Jo Pearson doesn’t recall very much of her life before she turned 27. It’s not that she suffered a terrible accident or violent traumatic experience, it’s simply her coping mechanism.

“All the days I spent before that life-changing year are cloudy memories that I have stored in the recesses of my mind.  I’ve locked them away from others and myself because they are just too painful to remember and they do not bring any light or love to the life that I lead now”, she explains.

Deciding to change her life has not just made Jo a new person on the outside, the one within shines a thousand time brighter, illuminating her outlook and focus.

“The life I have now is one worth fighting for – it is one filled with joy, success, love, energy, zeal, and passion.  However, it also one that forces to me to suffer at times, to feel the pain of defeat and the frustration of setbacks, and to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.  The old me would have cowered at these type of tribulations and hid among the darkness.”

That new found radiance has permeated her attitude and zest for life, but also her mentality of how she approaches life.

“That woman that cowered is gone.  I have evolved into a warrior – a woman who will fight for what is right, just, healthy, and good in this world and who believes in her ability to make a difference in her own life and the lives of others.  I am proud of my journey for the small steps I have taken along the way are the ones that help me stand strong at the foot of mountains and keep me poised to carry on with strength, courage, grace, and honor.”

There was a point in her life when Jo weighed around 415lbs and wore a size 28. Despite being a young woman in her prime, she felt that she hadn’t even begun to live and experience life. Travelling anywhere by flight wasn’t an option because she couldn’t fit into an airplane seat. Amusement rides provided the same difficulty. This meant she rarely went out to enjoy happy times with her family or friends. This led to a vicious circle of staying indoors. Accusatory and mocking looks, pointed fingers and stares led her to feel isolated, with only family and a tight, small circle of friends being around her.

“Physically, I can remember not being able to walk up the 16 stairs at my parents’ house without feeling like I had just ran a marathon.  And, I never ever contemplated setting foot into a gym because it would have been too embarrassing.  I had become a person that wasn’t truly alive and that was sad and depressed.  I knew that I ate poorly and that I didn’t get any exercise, but for years I wasn’t ready to make any changes. I chose instead to eat huge amounts of fast food, sodas, sweets, and processed foods and then not exert any type of physical activity.  I had fallen into a black hole lifestyle that kept me shackled underneath hundreds of pounds of weight – taking a toll on my body and my soul.”

Her epiphany came one day as she looked back at the woman that greeted her in her mirror. Tired of feeling so sad all the time and craving something better, the blanket of doubt that had stifled her for so long was beginning to lift. Jo began to move. Slowly at first, but it was a start.

“I began walking late at night around my parents’ neighborhood so that no one would see me walking.  I was too afraid of being made fun of to actually do my exercise in the light of day.  I was still hiding in the shadows, but I was making my way out – slowly, but surely.  I cut out sodas and fast food entirely and began researching ways to eat healthy.  There wasn’t one magical diet or workout plan that I followed in the beginning.  I was just taking baby steps to becoming healthier.  But, changing the way I ate and incorporating moderate physical exercise, helped me shed pounds over the first couple of months.  I kept up my walking and healthy eating for about 6 months and I ended up losing about 60 pounds.  Once that initial weight came off and I could begin to see a different face and body in the mirror, my whole attitude changed. I knew I could do it. I knew I could make even more progress.”

Home workouts were the next phase. Scheduling set exercises to work out to gave her something to work with. Still fearing what she believed to be the glare and audience that was a gym, she avoided the gym. This was one fear she wasn’t ready to face – yet. Not before long, she’d shed 100lbs. She took this as the signal to employ a trainer to help her push further.

“I found a local trainer, Jonathan Smith, to help me continue on my journey.  He incorporated muscle confusion, strength training, cardio, boxing, and outdoor exercise.  I lost nearly 115 pounds by combining training like this, along with another BeachBody program, P90X, in about a year.”

By the end of her turnaround, Jo had lost around 215lbs and dropped from a size 28 to a 10. The confidence this journey gave her then shifted to another aspect of her life. The classroom. Harnessing the willpower she’d shown throughout her weight loss journey, obstacles were no longer things to fear, but opportunities to conquer. While she attended law school, she knew that the stresses and strains she experienced in an academic sense could be alleviated with a good diet and continued physical exercise.

“So, in my last year of law school, back in 2013, I decided to get another trainer.  I was able to find Jason Johnson, through Independence Gym in Scottsdale.  Jason has helped keep me in shape and believe that I am more than just a woman who has lost weight.  I am an athlete that has been hidden for so many years.  He incorporates high intensity interval training with both boxing and heavy strength training.  I have defined muscles now that I never knew even existed! Through his training I felt poised to take on a challenge that I never thought I would ever have a chance to even think about. The Spartan Race.  I decided that my law school graduation present and the best way to celebrate passing the Arizona bar exam and becoming an attorney was to finally compete in the Spartan Race!”

Training for it with the same precision and determination she had shown throughout her weight loss victory and graduating from law school, she prepared herself for what lay ahead. She was ready.

“On February 8, 2014 I approached the starting line of the Arizona Spartan Sprint ready to face my biggest physical challenge ever.  My fiancé, Jules Demetrius, who is battling Stage 3 colon and liver cancer, had hoped to be in those spectator bleachers cheering me on, but due to his diminished physical capacities, he was unable to do so.  But, he voiced his support all over social media, touting his love and admiration for what I have accomplished.  Every day he endures horrible pain as he fights against cancer and his strength and courage only spur me to continue to face my fears and give 100% to everything in my life.”

“As I crossed the finish line I began to cry.  It had been the biggest physical challenge I had ever faced and subsequently conquered.  Years of hard work, determination, and struggles had culminated in the completion of this 4.5 mile race.  And as Arisotle penned, ‘We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.’ I have truly embraced the Spartan code of never quitting and never accepting defeat.  I will carry those virtues with me for the rest of my days, for I am, and always have been a fighter.  AROO!”

Jo knows now what it means to know at the finish line. Do you?

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Recently, Spartan Race posted a picture of 74 year old Linda Barber taking part in the Malibu Sprint.

Many suggested that the picture was photoshopped and indeed faked. “No lady of that age could look as good as she did, complete with beautiful scarf looking fabulous and not at all fazed by what she had gone through up until that point”, could they?

Spartan Race caught up with her and put this allegation to bed.

“I guess that for many people the Spartan Race would be too difficult, but they will never know for sure unless they give it a try”, she shrugs nonchalantly. Cool and collected, Linda points out she’s not new to the idea of pushing herself physically.

Linda ran with her son and grandson

“I volunteer at Operation Gratitude. We send care packages to the troops who are deployed to the middle east and all around the world,( we just sent the 1 millionth box on Dec.7. 2013.)      In 2011 the Merrill down and dirty mud run at Castaic Lake, Ca, donated a large portion of the proceeds to Operation Gratitude. That was the first time I had ever heard of a mud run, I wasn’t quite sure what it would entail, so I declined the opportunity. But soon after seeing what it was all about and the fun everyone was having I was disappointed I didn’t do it. A few months later, my son Kevin Kierce told me about the Spartan Race coming to Malibu and we decided to do it together with the Angry Bird Droppings. We have since participated in 2 other OCR’s the 2012 and 2013 Malibu Spartan Races.”

When asked why she keeps returning, she answers very matter-of-factly, “I keep returning because it is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with my son and in this last Spartan my grandson as well. When I was on the trails in Malibu I was very focused on the task at hand and of course enjoying the camaraderie of the other participants. And of course being with my son and grandson. ”

I am very blessed to have good health with no medical problems.”

Linda doesn’t understand the commotion over her picture. On the course, she bumped into OCR veterans James O’Brien, aka, “The Muddy Suitman” and his running partner Stephen Hulsey, between them racking up in excess of 200 years, but still every bit as lively and as spritely as any other weekend warrior.

“I am a Puppy Raiser for Guide Dogs of America and to keep myself and the dogs in good shape we walk 3 miles every morning 6 days a week. I also work out with 10 and 15 pound weights 3 times a week. I also enjoy geocaching, that gets me out of the house and onto some local trials.  I spend many hours each week working at Operation Gratitude. I am very blessed to have good health with no medical problems”, she points out.

The confident, but modest grandmother points out that we shouldn’t be so surprised.

“I do not think it is any big deal for someone my age to join in the fun and do what I can do. I work with ladies older that I and they don’t seem to have any problems getting the job done.”

Old school thinking. No whining. No excuses.
“Getting the job done.”
If ever there was a phrase that encapsulates all of this, there it is.

See you at the finish line….

Three years in a row.


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by Carrie Adams 

“This too shall pass.”  – King Solomon

Let’s go back to basics.  Let’s plank. 

1 – 3 minutes of plank every hour on the hour of your waking hours for 24 hours


If you wake up at 8 AM and go to sleep at 10PM and plank for two minutes every hour, you’ll end up with 28 minutes of planking on the day!

The Spartan Race WODs have become known for their difficulty but we’ve never made gyms mandatory for getting your workout in for the day.  Remember that your body and anything that surrounds you can be your gym. Use body weight, roads, natural terrain, trees…. use what you see!

Make today your “Drop Everything and Plank” day.  Find out what happened the last time we did this with the ladies of Spartan Chicked.  The photo album is HERE.

So get your plank on, Sparta. 

Want to see your training translate on the course?  Find an event HERE near you and get signed up!  We’ll see you on the battlefield!  Need more training tips?  Get signed up for our daily WODs and have them delivered straight to your inbox!  Click HERE for more details!

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by Carrie Adams, Spartan Staffer

I’ve been fortunate enough to stand on many a Reebok Spartan Race finish line and watch people cross, often with smiles, tears, and even a few bad words – that’s common too. It’s an emotional place to take in the human response to pain and accomplishment. It’s one of my favorite places actually.

This weekend there were many remarkable moments, but this one with a woman I’d never met had an impact on me that I’ll never forget. I was standing on the side of the last 200m or so of the course waiting for Ultra Beast finishers when this woman came into view. There was nothing immediately significant about her, she was small in stature and not moving very quickly or with any sense of urgency. Her face was drawn in pain. She came over the slippery wall gingerly, slowly crawling down the ladder and landing with an audible wince of pain on the other side. She could see the finish line and she let out a cry. All she had in front of her was the fire jump and the gladiators before it would be over. She paused a few moments before starting forward.

As she started moving the pain she was feeling was unmistakable. She was limping heavily, head down, and holding her arms protectively in towards her chest as she walked. I could see tears running silently down her cheeks with each step. Following closely by her side, I waited for her to cross the finish line and gave her a hug saying, “You did it. You finished,” admittedly it was the only thing I could think to say in the moment. Her body erupted in sobs. I could feel her relax and let go. I don’t know her, but I’d venture a guess that she had just suffered more on that course physically, mentally, and emotionally than at any other time in her life. She met my eyes and I can’t imagine what lay behind them, but she managed a small smile of gratitude.

Off to our left I heard a voice say, “Mommy.” Standing just on the other side of the fence was her husband and young daughter. They were waiting with smiles and a medal to give her. As she approached, they both reached out, and as he touched her shoulders she broke down again in what I can only imagine was relief and pride. Her daughter, an adorable redhead, touched her ever so gently with both her hands, and the mother relaxed in the embrace. It was one of the most touching moments I have ever seen… and still no words were exchanged. I couldn’t hold back my own tears.

What a gift it is, in this life, to experience something of such depth and severity. To venture out into the darkness, succeed in something so hard-earned, so painfully beautiful, and return back to the ones who hold our hearts.

I believe that there are many brands of heroism that arise in human beings, our DNA tells us to survive, and gives us the will to drive forward. We see these heroics on the news, in print, and I watched some incredible ones this weekend with Beast champions, Death Racers, and ultra competitors alike.

But there is another quiet, personal heroism that happens every time a person arrives at something difficult and finishes as something more because they have to evolve in order to get through to the end. They have to become who they always had the capacity to become, they just hadn’t ventured out far enough find out it lived inside them the whole time.


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by Carrie Adams

When Spartan launched the stadium series in Fenway Park, we knew we were onto something special.  We added new locations and dates and with Citizen’s Bank Park, Miller Park, and Fenway fast approaching again, we can’t wait to get our ballpark on!

One of the women who inspired us was Marina Gentile.  She is an inspiring woman who, for the first time, at the age of 45 calls herself an athlete, she’s telling her Spartan story of how training for the Fenway Sprint helped her lose over 125 pounds.  She’s raced many a Spartan since, but here is her recounting that fateful day in 2012 where it all began.

by “The Phoenix” Marina Gentile

I will never forget the day I lost my “Sparkle” – over, under, and through the bleachers at Fenway Park – to become a true “Spartan Chick.” It was last Sunday,November 18, 2012, starting at 11:30 a.m. and lasting for an amazing 1 hour, 36 minutes. I even managed to chick three guys in my path… My special shout out to the one by the rowers, he gave me perspective. I was so mad at myself for just missing the 500 meters in two minutes rowing challenge, when I got up from my 30 burpee penalty to see his face in a trash barrel… and thought, “forget this one and move on to the next, at least you are not tossing your pancakes right now like that guy!”

So, here’s what I knew at the finish line…

I knew that “Highway to Hell” blasting from the stadium speakers in my final run past those gladiators and across the finish line was truly awesome!! I don’t know what song was playing when other racers crossed that line but can’t be more metaphorically awesome than that one.

I knew at the Hercules Hoist that there was no way I would have let go of that rope, no way. I was exhausted from pulling that heavy block of weight up but I just kept hanging on until I got the job done. I’ve been swinging and pulling far too many ropes for far too long in training to be done in by that one.

I knew that I truly focused only on the obstacle currently in my way, not behind or ahead. So that let me move from past defeats quickly without them messing with my mojo, as well as eliminate future fears before they start.

I knew that if I kept smiling and laughing through those 180ish burpees, they would not suck so much, they would not break me. Not one of them that I did that race as penalty for missing the rowing, rope climb, spear throw, traverse wall, and ball throw obstacles – or for Burpeeville (where we did just for kicks) wiped that smile off my face.

I knew I brought the right friend along to share this milestone. Mat Villamil raced on Marina time instead of his peak, redeeming himself for that sneaky eleventh hour NY Yankees tattoo he got on his face.

I knew my fearless trainer Robbie Sherwood (aka Robbie Superman from my home away from home, NYSC in Stamford, CT) delivered again on his early promise to me that he was “all in” for this wild ride of transformation I’m on. Hanging back at my pace, he guided me through my toughest challenges by yelling out key advice (“get low” – “distribute your body weight” – “you got this” – “come on, fire it out” – “breathe”), by positioning that 60 lb sandbag onto my shoulders for our extended trek through the stadium seats, by letting me trample him fully to help get my short body up and over some 10 and 12 foot high walls, and by taking a burpee or two hit for me. Sure he got a little distracted at times – by a volunteer’s bag of Doritos at those sick jump ropes, by a free beer ticket he found while jumping off a high wall (you would have thought he found a winning lottery ticket), or by his own “awesomeness at the spear throw” – but the rest of the time he was laser focused on guiding me through so we could check this milestone off our goals list.

I knew that I had earned the right to call myself an athlete for the first time in my life at age 45. At least my own personal definition of an athlete – someone who shows up for life, brings her relentless determination and drive to move her body, to challenge herself, to push her body as far as it can go, then beyond that still. Someone that sets goals, then crushes them and sets more goals, because she is driven to move forward, to keep active. Her drivers are internal, she wants to be her personal best. I am an athlete for the first time in my life at 45 – maybe a little late to the game by societies standards but I have no doubt that is how I define myself – I think like one, I move like one, I train like one, I eat like one. And what I may lack in skill right now and possibly innate ability always, I make up for in enthusiasm every time… Bring on my next Spartan!!

I knew that I did not over analyze everything like I usually do. That I just let my body lead me through the race and trusted that it would know what to do, that I had trained hard for this, that my body would perform for me at Spartan. This is unbelievable from a girl with a long history of being disconnected to my body, or hating it, or feeling like it was so limited from being 125 lbs heavier for so many years. To learn to trust it in this way, to feel it leading me through, staying strong to the finish, feeling limitless… A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!

I knew that 3 of my 4 predictions printed on our Team Relentless shirts came true … Spartan Fenway was my reward, my challenge, and most definitely my bitch… but it was NOT my punishment.

And I knew that I showed up to Spartan Fenway and brought my relentless determination when my trainer somehow managed to immediately post this FB photo and shout out as I was standing right in front of him. “So incredibly proud of Marina Gentile who just beasted her first Spartan Race!!!! 125 pounds down and counting. She just made Fenway her bitch!!!”

And here’s what I realize in the days after crossing that finish line…

I realize that following my strategy/technique – the same one I’ve brought to my training and my Phoenix-like transformation this year – helped me to cross that finish line feeling super proud of my performance and accomplishments at Spartan. It is always the same math for success in all areas of my life: Great Attitude + Positive Energy + Relentless Determination + Showing Up + Keeping Things New and Fresh + Leaving My Comfort Zone + Connecting Mind to Body + Staying Rooted in the Moment = Living Every Day of My Life.

I realize my young boys are so proud of me, yet so concerned about my swelling ego, so they took it upon themselves to (try to stick) a “kick me” post-it on my back as I was walking out the door to go to my office proudly wearing my new Spartan bling around my neck.

I realize I’ve never felt my body so fully and thoroughly sore, that every last muscle, in every corner of my being got used that day in one way or another to get over those obstacles. Amazing feeling, makes me feel alive and like my life has a purpose, need to be there again.

I realize the meaning of “sometimes you’ve just got to stretch” – using  everyday objects in an airport the next day as I was traveling to do just that, regardless of the weird looks.

I realize that I view the world as one big obstacle course now, wondering how I will get under/over/through the various objects in my path.

I realize that I was so wildly happy when my first bruise appeared, that I kept showing it to people as some kind of badge of honor. And that I was disappointed that I did not have any scrapes on my body. Kind of crazy, but I’m hearing it a lot from career OCR’s so I know it’s not just me.

I realize that as the body aches subside and the bruises fade away, there is a sadness setting in. I trained so hard and for so long to get to Spartan, it was a huge milestone moment for me, and I loved it so much, that I’m a little bit lost right now. I know that just means I need to set and break more activity goals in the very near future, and most definitely that I need to sign on for another Spartan Race very soon… Hmmm, wondering if 2013 or 2014 will be my trifecta year?

I realize it’s such an honor that Carrie Adams referred to me as The Phoenix, that kick ass female mythical creature that – in my case – is burning down old behaviors, habits, negative body images and limitations on her life – and rising from the ashes transformed into a kick ass active mom/woman/Spartan Warrior with limitless potential.

What’s your excuse?  Get out to the ballpark!  Find an event HERE. 

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By Sharla Hoff

Sharla and Anthony Hoff

I am overweight, non-athletic, asthmatic, have heart problems, serious nerve damage (from a compound fracture) in my left leg and foot, an injured elbow (broke it 2 years ago) but I didn’t want be defined by my limitations. I wanted a new story to tell. It was time to change. And I did. Now, I am a Spartan.

I decided, with one week’s notice, to do the Reebok Spartan Race in the high school heat in Arizona as a reward for my son, Anthony last February. He has always struggled in school but he reached a goal he had set for himself and I promised that I’d do the same for him. We joined the race and got five other teens and one mother to join us. We were all scared and very nervous. But agreed to NOT GIVE UP.

The kids were faster than me and the other mother. So we told the kids to do their best and we would see them at the end. The entire race myself and the other mothers were excited and proud that our boys were out there somewhere and finishing. But nothing prepared me for that moment when I saw the FINISH line just past the wall and barbed wire. I was so exhausted, but knew I had to finish. Then I heard the teens running down toward the wires screaming and encouraging me. I was doing it, slowly but surely. Then almost through the wire I heard my sister (she was sweeping the course) yelling for me. She jumped in and pushed me faster and helped get me over the wall and to the end. She asked to give me my medal. As she placed the medal around my neck and gave me a hug she had tears in her eyes. My son ran up and gave me a huge tight hug with an ear-to-ear smile. While I was still wet and muddy, I knew I impressed him.

On the ride home my son told me how worried he was at some of the challenges and how I would handle them. He checked with staff several times to see if there were any injuries on the course since I was so far behind. He told me when I crossed the line he knew he had a strong mother and he was amazed and proud to be my son. I guess this race was MY reward not his. Now I am more confident that I CAN do things if I WANT them bad enough.

I plan to continue to exercise and get in better shape for the journey ahead. I had an amazing experience. Since the Arizona Race I have lost 9 inches around my waist and I have changed my diet and exercise habits. I also went to Vegas and did the Biggest Loser Off-Road Challenge. I cannot thank the Spartan Race enough for helping to light this fire and determination inside of me. I’m a Spartan.

What are you waiting for?  Sign up today.

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by Corinne Kohlen, Spartan Pro Team

Jamie Gold

Chiropractor, Former Military Intelligence, Neuroscientist, Pharmacist, Computer Scientist, Microbiologist, Doctor of Dental Surgery, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Aerospace Engineer, Judge, Nurse, Doctor in Organizational Leadership, Environmental Scientist, Immunologist, Dietitian, Doctor of Education, MBA – what do these professions have in common?

Impressive – yes, skilled – yes, requiring high levels of focus and dedication – yes, admirable -yes, held by members of our Spartan Chicked community – YES!

In case it wasn’t obvious Spartan Woman are smart woman! Many not only hold advanced degrees and play important roles in society but balance motherhood and training on a daily basis. Some are working on second and third degrees and adding credentials behind their names including JD, RN, PhD, MD, MBA, DC, BA, MA, EdD. The list goes on and on. In addition to University degrees many Spartan woman have found success founding their own businesses, authoring books, designing homes, cooking, and developing new technology.

This is look at just a few of our Spartan Smarties:
Jamie Gold – Certified Kitchen Designer, Author ( MA Communication management.
Here is Jamie in her own words: ” I love being able to share my passion with clients, readers and seminar attendees alike. I also love the flexibility of keeping my own schedule, letting me start and end most work days with a physical outlet. I have learned that breaking the desk chair to dining chair to couch with exercise is essential for my health and sanity!”
Jamie is looking forward to running her first Spartan Sprint in January. “I’ve never been “athletic” but got in shape in my late 40s/early 50s and am now regularly active.” Her blog post: shows her journey of loosing 100 pounds:

Becky Mang – Senior Mechanical Engineer – AMEC – the international engineering and project management company.

Becky Mang

Becky enjoys working in a field where everyday brings unique challenges and obstacles. In her own words: “Every day I learn something new (which I love) and on really good days I’m able to teach someone else something new! Being a female in a male dominated field has been difficult at times, but it has made me stronger and more confident. I enjoy mentoring the next generation of female (and male) engineers, helping them meet their career goals. One of the most interesting things I have seen is the inside of an underground salt mine almost 1,000 meters below surface.”

Becky just completed her first Spartan Race at the Montana Spartan Sprint and is hooked! She has already signed up for the Calgary Sprint and the Red Deer Super this year. Next time your at a Spartan Race look for some of these ladies, admire their athleticism, and know that they are not only strong but smart! AROO!!

Want to join the ranks of the Spartan Chicks?  Join our network HERE.  No boys allowed!

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By Daniel Pebbles

We men, we live, we are strong, we rule, we beat our chest, and yet our strength is nothing next to the will of the women who love us. I have never been surer of this than I was when I watched my wonderful, beautiful, wife (my SPARTAN PRINCESS) complete the Spartan Military Sprint Challenge at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs Colorado.

For months now I have watched my wife dedicate herself to change physically and mentally. Working out almost daily at Gottsche. Now she had been doing this while never failing in any of her others endeavors such as taking care of our children, our home, her more than needy husband, and full time job.

I did not know much about what she had signed up for with this Spartan Race until I watched what it made her. Waves of 200 racers were released beginning at 0800 hrs. and continued throughout the day. Sherri’s heat was set to go at 0915 so numerous racers had been released prior to her start, making the course ahead wet and muddy in places that those who started first and or were in the lead would never have known. Just to give you an idea the first obstacle was a series of trenches that were 4 to 5 feet in width and full of water and mud, and there were at least five of them.

She was nervous and so was I, but she now it was time for her to do her thing out on the course. So then the waiting started. Minutes were multiplied and time seemed to slow down as I watched for her to appear on the horizon.  And then finally of all people to see her, Stone said, “Hey there is mom.” He pointed to an area just after the mud crawl, under the barb wire and through several mud pits, as long as or longer than two semi trucks and trailers end to end. And there she was covered in mud from head to toe running toward the “spear throw.”

I hollered, “Sherri” and the kids yelled, “mom!”

We caught up with her just prior to the spear throw and due to the bottle neck of throwers we were able to exchange a few words. She was muddy from head to toe, sopping wet shoes and an abundance of mud caked on her face, hair, and clothes. I could tell she was tired, exhausted.

I looked at her and simply said, “Do you want to quit.” And with a look that I honestly can say I have never seen in her before she said, “No”. I never asked again. We told her that we loved her and she continued on to the spear throw. That is where we lost her and we did not find her again until the mud pits on the other side.

Once she emerged from the mud pits there was the slanted wall of 10 feet or so that now was covered in wet mud, and the ropes were so slick with mud the racers could not hold on as they attempted to scale the wall and continue on. This is where I truly learned the meaning of this endeavor that my Spartan Princess had got herself into. As racer after racer attempted the slick muddy wall and muddy ropes, numerous racers slipped and fell back from where they had started. Other racers stepped forward and were able to get atop the wall and sat on top and helped racer after racer get up and over this obstacle. Encouraging words, hands outstretched helping each other beyond this obstacle of slick mud and slimy rope. This is when I learned this race was not about who was first or the fastest. It was about who was willing to give that possibility up to turn and put out their hand to someone who was struggling and simply say, “Take my hand.” I am a man a chest beater but I became just a little emotional at this point, not outwardly because I am a chest beater.

As Sherri stood in line for this obstacle we were to be able to speak with her. She was watching as racer after racer slid back and or fought this wall. She looked at me and said, “I don’t think I can get over that, I don’t know anyone here to help me. I told her to just go for it and they would help her. And she did, she grabbed the muddy rope and twisted it around her hand and placed her muddy shoes on the slick muddy wall and began to pull herself up and as she did the racer on the wall above her and the one below her helped her scale that wall of which she thought she could not do. I was in awe of her, and so very proud. Then we again lost sight of her for what seemed like forever. In the distance you could see where it appeared racers had to drag huge tires and hike up and down a steep hill with back packs (that I was sure were not empty) and then disappear from sight for god knows what for which seemed like forever.

And then again on the horizon the kids and I seen her, coming down the hill toward the last four obstacles that were between her and the end of this madness. What were left were the rope climb, cargo net, fire pit and gladiator pit. The rope climb was so slick with mud it was 30 burpee’s and on to the cargo net. Sherri climbed up and over without a hitch. Then on to the fire pit, which she cleared with ease, and through the gladiator pit  to the finish line.  That’s when my Spartan Princess received her Spartan medal. 

As I took her picture standing there covered in mud from head to toe, with her medal around her neck on the right side of the finish line. I realized why she had answered the way she did when I asked her if she wanted to quit. Even though at the time of my question I knew and she knew she was tired and hurt all over but it did not matter as she intended to conquer and nothing was going to prevent that, not 4.5 miles, not 28 obstacles, not the mud, not being alone (or at least thinking you were), the face I looked into was one of determination and dedication. I realized it was the same as many of the faces that I saw thrusting forth their hands and simply saying, “take my hand, there is no way we fail”.

I learned a lot from my Spartan Warrior Princess this date. And I am one lucky chest beater.


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By Leslie St. Louis, Spartan Elite Athlete

My feet and body are a symphony. My mind is clear and focused. The blue skies, the warm sun, the Colorado mountains embrace me as I crunch through brush, cactus and sage. I spy an orange arrow pointing into a ravine. I hustle down, see a stream, leap, feel the cool splash, the squish of mud, the jagged firmness of a river rock. I surge forward, grasping grass, weeds, bushes. I claw, use my legs, push up and out and am back to running.

The rhythm returns.

There’s another competitor ahead, and at least three more obstacles. What I can’t see is the finish line, but I can hear it. I know my husband and two daughters are there. I feel peace. For a brief moment, the Old Leslie butts in and whines “Can you really do this?” But it’s too late because I am strong and in synch. That doubting voice becomes a dimming hum, fading and floating away into the horizon. I surge forward even faster to a new confident beat. I am sure. I do believe. I am on a mission. I am Spartan.

The Colorado Military Sprint marks the one year anniversary of my first-ever Spartan Race (I came in third!) and the beginning of a life change. In the few years prior, I had quit my job as a teacher, had two girls 18 months apart and became a stay at home mom. On one hand, I was overjoyed with this new phase of my life, but on the other I was completely overwhelmed and exhausted. If you have young children, you probably know that feeling of being soooo busy, but not really getting anything “done.” Depressed and 15 pounds overweight, I had signed up for Spartan as a stepping stone to weight loss.

Amid the process of training, I rediscovered my passion for trail running and started working on my strength. My friends and I brainstormed workout ideas, integrating our little ones or switching off.
By the time I stepped up to the start line in Fort Carson, I had already forgotten about my initial goal of losing weight (that had happened along the way), and was more interested in putting all my new muscles to work!
The Colorado race, led to the Utah race, which eventually led to traveling the country, including scaling the mountains of Vermont (for 10 hours!) and swimming in the picturesque (frigid) lakes of SoCal. Through Spartan, I found “permission” to be competitive, and all within a very open and accepting community of inspiring and friendly athletes.

Every time I step up to the start line of a Spartan Race, I am a bit scared and nervous because I know that in the process of getting to the finish, I will feel exhaustion, fear, pain, uncertainty, surprise, exhilaration….I will be vulnerable and then build myself back up again. The secret of Spartan is that when you rebuild, you can construct any version of yourself and most likely it will be a stronger, more confident one than you ever imagined. This becomes a part of your everyday life too, and I think I am a better wife and mother because of it. In my best races, I am creating mental and physical symphonies: I am Spartan.

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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"

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