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The NE Spahtens Show – Episode 9

fitchallengelogoThis episode is brought to you by FIT Challenge – check out their website for full information on their OCR and Trail series! http://www.fitchallenge.org

After a longer than normal break – Paul, Josh and Sandy are back. In episode 9 we talk about Tough Mudder – why Sandy is such a fan, and what happened during her two Tough Mudder weekend – and why Josh is scared to death of his first Tough Mudder coming up. We compare the way Tough Mudder has evolved to the way Spartan has, and answer the age old question, which is better, Tough Mudder or Spartan Race (disclaimer: we don’t really answer that question).

We cover the local races we attended during the summer break – Heart Challenge and Obstacle Adventures for kids, and answer some listener questions from Sara and Greg.

Lastly, we discuss a special episode devoted to the new TV shows – so listeners – would you like to hear such an episode? Let us know!

As usual – if you enjoy the show, let us know! Leave us a review wherever you are listening, leave us a comment or question – and thanks for tuning in!

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The NE Spahtens Show – Episode 8

13339525_1199976490013549_3400560014502194542_nIn this show, we talk to Sarah Chalk and cover the recent MA Spartan Race Sprint, #racelocal event, Samurai Sprint and answer some listener questions.

I first met Sarah at the kids course of the MA Sprint, but I’d seen her online a few times. She’s an adaptive athlete who completes OCRs on hand crutches, and on Sunday she was accompanied by Marc Ford and Kevin Grant, and earned her medal in the rain. We ask her about her background, and how she stepped into the OCR world – and her experiences running with the amazing guys over at More Heart Than Scars.

Then we talk about the MA Sprint itself – and wrap up with a conversation about the well received Samurai Sprint – a #racelocal event.

As usual, if you have questions for us, leave them below. Please subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher, and we would love if you could leave us a review!

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Featured Review: Spartan Race – MA Sprint 2016

wings_boneless12Buffalo Wild Wings is cool. I always get my boneless honey BBQ wings, and they’re the same, anywhere I go. Tasty, in a little cardboard tray, with sensory overload on TV. I get a Sam Adams with it, but sometimes I live dangerously and make a break from the normal, and get a Blue Moon. Bit of variety never hurt, right?

When I travel for work though, or when I’m taking friends and visiting family out … then I go to the local brew pub and get the duck bacon grilled cheese, or their seasonal lobster roll. Or the hole in the wall breakfast diner with pancakes bigger than my head. For a date night, I go to a slightly more upscale place, and get a daily special, and pick something from their craft beer menu – sometimes, I even let them make the suggestion for me.

Hungry yet?

header1Spartan Race is Buffalo Wild Wings. For the past several years you’ve been able to show up and get a consistently good, familiar product. “Comfort racing”, if you will.

The local OCR scene in New England is your breakfast diner, or your brew pub, or your high end local restaurant you take your wife on a date night, and dress up (i.e.: don’t wear a race shirt). Constantly changing, constantly varied, something for everyone – except, sometimes, the floor is a bit sticky. Always interesting, always pushing the boundaries. Always trying harder.

With than analogy aside (Thanks, Jess!)

bostonnotreally
We’re back at Carter and Stevens farm. Our first of three trips this 2016 OCR season, although I live close enough I go there for ice cream every now and then.

This trip was for the Spartan Race – Sprint edition. For many, the first step into the OCR world, and on the road to their first trifecta. For others, an annual tradition. I had figured out that this would be my 7th year at the “Boston” Sprint (non of which have been close to Boston). The festival hadn’t really changed much (the start line moved though), and after a few visits last year, the whole place felt very comfortable an familiar.

13329406_1061379673950378_7747165756315110976_o

Lets talk about what they did right.

– ALL parking was off site this year. Volunteers, vendors – everyone. Fortunately, the bus service was flawless, with porta potties in the parking lot for those with long drives. As much as getting shuttle busses sucks – they are a fact of life these days – as was the $10 parking fee. As much as I really dislike getting shuttles, I never waited more than a couple of minutes to get rolling, and it was a short drive on both days.

IMG_1631– Check-in was – again – flawless. We hadn’t received waivers in our inbox, so they needed filling out. Packet located, and through in minutes. My wife used the spectator check-in with our son later on in the day – no reported problems. I checked in as a spectator on Sunday with no hassle or delays.

– Festival – easy to navigate. Condensed enough that it always felt lively, but rarely too crowded. We had secured Biggest Team tent for the weekend, and this was centrally located, next to the brick oven pizza and beer. Our biggest team ceremony went off mostly without a hitch once a photographer was located, and we picked up our first stack of 2016 Biggest Team patches and our Biggest Team award (it went home with Shaina, who has been a member of the team, and team Ambassador since the very early days – enjoy it, Shaina!). Sundays wet award was a little damper, and more subdued.

– HUGE props to the kids course folks! My 7yo covered 3.5 miles of Kids Course racing – and had the time of his life! 5 laps!

– Carter and Stevens farm – our host – amazing food all day. From brick oven pizza to bbq. All kinds of frozen treats. Later in the day, BBQ and a band at their roadside shack. No worries about bringing your own bottles or food in either. They are impeccable hosts!

Lets talk about the negatives.

13310541_10207877345646060_3202760165645387003_n– Coors Lite as the only beer option? Come on …

– No pre-race email. In fact, only one, single mention of the Boston event on Spartan’s social media in the week leading to the race. They had another big race going on in Monterey, with all their elite points and media and such. If you pay attention to such things (and I do), then the Boston event – their oldest event – was definitely ignored by HQ this year. When it comes to HQ support, Boston felt like the “B” race this weekend – it showed, and I’m sure it was frustrating for the staff.

– The hoist – what the hell happened to the pulleys on this one? That was the single most challenging hoist I’ve ever done – and any dude under 200lbs was out. of. luck. Debate rages if it was pulleys, rope, weight … I’ve done enough of these things at enough venues, and the three I tried all had stiff pulleys.

– The course was simply too long for a Sprint. Call it “extra miles” or “more than you paid for” all you like, but it was very close to the 2015 Super in distance and route – and that screws the people who signed up for a “3+ mile” event.

13015160_10207877450528682_7283562115954167976_nNow – if this is your first year of Spartan Race, or maybe even your first race – then you were treated to a solid series of obstacles that ranged from terrain (potholes, mud, trail, mud etc) and man made, signature Spartan obstacles – rope climbs, hoists, heavy carries, spear throw, climbing and similar things. You probably enjoyed them just fine, and I am NOT trying to take that away from you. I enjoyed them, just fine too. I had a great time. I think they do good obstacles. But …

If you did the 2015 races – the obstacles probably felt very familiar. Same if you ran in 2014. And 2013. In fact, there have been so few changes in the obstacle catalogue Spartan brings to these races in my 7 years at the “Boston” Sprint, it’s ridiculous. This is the leading OCR company out there. They won “most innovative” in Mud Run Guide’s 2015 awards, which is possible the most ironic award they could have won. They have the best people and staff – who are without fail the most enthusiastic, passionate people you could want to meet, the most active fans and the biggest community following them – and no one can produce and deploy a new obstacle or three? (I mean, of course they can – but for some reason, the powers that be at Spartan won’t let it happen).

13330908_10207877495049795_68444540252962917_nWhy is this? Whats the deal? Spartan have taken their returning customers – the fan base – for granted. Everyone shows up, year after year, race after race looking for their next piece in the trifecta, their next delta – or to run with their buddies in their annual tradition event – and Spartan doesn’t have to change a single thing. Why change their secret sauce, when people keep coming back for their honey BBQ boneless wings, year after year?

What they want, are the newbies. People they can suck into the Spartan world, and the Spartan life style. People who haven’t gotten sick of saying “aroo” yet, and who haven’t realized that in three or four years – nothing will change at the race, but they will have changed …

Fortunately, this wasn’t a day for me to throw myself at obstacles and physical challenges. This was a frequently hilarious, casual slow walk through the woods with some of the best people in the world – people for who I will put up with a repeat of previous years course – because it’s not about the obstacles at Spartan. For me, or for them.

I come to Spartan for the people. New people finding our community for the first time, old friends I’ve run with for a few years now. I enjoy their course layout well enough, but obstacles and penalties and aroo aroo aroo and blah blah blah?

I’ll eat at my local – thank you.12004019_10204658842499101_169475202809688060_n

(last story)

I was doubled up, holding onto a fence post, gasping for breath, it was so funny.

Our team of four – Josh, Jessica, Steve and myself had started in the 9:15am NES team wave, and trotted through to the first obstacle – a couple of large round hay bails. We were laughing, joking and generally having a good time, and approaching the obstacle, when Steve took off, sprinting ahead of our short group, clearly going for a running leap over the top.

When he tripped – instead of a graceful leap over the top, he took a head first tumble into the front of the giant hay bail, which didn’t even have the decency to move.

I’m glad he wasn’t hurt, because I was genuinely helpless with laugher for a good ten minutes.

Anyway – I promised I’d tell that story. You’re welcome, Steve.

Oh, and the Hurricane Heat looked pretty badass too. Back on form? Hopefully someone leaves us a review.

Do you have an opinion on this race? Leave us a review!

http://www.newenglandspahtens.com/community-reviews/

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The NE Spahtens Show – Episode 7

13318690_10208796749332746_1827979539_nWe recently published a review of Callan Grant’s 33 mile experience at Infinitus. Callan is just 8 years old, but wiser and more inspiring than many 8 year olds will ever be.

So we asked him to be on the show. For 30 minutes Josh, Sandy and Paul talk to Callan and Josh Grant about their Infinitus experience – what goes through an 8 year olds mind? Will he do it again? What was his favorite treat at the finish line? and we ask his Dad – Why? How does an 8 year old end up on a serious endurance event like Infinitus?

Next up, we recap Bone Frog Challenge, recently held in the mountains of Western MA, and cover the up coming Spartan Sprint event a little. Some listener questions, and we round things out with reminders of the cool stuff we’ve got going on.

We mention the OCR Newbies guide on our website – you can find that here – http://ocrnewbie.nespahtens.com
If you want to buy a Sports Bra, Drill shirt or raffle ticket to win Inov-8’s, check out http://www.nesstore.com

As always, if you listen to the show please leave us reviews and subscribe – leave a comment or shoot us an email!

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The NE Spahtens Show – Episode 5

This week Sandy, Josh and Paul talk about upcoming and recently occuring OCR events on their schedules – including Josh’s NJ Ultra Beast finish and Sandy’s epic 50 miles at Shale Hill’s newest event, Jill’s Folly – with a 6 hour road trip to the always popular Wason Pond Pounder in the middle!

We also discuss Hobie’s recent noise on the elite scene, Zombie Charge going out of business in New England this year, and controversial BFX rule changes.

Listener questions cover everything from how NES was formed to what being a member of NES means for us – it’s a good bunch of questions!

Thanks for listening! Remember to subscribe in iTunes, on Podbean, Stitcher and soon Google Play. Leave us a comment or a review – and if you have questions for next weeks show, leave them below!

What is the Cliff Jumper obstacle Sandy mentions? Check out Shale Hill’s tutorial video – they make it look easy!

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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.

burpee

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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The cost of a Perfect Delta

Update 2/24/16

As Spartan add the hardware to their store, and after a few weeks of feedback – I wanted to add a couple of items to this article. Scroll down to find the TRUE, updated cost to getting your Perfect Delta.

What is the Delta?

Delta-Expanded-View-2Spartan’s infographic on the Delta isn’t very clear – so let me try to sum it up as best I can, with the information I currently have available (and thank you to Spartan HQ for fact checking and clarifying this post prior to publication).

12/1/16 update – Spartan HQ got back in touch post publication with some more updates to the pricing – I’ve noted these in the body of this article.

It starts with a flat piece of steel – called a “Circuit”, with space for three pie pieces, and three Delta Icons (more below). The pyramid – the Delta – you see in all the photos seems to be THREE of these Circuits, leaning against each other on a round base. You do not earn a single, solid pyramid. You probably have to buy the Circuits too – but details aren’t available on the cost.

You’re supposed to build your Delta with three Circuits – one for each of three types of Trifecta (Race, Endurance and Training) – but of course, feel free to fill it up with any pie piece you want, in any combination. They have cute names for some of the combos – if you have three Race Trifecta’s, then it’s a 3T Trifecta. If you have three Endurance Trifecta’s then it’s a Masters of Endurance Trifecta.

Those corner tab pieces (the Delta Icons) you’re supposed to be able to earn at each venue – but at time of writing, the help article describing these is poorly written to the point I have no real clue what they are or how you get them. Neither did HQ! Expect more information to come on these in the future.

I don't even know what this means ...
I don’t even know what this means …

If you have three Circuits – one from each type of Trifecta – this is called the Perfect Delta.

Lets analyze this Perfect Delta, and how much it’s going to cost you.

Note: I’ve given the cheapest prices we could find at time of writing, and listed our source. These will go up, of course, and worth noting, it doesn’t have to be done in a single calendar year. This can be picked up over multiple seasons.

UPDATE 2/24/16

Each “Delta Icon” is now listed at $5 each. $45 for a Delta’s worth of Icons, picked up at a venue (so, no shipping)

Also, the Delta hardware is now in the Spartan store and you can get it for the low low price of $125  – photos courtesy of Jeremy Reid, who got his in recently.

delta_new1$$
Race Trifecta:

A Sprint, Super and Beast. We’re familiar with these. Sprint pricing starts at $79 (Sunday in MA), $109 for a Super in MA and $159 to get your Beast in NJ.

You can get in cheaper with a regional season pass for $259, or volunteer and get free codes. Of course, you can make three Circuits up with Race Trifecta’s, and call it the 3T Trifecta, if you like – but thats not the Perfect Delta.

Total cost for a Race Trifecta: $259 (for the regional SP).

Update 2/24/16 – I was given feedback that I should include insurance costs in this total. Even if you use a season pass, you are on the hook for $14 per race insurance. So, $42 insurance too.

Endurance Trifecta:

A Hurricane Heat, 12h Hurricane Heat and an Ultra Beast.

Hurricane Heats are $25 add-on’s to your regular heat, or $100 if you do it totally solo. Most people simply add this on to their existing race weekend though. $25 it is.

The 12 hour Hurricane Heat, if you can travel to one, will run you $150 (Taken from the Vegas event)

The only Ultra Beast on the calendar today is in NJ, and it starts you at $175 (if you want to run Women’s Elite, oddly, this is the cheapest wave – Opens and Male Elite were more).

No season pass for any of these events. You’re paying $350 for this trifecta, minimum.

Update: Season Passes CAN be used for Hurricane Heats – but there are “gotcha’s”. You can ONLY use a SP once per weekend. That means you can use it for both the Hurricane Heat and the 12H Hurricane Heat, but not the same weekend you do a race. To get a race, a HH and a 12H HH, you will be visiting Spartan on even more race weekends. Still. Included in your SP. $free

Ultra Beast – I’ve been assured by HQ that the Season Pass also qualifies you for a 55% discount on Ultra Beast, bringing the cost to $96.25 at a base minimum cost. I can’t find this documented on the Spartan website at time of writing, however.

So – IF you have a Season Pass, and IF you go to a race weekend for your Hurricane Heat, your 12H Hurricane Heat, and EACH of your three Race Trifecta events – you can get an Endurance Trifecta for as little as $96.25

Training Trifecta:

To get your Training Trifecta – the most expensive step on the Perfect Delta, you need to go through two courses, and one endurance event.

SGX training has been around a while now. To earn your piece of the Delta pie, you need to take a Spartan approved class. Coming soon is a single day, Spartan Obstacle Specialist class, for $395, that will be the simplest, quickest way to earn your piece of the pie. No prior personal training experience needed. Thanks to HQ for helping clarify this, it seems to be the most confusing piece of the Delta story.

SpartanX is something new, and appears to be an online course that will cost you $199 to complete (and you have to test out of it – I assume you need to pass that test). It’ll help you prepare mentally to be a Spartan.

Lastly, the Agoge – the “not a Death Race”, event. Offered in various time lengths, all appear to start at $375, but a Season Pass will get you $75 off this – again, I can’t find documentation of this perk, but HQ assure me it’s the case.

$669 for the Training Trifecta.

So – that Perfect Delta means you will almost certainly have to live the Spartan lifestyle – as it’ll cost you $1,653 at a barest minimum.

So – if you align all the stars correctly, and commit a full race weekend to a Sprint, Super, Beast – AND the Hurricane Heat and 12H Hurricane Heat – AND all five of these events happen to fall in a single region, then you COULD make your Regional Season Pass work hard, and get a Perfect Delta for only $1,024.25 (at present, I don’t see a single region with all these events – and the Spartan website doesn’t note some of these discounts – worth noting, this doesn’t include insurance, parking, gas, tolls, beer money, bail money and other sundry expenses)

UPDATE 2/24/16 – Plus $212 to buy your hardware and get your insurance! New total: $1236.25

As they say in the Delta description – Total commitment is the only true starting point.

I’ll be honest, when I started this exercise, I thought the end $ cost would have been much higher. While I used barest minimum pricing,  I think the knowledge that this can be earned over multiple seasons reduces the impact of the financial cost considerably. I think the biggest take away about the Delta is that you don’t actually earn a solid stainless steel pyramid – you earn panels – then assemble them at home. There’s going to be some disappointed fans out there …

Will you be trying to earn your Perfect Delta?

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Lifecycle of a Spartan Race enthusiast …

deltaEach year, Spartan Race tries new and interesting ways to bring in more attendance. This is done by trying to attract their previous attendees back – and looking for new markets who haven’t done a Spartan event before.

Recently, this took form of a “Spartan Delta” – which was either the worst planned marketing campaign ever, or an accidental leak of information. Or both. The internet rhetoric varied between “OMG! A NEW THING! I MUST HAVE THE NEW THING! I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS, BUT I WANT THREE!” to “meh”

and I found myself firmly in the “meh” realm. I could care less what this thing is. I’m not going to travel to get one, and I’m not going to put my personal $ or time down to chase it. A few years ago, I did travel. I did care.

And I got to wondering when that attitude shift happened. So I got to writing this slightly tongue in cheek, slightly autobiographical piece. As others read it, they identified with it too, so here you go – digest and enjoy.

Year OneI’ve registered for one of those extreme Spartan things. I think I’m going to die. Will someone hold my hand?

Year TwoI heard there’s this trifecta thing? I don’t know if I can do it. Wish me luck! Man, I’m setting an awesome example for my kid! My Facebook profile photo has never been so badass! and everyone is awesome! I NAILED THE SPEAR THROW!

Year Threealright! Season pass time! I’m getting all the trifectas! I’m going to be the baddest ass Spartan ever! Can’t wait to try all the new things! Wait, what new things? Oh, another rope climb and spear throw and monkey bar setup? The view on this new mountain is good though. Yeah. The view. I miss my family. I don’t spend enough time with them.

Year FourNew season, new challenges! Maybe I’ll do a few less races this year though. That twelve hour road trip to the sprint in a parking lot was a long way … Oh, same rope climb and spear throw and monkey bar setup as last year, huh? At least I’m getting this years badass medal and shirt …

Year FiveI have too many f’in t shirts anyway. Time to pay off some credit cards …

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Reebok All Terrain Super OR – first look

Reebok All Terrain OR 2015

This morning, the mailman dropped off a couple of boxes, direct from Canton, MA – headquarters of Reebok HQ – and in those boxes were some new shoes to check out – the Reebok All Terrain Super OR.

This is, effectively, the third generation of All Terrain Super – and just like they do with their other shoe lines, Reebok has gradually and incrementally improved the shoe with each revision.

Check my comparison of the first generation here, and the Thunder 2.0, a more casual/training version of the All Terrain that was released in the second generation.

So – what do we have here.

Weight: 7.8oz for mens, 6.4oz for women’s
Drop: 5mm (7mm at the front, 12mm at the rear)

This is a racing shoe. Unlike the Thunder 2.0, this is not a training / casual shoe. There will be a Thrive model coming soon for that. This is for hitting the courses, completing obstacles, and getting you through quickly – not for long miles on mountains.

According to Reebok, the shoe weighs 8oz – and if you’ve worn either previous model, it’s about the same weight. It has an 8mm drop, but frankly, with the minimal mid sole, it feels much lower. The shoe is definitely a light weight, minimal feel shoe.

Reebok All Terrain OR 2015They’ve kept the things that worked – this is key, because in many area’s, the shoe DID work well. The tread pattern and depth don’t appear to have changed. The lugs are aggressive and if anything like previous generations, they work well. The H2O draining is effective and easily the most unique, most appreciated feature of the shoe.

They’ve changed things that didn’t work – the material of the upper – at least in the first generation – failed all the time. I wore mine out quickly, with my wide toe box. The second generation was more resilient, but in my Thunder 2.0’s, it did feel plasticy at times. Having said that, I wear my Thunder 2.0’s all the damn time – just not for racing. The new CorDura material they use here is considerably improved over last year.

Reebok All Terrain OR 2015

I have no idea why they included speed lacing. In OCR, thats a recipe for getting gummed up and difficult to use.

The fit – this is polarizing. This is a race day shoe, so the fit is designed to be snug. I get that. However, I have a fairly wide toe box, and these feel tight to me. This is what ripped the sides out of my old All Terrain Super’s. However, the material feels much sturdier, and the actual FEEL is comfortable. I could wear these all day, and doubt I’d blister – but if you’re looking for a wide, roomy and more comfortable fit, these won’t be the shoes for you. I’ll have to wear these for a while to see if they’re the shoes for me.

Watch my video review, below – lots more detail in there. Also scores are being given BEFORE a test wear – and I’ll update once I’ve got miles behind me – I feel I can make educated scoring now, due to the similarity with previous generation shoes.

Also check out our first look at the more plush Reebok All Terrain Thrill’s for 2016!

For your own opinion on these shoes? Login and leave your ratings!

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Featured Review: Spartan Race – Tahoe, World Championships 2015

Tony Martinez attended the Spartan Race, World Championships in Tahoe recently, and offered to give us the run down on the experience. #spartanwc15

 

IMG_7234Let me first just say this – this race was not Killington! Tahoe challenged you in many different ways, both physically and mentally. Every race I’ve competed in has been different, be it terrain, elevation, obstacles, or even port-a-potty placement. Point is, each and every race brings it’s own unique challenges in it’s own way. I like to think of these as all awesome little pieces to a much bigger medal that we put together and store in the best metal holder…. Our memories

The Venue

IMG_7183 Squaw Valley is a huge ski resort with an elevation of near 9000 feet and site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Right as you pull up you get a feeling that this place was meant to hold a championship style event. I was lucky to stay only walking distance away from The Village at Squaw Valley, so getting in and out was very easy and convenient. The Village is the large center point of the resort filled with shops, restaurants, bars, and more. This was a awesome feature to have at a race of this scale. The locals who worked here were all super friendly and very helpful recommending places to visit in the Tahoe area and just overall happy to have the activities that this race was bringing in. The base of Squaw sits at about 6200 feet and you almost forgot that because of the monster terrain that looks down at you from all around. The festival area was well set up and spread across the back side of the village buildings right at the mountains base. All the normal activities were there, SGX Rig, Panasonic, Fit Aid, etc. nothing really new. The main stage area was large and had a “jumbo-tron” style background that was pretty neat. My one negative was there was no fire jump before the finish, California has been in a drought for a long time and no fires were allowed, so that was a bit weird not to see. Overall I think this was one of the better set ups I’ve seen for a large scale event, it felt alive and fun – just what you want to experience in a festival area.

The Race

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Squaw Valley is simply amazing! The beauty in it’s terrain is breathtaking (wait maybe that was the elevation 😉 The race was a ultimate mental and physical challenge that was truly a test on any level of racer. I ran the elite non coin holder wave on Saturday that went out after the Woman’s Championship (coin holder) wave at about 8:15am after some slight delays due to NBC and the “start” arch deflating.

IMG_7218It was a very cold start temps were only in the low to mid 30’s as we took off. The course was described to us as pretty much a straight up to straight down style of race with lots of single track running and about 38 obstacles. After about 2 miles of some mixed trail and downhill single track running it was all up from there. The climb were long with some walls, over/under/through type obstacles to mix it up. We peaked at about mile 7 at about 8000+ feet right to the sandbag carry.

The carry was steep and long on one of the high test peaks, it was cold, very windy and for me it felt like someone was standing on my chest while I was trying to breathe. I felt that my breathing was good considering the elevation, however, as I hiked I was moving at about a 13.5 – 14.5 per mile pace, I never had a second gear, you know, that one little extra push. My mind wanted to go but the body did not, was a totally new experience for me.

After the carry, we started our descent to what would be the single most challenging obstacle I personally have ever faced….. The Swim! This took a lot of good racers out due to the 40-45 degree water temp and the wind whipping around, “hyperthermic” was a word I heard a lot. The swim had a mandatory life vest wear and it was a good thing cause as soon as I hit that water it took my breath away. In only about 10 feet into the swim my body was numb and it took everything to make the 120-150 yards out. Once I got out it was the coldest I’ve ever felt.. Ever! Only option I had was to keep moving and get the blood flowing.

12088559_10153051868476861_4304290788643491158_nThe open wave did have a “burpee out” option of 60 burpees if wanted no part of the water. At mile 8-10 was a really fun but challenging part of the race. It included the farmers carry x2, plate drag, barbed wire x4, walls x4, dunk wall, rope climb, A frame cargo, atlas carry, tyrolese traverse, and spear throw. I heard the barb wire crawls being called the snake, Aww hell no, fu&k this, and grrrrrrrrrr, it was a pretty hard challenge being so cold then getting wet again at the dunk wall. Lots of cramping all around.

IMG_7259From there it was a good descent run down to about mile 13.5 to the bucket carry. This was tough! The buckets had to be filled with a mixture of wet dirt and mud, you really had to pack it all in there because the dirt settled much lower than stone. I heard reports that a bunch of runners had to do it twice because of this. From there, another short descent to the finish but first you had to complete the “t” wall and then a double length multi rig (pipe-rings-rope-pipe-rings-rope-burpee) wait – I mean Bell. There was a large crowd at the rig and it was really awesome hearing them cheer all the racers on as we attempted the rig. At one point in the race, I passed an elite female and she noticed my NES sleeve and yelled out “Go Spahten, you guys are everywhere!” That was pretty cool. The finisher tee and medal are awesome with a new “worldwide” style logo on the tee and the center of the medal spins… Awesome!!

Finally, Tahoe was an epic race at an amazing venue and I know there will be comparisons to Killington. Was Tahoe VT? No! Was VT Tahoe? No! For those who ran both I’m sure you feel the same. Tahoe truly tested all aspects of Spartan Racing, running, strength, endurance, and pure will. Tahoe’s terrain vs. VT can’t be compared, with one not being better than the other. Each race brings different factors/challenges at every start. Where finishing times faster in Tahoe then VT… Sure were, but hey this was the World Championships you’re supposed to go fast 😉 I will totally go back in 2016 if Worlds are held there and I fully recommend this race to all.

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