This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
It takes more than just intestinal fortitude to finish a Spartan Race. Sometimes it requires a little bit of luck.
Famous for pushing competitors to the limit, the obstacle course series attracts ex-military personnel, former professional athletes and anyone brave enough to take on the challenge of this formidable race.
For one man, South Jordan resident Hobie Call, there was the potential of a huge cash payoff, if he could just continue his winning ways.
Racers never know what to expect on these difficult courses. Crawling under long stretches of barbed wire is a possibility, and using brute force to haul bricks up a hill is not out of the question. Some competitors have even run through fire.
And if the physical demands are met, players may find themselves trying to solve a Rubik's Cube in a dead sprint or building a bridge on top of a mountain.
To bring notoriety to the 2011 series, organizers offered $100,000 to anyone who could win 14 events and the Death Race in Pittsfield, Vt. As of June 17, Call had won six races in a row and was beating second-place finishers by an average of 3.7 minutes. Organizers of the series even offered a $20,000 prize to anyone who could defeat the man from Star Valley, Wyo.
Call, a 34-year-old heating and cooling technician, was facing a must-win situation in last Saturday's Death Race in rainy Vermont.
"This was by far the most physically challenging race I've ever been through," he said. "Part of what makes [the Death Race] so hard is the pace."
In past years, only a small percentage of racers have been able to finish this event. Saturday's 48-hour Death Race began with six hours of rock lifting and then changed gears to a mile walk through an icy-cold river. "Physically, it's not too demanding, but the cold factor is what got me," Call said.
The next challenge was to chop wood and keep one of the logs on your person at all times. Call and other racers then climbed 2,000 feet up a heavily forested hillside to reach their next task.
Unfortunately for Call, the cold and rain got the best of the marathoner. He pulled out of the race and lost out on the $100,000 prize. Despite his disappointment after selling all his valuables to travel to the Death Race, his spirit wasn't crushed.
"Yep, the hundred thousand is gone," he said in a melancholy tone.
He added, "I don't see it as failure. I didn't fail, I did my best. It's a unique challenge. I didn't want to run the race, but I have nothing but cherished memories."
Defending champion Joe Decker won the pivotal Death Race over Call and 150 other entrants.
Without the prize money, Call said his future in these types of events is up in the air. He's got a wife and five children to think about. However, win or lose, he was grateful to his fans on Facebook for their encouragement and to his wife, Irene, for allowing him to live his dream.
"She's been very supportive of me doing the Spartan Races," said the Olympic hopeful. "I'd love to continue, as long as the finances work out. It's not about getting what you want it's about being happy with what you have."
Call said he plans to compete in the Spartan Race when it comes to Utah at Soldier Hollow on July 9, but after that, he'll re-evaluate his future in the world's toughest obstacle race.
South Jordan resident Hobie Call won six consecutive Spartan Races this year but couldn't finish the June 25 Death Race and lost out on the season-ending $100,000 prize.
Call qualified for the 2008 Olympic trials in distance running and broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest mile of lunges. He also set the course record at the 2007 Top of Utah Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, 38 seconds.