by Robert Decillis
Obstacle course racing may be new in its inception but there is one thing that does not in one bit feel new, and that is the healthy dose of competition that these races bring. This man vs. obstacle beast is not for the boys club only but the ladies are lining up for obstacle victory just as fast. On race day you will be among hoards of male racers but there are almost just as many woman competitors ready to face the mud, push themselves and leap some obstacles.
Being an active participant in these races and a male, I wondered what the woman racers thought about the Spartan races and if they found the same mental as well as physical aspects challenging. Why sit and wonder when your time would be better spent asking, so that is what I did. The greatest part of the Spartan community is how ready racers are to share their experiences as well as tips and advice. This was no more true than when I interviewed Spartan Race enthusiast and athlete, Melanie Gentry.
RD: Psychologically, what is the hardest aspect of these races for you?
MG: The hardest part psychologically to get over is any obstacle that involves
heights. As long as I don’t look down, I can get through it without having a
RD: Physically, what is the most difficult aspect of these races?
MG: The most difficult part physically is any obstacle that involves arm strength.
I now have added training at the playground monkey bars to help with my
RD: What strengths did you bring with you to the races?
MG: The two strengths I bring with me to the races are my positive attitude and
determination. Being able to embrace the believer and never quit.
RD: Can you share some strategies with us that you use during the races?
MG: My best strategy is to ignore the clock and those speeding past me. Focus
on putting one foot in front of the other and hoping the finish line is right
around the corner.
RD: How does your training become altered depending on the specific race
ahead of you?
MG: I increase my running distance depending on the length of my race. I like to
be able to run a mile longer than the course.
RD: What peeked your interest in these races to begin with?
MG: The obstacles are what intrigued me to compete in these races. Running
alone is just so mind numbing. Throw in a challenge such as climb
ing over an eight foot wooden wall keeps my mind engaged.
RD: What motivates you at the moments in the race that can be very
MG: My motivation during the questionable moments of the race is my
daughter. I want to be a strong role model for her. Show her that we
can do anything we set our minds to. She’s my drive to continue pushing
RD: What advice do you have for someone thinking of entering their first race?
MG: The hardest part of entering your first race will be registering. Once you
sign up for a race, it gives you a goal to train for and achieve.
It is easy to see that the reasons that Melanie races are much like the reasons that I and any racer may race, male or female. The challenge to push your mind and body, to teach a young person in your life that things can be done and overcome seem to be universal reasons to race. Altering your training to overcome your weaknesses and highlight your strengths is also a theme of adaptation that rings familiar, as do a love of surprises.
So, at the next Spartan Race, look over to the man or woman next to you, wish them luck and be assured that they are racing for many of the same reasons you are. Warriors and woman warriors alike, line up to conquer their own race.