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Official stance on burpees (for NES)

Who would have thought that burpees would continue to be so controversial in 2016? That explosive physical movement that Spartan Race brought to our collective minds as a penalty – 30 of them – when you “failed” at an obstacle at one of their events.

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There was a time when I genuinely thought that if you couldn’t do 30 burpees in a row, then you should probably not sign up for a race of such integrity and physical challenge like a Spartan. Maybe go do a Warrior Dash, or Rugged Maniac – or an easier, less demanding course with no penalty.

12530890_1727321334157591_1112189754_nThen, after seeing countless new comers to the sport get the OCR bug, and push themselves to their limits – sloppy burpee after sloppy burpee – or their own burpee equivalent – and cross the finish line full of pride, and new found love for themselves, I took my head out of my ass and got over myself.

It seems it’s every season this conversation comes up too – newbies are told both extremes – they should try their hardest, but not worry about it too much … or no, they should do their 30 burpees – it’ll change their lives and make them better people – it’s the Spartan Way and Joe always intended it that way. In some dark corners of the OCR internet, it can be quite rudely put too.

The people who bring it up, tend to be newbies nervous for their first event, or fan boys in year two or three of their Spartan Race Life Cycle and CAUGHT someone CHEATING on their BURPEES at the last event.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 11.01.04 PMI’ve gone on at length in the past explaining my personal views – and I’ve gotten into debates, discussions, arguments and internet shouting matches with people about this before. I’m not going to do it again.

What I am going to do is to explain the stance of the New England Spahtens – our community’s official stance on “The Burpee Situation” as it exists today, in 2016. As the sport develops, this may change. For now though:

If you are participating in the OPEN waves of a Spartan Race:

You are asked to do 30 burpees at each failed obstacle. If you can, do so. If you can’t – modify, adapt and overcome to the best of your ability. Be kind to the volunteers, they don’t know your circumstances. Cross that finish line proud of your effort, but don’t boast about your finish time.

If you are participating in the new Competitive, or the Elite wave of a Spartan Race:

Do your damn burpees.

If you see someone struggling with their burpee form, or unable to count to 30, or doing something else entirely, or even walking right on by, whistling show tunes under their breath:

Mind you own damn business. If it’s THAT important to you, run in the Competitive or Elite waves, and complain all day about your fellow competitors.

Lastly, it’s been pointed out before that IT’S IN THE RULES! Spartan REQUIRE you to do 30 perfect form burpees, or you get time penalties – or maybe even disqualified!

Excerpt from the current Spartan Race Rule Book (dated 2014!) - does this sound like it's applicable to Open waves?" width="708" height="141" /> Excerpt from the current Spartan Race Rule Book (dated 2014!) - does this sound like it's applicable to Open waves?
Excerpt from the current Spartan Race Rule Book (dated 2014!) – does this sound like it’s applicable to Open waves?

To which we say: phooey. Spartan Race have not, do not and will not ever DQ or penalize an Open Wave athlete for not doing 30 perfect form burpees. As this author did – run a lap with an adaptive athlete, or someone doing something athletic for the first time in their life, or someone with an injury – and you tell them they have to do 30 perfect form burpees.

Run your own damn race.

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NJ Beast – Are you worried?

spartan-beast-awardSome do’s and don’ts for the upcoming NJ Beast!

Do check the weather a few days before to start planning.
Don’t obsess over the weather.

Do wear technical gear: wool, synthetic, cold-gear, wicking, whatever works for you in winter.No-Cotton-long-underwear
Don’t wear cotton.

Do wear shoes with tread.
Don’t duct tape your shoes.

Do keep moving.
Don’t stop for long.

Do fuel and hydrate before and on course.
Don’t ignore the signs of the wall or bonking*.

Do have fun.
Don’t give up.

Do carry out all trash, there are trash cans at the aid stations to deposit.
Do not litter; you can carry the fuel on course, you can carry the trash.

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Check out Jessica Wohlen’s post: So You’re Running the Super (and/or Beast)…

* ~ Definitions courtesy of Heather Gannoe over at Relentless Forward Commotion.
The Wall:  A not so magical place that typically exists between mile 19 and 26 of a marathon.  You’ll be running along, feeling on top of the world, when BAM! a switch is thrown and everything hurts, you feel physically and emotionally drained, and for a few minutes, wonder why on earth you decided running a marathon would be a good idea.   There might even be tears. You have hit “the wall”.

Bonk:  Similar to “The Wall” (see above) but a “bonk” can happen at any time, during any race.  When an athlete goes from seemingly strong and well trained to a an utter, exhausted, mess, they have “bonked”.  A bonk is often related to poor nutrition and low blood sugar, and can often be overcome mid race with the right snacks and a second wind.

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Spartan Race, 2015 biggest team FAQ

For 2015 (and largely unchanged in 2016) Spartan Race has updated it’s team perks – and it pays to be on the biggest team at each event. That would be team NE Spahtens for any New England event, we hope.

Spartan Biggest Team Perks, as of Jan 2015
Spartan Biggest Team Perks, as of Jan 2015

However, like previous years, getting on the team, confirming you’re on the team and moving to the team can be a bit confusing and generates a lot of “what if …” questions, so here’s an updated FAQ to help.

How do I join team NE Spahtens?
During registration, when it asks for a team name, pick NE Spahtens.

Why should I join team NE Spahtens?
We get perks for being biggest team. The perks range from a rewards patch for all, to a free spectator pass for all, to VIP bag check – and community perks like shout outs from Spartan on social media and on race day, and our own wave.

That, and every single member of NE Spahtens is good people, and you want to be with good people.

But I have a small team I always run with!
So, merge them into team NE Spahtens and get some shirts made. We welcome all smaller teams and individuals looking for a community like they’ve been around for ever. Come say hi – make the first move.

I see a “New England Spahtens” team, should I join that?
No. “NE Spahtens” is the team name we use at every event. If someone has created an alternative, they have screwed up and let us know. We’ll have Spartan HQ merge them.

I don’t know if I joined the team, how do I check?
Chronotrack is the new registration system. Login and look – you can see EVERYONE on your team.

I’m not on the team, how do I move?
Email Spartan Race Customer Service – you can’t do it post registration.

When is the deadline to be on the team?
Sometime around fourteen days prior to each event, Spartan HQ will close and count team registrations. You will NOT count towards the team count or perks if you miss this deadline.

I want to run elite, and be on the team, is that ok?
Yes. Elites can join team NE Spahtens and will NOT be moved out of the elite wave.

I want to run a specific wave time, and be on the team, is that ok?
No. If you pick a specific wave time you CANNOT be on the team. All non-elite team members will be moved to the team wave.

I volunteer, can I be on the team?
If you register with credits from an earlier race, yes – pick NE Spahtens at registration.
If you register on race day, you are out of luck.

The Weeple Army started 2015 by taking the new Biggest Team trophy at the west coast races
The Weeple Army started 2015 by taking the new Biggest Team trophy at the west coast races

I have a season pass, can I be on the team?
If you register before race day, yes.
If you register on race day, you are out of luck.

How do I get my perks?
The spectator pass is available on race day only, not transferable and if you already purchased one, that is not refundable. One per person, simply head to the spectator registration tent with your spectator.

VIP bag check has a list of everyone on the team, and a dedicated line.

Patches are shipped out after the event to the team leaders, and we will distribute them to everyone who was on the team list.

I didn’t make the deadline / join the team / registered on race day / need to run a specific wave / want the perks anyway – how do I make that happen?
You are welcome to join your friends at the team tent – but you will not be on the VIP bag check list, free spectator pass list, or receive a patch. Spartan HQ will not have moved you to the team wave, and you won’t be able to wave jump. Sorry.

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The Spartan Race FAQ for NE Spahtens

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It’s about to be silly season for Spartan Race – with many of their New England events in pre-registration, the VT Beast/Sprint opening up, we’re getting the ball rolling on the circus that is the New England Spartan Race season.

As a community, having a good showing at these events has become pretty common, and Spartan HQ try to reward these showings in a few small ways – with just a little co-ordination, we can have an even better than normal experience.

Of course, a little co-ordination is an understatement when we’re dealing with 1800 (and counting) community members, so here’s a few pointers, and a few frequently asked questions to help you during registration.

When registering:

  • Your first click should be the Spartan Race ad on http://www.newenglandspahtens.com – this provides the community with a couple of dollars, and helps keep the lights on. You’ll find this on the right hand side, and it’s appreciated.
  • You should always join (or START) team “NE Spahtens”.
  • You should NOT worry about your heat or wave.

Read on.

Why join the team? What if I already have my own team?

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Joining team NE Spahtens means you are showing Spartan Race that you are an OCR enthusiast, and you’ll be making lots of new friends. In New England we typically have the largest team showing which results in a team tent (which gives us a great staging point and bag drop) and inevitably our own team wave.

If you have your own team already registered, moving your team to NE Spahtens benefits you all – you get the tangible benefits of the tent and reserved wave, but you also get to meet new friends, run the course with enthusiasts and generally improve your overall experience. Spartan HQ can help you move your folks easily enough.

If you forgot to pick a team, it’s easy to switch. Simply visit http://myevents.active.com and login – find your registration and you can move to team NE Spahtens.

What about my wave? I need to run early/elite/confirmed. What wave should I pick?

Spartan HQ will move all members of team NE Spahtens to our dedicated wave the week of the event. The exceptions will be if you are registered to run the Elite heats, or you have paid additional for a confirmed time.

Regular registration is for a *range* of times – “late morning” or “early afternoon” for example. You can pay Spartan extra to have a confirmed time – say “9am”, or to run with the Elites in the first wave of the morning.

Other than that, regardless of which wave you chose – you’ll be moved to the team wave.

If this doesn’t work for you, it’s EASY to switch back to the wave you picked, or a more convenient wave. An email to Spartan HQ, or a trip to the registration tent at the event site and you’ll be good.

Where can I ask questions and get more information?

dont-panic-thumbSpartan HQ always setup Facebook events pages for the wider audience – and we have team Facebook events setup for New England Spahtens – visit http://koolaid.nespahtens.com and find your event – this is always going to be the most effective place to ask questions and organize ride shares or accommodation.

If you need help from Spartan Race themselves, you can open a ticket through their website – make sure you put your event name in the subject line, and BE PATIENT. They prioritize responses based on up coming races.

Are you totally new to OCR? Check out our OCR Newbie articles to help you figure out what to expect, pack and bring. http://www.newenglandspahtens.com/tag/ocr-newbie/

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The most important Beast or Ultra Beast blog post you will ever read

The Beast is coming (or the Ultra Beast for many). Next weekend, folks!

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And thats it. Thats your advice.

The weather may be hot, or cold. Sunny, or snowing. The mountains will be steep and seemingly endless, and the obstacles will be cruel and punishing.

You haven’t trained enough – no one has, even the elites – and regardless of what you pack, you will forget something you need.

When you get on the mountain, you’ll have over dressed – unless you have under dressed. Regardless, you won’t have enough clothes, or you have too many.

You may not be able to swim, or the walls will be too tall, and your feet will probably cramp at some point.

You may wrench an ankle, or wrench an IT band (or break your hand *Jess*), or get a blister.

A million and one things may go wrong – and a million and two things will be guessed at, speculated upon and simply made up. Facebook is not your friend this week, and don’t believe anything you read when it comes from a Spartan employee – especially that wily, pesky Don fella. Would you believe, they *want* you to panic?

Oh, and there may be bears.

Despite all this – all the things that *might* go wrong and *could* happen there is only one thing that is for certain – you will finish.

You’re crossing that finish line and earning that medal. Only ONE person can take that away from you – and thats you.

So – Don’t Panic. Bring a towel. Towels are important.

 

… a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

— Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

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So You’re Running the Super (and/or Beast)…

In the next week or 3 there are a couple of big races coming up, in case you hadn’t heard.

NJ Super – this coming weekend
VT Beast – 2 weeks later

Paul did a great series of blog posts for the Sprint (Here, Here, and Here).  All of which are still super applicable here.  Some points to remember (for the newbies, especially):
1) Cotton is NOT your friend
2) Start hydrating
3) Dress for the weather, and your ability to stay warm/cold.  Also keep track of weather reports.
4) Eat a good meal hours before you are taking to the course.

The Super (and the Beast) will likely be supported races (meaning there will be water stops along the way).  Last year, initially, the Beast was not going to be supported.  I had already run the NJ Super (aka Mini Beast) and had an idea of what worked for me, and what my Battle Group encountered on the course.  I used this knowledge to prepare my pack for the Beast – and some extra.  This is my take on the subject of packing for these races.

I highly recommend planning as though there won’t be any stops along the way and you are self supportive.  Granted, if you are planning to be running with the elite folks, you may not need to worry quite so much, so use these tips as needed.  Some people will take a few hours.  Some people will take longer.  Some people may lose the trail for a bit – Sorry Team Lost 🙂
Last year the NJ Super took me about 5 hours to complete and the VT Beast took me about 10 hours to complete.  I had ITB issues in both races which led to a slower pace, but I was trucking along nonetheless.  If you feel you fall in the middle of bell curve (like me) or on lower end of the bell curve (a slower, and yet still awesome pace!) you’ll want to pay attention to the information I have to share.  Keep in mind, on these types of courses, you obviously need to look out for your own needs first.  It is always mindful to consider you may run into another athlete in need as well, and it would be best to have some extra stuff “just in case.”  Also, in the event you have some sort of issue that slows you down, you’ll be happy to have prepared for the extra time by having extra stuff.

My Packing List:
3L  Hydration Pack – 50/50 mix of unflavored Pedialyte (or generic brand) and water
2-3 Powerbar Energy Gels (I’ll use at least one at the midway point)
2-3 GU Chomps/Clif Bloks
2-3 Pkg Snap Supercandy
2-3 Bars (My current bar of choice is Garuka Bars, but Clif/Luna/whatever)
2-3 Salt or Mustard Packets (You, or someone you encounter, may have some serious cramping – this will help!)
1 pair of dry socks

Pack Supplies

*I purchased some small dry bags to put all of this stuff in.  There’s nothing worse than consuming half a package of Chomps or SportsBeans and then discovering they were submersed in water along the way and now are useless.
** The socks will be stored in a different dry bag.  Obviously they are more useful when dry.

I’m not saying they’ll be needed, because I don’t know what is being thrown at us, but here are a few other things worth possibly throwing in your bag:
Sharpie
Bug Repellant
Sun Block
Goggles (I’m giving these a shot this year, as I wear contacts!)
Headlamp (For the NJ Super -If you are still on the course and hit the cutoff at 7pm, you will need this to continue!)

Above and beyond the lists above, use your best judgement.  I like to prepare for the unexpected on some level.  If this is your first distance over a Sprint (and TM doesn’t count because they are HEAVILY supported, usually), you’ll probably want to bring a little more than you expect to use and learn from your personal experience.

I hope this answers some questions for those of you who are trying to figure out what to bring along!

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OCR Newbie – Battle Buddies!

I’m not sure if you caught the memo, but we have a lot of people coming to this little Spartan Race shindig this weekend.

A lot of people. Over both days, we’ll top over 300 folks.

Many of you will be regulars on the course with the team. Many of you will be running in the team heat with your own family, friends and co-horts. Some of you will be entirely solo.

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Let me introduce you to the idea of a Battle Buddy.

Your Battle Buddy doesn’t have to be one person. You could have Battle Buddies.

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These are the people who will stick with you on the course. These are the people who will push you over walls. These are the people who will share their stories with you, while you run, jog or walk through the trails.

In turn, they are the people that *you* will motivate to keep going when they’re done. You’ll give them a knee to help them over an obstacle. You’ll get friendly with their butt when you push them up something they didn’t believe they could do.

And you’ll share your life stories with them.

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Your Battle Buddy may not be who you thought it would be when you started out either. You may find yourself left behind by your own friends, as they move on and run their own race. You may find yourself along side someone you’ve never met before.

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But, we’re all Spahtens, and this is our time. Everyone you toe the line with is part of this community we’ve forged over the past year, and no matter how quick or slow they are – how much experience they’ve had – they all have had a Battle Buddy.

I joke that you’ll finish the race with 250+ of your new best friends – it’s really not a joke at all. Thats how many of us have become best friends … time on the trails, spent talking about life. A knee to get up a wall, or a shout of encouragement to get that last knot on the rope climb. Shared triumph when you do an obstacle you never thought possible, and muddy hugs when you cross the finish line.

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So – when you line up for the start of the race this weekend, look around you. Look beyond your immediate friends and the people you brought with you. You’ll see someone your size. Your ability. Sharing the same injury, or with that same look of fear in their eyes that you feel.

As you start moving through the course, keep your eyes open – help each other, and when you find yourself naturally in lock step with someone – say hi, shake hands – you just met your new Battle Buddy, and maybe best friend, for life.

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OCR Newbie – Race Week

So, it’s the week approaching the big race, and your nervous. What do you do? How do you train? What do you eat?

The most important thing, this close to your race is to not change anything. Don’t take up Crossfit or the Paleo diet.

  • Working out: Stick with what you’ve been doing. If anything, start easing off. Try to avoid going into the race sore and stiff from a solid, ass busting workout you killed, late Friday night.
  • Food: Don’t change your diet now – it’s too late 🙂 I would stick with good, real foods for the week, and avoid pizza parties. Pro-tip, avoid refried beans on Friday night.
  • Rest: Get lots. They recommend 8 hours of sleep a night – I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t happen in my house. Be rested.
  • Drink: Likely the most important aspect of your pre-race week – stay hydrated. Drink water. Pee lots. It’s a relatively warm season, and it might be hot on race day. Being hydrated is something that takes a few days to build up, and you won’t be able to do it the night before, or the morning of.

HAVE FUN!

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OCR Newbie – Race Day logistics

You’ve packed your bag.

You’ve dressed in your race day finery.

What the heck happens next? Race day can be confusing, hectic, rushed – and if you are new, a little overwhelming too. I hope to clear up some of the logistics and expectations for those who are coming to their first event.NE_Spahtens_FINAL

Really, it boils down to being prepared. Know where you need to go, and know how long it will take to get there. Spartan Race have already announced they expect record attendance at this event, so allowing for extra drive time will be one less thing to worry about. Really, you can’t be too early.

Parking:

Important – you will NOT be parking at the venue. Confirm your drive time to get to:

Seabrook Greyhound Park
319 New Zealand Road, Seabrook, NH  03874

and allow an additional 15mins to get the school bus shuttle to the actual race venue. If you are running in the Hurricane Heat, or have paid extra for VIP parking, you will have other arrangements. It is usually recommended you get to the venue approximately 1h before your wave – I would aim to be parking your car around 9am, if you intend on running with the team.

Checking in:

Prior to the event, you will be provided with a waver to print, and your bib number. Make a note of both, as it saves you additional time when you arrive at the venue and need to check in. Make sure you have your completed waiver, your bib number and your ID. You will be dropped off near the registration tents, and they will be arranged by bib number or name.

If you need this information, you can find it on the Spartan Race event page a few days prior to the race. http://www.spartanrace.com/new-england-obstacle-racing-spartan-sprint-2013.html

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Registration:

Once you’ve handed over your waiver and they check your ID, you will get a few things. A bib and some safety pins. A headband. A timing chip. Just follow the lead of everyone around you here 🙂

You’re now checked in, and ready to race! Come find the biggest team tent, and you’ll be with the Spahten family 🙂

Some other things worth noting:

  • Bag check can be busy, drop your bag off early (if you use it at all).
  • Have cash so you can buy tickets for food and water.
  • Get over to the starting corral shortly after the 10am wave has left. We’ll be doing our team photo there, prior to our wave at 10:15am.
  • Meet new people. The Spahtens are a large, extended community and there will be a LOT of new folks, many of who will be nervous. Introduce yourself, say hi.
  • I’ll be bringing Spahten schwag – cash only please!
  • Have FUN!
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OCR Newbie – What to pack?

Yesterday we covered what to wear. Today, we’ll cover what you need to pack in your bag to make your first Spartan Race at Amesbury a fun event.

It’s not as easy as it sounds – some people under-pack, and find themselves without something they really needed – and others will totally overpack and have to carry everything with them.

Keep in mind, that most people will be riding a school bus from the parking lot to the venue. This trip is only a 10min ride, but if you’re “that girl” who shows up with a suitcase, carry on pack and your purse – you will start your first race experience off on a bad foot.

Also, Spartan Race do offer a bag check – which costs $5 – and as biggest team, we will have our own team tent that bags can be left at.

IMPORTANT: All bags left unattended at your own risk. We will have people spectating or hanging out for the day, but the venue will be very busy, with large crowds. If you do not feel comfortable leaving your bag unattended, put it in the bag check, or leave it in your car.

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What goes in:

  • Trash bag. This is where everything you wore during the race will go. It will be disgusting.
  • Full change of clothes. This includes everything from a clean T to socks and underwear.
  • Towel. This will dry you off after the wonderful communal cold showers, and possibly be the only privacy you’ll have when you strip down and get dressed. Bring a big one!
  • Comfortable shoes. After a race, your feet will swell, and you will be dirty and wet. The nicest thing in the world is to slip those aching feet into some Crocs or sandals, and not try to cram them in a new pair of sneakers.
  • Cash. The venue has an ATM, but food, beer and water is sold on a ticket system. Buy tickets with cash, then trade tickets for food and water. There will also be a merchandise tent if your finishers shirt isn’t enough.
  • Sun screen. Bug spray. No brainer, really.

Some “nice to have’s” you can throw in:

  • A camera to take some team and selfies.
  • Wet wash clothes in a baggie – these will save you from the fun communal showers.
  • Full set of spare race clothes – it’s not uncommon for people to say “woah, what a blast! I wanna go again!” and now, you can.
  • Your own food. For whatever reason, food vendors at these things tend towards the unhealthy. Be warned, you will not be able to bring your own coolers or liquids (water OR alcohol) into the venue.

Packing light is key. Leaving valuables (and jewelery) behind is going to be a good idea. The less *stuff* you have to deal with, the happier and easier your day will be!