Team MudGear Race Recap – Vermont Spartan Race World Championship September 26 2014, 0 Comments

The Spartan Race World Championship in Killington, Vermont is the pinnacle of the obstacle racing season for many elite racers. Training begins months in advance for the brutal runs and carries that take participants up and down black diamond ski slopes over a total of roughly 16 miles. 
Successful athletes must combine extreme endurance with raw strength to complete a barrage of obstacles dreamed up by legendary course designer Norm Koch. The course rewards well rounded fitness and strong legs, and it breaks down athletes who excel in only one or two areas. This year’s race featured a long swim and a double 45 pound sand bag carry up and down the mountain that took most athletes a full half hour or more to complete.

Over 600 athletes from across the globe gathered for the elite heat competition including world class marathon runners, mountain bikers, and triathletes. Thousands more racers and spectators joined to witness the weekend’s other big events including a short course sprint, and a Sunday Ultra Beast race.

The Team MudGear Athletes were among those accepting the challenge and throwing down incredible performances on this epic weekend. These are their stories and highlights in their own words:

Team MudGear Athlete – Brakken Kraker
The highlight of the weekend for me was twofold:
  1. The short course. This was an awesome form of Obstacle Racing and had incredible competition. The action was non-stop and the race came right down to the final obstacle. I was fortunate enough to go from 6th to 2nd on the last two obstacles, making for the most exciting OCR finish I've ever been part of. It was really cool to have the crowd so into the race. It was by far the most fun I've had at a race and the best atmosphere for a race yet!
  2. Competing with and getting to know the international racers. There were some incredible athletes from outside the US in this race, and they were all so friendly. It was a great experience to spend time with such incredible people.

Team MudGear Athlete - Laura S. Lunardi
Saturday- The World Championship Beast
Having just finished only one year of obstacle course racing, this was my first taste of the glorious mountains of Killington, Vermont. I honestly had no expectations going in to the race - only to finish as strongly as I could. Easily the toughest terrain I have ever stepped foot on, the Vermont Beast also offered obstacles I (and many others who only race in the United States) had never seen before. In addition, many familiar obstacles were either encountered twice or altered enough to provide an added challenge. Although easily my worst finish of the year (50th among elite females) as far as placement, I am glad to have without injury or any issues at all, for that matter. I now know what worked and what didn't work. I already feel more educated and confident, which will only help me for next year!

Sunday - The Vermont Sprint 
After racing the Beast on Saturday, I wasn't sure how I would feel about scaling the mountains again the next morning, but I geared up and headed to thee start line for the sprint. The initial ascent and trails were the same as Saturday's course, with the split coming at the Transverse Wall. Thankfully avoiding the lake swim and Tarzan ropes, the sprint course veered and headed up the mountain, cutting out a huge portion of the Beast race. As indicative of the name, this race was fast and furious, and pretty much over in a flash compared to the previous day. The final uphill through fallen trees and logs was greeted by a sweet descent to the fire jump, signifying the completion of my racing weekend. A much more fulfilling outcome, I was the first female to cross the finish line in this race, maybe slightly making up for Saturday's end result. Finding the way to the podium is always nice, but getting there via the mountains of Killington was even more gratifying.

 

Team MudGear Athlete – Morgan Mckay
“Where to start with this weekend? Well, I knew I had a good chance to place at UB again if I didn't do the beast championships, but I want to grow as an athlete, and part of that is knowing how I stack up against the absolute best in the world. I am very pleased with placing 23rd for woman, I know how hard I need to work to be on the next level and I'm excited to work extremely hard over the winter to get there!

The beast: I started near the back of the pack and paced myself. As the race progressed I made my move and picked up the pace and started to pass people. This race was amazing. I felt so honoured to race against so many athletes I really respect. Everyone was so encouraging and supportive. The highlight for me was digging deep in the last 2 miles, which made a huge difference in placement. I passed around 10 girls in the last 30mins. Cramps were a major problem. Screaming people suffering from bad cramps in the last barbed wire crawl surrounded me. I was also hurting but just kept rolling!! At the end of the race I felt great, which means I could have pushed a lot harder.... But it was hard to know how much energy to reserve. 

The sprint: So because I was feeling so great after the beast, I got peer pressured to enter into this sprint course against some of the girls who placed top 20. It was filmed for TV. It was approximately 1/2 mile x 4 laps. The course consisted of: walls, cargo net, log carry, Hercules hoist, monkey bars and spear throw. I looked at the girls I was racing and thought, "I'm going to get absolutely crushed, but I'm going to try anyways!" I surprised myself and held my own against the best. I placed somewhere in the middle of the pack. Oh! I also had to borrow clothes from some guy friends because I forgot to bring a change of clothes; it's going to be slightly embarrassing on TV! 

The ultra beast: This was quite the challenge, more mentally than physically. Physically I knew I could do it. I have ran 3 ultra marathons this year and I know my body can handle the distance. I honestly just wasn't that into it. It was the same course as the day before, the start line was a mess, half the elite woman started with the elite males, so many had a 15min head start on me... which made it almost impossible for me to race against them because I had no idea what their pace was, or where they were. I saw so many people cheating; it was ridiculous, and very disappointed to see. I've never seen this much cheating in a race before. I could go on and on and complain, but that's not me. So the race became more of a personal mission, to run a true honest race and push myself. I am very proud I beat the demons in my head that told me to quit. I refused to quit even when at times I felt the race had no merit. I proved to myself again that my body will follow my mind and I pushed it to the finish line. I’m discovering more and more how mental these races are, and how to master my emotions when everything seems to go wrong. I ran with integrity, and I'm very proud. I know despite the cheaters, I'm in the top 10, not exactly sure what my pacing is officially yet. 

All in all I am very happy that I was able to pull off 3 different races in 2 days. It gave me a lot of confidence about WTM Nov. 15-16, 2014. My goal is to win and I feel very prepared and focused for it.”

 

Team MudGear Athlete – Kevin Mudman LaPlatney
“Such a wild and amazing weekend. I headed to Philadelphia Friday night to run the stadium Spartan Race in Citizens Bank Park early the next morning. Finished 14th among Elites in a relatively easy and short course, but then had to rush back to NY for work that day. Then Saturday evening I drove 5 hours to Vermont so I could also run the Spartan Beast the following morning. On almost no sleep, without dinner or breakfast before, and stiff from all the driving (and the race 24 hours earlier), I managed to take 5th overall in the elite heat, my best Spartan finish of the year! So many memorable moments during those hours on Killington Mountain, but the best had to be completing the "Tarzan" obstacle that tormented me and so many others from a year ago- swim out to a rope ladder in the middle of a chilly lake, climb to the top and then traverse across 4 or 5 short knotted ropes hanging from a bridge, to finally ring a bell at the end. Still easily the toughest single obstacle I've had to take on in ANY race of my life.”

 

Team MudGear Athlete – Matt Kempson
As I was coming through the final barbed wire, with my legs cramping to the point I wanted to pass out, a few spectators, volunteers, and the competitors I was battling with spontaneously broke out into a verse of "Build me up buttercup" and continued to sing the entire song through the crawl. Highlight of my race career.

 

Team MudGear Athlete - Elliot Megquier
The Journey 
Wow what a weekend. It started out Thursday night. I was supposed to get out of work at 9 PM and immediately start my journey to Killington, VT. I had not sold one mattress or anything all day Thursday when a customer walked in around 7:45 PM. I finally sold them on the right mattress and adjustable base they wanted, but then had a hard time entering their finance info due to my inexperience with the system. Anyways, I made the sale earning just under $300 when all products are delivered. So, a great way to start the weekend even though I didn’t hit the road until 10 PM ish. Then I proceed to make wrong turns and hit almost every light getting out of Virginia Beach and yeah have a 10 min or so delay on tunnel #2 (of the Chesapeake Bay). Anyways I start to make good time and hit the lights right. I am somewhere on the New Jersey turnpike around 3 AM ish. I stop to get gas and take a nap because I can hardly keep my eyes open. After struggling to get comfortable I finally fall asleep and I think I sleep almost 2 hours. I wake up and the sun is rising. I continue my journey stopping for some amazing Burger King crossonwiches, chocolate milk, and a banana near Tuxedo, NY. I arrived at K1 around 12 PM ish and immediately run into my Spartan Staff buddies Curtis and Patrick. Then the reunion continued, I see friends from all over the country and even other countries. I headed to my condo for the weekend and meet my friend James Appleton and am introduced to 4 other British athletes and one from the Netherlands. We head back to K1 for the press conference and dinner. After the conference I jog down to the Killington Resort Ball Room to get first in line for dinner. Oh yeah I won and got the first plate! After dinner with some good friends I notice none of my roommates are at the dinner and since they drove I have no transportation. I also don’t have my wallet, watch, or well phone with me. haha. After borrowing a friends smartphone to retrieve the address I start what should be a mile and change walk to the condo. Well you know me of course I had to take what I thought was the short cut and 5 miles later I am on Route 4. I luckily run into a security guard doing checks and he takes me back to my condo. Thank you so much whoever you are! Anyways I get to bed at a decent hour and get good sleep since I am very tired. I woke up Saturday morning knowing it is going to be cold and a hard race.

The Race/Aftermath
So I am the first person to the wall just before the starting line and I anxiously await the start. I get my pre-race bear hug from MC TC Carson and I talk to a bunch of friends and make a few new ones. Some of the top contenders are announced and they hop over the wall, then there is a mad rush to get over. I tried to be careful and not get injured in a mad rush just to get to the start line. I am maybe 3 rows back, but this means nothing since I planned to go out at my pace and not crush myself up the first climb. Off we go and I settle in maybe 100th place, guys I know, some foreign athletes jet on by. I start to gain some positions at the first sand bag carry and first bucket carry. I get to the dreaded tarzan swing and fall. I do my 30 burpees and soon pass Alec Blenis who actually made the obstacle. I run with Alec for a bit and he warms up from the cold water (it didn’t affect me at all) and he takes off. I pass him again at the log carry and we head into the log hop together. I struggle but after borrowing Alec’s technique of putting your hands on one plank make it across and take my sweet time standing up so I don’t fall off. I gain my balance and hop safely across the last four logs. Wow that was a challenge. I reach the summit of the mountain and see the memorization board and spear on a rope which I got to help demo a few weeks back in New Jersey. It is very windy and I miss to the left. After my 30 burpees I make a decent and I see a women there, not seeing her pass me I tell her she’s lost. It turns out she is from Quebec and her English is hard to understand. I try to tell her she’s either in first place or lost. She backtracks a little and then she passes me again. Then more women start to pass me on the decent. I only recognize a few and I cheer my friends Claude Godbout and Corinna Coffin on. At the second bucket carry I begin to think boy this race is probably the easiest Beast I have done in Killington. Boy was I about to eat my words. I little bit after the second bucket we get to the second sand bag carry. I begin to think wow I’m about to crush some dudes. But we have to carry two bags which I’ve heard were around 45 lbs. each. I throw one on each shoulder but I do not get very far before I have to stop. Next I try one on the shoulder and one I grab by the duct tape and hold like a purse. I get to the section where it gets the steepest and the tape breaks. I resort to throwing one at a time up the mountain. I run into my good friend Mr. Ricciardi and he cheers me on and really gives me a lift seeing a friendly face at my darkest moment of the race. I start to drag one of the bags like a tractor pull by it now exposed long neck and the other I put on my shoulder. I reach the top of the carry and make good time down the mountain to the end of the carry. My watch is saying 2.5 miles more if the 14.5 mile course is truthfully. It is not, at this point I really am not racing for anything. My only goal is to finish. Jenny Tobin passes me and cheers me on but I don’t have any drive to keep up with her. I get to the tyrolean traverse and breeze across it, but then I get the memorization test and miss it by one. My alpha letter was Tango then it was my birthday 827, so I only really had to memorize the last 4 numbers but I was one off. The volunteer said I was good when I was at 25 burpees, but I don’t cut corners and I knock at my last five. The rope climb is challenging with the thin rope that hangs out of the water. I make it up with no problem, but then I miss the spear again. My good buddy Alexander Nicolaus does the same I we have a few words of encouragement after the burpees. He says rough race or something but then I think, I have nothing to be mad about, I have full use of both my legs, I am not injured, I have the love and support of my family and friends, I just got offered a box ticket to Derek Jeter’s last home game ever, and I am doing what I love to do in the beautiful state of Vermont in the fall (technically it was still summer, but not so in reality) which is one of the most majestic times of the year. I proceed to fall off the pole traverse and at the 10 ft wall just before the barb wire a staff member asks me “Elliott did you run in the open heat today?” I reply no and continue on. It is really funny that someone thinks that, but it also indicates wow I am really stinking up the joint. I get the herculean hoist up and down then my calf locks up. Luckily I used to this happening in bed or driving and I’m able to work it out in seconds. Up the container climb and then on to the monkey bars. They are slippery and my grip is shot from the 2nd sand bag experience. I fall off and do my 30 burpees. One last climb and I see the finish line I start to run and then I hear someone coming up on me. I start to pick up my speed and I see some ignorant spectator walking right across my path, I yell at them and proceed to get beat out at the fire jump. I don’t really care it was a battle for what turned out to be 67th place. I don’t feel like getting my picture taken (sorry Rory Doyle) and give a few friends hugs and congratulate a few people before I head up to the athlete room. Boy am I beat but I am healthy and I finished. After an hour or so I bum a ride off some friends and say they can use the showers at my condo. However we are locked out when we get there. I tell them just to leave me and I hop in the jacuzzi for some much needed soaking. I happen to have my car keys and decide to head back to the venue. There Joe De Sena asks me to do the short course and I tell him yes only if I can get a free pair of shoes since I am wearing my dress shoes. It turns out there is no room in the men’s heat and Alex, Alec, myself, and a few others are regulated to the JV/scrub heat. I am excited to race by now after watching my friends and teammates in the men’s/women’s race. The scrub heat actually has around 80 or so podiums between the three of us, but they bail and by the end of the women’s heat I am the only one that wants to race. I take off by myself I get one lap in before they take the spears. I mock throwing the spears the last 3 laps and complete my 4 laps earn my shoes. Outback Pizza, more hot tub, and quick DD duty to the Pickle Barn to see some friends. During the race I had come to the conclusion that I had no desire to do even the charity sprint and that the only safe thing was to drive home Sunday morning after a good night’s sleep. That’s what I did, nothing notable other than getting honked at by a Virginia state trooper and yelled at to slow down. Then I go out to Hooter’s (never been there but I’ve got a gift card and I want a burger, fries, and cheese cake!) for dinner and I am in a bad mood. I ask the guy at the bar to move over so I’m not against the barrier. He does and he starts making fun of me for ordering chocolate milk and water at a bar. We get to talking and he is an E3 medic in the Navy, I tell him my story about just getting off active duty. We talk some more as the Seahawks hold on in overtime to beat the Broncos. Then I ask for my bill and the bartender tells me there is no bill. I think she’s joking and then after minutes of playing with my card impatiently to get her attention she tells me the dude next to me bought my meal. Never before has anyone I didn’t know bought my meal, what I nice gesture. I thank him and tell him he shouldn’t have done that. Wow what a roller coaster of emotions. Questions linger, do I really want to continue I job that has long hours and pay so dependent on commission where days go by you don’t sell anything, do I want to train harder to get back to the podium? The questions remain unanswered but I am still going to race. My next Spartan Race in the Winnsboro Beast/Super around a month from now. Then the next week I just bought my ticket last night for the Glen Rose Beast/Sprint. If you are still reading thank you and I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks to my sponsors Spartan Race, VPX Sports/Team Xtreme, and Mud Gear! Also to all the staff, volunteers, and spectators that cheered me on and helped build an amazing course! Oh and congrats to my new friend Jon Albon for pulling out a huge upset, Ryan Atkins, and Cody Moat for rounding out the podium. Claude Godbout, Corinna Coffin, and April Dee for being the women winners. Hunter McIntyre and Cassidy Walton for winning the short courses. And Isaiah Vidal, Cody, and April for podiuming in the Ultra Beast the day after running in the Beast you guys are unbelievable!