Spartan Masters vs Age Group: ‘WINNING’ the new Spartan AGE GROUP is a DISAPPOINTING LOSS

The SPARTAN ELITE START LINE…

One of my FAVORITE places.
This is where my friends gather.
This is where the BEST hugs, high five’s, encouragement, smiles and laughter happen!!

I have prepared myself to the best of my ability.  Now I trust in my training and enjoy the day.

I will run fast.  I will take on each obstacle with a strong-fierce grip, giving it 110% of me and do some seriously FAST burpees if I have to…

Lined up are the strongest, most courageous, talented, FAST as hell female athletes from around the world waiting for that final “AROO” to take off at lightning speed into the trails hoping your feet will carry you a little faster than the athletes beside you.

Ages vary starting in the early 20’s….

These female athletes have trained their asses off every single day earning their way to compete in the ELITE wave of Spartan races all over the globe.

Each competitor looking at the one next to them hoping to have a fast, clean race wondering if they have what it takes to be among this pool of athletes.

Each of these athletes are excited, some may be nervous, some may be in complete panic mode about what is about to go down. hoping to make it to one of the few coveted spots on the podium.

2017 I proudly stood on over 25 ELITE podiums, making it my most winning, rewarding season.

WOW.. PINCH ME!!  I CAN HOLD MY OWN AND COMPETE AGAINST THESE BADASSES even though I am old enough to be most of their mothers!!!

This year.. I was SUPER excited to officially start the OCR season with the Charlotte Spartan Sprint.

This is a picture of the ELITE Charlotte Spartan Sprint start line…my favorite place to be:

If you look, you will notice I am not here.

I am not on this start line.  I am behind the camera watching as my fellow competitors, my friends, put their toe on the ELITE start line.

I have to wait until the next waive to run.  The new “Age Group” division of Spartan.

I am 46 years old and have competed in the Elite waive for the past 3 years making in to the podium over 25 times in 2017.  The majority of these podium spots were in the MASTERS division.

Starting in 2018 Spartan has decided to remove the MASTERS division from their races.  This is heartbreaking for me.  The thrill of being in the mix of the BEST OF THE BEST and keeping up is what keeps me training day in and day out.  Knowing I can stand beside each of these athletes because I deserve to be there.

I had a choice to race in the Elite or the new Age Group category.  Reluctantly, I chose to give the Age Group waive a chance since this is where it seems Spartan wants the masters to step down to.

I did not get to put my toe on the start line with Elite’s.

I ran a FAST race….

But what was I running for? ..

The new “Age Group” waive of Spartan.

The thrill of having the most badass women ready to kick the courses ass all around me..  Not that the woman in the Age Group category are not badasses, but knowing I can run with the most elite and hold my own at 46 years old keeps me training hard everyday!

I have been told by “Spartan” the reason they have taken out Masters for Elite podium is for the future of Spartan to be an Olympic sport.  Does Spartan know this is stripping many of us ‘seasoned’ OCR athletes of a reason to keep pushing in their races?

I tried the new AG in Charlotte….. and I ‘won’ my age group.

Age Group winners got their 15 seconds of fame… hours after the Elite winners took their stand making us wait long after the early competitors had cleaned up and met for lunch to celebrate.

We waited… for what?

There was no prize other than another shiny medal and a few seconds to stand for a picture on the top box in the midst of 30 other athletes that ‘won’.

The entry fee is more than the entry for the open waives.  There was cheating on every obstacle.  ‘Athletes’ leaving the burpee zone without completing the penalty of 30 burpees, and the ones who completed what barely resembled a burpee.

Not even a free race entry.

I am quite sad as Spartan has been good to me the past several years.  I feel they have gotten too big for their britches.. The heart is gone as it seems they have dollar signs in their eyes and are no longer interested in the athletes longevity in the sport.

By taking out  Spartan Masters Elite division and replacing it with a diluted pool of “Age Group’ers”  with no incentive to bust my ass on the course, you have lost your ‘sparkle’.

Don’t you see that the Masters Elite division gave us ‘seasoned’ athletes something to continue to work for even though we may be old enough to be the mother/father of those elites beside us on the start line.  Don’t you know the older we are the more people we know and connections we have to bring other competitors to your races resulting in more padding in your pockets?

If Age Group is what we are encouraged to compete, throw us a bone, give those who make your AG podium a FREE ENTRY.  Athletes rarely show up to your races alone, which means you will make this entry free back.  Otherwise, we will be spending our time training for other races that have more incentive for us – Savage, Green Beret, Tough Mudder, Rat Race, etc…There are so many choices as this sport grows.

A podium spot earned should have a benefit.. not just another shiny medal.  At the least, a free entry for making any podium would keep us tied in to SPARTAN races.. otherwise, many of us will be drifting to other, more affordable and more profitable circuits.

In my opinion as a former Spartan Masters Elite athlete, if you want the new Spartan Age Group category to thrive you will need to give us a reason to show up on your start line.

For the Spartan Fayetteville Super and Sprint I did a little switch-AROO at the last minute to abandon the ‘new age group/competitive’ start and jump back into the ELITE..

This is where my heart is whether I can make it to the podium or not.

I put a goal into my head of making the top 10 with fierce, young competitors surrounding me.

2018 Fayettville Super:
Amy Bortoff
10th overall female 

2018 Fayettville Sprint:
Amy Bortoff
8th overall female

Until my free entries run out from my 2017 Masters Podium FREE ENTRIES, I will see you at the ELITE WOMENS start lines.. With my friends.

With all do respect,  STFU and at the least give a free race entry for standing on your podium instead of insulting those “wins” with just another finishers medal.

I am in the marketing business…  In my opinion the current ‘competitive heat’ business model will cost you toes on your start lines, in all age groups, if you don’t step up your game.

Give me a reason to jump your fire jump and throw some confetti in the air!
Aroo….

Seasoned, but still able to kick-ass,
Amy Bortoff
@abortoff

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