by Carrie Adams
We often share the stories of athletes who have run our races and found a new level of achievement and purpose they didn’t know they had. We are inspired at HQ by the commitment of these Spartans to change their lives for the better and to get off the couch and get healthy. A Spartan Race is just part of the journey, a celebration of accomplishment but it’s not the end of the story. Staying healthy, inspiring others to take on the same mission for their lives is the ripple in the water that has no end. Here are some stories from inspired Spartans. One who has yet to find his Spartan finish line, but who trains purposefully for that day and one from a woman who reclaimed her life, overcame fears, and realized all she was capable of doing when she took on a Spartan Race.
Jon Duffy -
You wanted our stories so here it is. I’m a 33 year old former Marine I started this year at 220lbs and couldn’t run a mile without gasping for breath. I saw the powerful beyond measure ad on YouTube and it’s still the only ad I haven’t skipped. It was everything I enjoyed about the Marines, so I signed up for the Spartan Sprint in New England – that was in April. So far I have lost 30 lbs and run 6 miles a few times a week. I’ve put on some serious lean muscle and I am enjoying getting fit again. I’ve also signed up for the Beast in Vermont and hope to have the extra cash for the Super Spartan in New Jersey in September. These races have motivated me to get off my couch and do something. Even when I am home with my kids I do push ups and crunches to pass the time. My 19 month old son will get on the floor with me and try to do crunches and push ups or just sit on my chest to add some weight. Thank you for helping change my life.
Amy Lyn Conklin
Minimal sleep and multiple nightmares lead to a 5:30 a.m. wake up! Excitement and nerves were mixed together in a jumbled mess of emotion! I felt an unexpected relief that the day was finally here ,yet I was a nervous wreck wondering if I would be successful and without injury by day’s end. I packed my bag and put my hair somewhat back (if you know me, this was my first obstacle lol)..and headed out the door when my friend Tricia arrived at 6:45. On the ride there, I really wasn’t nervous, I was around friends.
We arrived at the parking lot around 7:30 a.m., we all exited the car and the nerves came rushing back. I saturated myself and the air around me with DEET to tick-proof myself knowing all too well that I had probably just made myself a flammable target for the fire jump, but who doesn’t love a fireworks show at end of an event?
The next obstacle was heading up the 1/4 mile hill to the entrance of the race! This is the first time I thought to myself, “I might just have to tap out of this race for real.” I was sucking wind! My friend Michele assured me she was with me the whole way and with her comforting words, I decided not to back out now.
We got our bib numbers, and gearing up for the race. The bib made the race suddenly very real to me, and though I had been a gymnast in high school I couldn’t believe what I was about to do. Climbing the stairs, my heart was beating with anticipation and the course opened up in front of me.
As far as I could see were hills, ropes over water, walls, spear throwing and more. I needed a mirror to remind myself that I was actually here about to do this event but then the adrenaline kicked in!
We walked around surveying the land until the race was about to start. A few practice throws of the spear, burpees and a rock wall attempt in the festival grounds and we headed towards the start. On the line, laughter and anxiety filled the air. The laughter was a welcome response to all the tension in the air. The horn blew and the smoke billowed up ahead of us, the laughing stopped when the smoke cleared and we were heading up a hill, running the mud and sucking wind. I thought to myself, “This is it, no turning back now.” At this point, my friend Tricia Siegel really pulled through for me. She helped me get my head in the game. I have never run a day in m life outside and I have certainly never gone into the woods by choice in the last four years. But here I was… doing BOTH! I was petrified! I kept thinking and saying, “I dont think I can do this!” between sucking in painful breaths of air.
Tricia assured me that not only was I going to be able to do this but that I ALREADY was! That was the turning point for me. I realized she was right and that I had run through the woods already, I was already an obstacle in and I was going to finish, petrified or not. The obstacles brought new challenges again and again and I was conquering my fear of running in the woods (I have a fear of ticks). And I can tell you that exposure therapy definitely works! By the second half of the race, the once scary woods now felt like my second home! I couldn’t believe all I was doing! I was lifting a cinderblock on a pully, climbing over high cargo net ladders, crawling through tunnels covered in grass and mud, carrying tires and sandbags up and down hill, jumping over walls, and throwing spears. I went down a waterslide named the Devils Spawn into a muddy pond and went under water (HUGE fear) only to find myself doing tire flips! Despite the challenge, we met every obstace with determination and success or failure we always tried. We met a wonderful group of men who assisted and encouraged us the whole way.
I can honestly say that I tried everything and in the process I overcame fears! I failed at nothing because the biggest success was just being there! I met new people and I forged new friendships while strengthening old ones. I faced a lot of things I wasn’t sure I could handle, but I DID IT! I know that I couldn’t have finished without all of my fellow racers and I am grateful to all of you beyond words! I crossed that finish line and burst into tears, admittedly not the first time of the day, but it was a moment that I will remember forever!
They were tears of joys, relief, and satisfaction! Four years ago, I was someone who couldn’t wipe a kitchen counter without assistance. I couldn’t stand for lengths of time, and I couldn’t enjoy my kids the way I wanted to and they deserved. But this day, I was able to do things that I never thought I could and my children greeted me when I finished and told me they were proud of me. No words can describe that moment.
Thank you to all my fellow Spartans and to those who were there for me as support and encouragement. Until next time, Sparta!