Frank Fumich, (Spartan Death Racer) and Matt Nelson, two ultra-athletes, will run 450 miles non-stop from the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial to the Boston Marathon finish line. The 10 state route runs through the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, DC Monuments, Baltimore Harbor, Independence Mall in Philadelphia, Newark, Manhattan/Ground Zero/ Central Park in NYC, Connecticut, and finishing with the Boston Marathon course. The 24/7, 5 day run started Tuesday, May 28th, at 6:00 am EST, and is estimated to end Saturday, June 1st, 12:00 p.m.  They are currently in New York City and Fumich has finished out his fifth marathon.

“104.8 miles DONE!” says Fumich in an update. “My combined time running is about 21 hours and I’m working on about 6 hours of sleep since Monday. I’ve been trying to figure out what day it is for the last 5 minutes and I just can’t think straight…but apparently I couldn’t think straight before, because I came up with this idea in the first place! Ha Wow!

The idea was born after Nelson and Fumich witnessed the devestation of the bombings.  “After what we saw happen in Boston, Frank and I knew we had to show the world that the running community is a resilient, loving, and giving family. The truth is, I started The Endurance Trust back in 2005 on that premise.” says Nelson.  ”As athletes, we’re passionate about the causes we run for. We’re encouraging every runner to participate on our run to Boston. Join us for a block, join us for a day. We won’t turn family away.”

Having raised over $52,000 toward their original goal of $26,200, Fumich and Nelson have announced a new goal of $78,600, to be completed by the time they finish their run. The initial $52,000 was raised through a 78.6 mile, triple-marathon fundraiser, done using the online peer-to-peer fundraising platform, FirstGiving.

In order to complete the 450 mile run, Frank and Matt will alternate marathons. While one runs, the other will rest. The two will be escorted by local and State Police along the route from DC, Maryland, and all the way into Boston and carry a GPS device to provide live, location updates. In solidarity, local Bostonians plan to welcome the two by running the last 5K along their side.  Once in Boston, the pair will personally present checks to victims of the bombing attacks.  Follow the Twitter Chatter #DC2BOS

To learn more about their epic journey and to donate to the cause, please visit their page HERE.  We’ll update you as to their progress.

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by Josh Strakos

“Thing 1 and Thing 2” lined up before the Texas Spartan Beast in Glen Rose, December 8, 2012

Meet the Joneses. Andrew, Stephanie, Eston, Caymin, and Madison. They live outside of Houston, Texas. They are not your average American family…

Americans in general do not get enough exercise. Childhood obesity is on the rise, and being overweight is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Family time together is eroding as we work longer hours, endure more job related stress, strive for material success, and sacrifice our time, our health, and ultimately our well-being chasing after an upper-middle class dream. We live to work, and it shows. Think you can solve all these issues with one remedy? Well, maybe there’s no such thing as a silver bullet, but there is a “cure” for this American-made malady.

If you mention Thing 1 and Thing 2 to any Spartan racer who’s been around, he or she will know you’re not about to read them a children’s book, you’re talking about father and son Andrew and Eston Jones.

L to R: Stephanie, Andrew, Eston, Madison, and Caymin before the TX Sprint in Burnet, May 19, 2012

“The Unbreakable Joneses” as the family is known to their friends and Facebook fans, have been racing together for about two years now and in that time have run about 10 races between the five of them. These races include the Spartan Trifecta, local marathons, Obstacle Course Races, and the Iron Warrior Dash. Andrew and Eston compete in the elite waves, and Eston has placed as high as 7th in a Spartan Race and is still striving toward the podium.

An average day for the Jones family includes jobs for Mom and Dad and home-schooling the kids, with one exception: P.E. time is anything but average. The afternoon begins normally enough, then around 3 PM daily, the fun starts. Usually, an afternoon workout for the family consists of 1-1/2 to 2 hours of non-traditional strength training using routines the family has developed and tailored over the past 5 years. Exercises with names like the “body mauler” and “Bubkas” are used to build core, leg, and upper body strength. The heart of the workouts focuses on developing stamina needed for obstacle racing.

But it doesn’t end there. For over one year now, the Joneses have been conducting a boot camp…free for anyone who is willing to show up and take on the challenge. A grueling mix of circuit training keeps boot campers moving. From a simulated obstacle race including an 8 foot wall, 15 foot climbing ropes, and a traverse rope strung between two perfectly spaced trees outside their home, the 25+ obstacles on this 3/4 mile “track circuit” will challenge even the seasoned veteran…but it’s the newcomers who keep them going. Since they started the boot camp, over 100 people have passed through, and there are usually 25+ in attendance on any given Tuesday or Thursday night. The mix includes competitive obstacle racers and newbies who have never run a race. You’ll see fathers, sons, husbands, wives, old, and young at the boot camps – usually multiple members of the same families. People are being inspired to change their lives. They’re showing up, and then signing up for a Spartan race they never dreamed of doing until they see that everyone started just like they did – with a few burpees and a lot of determination. The obstacle race style training is just plain fun for everyone – just look at any child on a playground, and you’ll see “it’s the way we we’re intended to move”.

Andrew and Eston 5 years ago and then in December 2012

A neighbor even built a Spartan-style traverse wall in his garage to add to the fun. As boot campers come to the halfway point in the “track circuit” as it is affectionately known, they divert from the track and head into “David’s garage” to tackle the Spartan-style obstacle. Other circuits include tire flipping, low crawls, a tire drag (with my 6 year old riding in the tire, at no extra charge!), sledge hammers, and a particularly punishing workout appropriately dubbed “El Diablo” – the only way to describe it is “lots of core work”, and lots of soreness the day after, especially for first-timers. The boot camp happens twice a week every week, rain or shine…people learn about it through word-of mouth, Facebook posts, and the quirky but interesting videos posted on the “Unbreakable Joneses” YouTube channel.

Oh, and did I mention the boot camp is not a substitute for their daily workout – its extra family fun. On the non-circuit days, their normal workout is typically followed by a 5-7 mile trail run in the state forest conveniently located behind their home!

In the end, though, it’s about more than the fitness and competition. This is the way the family spends time together. The fitness is a side effect of a strong bond and family togetherness. So, if you think you don’t have time to work out, or spend time with your family, maybe it’s time to re-prioritize. Maybe it’s time to try a Spartan Race…just get off the couch and do it. You’ll be glad you did. And if you need an example of how it’s done, look no further than the Joneses. Whether it’s training, racing, skateboarding, wave riding, playing paintball, or helping others to achieve their fitness goals, the Jones family is “Unbreakable”.

Follow the Joneses on their Facebook page.  Click HERE. 

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by April Luu, Spartan Pro Athlete

It’s hard to believe that this adventure started one year ago today! I went to that start line at the Ft. Carson Military Sprint not knowing anything that was going to be put before me. I was scared and excited at the same time. I was challenged both physically and mentally to complete this race. It was unlike any other race I had ever been in. When I crossed that finish line I was exhausted and elated at the same time. My efforts earned me the top spot. I had won the race, unbelievable! The sense of accomplishment I felt when I got to stand up on stage with that badass helmet was like no other! That was it, I was hooked.

After I got home I started researching about Spartan Race and who all of these crazy people were that were competing. I finished up the fun OCR races that I was doing that year just in the state of Colorado. After that I decided that I wanted to compete in the Spartan Circuit. I thought why not? During this process I actually got some people to sponsor me on this adventure because of my performance in my local races. It was incredible how the sport was taking off and how many were paying attention.

Yes, some people thought I was out of my mind but others could not help but be infected with my enthusiasm. As a personal trainer I started inspiring others to train and reach their goals. Some of those goals being to race in a Spartan Race! And so it began. My family in tow heading to Glen Rose, Texas, my first race in the circuit. A Beast in Texas was 13.5 miles with 20 some obstacles. It was a brutal race. There was a 100 meter swim, Tyrolean traverse, bucket brigade, Hercules hoist, two rope climbs, and of course the spear throw.

I thought, “They are throwing everything at us! Get through this and make it to that finish line!” That I did with my husband and kids standing there cheering me on and so proud of my accomplishment. I did something no other Spartan athlete had done that weekend; I won a Beast back to back!

And the journey continues to grow as my family and I set off for each race through the season. We look forward to meeting new people and meeting up with our friends. I take the time at each race to talk to the people who work for Spartan and have now became a part of my family.  My kids are always excited about the next place we will be going to race. I take great pride in setting an example to my kids and others and inspiring them to reach for their goals. Those crazy people that I was talking about at the beginning of this story ? Well I guess I am one of them now. My family and I have had the honor and privilege to get to know them. Our race weekend in Colorado alone we had 10-12 Spartan racers at our house (you know who you are) and had the honor to a part of Mike and DiAne Santos wedding at the Spartan Race.

This has and will continue to be an epic journey and I want to say thank you to my family for all of their support on this crazy train. And thank you to my sponsors Adam Way Racing, Eco Vessel, Sol Survivor, Colorado Running Company, Open Fences, Kronobar, and last but not least, my coach Aaron Knutson from Max Performance for keeping me healthy and strong!! Thank you all for believing in me and taking that chance. It means a lot! Live everyday as if it were your last!

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Number 1: Barefoot Single Leg Squat with Reach, or the Bowler Squat.

 

 

Q: Why?

A:  (short version)  It will save your knees.

Q:  Why?

A: (long version)

First, compared to men, women genetically have a larger “Q-angle” and a more anteriorly (or forward) tilted pelvis. The increased Q-angle predisposes them to chronic knee instability and higher risk for ACL injuries due to the angle that the femur ascends to the knee joint. Having a more anteriorly tilted pelvis can lead to more weight being carried in the ball of the foot when compared to the heels and also more strength in the quads than in the glutes. More on this later.

Secondly, women also wear more high heeled shoes. High heels offer a quick way to trick your brain into thinking you’ve been walking down a really steep mountainside all day. Before long, your calves tighten to pull your feet up onto the toes. The pelvis also tends to tilt even more forward in an effort to work more synergistically with the awkward ankle position. The end result is dramatically decreased ankle mobility (dorsiflexion), tight and dysfunctional hips, a weak butt, increased risk for low back pain, and even more knee instability than you may have been born with.

Doing single leg exercises such as this one, can reduce risk for injuries for women in three different ways. First, it awakens the body and exposes it to this knee instability in a safe and controlled manner. Training this exercise will help recruit the muscles in the hips, thighs, and lower legs that previously had not been used adequately and therefor were not working at full capacity. Second, doing this squat as shown creates a more “hip dominant” squat pattern that strengthens precisely the areas many women are weakest; the deep rotators of the hip, the glutes, and the hamstrings. Third, exercises like this performed on a single leg can help decrease the extent of asymmetries in strength or flexibility between the limbs. Asymmetry is a leading cause of non-contact related injuries, second only previous injury at the same joint.

Riley Stephens

On such a somber day, Memorial Day, we are honoring Spartan heroes.  Two men who gave their lives to maintain the freedom that we enjoy in the United States.

Team Riley

On September 28, 2012, SFC Riley Stephens was killed in action serving his country in Wardak, Afghanistan with the 1/3 Special Forces Group (Airborne) as a senior Medic.  One of the last things Riley did before his deployment was run a Spartan Race in South Carolina.

As a tribute, friends and family took on the Spartan Beast in Glen Rose at the end of 2012 as “Team Riley” to honor him and to reconnect.  It was a cathartic experience for family and friends and they came together to remember a brother, a son, and a best friend.

At the 2013 Socal Super Spartan, we proudly supported the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation in honor of Spartan

Glen Doherty, photo courtesy of http://www.glendohertyfoundation.org/

Glen Doherty, who was one of the four Americans killed in a terror attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 12, 2012. According to the Foundation website, The Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation is our way to honor Glen’s life and his beliefs. Doherty took part in the Socal Super in 2011 before his tragic death in Benghazi.

In 2012, over 350,000 Spartans crossed our finish line we expect over half a million in 2013.  Many of our participants are military or first responders and we are always thankful to have so many experience a Spartan Race.  The loss of these two men and so many others are deeply felt.

Men of honor, conviction, and courage, we mourn their passing and are thankful for their service and sacrifice.  As you spend your time at BBQ’s and out enjoying this holiday, do not lose its significance.  Please spend this Memorial Day remembering the bravery of these and so many others that are no longer here to enjoy the freedom they’ve ensured.

We will never forget.

To learn more about the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation, click HERE.

 

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by Stephen Reid aka Steve-o Bones

Memorial Day is a holiday that takes on a special meaning for me. It is a day that is meant to honor and remember those who served our country with military service. Some lost lives. Others lost limbs. Many others lost their youth and innocence to the horrors of war. This is a debt that can never be repaid. Yet their sacrifice can be remembered and our gratitude and respect can be displayed even through small gestures like putting out the flag or attending a parade.

I hail from a family of veterans. My father served in the US Navy on the USS Croaker during Vietnam. His father was a decorated MP in the US Army during WWII who saw action in Germany. My mother’s father was an Army Captain who was killed in action in Germany during WWII. At that time my mom was a year old and my uncle was a newborn. Here is a summary of his military achievement:

REILLY, WALTER J. (KIA) The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Walter J. Reilly (0-400672), Captain (Infantry), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company K, 71st Infantry Regiment, in action against enemy forces on 18 November 1944. Captain Reilly’s outstanding leadership, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

I joined the NYPD at age 21. I felt it was my calling and enjoyed police work. By the time I was 28, I was promoted to Detective. A few years later, on September 11, 2001, our country was attacked right in front of my eyes and my life was changed forever. Since this day our military has ceaselessly fought a War on Terror. So many young men and women have since gone off to fight this war and defend our country from those that do not appreciate our way of life. Many have come back forever changed. They have given so much of themselves.

I have a very strong bond with the Men and Women of Operation Enduring Warrior, formerly Team X-T.R.E.M.E., a non-profit organization whose mission is to honor, empower and motivate America’s wounded military service members. These warriors took the time to bring me to Ground Zero after the NYC Spartan Demo. Many enlisted post 9/11 and these are the ties that bind us. I have forged a great relationship and have a lifelong bond with many of them.

This Memorial Day, I implore you to take the time out from your barbecues, your pool parties, and your trips to the beach to reflect on the gravity of this day.  Thank a Veteran.  But please, remember the reason for this day.  Take a moment to think of all those who didn’t come back when they left home for hostile battles in foreign lands, those brave men and women who made it possible for you to have your freedom; it has been paid for through their blood, sweat, and tears.

[Editor's Note: Spartan Race wishes to say a collective thank you to all those who have served and who serve still.  Thank you.   And this Memorial Day we honor those who have given everything and paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can all breathe free.   Flag Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography.]

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by Jennifer Jarvi, Spartan Street Team

In January of this year, a fellow Spartan Chick posted about a contest with a prize of a week for two at the Biggest Loser resort. “Wouldn’t it be cool if a Spartan Chick won?” Yeah, sure it would.  Nobody ever wins these things or there is always a catch. I entered and totally forgot about it. Weeks later, on a day I was beaten and battered by the world, I was informed that I won a week with a friend to the Biggest Loser Resort of my choice. When that certified letter arrived though, it really did hit home. I didn’t deserve this spectacular awesome prize.

As the date of my first ever Spartan Race in Indiana approached, I learned of the Biggest Loser Off Road Challenge heat. I was already signed up for the standard race, but I wanted to help out with this event somehow so I volunteered. It seemed appropriate. It was the least I could do. The Biggest Loser Resort gifted me a week at their resort (minus the usual expense of transportation and taxes) that I will be taking next month. I worked for months losing nearly 100 pounds of weight and getting healthier for my first Spartan Race. What better way to give back to both a little for what they did. I could pay it forward a little. I was very sad I would miss running the heat with the CornFed Spartans, Spartan Race’s largest team to date, but somehow felt that volunteering was just as important. These CornFed Spartans are like family and they live by the Spartan Code. I would run on my own later in the day.

What I witnessed and what transpired from this decision was more inspiring and incredible than I could ever imagine. After participants got a pep talk from Dan and Jackie from Biggest Loser’s Season 5 and some shared their personal stories, we set off to the start line. At 9:15am, my friend Chris Davis, my friend Bridget, and I headed out with backpacks of water bottles to support the Biggest Loser Off Road Challenge heat participants. Biggest Loser Off Road Challenge competes as a team. Everyone helps everyone, participants are encouraged them to try obstacles without penalty. As we started along the course, I had the opportunity to share my own struggles with some of the participants.

Just before we got to the ‘playground portion’ of the Indiana Course, I saw Cornfed Spartan jerseys passing by. I called out to the CornFeds and I smiled brightly because I knew in my heart what was about to happen. This couldn’t have worked out better. You see, CornFed Spartans take great pride in helping not only one another, but also everyone out there on the course; making sure there is no one left behind!

I saw Biggest Loser Off Road Challenge participants become Spartans. I saw Biggest Loser Off Road Challenge participants step outside their comfort zone with determination, pushing their bodies and minds to the limit and conquering their fears. I saw CornFed Spartans reach out a hand of assistance instantly to anyone struggling, taking action to back up their words of support and encouragement. I saw Biggest Loser Off Road Challenge participants push CornFed Spartans up the barb wire crawl hills and vice versa. I saw lots of hugs and smiles. The amount of pure grit, determination, encouragement, teamwork, and acceptance on that course was astounding.

I used those memories and inspiration to power me through my own heat later. I was by no means fast, but like the Biggest Loser Off Road Challenge participants, I did the hardest part on my own – I got to the start line. It was all down hill from there. And with all that, my first Spartan Race is in the books, and it could not have been more epic. I highly suggest all Spartan Racers run or volunteer with the Biggest Loser Off Road Challenge heat at least once. I know I will any chance I get.I promise it will be simply incredible and inspiring. Check out their next stop!

Spartan Code

A Spartan pushes their mind and body to their limits.
A Spartan masters their emotions.
A Spartan learns continuously.
A Spartan gives generously.
A Spartan leads.
A Spartan stands up for what they believe in, no matter the cost.
A Spartan knows their flaws as well as they know their strengths.
A Spartan proves themselves through actions, not words.
A Spartan lives every day as if it were their last.

[Editor's Note: Author - Jennifer Jarvi is an aspiring mud-athlete who hopes to some day defeat her worst enemy, the rope climb. When not found on the course cursing burpees, she can be found working as a Network Engineer for a large MSO, practicing her spear throwing in her backyard, or trying not to roll an ankle on a trail run. Her favorite obstacles include barb wire crawl and long walks off the beach and into a lake. "A Spartan gives generously"
LINKS:

http://www.biggestloserresort.com/

http://www.biggestloserrunwalk.com/challenge

http://cornfedspartans.com/]

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by Cathy Bergman

“No retreat! No surrender!” The Spartan warrior chant has been my mantra for the past two years as I worked to lose close to 170 pounds from my 5’3” 300 pound frame.

A few months after I had committed to yet another diet and exercise plan, in the fall of 2011 a friend of mine ran a Spartan Sprint in New York and sent me photos of her day. Although crawling through mud under barbed wire is not generally not a favorite past time of most women in their mid-fifties, to me it looked like great fun. I checked the Spartan web site – a race in June 2012 was just fifteen minutes from my front door. I had less than year to get ready. Although decades of morbid obesity and inactivity made standing up without assistance a challenge, from that point onward, I set my sights on Sparta.

I committed to a strict balanced diet, and worked with a remarkable trainer who patiently guided me as I struggled to get fit. By early spring of 2012, I had recruited thirteen friends and neighbors crazy enough to enlist in my fledging team – the Domaine Alarie Spartans. Our beach front – which in years past was the site of family picnics and barbeques – was converted into a Spartan training ground. Weekend after weekend, friends and neighbors crawled on their stomachs under netting, pulled tires through the sand, lifted weights, chucked spears, did endless push ups and pull ups and ran from one end of the beach to the other working on cardio and endurance as they helped me train for the upcoming race.

By race day, I had dropped 125 pounds and in June 2012, the Domaine Alarie Spartans ran the Spartan Sprint in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. This was not just any team, but a remarkable group of friends and neighbors that championed my cause and who supported my every effort to regain my health and my life – even if it meant joining me in my crazy idea to run a Spartan Sprint.

When the Domaine Alarie Spartans ran the last gauntlet on race day last spring, we certainly understood the Spartan slogan “you’ll know at the finish line” because indeed we did. We were muddy, bloody and soaked to the skin, but nothing dampened the exhilaration of our journey to Sparta.

Now almost 170 pounds less than when I first set my sites on Sparta in 2011, the Domaine Alarie Spartan team of 2013 is eighteen members strong and will storm the Spartan field in Morin Heights, Quebec on Saturday morning, May 25th. We are leaner than last year, stronger than last year, but with the same Spartan spirit as when we began the journey.

Having been to Sparta and left with a smile, we learned that it was not the finish line that counted, it was what it took to get to the finish line, and the wonderful friendships that were forged along the way.

We are looking forward to race day this coming Saturday. See you at the finish line!

Huh rah Spartans!!

Spartan is international!  Check out where Spartan events are around the world.  Click HERE.

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Note to Self:  Remember to Train

by Tom Kennedy

This is why you sign up for, and do the Spartan WOD.

It is with great sadness that I was not able to video the Spartan race as planned, because I figured out immediately that the first obstacle was a mud pit, that would undoubtedly ruin the camera.  So, instead, I am writing this play by play account of the adventure.

First, I will give you my personal Pros and Cons of the event:

Pros
I had entry money.

Cons
My age, my refusal to exercise, a few pounds more than optimum, a history of orthopedic issues, and a general poor attitude.

Sadly, the line blurs between reality and my memory, and I couldn’t quite remember how much I hated any sort of exercise, especially running.  Now I remember. I decided to enter the race six months ago, giving me plenty of time to get
in shape for the event.  I must have gotten side tracked, because I can’t really remember being involved in any sort of a program that would get me prepared.

I might be willing to admit that my friend’s, Teresa’s advice of “You should probably get back on the treadmill” was possibly a better plan than mine, but at this point, we will really never know.  My plan became that I didn’t want to deplete my valuable energy stores or irritate any muscle cells until race day.

This proved to be an overestimation of my abilities, and an underestimation of the event.

The next time you hear me mention that I’m going to enter a Spartan race, just hit me in the nuts with a three iron.  My race experience rates somewhere between the Cherokee Trail of Tears, and The Bataan Death March.

I didn’t want to drink water because I thought that without water, I might actually die, instead of having to finish the course.

It started with our group of 200 “Spartans” heading to the mud pit.  Now, maybe I’ve watched a few too many episodes of Monsters Inside Me on TV, but I’m pretty sure that the absolutely foul smelling mud we were forced to plod through has left me with Impetigo at the best, or some brain-eating micro-organism at the worst.

After the mud, we were all in a tight group that narrowed down, until we were pretty much single file.  I was really moving!  I hadn’t jogged since 1997, but I guess that I thought I would just get right back into the swing of things.

Less than a quarter mile in, I was exhausted, and my middle back was aching.  Fortunately, we came to a rock climb that allowed me to rest a bit.  I don’t think that I ever reached jog speed again, but was in more of a fast walk mode, being mindful not to take my eyes off of the shoes or butt ahead of me.  I really have no idea what the course looked like, or where it went.  Just shoes and ass.

I got to one spot where we had to climb a rocky mountain face, and when I glanced to my right, I saw a Bighorn Sheep shaking his head “NO”.  He wasn’t even going to try it.  My lower back and C-spine held up really well for about the first seven minutes of the race, and then a dull ache remained throughout my odyssey.  It really didn’t hinder me much, and the two replaced knees, and the new hip held up perfectly.  They don’t want to bend as much, but there was no pain.  It might be that there was no pain because the brain can only think of one thought at a time, and my burning calves and thighs had my brains full attention.

I flew over walls, under logs, and through stuff.  I pulled chains, moved concrete stones, and picked up a bigass Caterpillar tire.  I helped people over walls and through cargo netting, and navigated more mud pits, barbed wire, and other nonsense.  Where I failed was whenever my arms had to go above shoulder level, I couldn’t get any strength out of my rotator cuffs.  Rope climb, monkey bars, traverse wall, were all my downfall, and I was told to do burpees.  Sadly, my shoulders won’t allow for burpees either, so I will owe about 120 burpees to the Spartan peeps sometime in the future.  Try and collect.

I had an “almost incident” when I couldn’t do a climb, and a snot nosed ”race monitor” started yelling at me that I had to do 30 burpees, and that if I didn’t do them, he would disqualify me.  I said, “Please don’t throw me in the brier patch”, and he just stared at me with a look of utter confusion.  Obviously, another product of the public school system.  When I left, he was fuming.

I obtained a hematoma on my shin, but I am very surprised there weren’t more serious injuries.  I was a little surprised that somebody hadn’t punched the formerly mentioned “snot nosed punk.”  Steep grades, up and down, with loose rocks and falling boulders…yes, I say boulders.  How many races does one run where he hears the words, “Look out, boulders coming down?”

So, you go up to the top of a steep ridge, and then another one after that, and then you are heading home.  I’m beat, but I can see the end is in sight.  Over another cargo net, climb a rope, and pick up sandbags for an up and down carry, and I’m finished!  As I’m dumping the sand bags, looking for the photographers, and television cameras, the closest race monitor yells out “halfway through, keep up the great job.”  Halfway through WTF, halfway through???  The next hill that I had to climb forced me to rest four times before I got to the top.  I think I fell asleep at one point. Then, I get encouragement from a morbidly obese runner chugging up the hill.  Really? Is this what my life has evolved to?  I staggered to the top of the ridge, and crept along it to the next obstacle.  Please bear in mind that for me, an obstacle was a safe haven where I could possibly catch my breath.  I loved the  obstacles!

Finally, with the finish line actually in sight this time, I made a big push, to look as if I had maintained that pace throughout the five miles.  I was very stud-like…still, no cameras or cheers…but stud-like, nonetheless!  I’m across the finish line, and they give me a cheesy medal, a Tee shirt, and a banana.  Then they took my shoes to give to someone in need of shoes.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them that these shoes were worn by someone who was passed by the entire cast of Biggest Losers.  I wouldn’t want to wear those shoes, even if I had to go barefoot.  This maybe putting a little more blame on the shoes than they deserved.

The first place guy finishes in just over fifty five minutes.  He was a fine tuned machine, and he pretty much breezed through the course along with a couple hundred more just like him.  Men and women both put on spectacular performances that should make their families proud.  Many of these athletes looked like they were willing to not work so they could stay in the gym and hone themselves for this kind of a sport.

I ask you…What is more impressive?  A person punishing themselves for fifty five minutes while covering this grueling race, or the person who punished himself to near exhaustion and perhaps, near death for…

wait For It…

TWO HOURS, FORTY THREE MINUTES

I knew you would see it my way.  Who is the guy who really gave his all?
Me!
And I did it all without shi##ing myself.

Tom

Post Script:        

I will only do this again next year if I actually get in shape for it.  Teresa is taking bets on this sore subject, and has so far displayed a somewhat negative attitude as to my ability to get off my duff and really prepare.  The gauntlet has been thrown, and I have a year to get ready.  My goal this year was just to finish, but next year, if all of the stars are in perfect alignment, I plan on shaving at least six minutes from my time.  Looking for team mates, but don’t delay.  Opportunities like this don’t come along very often.

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by Ruthann Cross, Spartan Chick

A little over a year ago my family and I were given a challenge to only drink water for a defined period of time and donate any money that we would normally use on coffees, sodas and sports drinks to digging clean water wells in Haiti. This was easy for us to do for a few different reasons. One, we already drink mostly water as it is. And two, most children in Haiti do not live past the age of five because of contaminated water diseases.

Two of my children at that time were both under the age of 5 so this really tugged on my heart. It was easy for us to give. It didn’t require us to step out of our comfort zones, it didn’t require us to live outside of the ease of our everyday life. Little did I know that less than a year later I would have the honor and privilege to travel to Haiti with Living Water International and be a part of giving hope to a community. (Bonus: I would also have the opportunity to get really, REALLY muddy while I was there. Seriously, what chick would want to pass that up?)

Our travels took us just outside Cap-Haitian. We arrived in a small village full of cement block and thatch walled structures with corrugated metal roofs. Many of which did not have four walls or doors! We saw people who appeared hard and calloused and knew they were very familiar with a great deal of death and hunger, but as soon as we smiled and said hello in their language these beautiful people quickly welcomed us with great smiles and warm hearts. They knew why we had come. They knew we were there to offer hope.

This entire week had nothing to do with me, my life, my family whether or not I had the time to fit a workout in or even connect with friends through the internet. It was all about the people of Modje and the little children who followed us around as if we were the Pied Piper. It was about the women of the community who were so proud to show us the few possessions they had. It was about the homeless widow and her six children who asked us to take her youngest with us in hope of a better life. Our task was to come in and drill a clean sustainable well for this community and educate them in proper hygiene so they could hopefully have a better life, but I believe I am the one who received the greater gift. To offer the gift of hope to someone who has none was the greatest blessing of all.

Before and after this week I have had several people express how difficult this must have been to go. Some even indicated they could never do something like this as it would just be too hard. Comments like these made me realize it is not a case of whether or not we can do something but whether or not we have a willing heart and a determination to make a change. We may not all be called to head off to the jungle of some foreign land and experience the same things but each one of us has the ability to take a stand alongside others and lend a hand. It just takes stepping out of our comfort zone and making the offer. We would all probably be surprised who accepts.

Who can you offer that “sparkle” of hope to today?

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