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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.


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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OCR – weekend activity, or weeknight TV?

2000px-NBC_Sports_logo_1989-2011.svgSpartan Race have their own TV show on NBC, and it’s no secret they’re testing the waters with team shows and ninja warrior style broadcasts. They showcase their Elite athletes and pro team, with the occasional “feel good” story thrown in there. They want to replicate the success of Ninja Warrior – but for OCR.

Battlefrog are now sponsoring the Fiesta Bowl, and have had their own foray into broadcast television with their college short course show recently.

So – as the news that this Fiesta Bowl sponsorship spreads, over at, who ran the press release today, a commenter points out one critical problem with all this television ..

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 12.28.26 PM

“the BattleFrog lifestyle” includes sitting on the couch for several hours watching bowl games? Thats how competitors prep for “the most challenging Elite Points Series events in OCR”?

Television is often touted as the next big step OCR has to crack. If we want our sport to grow, people will need to know OCR exists. But, what if – rather than being inspired to come out to an event, getting cold, wet, muddy (and exhilarated and pushed to limits and beyond in the process) – what if all this television really does is cause people to … tune into the next episode?

OCR is inspirational. It’s motivational. It gets you running, climbing, crawling and conquering. When did you last get that inspired and motivated by a ball game sponsor?

Is OCR on television a good thing? Great thing? Or a bunch of marketing money spent in the wrong place?

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My personal #racelocal recap, and the strangest FOMO ever.


These people…they make it all happen.

From late September of 2014, Paul Jones and I have been working hard on the 2015 #racelocal Grand Prix.  Everyone knows who Paul is, he is arguably, the face of NES.  Me?  Not so much, mostly by design.  I have always been a “behind the scenes” type, this is where my comfort level is.  I’m not a stranger to the Biggest Team tent, and a lot of you know me and have met me, but I’m much more involved in areas a lot of you will never know.  A “forced extrovert” is how I’ve always defined myself, I’m definitely on the quiet side.

Finally…Bone Frog!

But, boy…have I enjoyed watching this season.  Every time someone posted pictures of their medals, every time I saw someone in a #racelocal shirt.  Showing up at Killington and having someone race past me in a #racelocal “hoodie.” Reading the reviews of the races, seeing the pictures of the events I wasn’t able to attend, seeing the triumph at the ones I did.  Paul and I had so many “behind the scenes” talks about how proud of this community we are, supporting this effort.

As the races signed on and committed, everyone “behind the scenes” became more and more excited.  Amazing races like Pounder, Shale Hill, O2X.  You know the names.  I was stoked about all of them, and started checking ones off the list, what have I never done before?  Snow race.  Bone Frog.  Shale Hill.  My “to do” list went through the roof (and a  lot of it still remains).

I remember the days leading to this year’s Blizzard Blast.  I looked outside and, speaking to a friend on the phone, we both thought out loud “it might be a blast, but there won’t be much blizzard!”  It was warm, and very non-snowy, right up until a few days until the event.  Boy, did the weather change, just in time!

…and then it wasn’t!  More snow than we knew what to do with. It was awesome, and a sign of an amazing season to come! We raced, slipped, slid and slipped our way through six miles of fresh snow (that wouldn’t stop falling all year).  And, with that, #racelocal 2015 was off and running!


Killing it at Bold ‘R Dash!

I’ve wanted to do a Bone Frog for a couple years, this was going to be the year I would not be denied.  Setting out with my buddy Rob, I can’t think of a course that pushed and challenged us more.  Another unexpected weather day, yes?  So much for “60’s and raining,” by the time it was all said and done, we saw mid 80’s that day!  #racelocal was certainly an adventure this season.  I watched my wife crush Bold R Dash (I was sidelined with injury), same with FIT in April.  I was this (-) close to finally getting to Shale Hill (which will not elude me in 2016), only to be derailed by child care issues.  And, through all the races, I was able to do my “thing,” watch from the back ground and really enjoy all of your successes.

So, you may be asking yourself how I could have all these cool memories and still have this “strange FOMO.” Last year one of my best friends moved to North Carolina.  We planned a time for me to fly down and see him, coinciding with Spartan’s Beast weekend.  Bought my plane tickets, booked the hotel and the plan was set.  The #racelocal Grand Prix was scheduled to end weeks before this event, there were no conflicts.  I figured, great – I get to see a friend, and race. It sounds like a great weekend!

…And then Robb McCoy announced the fall FIT Challenge.  Now I was going to be missing something.  Now my weekend away wasn’t so clear and easy.  Everyone “behind the scenes” would be at FIT, except me.

My buddy Ryan and I, running hard in South Carolina.

I had an amazing time with my buddy, we had a great weekend; however it is really hard knowing that everyone it gathering at an event, except you.  An event you had a large hand putting together is going to be ending, there will be a lot of smiling faces, awards, laughs, memories…and I won’t be there.

It was a strange feeling, being at a fun event with a great friend and, yet, having this strange FOMO feeling at the same time.  While I was running with, literally, thousands (and thousands) of people in South Carolina and doing the exact obstacles I’ve done hundreds of times, my mind was wondering what you folks were doing.  I loved being with my friend, I wouldn’t trade that weekend for the world.  But I would be lying if I didn’t admit I wasn’t jealous, and I didn’t miss you guys.

I guess that is what #racelocal does to you.

I was glad to have Paul to talk after both races, yours and mine.  I loved seeing the pictures of the event, and the prize winners.  But, really, aren’t we all “prize winners,” everyone who ran even one #racelocal event?  I know that is how I feel.

My wife and Paul at FIT!
My wife and Paul at FIT!

And next season I am determined to not have the FOMO feeling again. I hope you avoid it as well.  How do you avoid it?  Pretty simple, something Paul and I have been working on since about October of this year..

#racelocal #strongertogether

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Death Race 2013

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Death Race 2013 a very small recap.

It is one week since I began the Death Race.  One week ago I was chomping at the bit to get started but I had to wait till 8 I had to wait. (for those not in the know; there’s rarely a good reason to be early in the DR)  I suppose at this point I was at the Original General Store, contemplating the unfathomable.

In the last week I have definitely gone through many stages of PTSD.  And although self inflicted it is debilitating all the same.  There’s physical pain, mental anguish, and survivor’s guilt.  I’ve questioned the significance of what I’ve done, the absurdity of it all.  I questioned why I have a skull when others don’t and I believe they deserve it.  I still can’t walk correctly.  But it is the Death Race.  It’s a game based so close to life itself that the participants actually exchange reality for the microcosm of the race.  In the race the skull is all there is.  You’re playing for a skull, which represents all you want, all your desires.  Everything in the “microcosm” of the race becomes that skull.

In the race  you will lie, cheat, and steal.  You will bargain, you will ignore pain, and sleep.  You will fore go eating, peeing, thinking. You will become a machine.  You will press on as your body falls apart. You will walk in the face of all opposition.  You will push your body beyond its limits and still have more to push with.  Even in the face of all evidence to the contrary.  You will look at other racers for help but pray they drop before you do.  Anything, anything is a blessing.  A goo, a water, a moment to put down your pack.  A 3-mile swim is a joyful respite from walking and carrying that pack.  When you exchange different forms of punishment, you find comfort in it as a break from the monotony of a previous task.

The Death Race is within us all.  Every day we decide to continue on our present task or we chose not to.  Some times it isn’t for us to continue.  Other times we just don’t have a choice.  When you reach the back side of Bloodroot in your life, you know.  You know that backward is no relief to the hardship of going forward.  If you know you can only go forward, why stop when you get there?  And that is the difference.  I never stopped when I got where I was going.  I just accepted that I needed to go on to the next place.  I was so slow I never got any breaks.  I barely refueled or rehydrated.  When I got to the reservoir I was so dehydrated that I couldn’t swallow.  A gift from an Angel of a clif bar caused me to wretch but if I threw up I would lose what I did have.  So I drank lake water as I swam.  “You have a 100% chance of dying of dehydration.  Getting ill from bad water is at worst 50/50 chance.” ~ Todd Sedlack. But this is the Death Race.  And this is what Death Racers do.  If you think about what’s ahead of you your already dead.  If you simply do what is in front of you, getting to a lake, a farm, a house, or a tree 200ft ahead, you will survive.  You have to make small goals..  You have to be aware of your present situation only.  Anyway that’s how I got my skull.  Call it bullshit.  Call me what you want.  But I finished.  And my way worked.  At least this time.

This is not my final polished recap.  There will be more in time.  Right now I need to thank the entirety of the New England Spahtens.  I have tried in vein to read all of your posts of encouragement.  Its too daunting a task.  You people are insane.  Right now however I need to say that in every sense of my words I could not have done this without the help of all of you.  For the crew in Pittsfield, every small bit of help was thousands fold how it effected my race.  A goo slipped into my pocket at Riverside farm gave me the energy at 3:30 in the morning to keep going.  A bottle of coke at Amee farm might as well have been mythical Ambrosia.  Gatorades from out of nowhere.  Nutella sandwiches.  Every little thing was the difference when I used them.  Kind words of encouragement.  Lies telling me I looked good or strong.

I will name each of you by name when I can sit and write properly.  But if you saw me at anytime, please consider this my deepest gratitude.

Sandy Rhee.  Half of that skull is yours.  My crew chief.  My Death Race Angel.  I know you grieved as hard as I did.  And managed to run your own race too.  You have watched out for me from Rebel Run through the DR.  I don’t suppose you never wanted a child only 3 years younger than you.  I could never ever pick someone as awesome as you in my corner.  You are simply one of a kind.  With no guidance what so ever you saved me.  You knew all that I didn’t.  Thank you.  Thank all of you.

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2% of Ruckus racers have done a Spartan? Huh?

Ruckus Logo

Firstly, I love Ruckus – they are one of my favorite short distance “local” races, and I’ve done every one of them in New England since 2010, when they started.

Recently they started blogging more actively, and just posted a bunch of stats, clearly aimed at encouraging the newer participants – it’s a great read – except one stat really stood out …

What about Warrior Dash, Spartan Run, Tough Mudder and other mud runs? 
Many of our participants have engaged in these other muddy obstacle experiences, too.  29% of our runners had participated in Warrior Dash, 4% in Mud Run, 3% in Tough Mudder and 2% in Spartan Run.
Ignoring the “Spartan Run” oopsy – I assume that anyone even peripherally involved in this world of obstacle course racing knows Spartan Race – also ignoring the really odd grammar … the bit that got my attention is that only 2% of folks running Ruckus have participated in a Spartan Race.
I can’t imagine that being even close to accurate. Spartan has had more races in the Ruckus markets than any of the others, and I’d say I’ve seen more than 2% of the field wearing Spartan shirts at a Ruckus in 2012 …
Thoughts? Discuss!
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Harvard Stadium – Stairs, Sprints, Sandbags & Sweat

As the weeks have gone by, 2 to be exact, the training sessions at Harvard Stadium are beginning to take its shape. The trial period has come to its end. The word is out and the group is building. I have taken two and turned it into six. Now before the group training began, I was running Harvard stadium in preparation for the Spartan Race Fenway Time Trial. Knowing that the stadium is no more than 1/4 mile from my apartment, I had to jump on the situation. All the training I put in before Fenway paid off 10 fold. I mean, who wouldn’t love the opportunity to sprint up stairs and run 1/2 mile laps inside an empty stadium? Its a place where a lot of opportunity lies to train in a variety of fashions. The Colosseum gives us Stairs, Sprints, Sandbags and Sweat.


The Stairs are long, and by long I mean – getting from row 1 to row 2 involves a little power behind your step. The stadium has short stairs – perfect for some quick agility moves. Luckily I was able to design exercise circuits that would allow the group to utilize all the features Harvard has to offer. Luckily, I was able to put Nele Schulze and Keith Glass through the grind before the group started growing more heads. Unfortunately they’re beasts, so getting them to the breaking point took a little effort. As athletes we’re always looking for a way to push the boundary of what we’re capable of. As Keith Glass, he’s looking for a way to keel over from pure exhaustion.

Our nights begin with a quick warm up, nothing to exhausting at first. Our chatter picks up as we joke around waiting for the others to arrive. There is a little breathing room in the beginning, but that goes away in a hurry. Starting at Section 36, we travel down 10 sections one after another. I usually decide what exercise will be executed at the top and what will be done at the bottom. Regardless by the time we hit section 6, the burn sets in deep, our legs lock up, and someone is lying down somewhere catching their breath (usually that’s me) . We always tend to joke about how we don’t push it hard enough, but if you were to look around the group you’d see the damage has been done. Now something to keep in mind is that its only the beginning!

The WMDs, Weights of Mass Destruction, come out of duffel bags, rucks, and cars. The bigger the group the more variety i have to use when bringing these items into play. Let the Circuit Begin! Agility laps up and down the entrance to the stadium. The entrance to the stadium has your standard stairs. I don’t like to keep things simple, so bringing one of these sandbags for the journey up and down 6 entrances for 3 or 4 laps will usually do the trick. While someone does that, there are 4 other exercise stations starting up simultaneously. I’d love to reveal all the tricks but you’ll have to show up to learn them. Its a 4 exercise circuit and each station is being done 3 times before the switch.

Now i’m sure you’re thinking.. well what else? BUT WAIT there’s more! The turf is open and extremely nice to run on. 40 yard Sprints with some goodies thrown in the mix before after and during. 10 sprints with little to no rest. For those who can’t do sprints for whatever reason, I had Rob Bonazoli doing laps around the field with burpees and push ups till you feel the need to vomit.
I’m trying to design these training sessions to target the weak spots of all of my participants to build on them and eliminate the problem. Keith wants speed – we work on speed. Nele wants strength – i throw in strength. The possibilities are endless. I’m finally a part of a community where the people are amazing to work with. They’re appreciative and thankful. In my eyes there is no reason to not continue doing these sessions, even through the winter. There has been nothing but positive feedback about it from all of the Elite Athletes involved. I’ve used this quote before and I’m tired of people saying they’re not Elite when they show more heart than most..

“To Be Elite isn’t about racing or placing. Being Elite is about the Heart you have put into being where you are. The Determination that got you there. The Motivation to continue down the road to Reach the Goal you desire.”

Motivation. Determination. Inspiration.

For Today’s Workout of the Day check out my Blog on Reload Fitness’ Facebook page and website.

All Are Welcome.

Monday – Harvard Stadium 7pm. section 36. Bring Headlamps, & any weights you want to incorporate.

Join Spahten Elite Fitness group on facebook for more updates and information on ALL of our training sessions.