by Carrie Adams 

As a co-editor of a blog like Spartan’s we are lucky enough to get emails from our community about what inspires them to run.  More often than not, the stories are not about the ones contacting us at all, instead, they opt to tell us the story of fellow Spartans and how they themselves have been inspired by another.  I recently received an email from Jen Morgan who along with Sam Stark and her husband David Morgan met a fifteen year old boy named James at the Tri-State Super Spartan (his first race) and his heroic finish of the race. 

The Super Spartan, one of our most brutal to date, was James’ first obstacle race and even as he struggled through the course, the debilitating burpee penalties, and the worsening weather conditions, James managed to find it inside himself to finish the race and claim his Super Spartan medal and the pride that only Spartan finishers know.  

For those who witnessed his efforts, it was humbling and inspiring.  So, here, in Sam, Jen and David’s words is the story of James, the relentless young Spartan. 

James recently turned 15, and has never done any obstacle course… ever.  He chose the Tri-State Super (the mother of all Super Spartans) to be his first race.  We met James early Saturday morning as our team was sitting down in the festival area stretching and waiting for our start time.  A woman asked if anyone had a sharpie marker.  She was James’ mother, and visibly worried about her son’s decision to take this race on. A teammate offered up a marker and started up a conversation with this mom and her young son.

He was obviously new to the sport.  He had on a gray cotton tee shirt, shorts, no camel back, energy bars, or energy gels. She told us that he was racing alone and had never done an OCR before. It was at that moment that our teammate told the worried looking mom, “He will race with us.”   And so it was!   Our group snatched him up and stayed with him for the entire race.   His performance was nothing short of amazing.  Not once did he complain, whine, say that he wasn’t going to make it, or say he wanted to quit.  He was excited about the cliff jump and jumped off the 24 foot jump without hesitation.

At the pancake carry he struggled but never once gave up and only accepted just enough help to get him through it.    At the monkey bars he fell after a few rungs.   He was told to complete his burpees.  Wide-eyed he asked us innocently, “how do I do a burpee?”

The hill climbs were brutal.  Grown muscle men were lying on the ground, dropping like flies around him, but James kept going.  Putting one foot in front of the other, he just got the job done.  When we rounded the corner and saw the cargo net attached to the trees the look of excitement on his face was priceless.  When one of our group member’s legs cramped up and had to rest, he sat down next to him and waited with the rest of us to make sure he was ok.

The weather was also deteriorating quickly around us.  When the storms rolled in with the thunder and lightning, he was only worried that he would not have the opportunity to finish.  We had already gone 10 miles and only had one mile left to go.  He was determined to finish and wouldn’t let anyone or weather conditions stop him at this point.   It was the most inspirational, and motivational thing we have seen in a long time.   His mother was able to see him at the last of the obstacles that were open.  She was beaming with pride.

James crossed the finish line in just over seven hours. What did he do after?  He commits to running Super Spartan in NJ again next year and the Tri State Sprint in Tuxedo with his mom in 2013.  A true Spartan! James Signed Up! Showed Up! And Never Gave Up!

*Photos by Sam Stark and Denise Byrne

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