Dear Joe,

I wanted to thank you and your team for the Spartan Races.

I have been in the Marine Corps for over 19 years and done a couple combat tours. After my last combat tour I came back with some heavy PTSD, amongst a myriad of other issues. It has been a daily struggle for 4 years to grind through migraines, daily cluster headaches and back pain, TBI, and the PTSD. I ran my first Spartan in Temecula this year. I got the whim to run it when I was researching 5k’s on Active.com. I have never been the same since. It really smoked me physically, but mentally I was alive! For the first time in 4 years I feel like I am in charge of my body and spirit. 

I have run one since with one of my sons in Phoenix and I signed up for the Vegas Super, Colorado Sprints (both days), Montana Sprint and Hurricane Heat, and the Monterey Beast to complete the trifecta. The annual pass is getting its use from me! I ran the Phoenix Sprint with my son and broke one of my toes about halfway through. I refused to quit or show any pain. It wasn’t till we were done that I told my son, because I was actually thinking about coming back the next day. After 4 years of grinding with the daily debilitating back pain and headaches I felt like a broken toe was not that big of a deal. I keep getting asked by my friends who know about my daily physical pain, why I run Spartans. I tell them proudly that I run them because they make me feel alive and show my body I am still in charge.

Thank you so much. Please share as much as you want. The races and the experiences have been therapeutic.

Semper Fidelis, Lonnie

Tags: , ,

by Carrie Adams

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

ground-zero-by-photosthatchangedtheworlddotcom

Today is September 11, 2013.  So many of us can remember where we were 12 years ago, what we felt when the towers crumbled and smoke rose in the sky darkening the landscape and leaving the world stunned in the shadow.  We recall the images as the Pentagon shook and we heard the final calls home from the brave passengers who fought back on United Flight 93 and crashed in a quiet field in Pennsylvania rather than let another building or target succumb.  The skyline of New York will never be the same, we will never be the same, yet the statue of liberty still rises proudly from her home on Ellis Island, the fortitude of a country etched proudly in her arms, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

We battled on.

Stephen Reid, right

After September 11, 2001 and as a country we mourned those lost, we shed tears of sorrow for the public service men and women who risked and lost their lives trying to protect the innocent, and for all those lost on that day in the violence unleashed on our unsuspecting nation.

One of our own Spartans, Stephen Reid was a detective in the New York City Police Department on 9/11. In Chinatown at the time of the first plane crash, he called his department, telling them he was there to suit up.

The losses were severe. Reid lost 23 police brothers and sisters that day. A heavy loss for the seasoned detective, “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. September 11… my life was changed forever.”

Reid ran his first Spartan last year in Boston. Following that experience, he began to run every day carrying the American Flag and a piece of steel from the Trade Center, they accompany him at every race. Known for his long beard, quick wit, and infectious smile, Reid draws inspiration from those he runs alongside, just as they are inspired by him.

Reid has finished several Spartan Races since Boston, including the Tri-State Spartan Super, the Virginia Spartan Super with Operation Enduring Warrior’s Community Athletes, the Tuxedo Spartan Sprint, and the CitiField Spartan Sprint. He also has a connection to the military in his family, “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.”

Stephen Reid

That left an impression on Reid, “Since that 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 honor them all.”

The flag and the steel are just a reminder, something to carry as he runs. Says Reid, “We carry the burdens for them that day,” Stephen explains, “because after the race, we can get rid of our burdens, and they can’t.”

We remember this day from 12 years ago with somber reflection and a commitment to looking forward to what lies ahead. In life there are obstacles to overcome, some seem insurmountable. Stephen Reid is a reminder of how to move forward again day after day with grace, kindness, humility, generosity, and most of all, with hope.

We salute him. We thank him.  He is a Spartan.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

“I like a challenge,” says Mike Simons matter-of-factly. The Army Airborne Ranger veteran, with deployments of Iraq and Afghanistan behind him, talks about his Ranger School in the middle of winter up in the Appalachian Mountains and other “top secret stuff,” like it’s really no big deal. He’s a man that is given a problem and deals with it head on. No frills, just problem solving and getting the job done.

But for a man of action as he was, he was used to pushing that little bit harder than usual. “I was lucky enough, despite a few close calls, to leave the military without a scratch. Normal life outside of the military was too easy so I signed up for my first Spartan, the one at Blue Mountain. It was just the type of thing I was looking for.”

Sadly, six months after the race, Mike suffered quite a large setback, one that really would be a test of his mettle.

“I got into a motorcycle accident and had my right leg removed just above the knee. You want to talk about a challenge, this was it. I was coaching a high school crew team at the time and had mentioned to one of the rowers that was complaining of an injury the week before that a straw would help him to recover faster so he could “suck it up”.

“After the accident the team all made cards with straws in them to help motivate me. I had a broken femur, and an amputated right leg, and I was back at practice in 2 weeks. I had no doubt that with the help of my team, friends, and family, I was going to not only embrace this challenge, I was going to conquer it.”

Mike may have had military training, existing fitness, and core strength already, but as is always the case,it was the mental challenge he had to face. The hunger and drive to push, to reach further. The actual wanting to reach out and grab those few extra miles, weights, whatever the case may be to progress and improve. That’s the difference. That’s what he points out that was important.

“If there’s anything I learned from my first Spartan race it’s this: It doesn’t matter how fast you go, or how strong you think you are. You just need to keep pushing yourself until the end, and if you run into an obstacle that’s causing you problems, your friends will be there to help you over it. Never quit, and you’ll know at the finish line! AROOOO!”

Tags: , , , ,

SPARTAN RACE PARTNERS WITH GOVX TO OFFER DISCOUNTED RACE REGISTRATION FOR MILITARY AND FIRST RESPONDERS

Reebok Spartan Race and GovX are proud to announce the formation of one of the largest race registration discount programs for U.S. Military service members and government first responders through the GovX.com network. Proud of our military and first responder community, Spartan and GovX wanted to bring something special to those groups as a way to say thank you and provide support and acknowledgement.

GovX is the leading website devoted exclusively to serving verified U.S. Military personnel and federal, state and local first responders by offering secured access to exclusive pricing on events, tickets and premium products. Through GovX, Spartan Race will offer a special $30 discount off all U.S. race registrations to verified active, reserve and veteran U.S. Military service members along with active first responders. This is the first time Spartan Race will be offering this level of discount, as well as including first responders in such a special offer!

Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography

“Our events, some of which are designed by various branches of the U.S. Military and top Special Operations units, are extremely popular with servicemen and women,” said Spartan Race Founder Joe DeSena. “Through its qualified and verified network, GovX provides a simple solution to meet our desire to provide discounted ticketing to those who serve and protect.”

This another first that Spartan Race is bringing to the table with the Govx partnership. Spartan Race is the only race of its kind to have ever held a competition on a military base. And as a company, is dedicated to providing unique experiences and opportunities to those who serve, including a recent satellite race that connected troops in Afghanistan via live stream with their families who concurrently ran the race. Spartan Race is able to offer this discount by using GovX’s proprietary online verification technology that ensures controlled access to GovX.com exclusively for military personnel or first responders. This authorization process ensures accurate and quick registrations to only those who protect and serve. To date, more than three million users have access to the GovX e-commerce network.

To access discounts for Spartan Race and the entire GovX network, eligible members can register for free at www.GovX.com.

About GovX

GovX is the largest e-commerce destination dedicated to providing those who protect and serve our country and communities with exclusive, significant savings on hundreds of premium brands. Verified U.S. Military service members, first responders and related government personnel receive exclusive access and discounts of 20% to 50% off retail on offerings at GovX.com. Through its partnerships with MLB Advanced Media, select NFL, NBA and NHL teams, among many others, GovX offers everything from discounted sporting and event tickets to race registrations in addition to 20,000+ fitness, sporting, electronics, tactical and lifestyle products, all available only to this very deserving group. Eligible members register for free on GovX.com and are confirmed through GovX’s proprietary online verification system. GovX members include active, reserve, veteran, dependent and retired U.S. Armed Forces personnel, along with federal, state and local government first responders, including police, fire, EMS, FBI, DEA, Secret Service, Border Patrol and related government agency employees and their families. Founded with the mission to thank and honor those who serve, GovX also donates a portion of its proceeds in further support of those in uniform. For more information, visit www.GovX.com.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

by Steffen Cook

Spartan Race first met Zack Askins at the Colorado Sprint in May 2013. Nonchalantly strolling across the finish line after having the gladiators bounce off of him, he finished like the race was no big deal. Cheerfully accepting a cup of water and proudly accepting his finisher’s medal like all the others, he paused only to so that we could take his photo, then he left in order to take of the full bomb disposal suit he’d been wearing for the previous couple of hours.  We saw him come back for a full serving of the Beast in Utah where he finished the race again in the full bomb disposal suit.

“Originally I got the idea off of a fellow EOD tech namds Eric Johnson. He holds the record for the bomb suit mile at 8:05. He did it as charity, I was looking at it and my thought was I’m not faster than him, but I bet I could out last him. So I came up with the idea of running the Spartan in the suit.”

He continued, “Eric at the same time was thinking of one upping himself and was training to run the a race in Philly in the suit. Rather than compete against each other we just piggy backed I went first to try and get some attention for him and more money for the EOD wounded warrior charity.”

And he was pleased with the attention he got in Colorado.  ”Y’all did great considering I surprised a lot of people by coming out that day and gave me more headlines than Eric got.”

It’s well documented how strongly Spartan Race feels about the military and the ties that there are between the two, evident by our races at Colorado Fort Carson and in Tampa Bay, Florida. So when Zack goes on to explain where the drive comes from, it makes perfect sense; “Our purpose was simple, the military as a whole makes up a small portion of the population, and of the whole Army the EOD community makes up less than .01%. We have endured a larger portion of the wounded and killed than our numbers tell but we’re a very close community. We take care of our own, and we wanted to help take care of those who remain behind.”

“For where Eric and myself are trying to go is push ourselves and get some headlines and more money flowing into the EOD wounded warrior to help all those who made it back broke and missing pieces. We want to make sure that we help get all of our wounded taken care of, and this is the best way we can think of to do it.”

For more information about their team, please contact: https://www.facebook.com/bombsuitmudder.org?fref=ts

See you at the finish line…  Sign up today!

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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.]

Tags: , , , ,

by  Jose Ortiz, guest blogger

Where it Began

In 2000, I made a decision to serve my country in the most honorable manner I knew possible; I joined the United States Marine Corp.  After serving honorably in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, my commitment to the Marines came to an end in 2004.  Returning to my home of Long Island, I settled with my wife in Wantagh, New York, a suburb about 35 miles away from New York City and I became a corrections officer.

 

Needing a Change

Once I was home I was looking for something to take the place of the daily PT routine I had in the Marines.  A friend of mine introduced me to two of the best things I have discovered since my wife, Spartan Race and CrossFit Lighthouse.  As soon as I listened to my friend’s story about Spartan Race I started to track down pictures and watch videos…I was hooked.  I signed up right away for the Spartan Sprint in Tuxedo, NY and started doing the Workout of the Day (WOD).  Soon after, I wanted to workout with some great people who could push me and I met Dan Luffman and Jack Sandhaas, owners of Crossfit Lighthouse.  These two guys are HUGE fans of Spartan Race and they took me on as their pet project immediately.  They showed me how the integration of movements in the gym would translate into a healthy lifestyle and top performance in a Spartan Race.

A New Life

Once this journey began, I set my sights on the Spartan Race and my CrossFit coaches did the rest.  I am proud to say that I dropped 30 pounds of unwanted body weight.  I was inspired by the Chris Davis story and followed his journey as I embarked on my own.  I found that once my body became acclimated to the workouts, nutrition also became a huge focus.  Now, everything was part of my Spartan Race/CrossFit lifestyle.  It was something that I lived and breathed every day.  It wasn’t just a workout or a healthy meal; it was a commitment to my wife, my family, and myself to say that I was taking control of everything that was good and productive for me.

The First Spartan Experience

After months of lifting, stretching, running, and healthy living, my first Spartan Race arrived.  The cannon sounded and before I knew it and I was at the starting line staring at my goal that I set months prior.  I was finally here.  One obstacle after the next, training and muscle memory took over, rope climbs and wall climbs and hurdles were second nature.  I am proud to say that I did not have to do one penalty burpee, but if I did, I was ready.  The motto is true, “You’ll know at the finish line.”

Now, with that race under my belt, I have become a permanent staple at CrossFit Lighthouse and Spartan Race.  I am training every day towards my new goal, the Trifecta Medal.

Semper Fi.

Are you ready to test your Spartan mettle?  Find an event near you and get signed up today.

Tags: , , , , , ,

by Carrie Adams

Rounding down the hill to the Super Spartan Mid-Atlantic sandbag carry with the Team X-T.R.E.M.E. crew, eleven year old Junior Marine Luke Sliwinski was offered the option to take one of the the lighter 20lb bags in lieu of the men’s 40lb bags that were stacked in piles at the base of a quarter mile loop over halfway through the 10.5 mile course.  He immediately declined the offer with a polite, “No, thank you.” And without another word stooped down, his slim build struggling slightly under the weight, hoisted the bag up to his shoulder, and kept moving forward.

When Luke Sliwinski was five years old, he drew a picture of the twin

photo courtesy of Heather Sliwinski

towers ablaze, an image all too painful and familiar from the morning of September 11, 2001.  Too young to remember it in person, he’d grown up seeing the images and as he drew in the details, he knew that all he wanted was to be a Marine.  At that same tender age of five, he saw an air show demonstration from Marines at a nearby airfield, and was even more determined to join the service.  His mother, Heather, had to explain to the young Sliwinski that he’d have to wait until age eight before he could join the next closest thing – the Junior Marines Program.

According to their website, “The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character building, leadership, and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.”

Luke, the youngest of six waited, however impatiently, until he could enlist and the now eleven year old who is about to enter sixth grade holds the rank of Sergeant and calls the Young Marines in his unit brothers. “I am the person I am today because of them.”   And that person is the youngest Spartans to take on our VA Super Spartan course alongside Team X-T.R.E.M.E. last Saturday, August 25th at Morven Park.  He toiled with the team for the 5.5 hours it took to complete finishing every obstacle and taking every step of the 10.5 miles course.  Says his mother Heather, “The accomplishment on Saturday blew me away.”  But her pride extends far beyond the Spartan course.  She goes on to say, “I am most proud of him humbleness through all of this.  He’s the kind of kid that stands up for what is right, even if he’s the only one standing.”

Luke was first introduced to Team X-T.R.E.M.E. and their mission in 2010 when he met USMC Cpl. Todd Love at Walter Reed Medical Center in Ward 57.  Cpl. Love, who also completed the Spartan Race on Saturday, was newly injured having lost both his legs above the knee and his left arm below the elbow in a violent IED explosion in Afghanistan.

Photo courtesy of Heather Sliwinski

Heather Sliwinski recounts the moment that Luke first saw Todd, “Even as a case worker for injured soldiers for six years, to see him that soon after injury took my breath away.  Luke didn’t see it, he just saw a hero. He climbed right up onto the bed with him and started talking.”  That first meeting was an encounter that would turn into a lasting friendship.  ”They call each other brothers,” says Heather.  And what kind of Marine does Sliwinski want to become?  ”A Recon, just like Todd.”

And Luke has not only spent the last seven years visiting wounded veterans at Walter Reed, he’s been raising money for them – nearly $10,000 worth.  And he’s not done.  ”I just want to do more.”  His appearance at the Spartan Race he hopes can draw attention to not only the team he loves, Team X-T.R.E.M.E. but to the work of Operation Ward 57 an organization he is closely connected to personally.  Known as “the amputee ward”, the orthopedic Ward 57 at WRAMC houses some of the most severely injured patients for weeks or even months and is a place that Sliwinski and his family have spent a great deal of time.   His plan until he’s old enough to join is to keep educating kids, raising money, and ultimately joining the Marines when he graduates high school.

Team X-T.R.E.M.E. member Todd Love says of Luke, “Luke has been with me since the beginning of my recovery. He is one of heroes, and we stay in touch with each other. I see him as a little brother but he full of what this country needs more of.”

When asked about how he feels about his heroes of Team X he said, “They are the most amazing people.  What they do, how they treat people.  They just keep fighting, even injured… Freedom isn’t free.”  And of his sandbag carry in Virginia he admits it was his biggest test of the day, the toughest obstacle for him to complete.  ”If they could do it, I didn’t want to let them down.  I didn’t want to take the easy way out.”

Spartan Race offers Kid’s Heats at every US Domestic Event.  Find one near you by clicking HERE and get you and your kids ages 4 – 13 signed up!  Proceeds to to benefit the Kids Fit Foundation

Find Luke Sliwinski on FB HERE.  To find out more about Team X-T.R.E.M.E. click HERE.

To find out more about the Young Marines Program, click HERE.

To find out more about Operation Ward 57, click HERE.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

by Khaled Allen

SR-Facebook-2 - CopyBarbed wire.  It conjures images of prison breaks amidst roving spotlights and barking dogs.  It is a simple but formidable obstacle to your escape, requiring agility to avoid entanglement.

No matter where you find it, barbed wire is no joke, especially if it lies between you and where you want to go.  Such is the case on the Spartan Race course, where you’ll have to crawl under a canopy of low-hanging barbed wire to continue the race.

Barbed wire is a cunningly simple obstacle: lines of wire with knotted ends protruding along its length.  Coming into any sort of contact with the barbs leads to entanglement, forcing would-be escapees to reconsider their chosen path or else work their way slowly over the obstacle.  It’s been used for centuries to stop or slow everything from invading armies to herds of cattle, performing both functions admirably.

Like I said, barbed wire is no joke.

Read the rest of this entry »