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Obstacle race series coming to Mohegan

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: The Day

Published March 12. 2014 4:00AM

Mohegan - Mohegan Sun expects to break some new ground this summer when it hosts an "obstacle racing" competition in woodlands near the casino.

According to organizers, the June 28 event - the inaugural Connecticut installment of the Reebok-sponsored Spartan Race series - will mark the first-ever pairing of a casino with one of the world's "fastest-growing lifestyle sports."

Bring on the barbed wire, the fire the burpees.

Bobby Soper, the Mohegan Sun president and chief executive officer, said Spartan Race representatives approached the casino during their search for a Connecticut location.

"They felt we were the best fit," Soper said. "When we evaluated the opportunity, it made sense. They're the world's leading obstacle race; we're the entertainment destination of the East Coast."

Seventy percent of the 8,000 spots available for race participants are already full, he said. In addition, as many as 5,000 spectators are expected to attend.

"Many of them have never been here," Soper said.

While the obstacle-race crowd may not be readily associated with gambling, it is expected to patronize the casino's hotel, restaurants and shops, boosting nongaming revenues.

"The typical Spartan Race demographic is a higher disposable income," Soper said. "They tend to be very competitive people."

Spartan Race and Mohegan Sun will collaborate on preparation of the nearly four-mile obstacle course that will snake through woodlands on the casino's property.

The course will feature more than 15 obstacles, including a spear throw, barbed wire crawls, rope climbs and a "fire jump." Spartan Race rules call for participants who fail to complete an obstacle to perform 30 burpees, the race's signature exercise.

Spartan burpees are like squat thrusts, with a chest-to-the-ground push-up and a final hands-over-head leap thrown in.

"Don't want to climb that 8-foot wall? Thirty burpees," a Spartan Race blog explains. "Failed the monkey bars, you say? Thirty burpees. Didn't quite make it across the traverse wall? Yeah, that'll be 30 burpees."

Spartan Race bills itself as the world's leading obstacle race series. In 2013, it included 60 events, and more than twice as many are planned this year at sites in 17 countries. The series includes races of three distances: the 3-mile/15 obstacle "Sprint" like the one scheduled for Mohegan, the 8-mile/20 obstacle "Super" and the 12-mile/25-obstacle "Beast." Each year, the series culminates in the Spartan World Championship.

An event for "Junior Spartans," ages 4 through 13, is offered as part of each event.

Spartan staff will lead a free training session March 30 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. First-timers and Spartan alumni are welcome. To register for the workout, log on to www.spartanraceworkout.com.

For more information about participating in the Spartan Race, log on to www.spartanrace.com. Spectator's tickets will go on sale there Friday.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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