Back in 2013, the Women of Obstacle Racing page was created. Since then there has been a surge of female teams created across America. I decided to chat it up with my fellow WOR Pro-Teammate Christina HB Armstrong and go on a worldwide hunt for other female teams. Come to find out, only Americans are obsessed with creating female teams. Christina found, naked female pro teams (in a different sport, which no longer exists), and few other all-female pro teams for other sports, but none within the obstacle racing community. I started joining obstacle racing Facebook groups in Italy, Canada, United Kingdom, and nothing. At first, my desire for this blog piece was to feature women from all over the world being empowered by one another and finding strength together on the course. Now, I’m questioning, why are Americans obsessed with female teams? I asked, in the Facebook group “Italian Spartans and Mudders”, “Are there any female obstacle racing teams?” I had one-man state, “Never heard of it”. My friend Manuel stated, “We don’t have those here. We all run together.”
The fact remains, we love the female teams here in America. We love celebrating women going out on the course and supporting one another and featuring the strong athletic female who challenges herself in ways we never thought before. These women should be celebrated and we will continue to do so! Maybe some other blogger would like to look into the cultural aspect as to why Americans love to create female teams, but that won’t be me as of now.
What drives women to be a part of these groups? Are all women in OCR just out to prove that they are better than the guys? Do they all just need pages to vent about great race outfits and boyfriends that don’t support their new love of racing in the mud?
One popular FB group started out as the “Spartan Chicked”, group. Margaret Schlachter was one of the original founders back in 2011. Margaret and Carrie Adams wanted to have a group called the “Chicked Army” at the first Spartan Beast in 2011. They worked together with Tara Julian, who designed the original Chicked gear and ended up with a very diverse group of 16 women to represent the movement in Killington, Vermont. Tara Julian stated, “At this time, OCR was not mainstream, at all. Basically most of us were called crazy every Monday when we got back to work. The group became a place for all of us who shared this common interest to talk about the sport and support each other when many of us did not have this support in our daily lives.”
Now in 2016, with over 13k members, this is sure to be a group that any female could find a story and/or person that reaches them. Sue Luck, also known as “Mini Beast” was part of the original FB group. At 5’3, Sue started her OCR career at a not so young 36 in 2011! Sue proves to all that you do not have to be in your 20s right out of college to be an elite OCR athlete! Her reason for wanting to be part of an all women’s group, “because these women are like-minded like me, and they get my crazy training”.
Here are some of the top influential female teams in America:
Team Extreme: This is one of my favorite female teams out there. I believe they were the start and biggest influences amongst the female teams in America to really showcase what it means to be together and have fun on the course. Karla “The Beat” Pineda has been showcased many times on Spartan Races social media pages; her and her team are vibrant, fun, and are always improving their obstacle racing skills. They have close to 11,000 followers on Facebook. They may not run elite or make podium finishes, but their influence on the obstacle racing community is strong. Sometimes it’s not about being the best or being on the podium, but being strong together.
Members: Mayela Castrejon, Yvette Ruiz, Brenda Lomeli, Karla Pineda, Ema Haro
OCR Grinder Girls: Victor Carillo created the team OCR Grinders awhile back and then decided to add females into the group. (Now, he just needs more female coaches in Machete Madness. Ashley Seeger was the last one to help out and that’s just one female and that was forever ago. Yes Victor, I’m talking to you.) These women are elite racers and are pretty kick-ass on the course.
Members: Natalia Guzman, Margarita Guzman, Maria “Pily” Hernandez, Maria Herrera, Courtney Knapp, Meg Ramirez
WOR Pro Team: WOR founders Elizabeth Rivera and Elizabeth Martinez, also known as Liz Squared, started the group in 2013. “We wanted to have a team of all levels of women who we sponsored in some way to show other women it was not just about the elite” Rivera stated. “We wanted women to know there are others empowering each other, instead of stepping on each other to reach the next step”. Liz came up with this while working on a dissertation regarding women working through the glass ceiling and…she brought it to the sport!
Members: Chikorita De Lego, Amie “Live-wire” Booth, April Dee, Billie Sudbrack, Codi McCorkle, Gabriel Bartels, Jennifer Klentzman, Laura Messner, Samantha Wishner, Liz Piscetelli, Louise Johnstone, Melanie Faville, Minna Urrey, Moitz Lego, Sasha Chapman, Stephanie Zieman
Team Grinder Glam: The team name was created based on a hashtag on Instagram. Leticia’s former Instagram name was @Letigrinder and her friends’ name was @glamorouswallflower. They decided to create the hashtag, #grinderglamchallenge, combining the two names, for an Instagram challenge they began to host. Over time people kept joining the challenges and they created a following/friendships. Not too long after the challenges were created Leti started Spartan Racing. She became hooked and started trying to get all the girls who were doing the challenge to do a race as well. In 2014 she decided the LA Spartan Sprint would be the first race for Team Grinder Glam to get together and race. They came in 2nd place for the biggest team with having 103 members on her team. Leti was not satisfied, she wanted “Biggest Team”. In 2015, the recruiting efforts got bigger and they were able to win “Biggest Team” for the 2015 LA Sprint.
Leti, “Because the name has “Glam” in it. It makes guys not want to be a part of it, but it has nothing to do with being just a chick thing. Mostly women follow me, but as we grow, my boyfriend George is part of it and a lot of the girl’s husbands and boyfriends have joined. I can see why the word “glam” is off-putting for some guys, so with the team shirts, I made sure that word was not on the shirt. We shortened it to Team GG. I would like to change the name, but, if you check the hashtag it’s about 80,000 strong.”
This is one of the first teams to try and change because they don’t want to leave the guys out. Will others follow?
With all the teams going co-ed for the new t.v. shows out there, who knows the fate of these female teams. They most likely will remain to be strong motivational forces for future female racers who are looking to achieve new goals on the course or start their new racing adventures. The Spartan Chicked movement started long ago, has now changed. Women and men are together on the course standing strong as one. Many of these females can out-perform or perform just as well as the guys and all the obstacle racing men out there are totally okay with that. They embrace it, find it sexy, and are fully supportive. The women who started the movement to bring women to the forefront of obstacle racing should be commended for making this happen. It wasn’t like this in the beginning.