ruckus history.

Personally though – I’m confident that they heard us loud and clear, and future events will respond appropriately. I’m signed up to run the Fearless Fall 5k, and I am certainly going to be among the first to sign up for the 2014 event, when it’s available.

Ruckus screwed up. They own it, and they want to fix it. I’m excited to see how they do that next year. 

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Featured Athlete: Kandice Fogarty

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* Name: Kandice Fogarty
* Website: N/A
* Age: 29

* What is your day job, and do you have other hobbies?:
I am a Registered Nurse in a busy pediatric office. It is a Monday-Friday job with most weekends/holidays off…pretty much unheard of for a nurse! I enjoy working with kids and love that I have lots of free time with my family and to do other things I love, such as OCR.

I don’t have any other hobbies that I am truly passionate about. I like to be crafty. I find coloring very therapeutic. I like to do puzzles. Mostly I just want to be outside…be it on a mountain, at the beach, in a tree, etc.  Nature inspires me 🙂

* When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race
My very first OCR was the WarriorDash in Amesbury in 2011. I signed up on a whim. We ran in the first heat, which got delayed due to thunderstorms. It was super muddy and …. fun!? I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. Running was a fairly new thing for me and decided to challenge myself. After the race I learned of “a similar” race that was coming to the same venue a couple months later–so I went home and immediately signed up for my first Spartan Race (Amesbury 2011).

As most of you know, there really is no comparison between WD and SR.  During the sprint we all had moments of thinking and expressing “this sucks,” “why are we doing this,” etc as soon as we crossed the finish line, we knew…and we couldn’t wait to do it again! The rest is history. I was hooked and determined to find and do more!

* What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)
Hmm..for me getting out there and doing the race in the first place was way out of my comfort zone. Once I got that out of that out of the way, I would say being ble to complete previously failed obstacles (I.e. traverse wall at Fenway, spear throw in NC) felt pretty good. Someday, I will ring the bell at the top of that rope!
Doing th hurricane heat in North Carolina was pretty cool too. I was not sure what to expect, but I went and I did it and loved every second of it.

What makes me most proud, though, is having people tell me that I inspire them. Being a positive role model for my kids and proving to myself that I CAN (and will) do it!

* What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?
Mud. Obstacles. Challenges. People. All things that I can say used to scare me/intimidate me.

I was never one who liked to get dirty (and for the most part, I still don’t). I won’t put a worm on a hook for fishing, won’t touch a fish if catch it. I will now splash in puddles with the kids, play in the dirt and get a little filthy from time to time. With the races there is something exhilarating about being waist deep in mud (or maybe it’s just because its refreshingly cool on those hot days!?). Either way, I can now say I love mud! Especially when I’m with others.

Obstacles and challenges go hand in hand. Many of the obstacles are a challenge for me. It gives me a goal, something to work towards and get better at.  If I can avoid burpees, I will.

The people. Yes, you guys! I’ve always been on the shy side. It took a lot for me to muster up the guts to meet up with the Spahtens at the first race I did with them last July (Finish at the 50)…I again stepped out of my comfort zone and just did it. It was painful and I don’t think I said more than 5 words but I got through it.  Everyone was very nice, welcoming and  made me feel like a part of the group. As I started doing more and more races with the team, I have come out of my shell. I truly enjoy meeting new people, sharing experiences, getting motivated, inspired and encouraged all along the way. None of us are the same, we are all at different levels, different paces, different strengths & weaknesses…but we are all accepted. We are a community, we are the NE Spahtens.

* What are your training and/or diet routines? Do you have other athletic pursuits?
Currently I am following a wheat free diet. Mostly because  I was having issues with joint pain. Other than eliminating wheat I don’t have a strict diet routine. I aim for smaller portions, frequent small meals/snacks, and try to make overall healthier choices. I drink tons of water.

For activity I do better in groups. I take Zumba 2-3 classes /week, RIP twice a week, and I try to do yoga at least once a week. When able I try to make group training sessions (with James, Lisa, Eric or team WTF). I plan to start running more and may start doing Insanity again.

I would like to run another half marathon in the fall (I ran my first last February). I am going for my trifecta this year (just registered for the Utah Beast!). Other than that I just want to stay active and participate in as many races as possible.

* Were you always athletic? If not, what athletic changes have you made to keep up the obstacle course race lifestyle?
NO, not at all. When I was in grade school I played soccer. In middle school and high school I was the manager for the wrestling team. I went to the gym with the team from time to time, but I was never athletic.

After having my third son, three years ago I decided enough was enough. I was tired, obese, lazy, and unhappy. It was time for a change. For the first time in my life I made time for ME. I went to the gym, I signed up for races, I took group ex classes, made friends with similar interests. That is when my “athletic” days began. I am about 100lbs less than I was at my heaviest. I am a lot happier and feel so much better.

I still have a ways to go, goals to achieve, weight to lose, strength to gain. I am on a journey.

* Who, alive or dead, would you invite to run an obstacle course race with you?
I would love to get my sister, brother and best friend Josh to run the races with me. ::Wink wink:: Also, it would be super cool if my dad would do Fenway, as he is a huge Red Sox fan.

* Tell us a fun fact about yourself that we may not know!
Hmm… I had a paper route when I was younger (that was about as activess i got). I was nominated by my customers and won newspaper carrier of the year.

I know there has been some questions/confusion in the group, so let me clarify. Andrew and I were (are) married, we are in the midst of a divorce and are completely amicable. Our relationship has been on the rocks for a very long time. We have both moved on and want the best for each other and our three kids. Without looking I met an amazing guy (Jim) we had an instant connection, he brings so much light and joy to my life. I am looking forward to our future together. There is no tension between Andrew and I and there is no need for anyone to feel they need to pick a side. We are all friends here, or at least mature enough to accept it for what it is.

* What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?
Next on the agenda:
June 1- Adventure 5k
June 2- Tri-State Spartan Sprint
June 8- Super Hero Scramble (x2)
June 15- Ruckus
June 28- Utah Spartan BEAST (eek!)

…and many more.

This year I will get my trifecta. I will run another half marathon. I will talk to a stranger. I will encourage and help someone in need. I will smile more often. I will become a better and stronger me 🙂

Oh, and I’ll do as many races, that coincide with my schedule, as I can afford.

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Featured Athlete: Mario Da Silva

 

* Name: Mario Da Silva
* Website: http://facebook.com/mario41075
* Age: 38

* What is your day job, and do you have other hobbies?:
I’m the 2nd shift (2pm-10pm) Supervisor at Ryerson Steel in Devens Ma.
The ONLY thing I like about it is that I get to do all my training runs in the AM, while thee sun is up!

I really have no hobbies to speak of, unless you consider running in many races of any type a hobbie. I spend as much time with my little girl as possible and the rest of my time is taken up by Work, Training runs, Weight training and living a fitness lifestyle.

* When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race
I guess you can say I started June 25 2011 when I decided to Run in the Warrior Dash in Amesbury Ma.
I saw the ad for it in Men’s Health and figured why not it looks like fun.
It was really cool running through and over obstacles all the while trying to get to the finish line through the most mud I’d ever seen in my life! It was a Blast!
I completed the race with a time of 37:15, at 1st I was like this was fun but my time was horrible of course I was comparing it to a normal 5K time.
Once I spoke to a bunch of people I realized my time wasn’t bad at all. so i decided to sign up for a few more OCR’s.

* What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)
My Biggest accomplishment was completing the Spartan VT Beast in 2012 with a time of 5:06:23, because I had completed the VT Beast the previous year 2011 in 6:18:06.
I signed up thinking if I can run Marathons and Half Marathons it shouldn’t be too bad; and it kicked my ass!
So I vowed to do some serious OCR training to come back and better my time, had I not waited 20mins for a life vest my time would’ve been better than 5:06:23. I got Inked, for coming back and improving my time by a little over an hour.

* What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?
I’m attracted to obstacle races because I love the challenge of the courses, the thrill of running, the comradery and friendships you make at these events. That’s what keeps me coming back.

* What are your training and/or diet routines? Do you have other athletic pursuits?
My training consists of a lot of running, long runs and short speed and hill work. I also weight train a few days a week keeping it heavy. I do circuits with heavy weight to keep my body confused from getting bored.
My diet is pretty strict, No Deep Fried Foods, No Beer, No Fatty Meats, No Pastries, Breads and Pastas. No Soda. I live on Fruits, Veggies, Lean Clean Meats, Fish, Protein Bars/Powders and Tofu. On rare occasions I’ll splurge a little but never ever with Deep Fried, or McDonald’s, BK, Wendy’s or Sonic. *Abs are 80% diet%
Other than Obstacle Racing my other Athletic pursuit is Road Racing and Marathons after all that’s where my love for Obstacle racing started.

* Were you always athletic? If not, what athletic changes have you made to keep up the obstacle course race lifestyle?
I haven’t always been athletic. Far from it, I was a beer drinking, 2 pack a day smoking, McDonalds Eating (breakfast, lunch and dinner) 210lb slob!
When my little girl stated crawling I was playing with her and within 15 maybe 20 minutes I was winded and went outside for a smoke. As I was standing there smoking away
It clicked! If I’m this tired crawling around with her what the heck’s going to happen when she stats walking and running? I put out the cigarette and quit right there and then.
As overweight as I was I took up running the next day to curb the urge to smoke and to start changing my life for the better. It wasn’t easy by any means, it was Horrible, Brutal, but I stuck with it and today 8 years later I’m proud to say I’m a lean 155lbs that can run Marathons, Spartan Beasts and anything in between then drive home after the event.

* Who, alive or dead, would you invite to run an obstacle course race with you?
I’ve got nothing on this one.

* Tell us a fun fact about yourself that we may not know!
In my spare time, what very little I have I enjoy watching Movies. Action, Adventure, Comedies, Mystery and Dramas. I don’t get into who’s playing the roles and don’t watch movies because of who’s in them. If it sounds interesting add it to my list. I don’t watch Television because of all the commercials, with Movies/DVD’s I can just stop it go to bed and resume it the next chance I have time.

***Peanut Butter is my Kryptonite (Naturally More, Traders Joes Unsalted, and any Natural Peanut Butter)***

* What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?
My Future goals for 2013 are to Run a Strong (3:00/3:05) Boston 2014 Qualifier, Run a good (3:10/3:15) finishing time in the Chicago Marathon, Complete the Spartan TRIFECTA and Complete the Ultra Beast. As for 2014, Complete the Dopey Challenge running in all 4 races. Run the BAA Distance Medley & Marathon, and Complete the Spartan TRIFECTA. But above all else continue living a Healthy and Fit lifestyle.

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Featured Athlete: Shaina Brooks

 

*Name: Shaina Brooks

* Website:
* Age: 29

* What is your day job, and do you have other hobbies?:
By day I work as a Quality Assurance Coordinator at a large human services agency that serves mostly youth and families Central Massachusetts and beyond. I’m the behind the scenes person at a desk all day making reports and going through data making sure things in the agency, from programs to staff work, are going the way they should. I HATE working at a desk. Like my job, and going through data and such, but sitting all day is such a drag! Someday I will figure out what I want to do when I grow up that includes not so much bum sitting.

By night I’m a mom of 3 girls, and have been a “single” parent most of their lives. I also have a wonderful boyfriend and a step daughter who I never get to see enough and am due to add to our family in August 2013. My hobbies revolve around these people. I love to dabble in new things all the time, but the constants for me are hiking, camping, fishing, working on the farm, and finding adventures every chance we can get. It is rare to have a weekend at home for us. I was also getting into rock climbing but an injured belay partner and a far away life partner forced me to put climbing on hold and now I’m just too big to try to scale a wall!

* When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race
In May 2011 my work held their first 5k and I decided that it was time that I actually try exercising and see if I could actually run. After completing my first 5k I was pumped and Scot (my guy!) and I decided that would should definitely do this Tough Mudder thing we heard of and started training (kind of). Well, the Army intervened in our big plans and Scot ended up being shipped off to NJ and we didn’t get to complete our Tough Mudder as planned. Instead we decided that we were going to try out this Spartan Race we saw something about that was in Amesbury in August 2012. Training for the race was something we could do together without actually having to be in each others’ presence. In the mean time I found the MA Spahtens on facebook, somewhere around the beginning of 2012, and started following these amazing new type of people.

Long story turned shorter… I dragged my sister for my first practice OCR to the Run for Your Lives event in May 2012 in Amesbury. We dressed up as “survivors,” including the large hydration pack I would carry to many races and runs throughout the year, and we had a blast. It was no OCR in my mind, even then. No challenge, the obstacles were minor inconveniences, the biggest obstacle was the mud, which I spent a lot of time playing in, not so much running through. Why not since the “zombies” got all my flags early in the race? It was still a lot of fun, and got me amped for the Tuff Scrambler race that was next on my calendar a couple weeks later with some random girl asking for people to run with, some “Kay Norm”….

* What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)
“Of course she would say the Spartan Beast!” Yes, I HAVE  to say the Beast. And of course I have a big story to go with it…. I spent a lot of 2012 plagued with poison ivy rashes. Very horribly bad poison ivy rashes that put me out weeks at a time. This killed my immune system, along with the steroids the doctors thought would be a fabulous idea to put me on (never again!). If you see many of my pictures from 2012 Spartan races I’m wearing arm sleeves. This was not necessarily cause they are very handy for OCRs, but because my arms were either sleeved in poison ivy blisters, or to protect the scars. It was very handy that the Spahtens came out with their very own for the Beast!

After doing the Amesbury Sprint, then the  NJ Super 3 weeks later, by the time the Beast rolled around I was sick. Respiratory Infection type of sick. I could stand without coughing a lung. It was awful but Scot and I were getting our Trifecta, he would carry me if need be! Luckily that was not necessary, even though I was an idiot an badly bruised my tailbone 2 days before, fell in a hole and sprained my ankle at the sandbag carry, and spent most of the race coughing and dry heaving and just miserable. I wasn’t going to give up though, I had a race to complete, a goal to meet, and it was going to get done. And it was done. It took 9 hours and waayyy too many burpees, but I did it. I made it across the frigid water with my horrible swimming abilities, I tackled those hills, I did every obstacle or every painful burpee to go with it. When I crossed that finish line, I earned that medal, and the trifecta medal to go with it. And I am so lucky to have had the best and most suppo
rtive running partner through each race to get there, and especially the Beast. We had done it, despite the miles and everything that got in the way (getting time off from the Army is not easy!), we had earned our Trifecta together. It was the ultimate start to a racing “career” and the defining point in an amazing relationship.

* What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?
Well it’s certainly not the running! I love the thrill of a race though. Crossing any finish line is such a great feeling. Obstacle races are so much more though. It’s an all over body and mind test. I love it, I love not only completing the race, but each and every obstacle that it took to get there. Plus getting dirty. Getting dirty means you had fun, just ask my kids!
I keep coming back for the thrill, but it’s the NE Spahtens that keep me from forgetting. If it weren’t for my teammates I wouldn’t be where I am. I’ve had lots of lows, and watching them inspires me to keep going. I’m on a racing hiatus until November, but I’m still here, I’m still hanging out, chasing these people around where I can. I love their energy, their support, and especially all the laughs they are good for!

* What are your training and/or diet routines? Do you have other athletic pursuits?
I tend to do a lot of HIIT style training, so mostly body weight training. Running is also a must of course. I also am very big on hiking with rucks and carrying weights, which is what you would tend to find me doing most weekends. Last year it was usually with my 3 year old in a pack with weight and carrying a rock. I have a pet rock and it is fabulous. And don’t forget the playground- parents with kids must show all the children and especially the lazy parents up on the monkey bars! Most of all I find getting together with other OCracers is the best training. Knowing you’re amongst your peers gives you that extra drive, and also teaches you new skills. Plus they’re damn fun to be around. As of right now though, I have tried to follow for Spahten workouts, but mostly I am doing weight training with some cardio in the form of wogging (walk/jog/waddle), stairmill, and hiking. It’s fun working with weights, especially with the big belly and the funny looks, but I can’t wait to
get back to the real training! All of this is when I have time I should add. I have to work 40 hours a week and so squeezing in workout time before I have to pick up my kids from daycare is always a challenge. And I suck at working out at home, I’m not going to hide that, I like my away time in the gym or woods.

My diet is pretty lax. I tried counting calories and such before and all it did was leave me stressed beyond belief and hungry. I eat as clean as possible, sometimes I’m able to make our bread and bars and breakfast, etc. but again that takes time and time at home and I’m not always the best at it. We rarely eat out of a box, unless it’s one of those fancy meatless products. We eat a variety of proteins, trying not to eat meat every day. I try for fruits and veggies at every meal in large amounts. Most of what i cook has something veggie added to it, Scot has certain names for my cooking and him and my kids know that there’s usually a healthy catch. I’m not afraid to eat a chili dog with a good beer either and follow it up with some ice cream. I’m strong, I’m fit, I kick butt, I’m going to eat to make my body and my mind healthy.
I was supposed to do a half this year and try for either the Ultra or Team Ultra with Scot, but those aspirations will have to wait until next year. The half will be not a big thing, the Ultra though… getting in is the real battle!

* Were you always athletic? If not, what athletic changes have you made to keep up the obstacle course race lifestyle?
I was always active, not so much athletic. Growing up in an Army family we moved a lot and I never signed up for sports. Once I reached high school I wanted to play sports but the kids in the small town I moved back to were already in their clicks and I was too embarrassed about my lack of athletic abilities. Until my first 5k, running even a mile was a joke to me. The only thing that really needed changing with me was my attitude. It’s definitely our minds that stop us far before our capabilities. I always had the athletic body, (have you seen my calves?!) I just had to learn how to use it, and how to quiet the “can’t do’s” in my mind. Believe me, I still think “What the hell am I doing?!” a majority of the time when I’m working out, especially running, but I know that at the end I’ll be very happy I did it.

* Who, alive or dead, would you invite to run an obstacle course race with you?
I invited my mom over and over and over again. She’s run with me, she’s done some training with me, she’s watched me race. And now that I’ve been training with her while pregnant, she’s finally agreed to do my return OCR with me! It could be cause it’s the perfect year for it on the perfect day, but she’s doing it and she is definitely a badass Spahten!

* Tell us a fun fact about yourself that we may not know!
I’m a pretty open book, not much you don’t see! How about I’ve moved in some amount over 15 times, maybe closer to 20, (college doesn’t count) in my life, in 2 countries and 3 states. I love the mobile life and really wish I could travel around the country and beyond, which is one of the reasons why I always wanted to enlist in the military. Some day I will travel again!

* What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?
My short term goal is to complete the Rugged Maniac about 6 weeks postpartum with my mom and my best friend for both of their first OCR. This will help prep me for my first Spartan of the year at Fenway. Next year I want to get in a half and as many OCRs as I can but with 5 kids and little time, funds, and severe lack of sitters, I’ll be doing mostly training! I can’t say what’s in my future. I hope big things. I don’t plan well, and times always change. Three years ago I never thought I would run a mile, a year later I ran my first 10k pushing my 3 and 4 year old in a stroller I had just bought a few days before. I’m ready to jump at any opportunity life sends my way.  I would like to do some adventure racing, some day probably far away. No, I don’t plan on ever running a marathon, it sounds torturous to me, but who knows what future me thinks. As long as I’m inspiring my girls and making sure that they don’t ever have to be too afraid to do anything that comes their way, wh
ether it be a sport at school or a college application, I’m happy with whatever I am doing.