The group has been competing in 5K, 10K, and half-marathon races across the western U.S.

COURTESY PHOTO - Pictured, from left: Rachel Bare, Leah Basse, Ian Nelson, Nina Nelson, Jennifer Holcomb and Amy McMahan pose after a Spartan Race event. A group of local athletes is putting their fitness to the test by running in various races around the western United States.

The so-called Spartan Races involve distance running with obstacles that runners have to overcome. When runners complete three races at different distances, they are awarded with a Trifecta medal to add to their trophy collection.

The group of local runners took part in a 13-mile race in Montana, called the Beast race, back in May. In July, they took on the Super event, a 10K run, in Utah. And just last month, a few members finished out their Trifecta with a 5K Sprint event, which was held in Washougal, Wash.

Jennifer Holcomb, from Madras, was one of the athletes involved, explained that there is a core group that competed in the Montana and Utah events, while others have joined in later or just for one race so far. In addition to Holcomb, the local runners from the Beast and Super races include Ian and Nina Nelson, Rachel Bare, Amy McMahan, and Leah Basse. Out of these six, only Holcomb and McMahan were able to attend the Washougal event — making them the first two across the finish line for their Trifecta medals. They were joined by Mary Hoptowitt and Shirelle Thomas, of Warm Springs, for that most recent race.

"The common factor is that we all work out together at 3 Peaks CrossFit here in town," said Holcomb, "That's what brings us together."

"What's great about Spartan Races, if you've never done one, is that everybody can go at their own pace."

That pacing might be especially important for the summer months, as Holcomb noted that triple-digit temperatures in Utah caused roughly a hundred runners to pull out of that race back in July.

Though Nina Nelson missed the Washougal event, she already has plans for getting her Trifecta medal. Not only will she compete in a 5K event in Arizona later this year, but she will also head north to Snohomish, Wash., next month for the Seattle North Spartan Trifecta Weekend. During the weekend event, runners will be able to run all three types of races, allowing them to earn their special medal all in one go.

At first, Nelson wasn't sure if the Spartan Races were for her.

"A couple years ago, I did my first event. The whole way, I was thinking, 'I'm never doing this again,'" said Nelson. "But I kind of got hooked on them after that first race."

While this year is quickly coming to a close, there is still plenty of time for new runners to earn their Trifecta before the 2021 season ends. For more information about Spartan Race events throughout the rest of the calendar year, go to

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