by Evan Dollard

Eight years ago my brother began his career as a collegiate soccer player. He attacked pre-season three-a-days with ferocity–seemingly undeterred by his underclassmen status and mess hall meal plan. Ryan soon declared confidently to be “in the best shape of his life”.

As an athlete, I appreciated his hard work. As an older brother, I felt compelled to whoop his ass. Driven by some primitive need to prove I was still the dominant older sibling, I challenged him to a mono-a-mono race at our hometown 5K.

He accepted.

After several weeks stratifying long runs and speed work, I cut my pace-per-mile by 40 seconds. On race day, I destroyed my brother’s time by blasting through the hilly course at an average speed of 10 MPH. Mission accomplished.

Fast forward to present day.

I jumped onto a treadmill at the health club last week wearing a size smedium tank top and a grin. After selecting a powerhouse playlist on my iPod, I cranked up the pace to match my victory-winning time and got after it.

Nine minutes later I found myself punching the Down Arrow icon in a race against time to prevent my body from slingshot-ing off the spinning Belt-O-Death. My putrefied, sweat-stained tank top clung to my chest as I sucked in the air around me like it was my job.

I did the math. It turns out I covered only 50% of that which I was previously capable. Needless to say, I’m not operating at full cardiovascular capacity. Perhaps even MORE noticeable, however, was the lack of stamina in my mental game.

Despite my best efforts to distract my brain-piece a la Skrillex and Lindsey Stirling, my mind gave up long before my body. By the time that sweet, elfish rock-violinist hit the bridge on “Crystallize” my mental “edge” was no sharper than rounded corners on an Instagram frame.

To be fair, as a three-season veteran of American Ninja Warrior I’ve trained myself to annihilate a gnarly series of obstacles in three minutes or less. Harnessing the mental and physical capability to post an impressive 5K time hasn’t exactly been the priority.

Until now.

I’m registered to run the Spartan Sprint in Malibu this December, and I don’t just want to finish the race… I want to crush the course. That said, my training is still missing one critical element: stakes. Since my brother and I are still locked in a bizarre competition of life achievement, it would make sense to stage a rematch.

After all:

I won American Gladiators.

He married an amazing woman.

I am Regional Champion of American Ninja Warrior.

He now owns a house.

Once I become the first American Ninja to complete Stage 4 in the Las Vegas finals, I fully expect him to have his first kid.

Unfortunately for me and my pride, Ryan is firmly planted in the Chi-town burbs and unavailable to throw down. Which begs the question:

Who wants to race?

[Editor's Note: Evan “Rocket” Dollard is a writer, actor and real-life action hero. After taking on the nation’s biggest and baddest to win the epic reboot of American Gladiators, Dollard earned Gladiator privileges to chase down Season 2 contenders as "Rocket". He then leveraged his unrivaled heroics to compete on American Ninja Warrior, and is now a three-season veteran and fan-favorite of NBC’s summer hit. Dollard is on a quest to inspire others and achieve his greatest potential. Want to learn more about Evan? Follow him on Twitter : @evandollard or follow his Athlete page on Facebook :]


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