by Ang Reynolds, Spartan Elite Athlete
I hate standing at the starting line of a Reebok Spartan Race. I feel the same nerves each and every time. They felt no different at my last race as they did at my very first. I have come to realize that the sickness I feel in my stomach is as much a part of me as the race itself. My friends and I hug, wish each other luck, and take pictures, but we’re largely silent. This fear might be the fear of competition, the fear of adventure, or more likely, the fear of the unknown. Each and every one of us deals with our fears, our demons, my fear just happens to be a large part of something that I love.
Five years ago my husband walked away from our marriage. In the weeks that followed his departure, I ran more cumulative miles than I had logged in many years. I ran away from the pain. I ran to stay strong for my three children. I ran for my life. These “therapy runs” continued for hours and I began to heal. My life came back together piece by piece and I looked for my next challenge. I enjoy competition, and set my sights on The Boston Marathon. After qualifying and running Boston, I realized something was still missing. I began to forget why I once fell in love with running and started to slip away from the sport that I loved.
In December 2011, a friend asked me to join her for a Spartan Race. The Malibu Sprint changed my life. For the first time in a long time, I felt alive and I remembered why I love to compete. A Spartan Race is so much more than a race; it is an adventure, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. Each turn brings a new obstacle and a new experience. Each race is not only a unique accomplishment but also something different to be proud of. I learn as much at the races that I lose as the races that I win, and continually meet amazing people along the way.
Over the last year I have met some of my best friends through theSpartan Race Series. These are the people that I wanted to beat to the finish line at the end of the day, but also the people that I share my days and nights with. We stay out late, and sleep late into the morning. We jump in lakes, stand around fires, and huddle together in the pouring rain to warm our bodies. We help each other limp across the finish line and wipe the blood off our broken and bruised bodies. We share some of the roughest times in our lives and but also in each other’s greatest joys. Our camaraderie is unparalleled. It is unlike anything that I have ever experienced.
My friends and I often talk about our Spartan tattoos. Our tattoos are not comprised of ink and a needle; our tattoos are made of rope burns, barbed wire, and rocks. These tattoos do not solely lie on the surface of our skin. Each of us has a special imprint on our soul for Spartan Race. This imprint will remain long after we are done racing, because this is an adventure we will never forget. My fears will never get the best of me. I will stand at the start line with my demons and when the smoke begins to fill the air, I will run into the battle because this adventure is too good to pass by.