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

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Dear Joe,

I was recently invited to Arrows Academy in Columbia, SC to speak to three classes of students about Spartans. My friend, Katie Norman, is a teacher there and is teaching the students history starting from creation. They are currently learning about Greece and more specifically Spartans, so I was invited to give some real life examples in today’s world of what Spartans do. I started out showing the kids my medals and explaining to them the different lengths of Spartan Races. They got to see most of the medals Spartan Race offers including my double trifecta medal and the Ultra-Beast medal I earned in 2013. 

After that we went through a slide show of pictures from different Spartan Races and I got to talk to them about different obstacles that you may see at a Spartan Race. I also told them about the weather competitors would endure while completing these races, like the freezing cold 2013 Charlotte Sprint. I talked about the terrain we would battle through, like at the Ultra Beast or that brutal VA Super last year. I showed them some of my Athletics8 compression gear complete with holes from barb wire and the shoes I would wear for a race.

Katie then showed them some videos of Spartan Race including the Kids Race. They really enjoyed it. After this they got to ask questions, so I answered things about my training, where I got to speak to them about the dedication it takes. I told them about the days where I would get home from a 15 hour day of 2 jobs and then ruck all night to train for the Ultra Beast and head back to work at 7:30am. I answered questions like “Do people die doing this?” and “What happens if you fall in the fire?” One little girl asked if I had ever quit, I almost couldn’t answer it like it didn’t compute in my mind (which I’m proud of). Something like “No, I couldn’t. I mean, it’s just not in me” came out. Hopefully they got the message. Spartans NEVER quit.

After this I got to run a mini Spartan race with them. It was awesome. The kids really enjoyed it. I did it about 4 times with them and then they said, “We want to see how fast Sean can do it.” So who am I to disappoint a bunch of kids. All in all it was a great day, the kids were awesome and I’m sure some of them will one day run a Spartan Race. This is when all the pain in training is worth it. Finish lines are great, but impacting lives for a greater good is what I’m all about.

Thanks for the Spartan Races Joe,

Sean

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Dear Joe,

John Bruno Grimaldi’s Story: a true Spartan in my eyes!

Bruno is a loving husband to my oldest sister Kelly, and father to 2 year old Dean. He works as a Diesel Mechanic at Yard Trucks in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Not long after Dean was born, on October 30, 2011, Bruno was initially diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent surgery and one round of chemotherapy. This treatment course took place at Cooper Medical Center in Voorhees, New Jersey, where the Grimaldi’s lived at the time. Bruno and Kelly were thrilled to learn that the cure rate was 90%.

After the diagnosis, Bruno’s determination to get into a healthy lifestyle took place. He was not much of a fitness junkie or an enthusiast on healthy eating, but he had to start somewhere. Bruno began to walk, which lead to a run, then took it further and signed up for Spartan Races, Warrior Dash obstacle run and a 5K army/community run. The Grimaldi’s changed their diet and physical routine to jump start their new challenges. Bruno and Kelly worked together to set new goals and accomplish them.

In the winter of 2012, Bruno and Kelly moved to their new home which is currently in Warrington, Pennsylvania. Bruno’s physical appearance and need for a good workout only grew over time. Kelly and Bruno continued to go for runs and work out at LA Fitness together. Thankfully, Bruno was continuing to follow up with Dr. Kennedy, a Medical Oncologist at Aria Health in Pennsylvania. On December 9th, 2013, the Grimaldi’s received the news that Bruno was that 10% and his cancer was back. This time, the cancer had traveled to the lymph nodes in his lower back. With no hesitation, Bruno was ready to start his journey once again, knowing it was not going to be easy. Bruno began his first of four rounds of intense chemotherapy on January 6th, 2014. Each round of chemotherapy consists of five consecutive days of treatment for roughly 6 hours each.

Unfortunately, because of the intense treatment Bruno was undergoing, the trip they had planned to visit family in San Diego and to complete the SoCal Spartan Race on January 25th was canceled. However, four days before the race, Bruno decided to try and climb their hanging rope in their home. He easily made it to the top and once his feet hit the ground he knew he had to attempt the race. This diagnosis was not going to stop him! Bruno and Kelly decided to take their trip to San Diego and they both completed the race. This Spartan Race was an absolute challenge for both. Bruno understands that time will wait for no one and he needs to be the force that drives himself forward! Everyone can learn from this one man that moments must be cherished and the only way to live life is like climbing rope, the only way to go is up!

Thanks,

Jackie Gribbin

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Dear Joe,

She’s gonna kill me but…

I had to thank you for putting on your Spartan Singles on Instagram. This is gonna sound crazy and it kinda is, I admit. However, well, I met the most amazing, gorgeous, genuine, inspiring, Spartan woman from this. We actually started talking on Valentine’s Day of all days and have been in constant communication since. Now here’s where it gets tricky.

Julia is a reservist in the Navy and when we started talking she was at home saying her last goodbyes to her family before she deployed to Afghanistan (where she is now). So we have not had a chance to physically meet yet. Through text, phone calls, emails…. well, we pretty much have totally fallen for each other. I know that sounds crazy… but when you know, you know.

So she is currently overseas now and as an active duty Army guy who has a few deployments under my belt, including one to Afghanistan, I find myself in a very unusual position sending her letters and care packages. Usually I’m the one getting them while I’m deployed. The whole, waiting around the phone 24/7 just in case she calls… yeah… that’s on me this time, but don’t worry, it hasn’t interfered with my burpees! Actually it has probably improved my run times because I run faster so I can get back to my phone quicker. She is blessed with a pretty good gym over there so she will be staying in shape and getting ready for the first Race we can get to together, which will probably be the Texas Beast. Looking forward to it!

I will be working towards my Trifecta this year, something that she would have really liked to accomplish and hopefully still will be able to. If not, then I guess her and I will accomplish it together the following year, because we both know that we are in this for the long term… very long term.

Now here is the kicker… If all that wasn’t crazy enough, during my last deployment I was in Alpha Company 2-30 Infantry, 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. Our nick name/radio call sign: “Spartan” (no joke, and we took that to heart that we were Spartans), but there were less than 300 of us at a remote outpost. Now, my girlfriend – yep, we made it official even though having never met in person…. when you know you know), she is located in the Area of Operations “Spartan” (also not a joke), and actually I have been to the base she is now staying at. And of course, finally we met in no small part at all due to the “Spartan Race”.

So, I (actually we) want to thank you! Not only for your races that we both have loved individually, and look forward to enjoying as a couple in the near and long future, but for bringing this Spartan couple together. Look for us on the battlefield of the Texas Beast! Shake her hand! She is my inspiration, my hero, and as crazy as it sounds under the circumstances, the love of my life.

Sincerely,
Spartan Kyle

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Joe Cordovax followed the Spartan WODs every day from November through January in order to prepare for the race in Temecula. Between 4am and 6am, 5 days a week, you’ll find him there. It’s here that he met Michelle Clark, who would be his team captain for the event in Temecula. Citing Michelle as his driving force, Joe successfully completed the race. What sets Joe apart is that he is 78 years young.

Wanting to share what he experienced, Joe wrote to his namesake.

Dear Joe,

Well it is over and I ended as Age Group Champion. I was part of a team Michelle’s Minions. I will admit I was assisted in a few of the obstacles. What a great way to challenge yourself, so after all the mud, scrapes I was none the worse for wear for a 78 year old. I look forward to doing another when I hit 80.

My friends and family were not aware of me doing the run. I sent an e-mail to all my friends to let them know that I was going to attempt something I had never done before. So they were unaware until I finished.

It was a hard won battle for me but I was not about to give up. Ending as Age Group Champion is a highlight for me.

This is a quote from Ali and it fit me perfectly; “I hated every minute of training but I said ‘Don’t quit suffer now and live the rest of your life as a Champion.’”

There are no secrest to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

Thanks very much

Joe from Temecula

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The impact that Spartan Race is having on so many lives goes beyond that of the actual race. The lifestyle and mentality in forging people to become a healthier version of themselves is touching so many people. Seeing a stranger wearing the Spartan logo on their clothing instantly becomes a talking point and immediately you know they are family. Shane Small saw a Spartan Race staff member at Houston airport recently and felt compelled to write in with his story.

Dear Joe,

I wanted to share insight into my experiences with the Spartan Race. I have attached some pictures.

Just to share some background information about my adventure to becoming a Spartan at my biggest weight I was 320lbs I currently weigh around 240 and have goals of cutting around 15 or 20 more. I began training with a group of guys from church for my first Spartan Race which was the Dallas Beast near Glen Rose about three months prior to the 2012 race.

I ran my first Beast at around 290lbs, which was at the time the most difficult test of physical fitness and endurance that I had ever experienced. Surprisingly, the 2013 was as much a physical test at 245lbs. The Spartan Race changed my life in many ways.

I am excited to continue my pursuit of fitness and participating in Spartan Races. Please share this with the Spartan Race group.

Thank you,

Shane Small

Want Spartan to change your life, too? Find out more here.

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Dear Joe,

My oldest brother Bill Speeg died of a massive heart attack while at the gym training for his first Half Ironman that he was gonna do in March in San Diego.

He was in the navy for 10 years and retired out in San Diego after meeting his wife Kelly of 23 yrs. He worked at the family business where he was the VP. Bill and Kelly feel into a cycle of constant work and let their weight go by eating what ever was easy.

In late 2011, they sold the business and found themselves retired at 44 years old. Bill and Kelly made a pact with each other to get their lives back by eating healthy and working out together. In 2012 Bill discovered Spartan Race and took on the challenge full steam ahead. He completed 6 or 7 Spartan Races in 2012 and attempted the Ultra Beast in VT Sept. 2012. That was when I was finally able to reconnect with my big brother that I had lost touch with, living so far apart as I live in Connecticut. After the Ultra Beast, Bill came down to Connecticut to visit us and if not for Spartan Race, I maybe would have not reconnected with my brother and been able to share the past year and a half with him.

His love for Spartan racing swallowed me whole and we did our first race together in April of 2013 at Citi Field, NY. I was hooked and we signed up for the Beast in Vermont together in 2013. That will be my most cherished memory with my brother as we embarked on our journey and completed the Beast side by side after 12 hrs and 38 mins of pure awesomeness. The Beast was Bill’s Trifecta, as he also completed 2 back to back Supers and a Sprint in, I believe January of 2013 in CA. I was hoping for my Trifecta as well but was unable to pull of a Super in time for the Beast.

My brother was a true example of a Spartan and embodied everything that Spartan stands for. We were going back and forth about doing the Beast again this year, but I wanted him to focus on his Ironman training and he had bought 2 lottery tickets for the Kona Ironman, which is 2 weeks after the beast and wouldn’t have been able to do with me if he get picked. I decided I would train for a Full Marathon this year and we would re-visit the Beast again next year.

Bill (left) with his brother Adam

Ironically, Bill had passed away on Tuesday and on Thursday of that same week I received my email that the VIP reg for the Beast was closing at midnight that night. After a good cry I registered and will be running it with hopes of beating our time from last year and maybe even be able to pull off my Trifecta while finishing.

Bill and his wife Kelly also had a goal in 2013 of completing 13 half marathons, which they did side by side. Bill usually wearing his Spartan shirt and carrying and American Flag the whole way or spare tire.

I am still in shock and disbelief that my brother is gone and will forever be grateful to Spartan Race for not only changing both of our lives but also bringing Bill and I back together. The service was in San Diego and I was excited at the chance of him being recognized as the Spartan he was.

Sorry for being so long and drawn out, but this was a challenge for me as he has done so much and I wanted to tell his story. My sister in law made arrangement for Bill to be driven on the Ironman race course that he would have competed on and will be laid to rest with his IM finishers jersey and bib number that he would have worn on race day. I will be wearing my Spartan Beast shirt while being a pall bearer for him.

Thank you again DJ and I hope to meet you one day soon and be able to thank you face to face!

AROO AROO AROO!!!

Adam J. Speeg

Sign up for a  Spartan Race now and make memories that you will cherish.

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Spartan Mitch wrote a short, but powerful note recently. Despite everything that could go wrong, he’s pushing through.
Dear Joe,

Again, thank you for this weekend.  I learned a great deal about myself and how great everyone is at Spartan, especially the volunteers.  This race was very important to me…..it has changed my outlook on life.  I don’t want to sound too philosophical, but it has.  This is why:

My family’s life has been turned upside down in the past couple of years.

-I was shot in an attempted break in Dec. of 2011

-My sister died in January of 2012

-We lost our farm, business, house—everything in 2013

-My other sister died in June 2013

I am not looking for sympathy.  I just wanted you to understand what this meant to me and my family.  What you and Joe do at Spartan is AMAZING!  I never thought I would thank someone for putting me through hell.

I don’t know what will happen from here, but I do know that I believe that my future is with Spartan Race.  I will see you in a couple of weeks!

Grace,

Mitch

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Todd from Tampa got in touch with Spartan Race and wanted to share what was on his mind

Well, it’s Sunday, post Spartan Race day, and as a family we have a overwhelming feeling of accomplishment within us. If you have a moment, we would like to share our experience with you. We have shared our start up story with you, but here is our pre-Spartan timeline.

My wife and I have been traveling around Florida bouncing from mud run to OCR events for the past two years because we needed a healthier, more enjoyable lifestyle. This lead us to finding complacency in the lower level or over hyped runs. We quickly found ourselves moving further and further up the leader boards, and in the past 4 months, we decided to step up our game. We decided to move forward with the competitive beast inside us and take on the top tier races.

Basically, we put our foot in the water and it wasn’t too cold. This lead us to Spartan Race Special Ops Tampa. From first hearing about Special Ops we were filled with excitement and anticipation – we now had a game plan and set schedules for excessive training and changing of meal plans.  Oh boy, did we train, along with participating the 30 burpees for 30 days challenge. Then job confusion, illness and a last minute injury hit within the last three weeks of race day. Days before the race we asked each other if we were ready and our response “HELL NO”. So what to do? Wife decided to run with a partner and I decide to JUST FINISH, both for the first time.  Neither of us were happy with this but we STFU and went with it. To be honest, with my injury from the weekend before at The Hobie Call Challenge, I didn’t make the decision to run until right before my 8am start time.

Special Ops Tampa started with a 120ft round about running climb with a cargo net near the top which I dubbed as the ‘time chip snatcher’, I had to pick mine and a few others out of it.  Next, a few short walls continuing on into the stadium stairs and stairs and more stairs. Lets just say lots of up and down stairs with several obstacles in between, which included 7ft wall, 8ft wall, sandbag carry up and down the stadium stairs, transverse wall, another 120ft round about run climb or 15 burpee option (nice touch, for your information and no I didn’t fall for that one), and a rubber band around the ankles hop up and down stairs. During the rubber band obstacle I told the racers around me, “if my mom could only see me now”. WE LOOKED FOOLISH. Oh – did I mention there were stairs?

Then on to the field. First, a Nerf football throw in a 50gal drum (20kt wind),  then a 280ft barbwire crawl though dirt mounds smoke and military debris. I still have dirt falling out of my body from that crawl. Next, we left the stadium to the north parking lot which housed the last quarter of the race. Up next was the concrete pulley pull, which was hard if you didn’t keep your chin behind your torso, a 20yard 100 pound concrete ball carry with 5 burpees, then back 20 yards – the wife hates you for that one – multiple mud hills, weighted ammo boxes, inverted wall , spear throw (20kt wind), rope climb out of water and slippery wall climb. This actually brought a tear to my eye when I watched three racers help another racer try to get over it for 25 minutes. Then there was a fire jump and then the gladiators.  Lastly, I must mention BURPEES. Spartan Races’ golden gem, 30 burpees if you don’t complete an obstacle was just the icing on the Spartan cake.

I may have missed some or some may be out of order but this is what is locked in the old brain.

I could carry on and on about our experience. Thank you from the Anderson family.
We did find out at the finish line.
AROO

Todd from Tampa

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Heather Lych wrote in recently about her time in Temecula and we were so moved by her story that we felt compelled to share it.

Dear Joe and Spartan Race,

I’m so grateful for all of you being there and and of course for ALL of your help,support,and encouragement from everyone. If it wasn’t for everyone who helped me with their selflessness and determination to see that I finished, I would have never crossed that finish line.

You believed in me when I already given up on myself and for that I am truly grateful. I got to see something that most people don’t realize exists in our society today and quite honestly, it touched my soul and restored some of my faith in humanity. I witnessed the courage, determination, heart and spirit that defines the meaning of a true Spartan! 

I’ve always prided myself in being tougher than the average woman. I’ve  faced my share of obstacles in my 37 years on this world, starting when I was just 8yrs old. A couple of neighborhood friends and I were taking turns riding a mountain bike that one of the girls had just received as a Christmas gift less than 2 weeks prior. The bike was a little big for me, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Unfortunately, the mother of a girl that lived next door was drunk and hit me head on with the Toyota truck she was driving. 

 

I literally went through the windshield from the outside, coming to rest half inside the truck and the lower half of my body still across the hood. My injuries were severe to critical, the least of which being a broken femur that required a screw through my knee to secure to secure 70lbs of tractiontraction in hopes of pulling the bone straight and to normal length again, instead of overlapping making one leg shorter.

The  more life threatening injuries I suffered were severe neck, spinal chord, severe trauma to my head and facial injuries that laid my forehead wide open. My parents were told it was a miracle I survived. After countless weeks in hospital and excruciatingly painful hours in physical therapy, I was released home in a wheelchair never to walk again.

I took that as a challenge. After suddenly becoming a single mother I decided to meet life’s challenge and  raise the ante. On Jan 26th, 2014, the day after turning 37, myself and 5 other amazing people entered our first Spartan Sprint as “The Ranch Team”. My teammates all did amazingly well and have decided to continue on and complete their Trifecta. Unfortunately, around the third mile I sustained an injury to my hip. I was in unbearable pain and to have to just give up on myself after everything that I’ve lived through, it all came down to this.

I couldn’t continue I couldn’t take another step. I was in so much pain I wanted can just crawl into a hole and die. I’ve always prided myself on being stubborn and strong and survivor with a “tell-me-I-can’t -do-something-and-watch-me-” attitude. I was giving up on myself. Thank God for the most amazing people that I’ve ever been blessed enough to meet, the Spartan staff and medical personnel! In particular 2 good looking gentleman from Spartan headquarters and two medics. They refused to let me give up on myself. They were determined to see me finish my first Spartan race and cross that finish line.  They carried me the last mile completing the remaining obstacles as we went. 

They made sure that I crossed that finish line. Their selflessness and heart they showed me that day was overwhelming. I’m forever grateful to those amazing people. They are my heroes!

Although I didnt walk across the finish line the way that I’d intended, I have a renewed faith in myself and found my inner strength and stubbornness and courage. I’m a survivor and I hope that my heroes that believed in me will be there to watch me cross the finish line in my next Spartan Race.  God bless, my heroes.

See you at the finish line!
AROO!

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