Photo courtesy of nuvision and Spartan
KILLINGTON-The description of the Spartan Beast sets the tone
for the competition, it reads: "If you have done any race anywhere
in the world: whether a mud run, fun run, olympic run, bike race,
death march or any kind of event claiming to be the 'toughest race
on the planet' you will be happy to know that this is where it
ends..this is the Spartan Beast...Step up and get out of your
comfort zone, many will arrive, but few will leave!"
The Vermont Spartan Beast is a series of obstacle course races
Sept. 22-23. This is the second year Killington Resort has hosted
the Spartan courses. The Beast, the most popular option, is a 13
mile obstacle course. The Ultra Beast Marathon is twice that at
26.2 miles and is open by invitation only.
This year, there will also be the Vermont High School Challenge,
a three-mile course for students 13 and older, and two kids
challenges: The Jr. Spartan and the Varsity Spartan, 0.5 miles and
1 mile respectively for kids age 4-13.
The courses are designed "as the ultimate test of resolve" and
many who start The Beast won't be able to complete the course,
organizers anticipate. So this year, they have created a 'dignified
exit' at mile three. "Each racer will have to confront the choice
between luxury and relaxation or facing nine more miles of HELL,"
explain Spartan race organizers on the site. Racers choosing to
exit will not receive official time or medal for their efforts.
The fastest time for the 13 mile course is expected to be around
three hours with the majority finishing the race between five and
eight hours. The first heat starts off at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
The mission of Spartan Races is to inspire active, healthy
lifestyles by returning to "our ancient roots where running through
woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday
Racers will not get a course map to study. While there are some
obstacles that seem to be "Spartan staples," many are
venue-specific inspired by the particular challenges of local
"We will not spell it out for you… There is fire, mud, water,
barbed wire, and occasionally Hell on Earth," the site reads.
"There will be obstacles to catch you off guard. Curve balls, so to
speak. Get over it. We're here to rip you from your comfort zone.
If you need a road map for each step of the way, then maybe this
race isn't for you."
However, for the Killington race, participants have been warned
that there will be 1-2 water crossings/obstacles on the course and
others may include a slippery incline wall, cargo net climb, barbed
wire crawl, a mud crawl, spear throw, fire jump and gladiator
Joe Desena, local endurance athlete and owner of Peak Races has
been training with two athletes out of his Spartan Race
headquarters in Pittsfield, Vt. While they have different
time-goals, both seek to push past previous limitations. Chris
Davis has lost over 50% of his original weight and hopes to cross
the Ultra Beast finish line, and Tucker Marshal hopes to win that
Chris Davis not long ago was 696 pounds. In 2010, he heard of the
Spartan Race and started losing weight, he explains on his
blog. On April 12, just five months ago, he moved to Spartan
Race Training Camp in Pittsfield, Vt.; he was just under 400 pounds
at the time. With the help of the Spartan Race motivation and
staff, including founder Joe Desena, his goal was to get to 180
pounds by race day- a loss of an additional 200 pounds.
Davis has gone through this process under the watchful eye of
Dr. Jeff Godin and founder Joe Desena on a diet of raw fruit and
"This is more of a lifestyle than a race," said Desena, and
that's exactly what it needs to be, according to data on successful
dieting. The National Institute of Health has estimated that
dieters can expect to regain two-thirds of their lost weight within
a year of completing their diet plan and to regain all of their
weight, and possibly more, within five years. What is required for
long-term weight loss and health is exactly what Desena described,
a change in lifestyle.
Chris Davis is certainly an inspiration, especially for the
nearly 2/3 of the US population that is overweight and the 34% of
Americans that are clinically obese, according to the National
Center for Health Statistics.
Obesity is directly linked to the top three most statistically
likely causes of death: heart disease (1 in 5 chance), cancer (1 in
7 chance), and stroke (1 in 24 chance), published National
Davis and Desena will race the Ultra Beast together this
weekend, pushing past each obstacle along their 26.2 mile
Tucker Marshal, an endurance athlete and a local racer, hopes to
win the Ultra Beast so that he can fund another season on the US
Ski Team. He seeks the prize money.
He shares a typical day of training on his blog, saying days
begin with breakfast at 4:30 a.m. then carries a 100 lb. sandbag up
and down a mountain three times for a total of 11 miles. "It takes
me somewhere around 5 and a half hours," he says. After lunch he
heads out for 10 mile jog, which is followed up by an ice bath in
the river and another five-mile hike.
"I do all these things and yet it still doesn't compare to the
athletes I am surrounded by... If I were to succeed in this I am
confident that I have the best people at my side," Marshal says of
his comrades at the Pittsfield headquarters.
Spartan races have been increasingly growing in popularity over the
past few years. Now many racers are seeking to make obstacle racing
more accessible to everyone. "We hope it's in the olympics
someday," says Desena. "It's the only obstacle course event
globally that is timed, ranked and judged."
There are new levels beginning with the entry level Spartan
Sprint, intermediate level Super Spartan, the advanced Spartan
Beast, and the '99.9% need not apply' extreme level Spartan Death
Additionally, kid and teen divisions are offered at many races
to inspire health and fitness at early ages with a variety of
scaled down obstacles. The Kids Fit Foundation is the host of the
Killington Jr. Spartan and Varsity Spartan races. "As a leader in
the movement to help children learn life-long health and fitness
habits, the Kids Fit Foundation strives to raise awareness and
develop programs that educate, empower and inspire kids to become
and stay fit," states the Foundation.
The High School Division for teens 13 and up, has been promoted
regionally at many schools where teachers, parents and
administrators advocate for such obstacle course athletics to be
incorporated more into schools.
At Fair Haven High School principal Brett Blanchard is leading
this charge. Blanchard recognizes the nationwide problem of obesity
and the health problems that come along with it. "We owe it to kids
to teach them about life-long health," he says. "One way to to do
so is by introducing modern athletics and fitness to our schools…
The mission of Spartan Race-to rip people off the couch, throw them
into a challenge and permanently change their lifestyle-is one that
I saw mirroring my mission to improve the worldwide health for our
youth. By joining forces with Spartan Race, the global leader of
obstacle racing, I was confident that student health could be
rapidly improved on a permanent basis."
Blanchard is hoping to get about 30 participants from Fair Haven
High School and hundreds more from dozens of High Schools around
the region to join in this years challenge at Killington.
Spectator tickets are available online for $10 or purchase them
on-site for $15 (cash). As a Spartan Race spectator, you'll receive
$5 Spartan bucks redeemable at the merchandise tent, entry to the
rocking festival area, a festival map, access to some of the
obstacles on course, Gladiator pit and finish line. Spectators will
have the opportunity to test their fitness, too, at the Pull-Up
Challenge, Slosh Pipe Challenge, Kaiser Challenge and Traverse Wall
Challenge. Perhaps, next year you too will be standing on the
Spartan starting line.