Race Recap: Pennsylvania Spartan Super + Interview with Joe De Sena


As you will hear in this episode I had no plans to run a Spartan Race. I figured I would just stick to marathons and half marathons. But when Joe De Sena says “You’re going to Palmerton”, who am I to argue? Joe is, after all, the most punishing man in fitness according to Outside Magazine.

Race Recap: Pennsylvania Spartan Super

It’s always fun talking with Joe De Sena -endurance athlete and founder of the Spartan Race. Listening to his stories and perspective on life will challenge you to get outside your comfort zone! The interview took an interesting twist that we didn’t expect . . .

Our weekend plans changed when this happened: (See Video)


So, with only six days to go, I took Joe up on his offer and signed up for my first Spartan Race. It was brutal but definitely as cool as he said it would be.

Be sure to check out our full interview with Joe and hear about the Spartan way of life, obstacle immunity and common traits of successful people.

The Course


The Spartan Pennsylvania Super and Sprint Weekend was held at the Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Palmerton, PA, in the Appalachian Mountains.

From the Website:

Are you up for a course designed to challenge our elite Spartans? At the Pennsylvania Super and Sprint Weekend, you’ll come face-to-face with Pennsylvania’s BLUE MOUNTAIN, taking on steep slopes that intimidate you… long climbs that challenge you… and obstacles that threaten you.

A Spartan Super is between 8-10 miles with 20+ obstacles. At this venue you are either power-hiking uphill or downhill non-stop, most sections are just not run-able.

The trails were single-track, muddy, rocky, gnarly ankle twisters. Sometimes the uphills required ropes and the downhills were so slick you had to grab trees to slow your fall. This course will kick your A$$!

The Obstacles


I tried to study the best angle of attack and move through the obstacles in such a way that preserved my upper body strength.

I found myself having no trouble with the obstacles involving balance, climbing things, or carrying things. I did however fail 4 out of 20+ obstacles and definitely need to work on my grip strength, rope climbing and spear throwing technique. The Spartan website says that the spear throw has a 86% fail rate.

The penalty for failing an obstacle is 30 burpees (need to work on those too).



Here’s an unordered list of obstacles I encountered. They don’t published these beforehand or offer much of a course preview because they like the element of surprise.

  • Six foot and seven foot walls
  • Inverted Wall
  • Hercules hoist
  • Rope climb
  • Spear throw
  • Inverted bars
  • A-frame cargo net
  • Monkey bars
  • Ring swing
  • Sandbag carry
  • Log carry
  • Sled drag
  • The Olympus (wall)
  • The Z wall
  • Tire Flip
  • Mud pits
  • Lake plunge
  • Ape Hanger (rope to monkey bars)
  • Rock carry
  • Barb wire crawl

The Finish Line

I had to chuckle when after two strenuous hours I saw a sign saying “Mile 4”. I really had no idea how long it was going to take me so I’m glad I brought water and 2 Ucan bars. My fueling was solid but I needed every calorie! You should fuel for a Spartan Super like you would for a marathon.

Our top recommendation is Generation Ucan. It will give you consistent energy without GI issues or sugar crashes. Use the code MTASPARTAN to save 15%!

My total time on the course was 4:17:44. Finishing this race will be one of my proudest moments of this year. Big thanks to Joe De Sena for arranging race entries and nudging me out of my comfort zone. Everyone needs to do a Spartan Race!

Did My Marathon Fitness Prepare Me Well?


With only 5 days to prepare I didn’t do any training for this race. However, I am apparently still in decent shape after the Flying Pig Marathon.

I could definitely feel my marathon endurance kick in during the 4 hours I was out on the Spartan Course. I was able to run all the flat sections and downhill sections that weren’t too steep. Strange as it may sound, running felt like a rest period. It was the least strenuous aspect of the race.

I also think running over a dozen marathons has taught me a lot of valuable things about mental toughness, fueling, hydrating, running downhill without blowing out my quads, and not over-dressing on hot days. All this stuff came in handy at the Spartan Super.

The Kids Races

The Spartan folks were kind enough to provide our kids with entries as well. The boys were eager to compete and got a huge boost in confidence from their race! With the venue only being 2 hours from our house it made a perfect day trip.

Totally stoked to do another Spartan race!


Also Mentioned In This Episode

Joe De Sena – the founder and CEO of the Spartan Race series, an accomplished endurance athlete and host of the Spartan UP Podcast. Joe and his family make their home in Vermont.

The Spartan Iceland Ultra World Championship in December. We have thee ticket to give away. If you’re interested send us an email through our contact page.

SteadyMD. MTA is proud to be the official launch partner of SteadyMD. SteadyMD pairs you with a primary care doctor, online. A doctor who really gets to know you, listens to you, and has time for you. And not just any doctor. A doctor who is a runner just like you and who really understands marathon training, proper running form, common running injuries, nutrition for runners, and much much more. Available to you via phone, text, and video chat, anytime. Go to SteadyMD.com/MTA to learn more and reserve your spot. There are a limited number of spots available, so check it out now!

4 Responses to Race Recap: Pennsylvania Spartan Super + Interview with Joe De Sena

  1. Sebastien July 14, 2017 at 10:58 am #

    Hello MTA team

    Was listening your last podcast like I do everytime and I’m interested by the Spartan offer … wish we knew more about the course and obstacles to be sure but nothing on website yet … other thing they say you had to have completed a beast already but I’m not sure about that with the giveaway.
    Please Keep me posted on what you decide for the giveaway and what’s included in it 😊😊
    Thanks
    Seb

  2. Yarone Goren July 14, 2017 at 3:20 pm #

    Excellent episode. Joe De Sena is a beast!

    Love his mantra: “I get to do this.”

  3. David A. July 24, 2017 at 11:57 am #

    Enjoyed your podcast on the way home from vacation. Really inspiring. It was cool hearing one of the initial podcasts (you were “training” for a 5k, I think episode 5 on running form), and compared it to this later one. Please keep us informed about that Spartan Ultra give-away. I know that I would be interested, and would gladly pour buckets of ice water on my head.

    -David

    PS. You still haven’t renamed the quick tip segment.

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