Somewhere between where the sun kisses the sea and land in the beautiful setting of Long Beach, California, there is a place of sheer tranquility. On Saturday October 19th, this would be the setting for the first ever Spartan Race California Workout 300.
Along “the Bluffs” of Bixby Park overlooking the Pacific ocean, local SGX Trainer, Michael Ainis (SoCal OCR Fit) and local Spartan promoter and Team SISU co-founder, Matt Trinca introduced Don Devaney, a special guest from Spartan HQ. Without wasting time, the “burpeepalooza” began.
Under the watchful eye of two Spartan Warriors in the form of Brad Murphee and Patrick Scully, the three-hour long workout started without ceremony or warning.
A melee of accepting “I’m Training For A Spartan Race” shirts added a frantic twist to the participants’ already worn bodies, each having to make sure they retreated back in phalanx formation under the threat of more “funishments.”
Spartan Pro Team athlete Miguel Medina then led a lesson in stretching and breathing techniques. Having come from a background of spinal surgery to regularly winning podium places at Spartan Race, the local fitness enthusiast words of not only advice, but encouragement were gratefully received.
The workout was action-packed with crawling and animal movement exercises, with the entire group moving as a single unit. As the action continued, the sweat started dripping, and the grunting sounds became more prominent. The silent concentration of the participants was only broken by the occasional yell from the coaches, “Spartans, what is your profession?!”, to which they would respond, “AROO! AROO! AROO!”
For the next 2 hours, the group alternated “intensity ramp-ups” (running in place), doing the fiendish “wrestler-burpee”, squats, lunges, and pushups, with the plank being the official resting position of the day.
Experienced Death Racer, and Team SISU co-founder, Daren de Heras led the 150+ participants down a steep, sandy hill to the ocean, and then continued to punish them on the sand. Then, he instructed everyone to pair-up and take turns carrying each other over to a long set of cement stairs, which they had to bear crawl up.
By way of gaining further insight into the Spartan philosophy, the crowd then gathered around the coaches for some inspirational speeches. They learned more about the Spartan vision and how the training they were going through was relevant to prepare for upcoming races as well as tackling obstacles in their day-to-day life. Daren De Heras spoke about how the Spartan Race community is a supportive family and how it has inspired him in his quest to set a record for most laps around a Spartan Sprint Race (which he currently holds at 7). Michael Ainis also shared his story of going from 250-lbs to an Elite Spartan Racer by embracing the Spartan lifestyle.
The smiles belied the punishing exercises that everyone was going through. People were quickly learning that the power coming from within them simply needed tapping. Paula Vail Weerheim commenting, “At times I felt weak, at times I felt strong. At one point I truly questioned why I signed up for a Spartan race in January. I always said I would NEVER do one. Too hard for someone in their mid-fifties. Well, after today I am starting to look forward to the Temecula Sprint. Listening to Michael and Daren, well, what an inspiring bunch. Am I afraid? Yes. Am I doubting my abilities? Right NOW, yes. Will I do this? You bet I will.”
Never out of the spotlight wherever Spartan Race may be, an audience of locals, including fire service personnel and police officers, looked on in bemusement and wonder, trying to figure exactly how something so painful would causes so many smiles.
As the workout end neared, Matt Trinca thanked everyone for their effort and participation, and announced upcoming events in the Southern California region. The phalanx reformed once more as Matt led the participants through a series of cool-down stretches, and then everyone came together to celebrate completing the challenging workout. Reflecting on the day, Matt pointed out, “This was my 2nd time co-leading a Spartan 300 WOD. Each one is a little different. They are a reflection of the WOD setting and the people in attendance. My first WOD was full of experienced racers, and they had a “never say die” attitude. This workout in Long Beach had a mix of beginners and veterans. People brought their friends along. The participants were all very brave and pushed themselves far beyond what they’d normally do in a workout. We taught them some exercises that they can practice at home, but what I most hope they take away from the experience is a new confidence in themselves and what they are capable of.”
Such was the success of the workout that a follow-up 300 WOD in Long Beach is tentatively planned for November 30th, 2013.
Reflecting on the workout, Spartan Race veteran Daren De Heras was quick to congratulate those who took part, “This was such an inspirational group. We had people who are preparing for their first Sprint soon, people who have trifectas, and veteran Death Racers. Everyone came together and supported each other, and that is what struck me the most! Having different trainers there with different Spartan Backgrounds really added a balanced attack to this 300 WOD. This is going to explode here in So. Cal and I can’t wait to be a part of the next one Nov…. The positive feedback, Personal Messages, and emails of how people were inspired to take their Spartan Training and Goals to the next level inspired the hell out of me.”
Michael Ainis, who co-ran the event was shocked by the impressive attitude by all those who attended. “My vision of changing lives by tackling seemingly impossible and unheard of obstacles was materialized, due to the hard work and team work of an amazing group of people that I am proud to call my friends!”
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