Spartan racing

Photo courtesy of Noelle Cave 
Castleton senior Mitchell LaFlam competes in the Spartan Sprint race at Killington.

Fear and adrenaline are two words that would accurately describe the 2019 Spartan Sprint in the race’s founding town of Killington, Vermont.

The Spartan obstacle courses, founded by Joe De Sena, has expanded from the Green Mountains to more than 42 countries, hosting over 250 annual events. It is a grueling test of endurance as competitors find their inner warrior and work together to push each other to cross the finish line.

Castleton University students from the wrestling team started their weekend by volunteering at the Saturday races.

“Volunteering at the races was very long, lasting 12 hours, but it was very rewarding seeing all the competitors race, and being a volunteer allowed me to race for free the next day,” said senior business marketing major Mitchell LaFlam.

Without all the volunteers, the Spartan races would be impossible to have, he said.

“Being a student at Castleton and volunteering at these races made me feel like a true Spartan myself,” LaFlam said.

He explained that volunteers at the race are offered an incentive. If they volunteer one of the days of the event, they have the opportunity to sign up for a race free of charge. Otherwise, registering for any Spartan race can be anywhere between $100-200, depending on the type of race one will be running.

It was a chilly and foggy Sunday morning, but the sun slowly started to rise over Killington mountain, burning the fog away, before the races were about to begin again.

Start times were approaching and the racers could feel the adrenaline running through their veins as they were about to start.

This was Travis Brown’s first Spartan race, but the first-year physical education Castleton student was psyched about competing in the race.

“The adrenaline felt great,” Brown said.

Team racers generally dress in matching clothes to show their team spirit. Both LaFlam and Brown were wearing shiny, unicorn colored pants to show their team duo spirit.

At the starting line, adrenaline was in the air as loud 90’s music was playing, and racers were jumping up and down, clapping their hands ready to begin their wave.

The Spartan Sprint was approximately five miles through Killington’s ski and snowboard trails, with 20 challenging obstacles along the way.

Conditions during the race were very muddy, slippery and wet as one obstacle consisted of going up and down muddy hills into muddy water, at one point forcing racers, if they chose to, to go underwater to complete the “dunk tank” obstacle.    

“It was very hard,” Brown said while letting out a deep breath of relief. “The experience was great, and it really pushed me to work hard, and the feeling at the finish line was like no other feeling I have felt before.”

Brown said he would compete in another Spartan race in a heartbeat when the opportunity comes up again.

Later in the afternoon, the next wave of racers were about to begin. Donald Rogers II, a trifecta competitor for the Spartan races, was feeling fired up to begin the sprint after just previously completing the 35-mile Ultra Race the day before.

Despite being physically exhausted from the previous race, Rogers was jumping up and down with the rest of the crowd ready to conquer the sprint. He was already covered in bruises, cuts, and scrapes from the barb wire crawl and tackling walls.

After Rogers completed almost 40 miles of racing within 40 hours, he was more than exhausted.

“This is the most sore I have ever been,” he said, while resting his head on a table, eyes slightly drooping.

Rogers was on a team with six other competitors for the Spartan Sprint portion of the race. “I’m so proud of myself for always trying hard and pushing my limits,” Rogers says in a Facebook post. “I’m even more proud of all my friends and teammates that joined me this Sunday.”

LaFlam and Brown both want to compete in another Spartan race when the opportunity arises, while Rogers is already registered for three more races to finish his 2019 racing season.

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