After each mud run or obstacle race I compete in, you'll get my review and grades for each event to help you decide which ones you might want to sign up for. The following categories will be discussed:

1. COURSE- the design, venue, and setup of the race itself- how creative/ adventurous/ difficult the obstacles were, and obviously... how was the MUD?!?

2. FESTIVAL- all the fun beyond the actual race- the social atmosphere which usually includes food, beer garden, dj/ music/ concert, contests, vendors, and more during the after-party

3. SWAG- the included goodie bag and prizes up for grabs- all the "free" stuff that comes with price of entry and the quality of awards, shirts, and other giveaways

Feel free to use the search box to read up on any past topics you might be looking for.

SPARTAN BEAST, Killington VT, 9/23/12

Completing the "trifecta" for our Spartan guest bloggers is one of biggest names among the female champion racers, Andi Hardy, from Atlanta GA. Andi began racing Spartan Races in March 2012 with a sprint in her home city. Surprising herself by placing 2nd overall female in the competitive heat, Andi signed up for a Super and the VT Beast as she had her sights on a trifecta. However, Andi couldn't stop at three registrations as the Spartan bug bit and she was off to Indiana and two races in Tuxedo Park, NY. Winning all three of those races, Andi couldn't stop. The Spartan family embraced Andi and her success and she finally felt she had found a home with people who loved obstacle course racing, mud, and fitness as much as she did. Andi continues to race (and still place) and if all goes as planned will complete four trifectas in 2012. Andi says "You must always remember to smile even at the most difficult moments in a race. It is a privilege to be able to be in each and every venue, to encourage others, and to race with such amazing people, why not take a moment to appreciate what it is all about."  We all thank Andi for this incredible report on the year's most epic race!

1. COURSE-  I really had no idea what to expect when I arrived to Killington, Vermont on September 21. I had been to Killington a few months before to peek at this Beast of a Mountain. I even hiked to the top of it with my dear friend, Margaret Schlachter, so I did know it was going to be quite the climb. I heard a few blurbs from friends, read a few Facebook posts, and imagined. But on that morning, I was in for the race of my life! The butterflies were taking over my stomach as usual, the chilly wind sent shivers up my spine, and Billy Gotti got my blood flowing with his “There are 300 of you gathered here today” speech. The smoke bombs were thrown and in an instant we were off and trekking. I do not say running, as I was not able to run a whole lot. The inclines were so steep, my glutes, hamstrings, and quads were all screaming within the first mile. Unbelievable?  No, not at all. Mike Morris and Spartan Race staff have a talent for designing the most challenging of courses. The inclines were incredibly steep, the declines were also equally challenging. Usually I could fly on the way down. Not this day on this mountain. I often found myself on my ass, scooting down as to not fall and break my ankle. As tough as the course was, the obstacles matched. Many were the same ones from every other races: the walls, the barb wire crawls, the over/under/throughs, the Hercules Hoist, the Traverse Wall, rope climb, rolling mud pits, tractor pull, sandbag carry, monkey bars, spear throw, slippery wall, and such.  There were a few new ones, for me anyway. One was the spider web, an approximate 3 ½ foot high barb wire mess to just inconvenience your hike through the rock and brush. There was a memorization sign; everyone used the last digits of their bib number to find a unique code to memorize. Later in the course we were asked to recite the code correctly, or burpees!  About 4 ½ miles into the race was a swim to a rope ladder and then a Tarzan Swing. I actually only saw a very few people succeed with this extremely difficult obstacle. I froze hanging onto two ropes. I couldn’t get back to the ladder and I couldn’t swing toward the next rope. The inevitable for me: a drop into the icy water and a swim to the left of the lake for my 30 burpees and a long jog over river rocks to get back on course. Those lucky few who succeeded, rang a bell, dropped in and swam the much shorter distance to the right and after climbing out of the lake were off and running on a path.  Another new obstacle was the Atlas lift, this was a cement cylinder which had to be carried across a field to a post. You dropped it off and carried a different one back to the start. This was not very difficult for me, and I had the lady’s atlas. Chariots of Fire was something I hadn’t seen before. It was a sled made from a box (filled with a sandbag) on wooden skis. You pulled this thing with a rough rope around a loop while breathing in smoky, smelly oxygen from the straw bales being burned all around the loop.  I had encountered the Tyrolean traverse before, but never so long. Wow, this got me. I have had success before and did it quickly, however on this day, at this venue, this obstacle wiped my out. I did make it across, but not without physical and mental exhaustion.  The obstacles, as incredible as they always are, were placed in such a way that they wore you down at the right places. Several obstacles right next to one another have a way of draining your strength quickly.  I would say there were about 40 obstacles not counting the mountainous inclines and declines. The burpee penalties this race included push-ups, making them much more taxing. The course itself I heard was 14 miles in length. This was the hardest physical challenge I have ever encountered to date. I had to dig in very, very deep to find the endurance and mental strength to conquer the course. But I did it. Will I be back for more? In a heartbeat. Grade = A

2. FESTIVAL-  I always love hearing the noise of the festival area when descending down a mountain or out of the quiet woods. I get pumped and literally run faster when I hear the pounding music or catch Billy’s powerful voice over the loud speakers. I love how the course start and end is set up so spectators can scream for their favorite athlete to finish strong through the last obstacles while not wanting to stop for burpees.  Outside of the actual course itself, the festival area contained sponsors. The great thing about the sponsors is that they put on little challenges such as tire flip, slosh pipe, pull-ups. These challenges give spectators a chance to compete without committing (yet) to a Spartan Race. Racers can also compete in these challenges. The prize was a free entry to a Spartan Race of their choice. In Vermont I did not compete in these challenges, but have in previous races. Also in the festival area were food vendors, an Innov8 tent with shoe sales, the Spartan Race merchandise tent with all of it’s fantastic gear to choose from. I was so cold that I didn’t spend a lot of time in the festival area away from the finish line. Grade = B

3. SWAG:  Spartan Race gives the same black tee-shirt for every regular Sprint/Super/Beast event. Only the special races (Founder’s, Military) had different tee-shirts. The finisher’s medal for the VT Beast was the same as the finisher’s medal for other beasts. At the end of the race, upon the medal being placed around your neck, you were handed a banana.  This was my second trifecta, so when collecting my trifecta medal I also received stickers for a sprint, super, and a beast. Upon registration a Gaspari Nutrition mesh bag with a few drink samples was handed out. This was the swag present at Spartan Race, at least what I received.  Because I have participated in so many Spartan Races, the shirt and bag were appreciated, but not near as exciting as the first few races. However, the medal, although I own another just like it, is gold to me. It represents the many miles of crazy terrain, the insane obstacles, and the countless hours of training I put into earning it.  I proudly wore my medal for several days after the race was over.
Grade = B (Photo provided by Mudman, reverse of t-shirt shown with Beast medal and trifecta medal)