There are countless paths that lead someone to a Spartan Race. Some crave excitement beyond what conventional footraces offer. Others seek the camaraderie. But for Justin Di Bianca and many like him, Spartan Race was the destination arrived at through change.
You’d never know it from looking at the toned 29 year old but fitness was not always part of Justin’s regimen. In 2007, he tipped the scales at 310 pounds. His weight kept him from pursuing many of his ambitions and posed a serious concern for his health. Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and taking nearly 20 pills a day to manage his symptoms, his doctor urged him to lose weight.
Maybe it was the diagnosis. Or maybe Justin needed a wake up call. Whatever the trigger, Justin heeded that advice like a scholar and immediately began exercising and improving his diet. And did he work! At his next doctors appointment six months later, Justin had dropped 140 pounds – without the aid of surgery or quick solves – and his ulcerative colitis appeared to have completely disappeared.
It wasn’t until 2011 that Justin found Spartan Race. By that time, he has established a healthy life built around fitness but claims that Spartan immediately became his drug. As he was pushed physically by the race and pulled emotionally by the racers, he found a community. He met Chris Davis, a Spartan who has famously lost hundreds of pounds, at the finish line in Tuxedo, NY, compelled to thank him rather than accept the medal Chris was draping around his neck. He learned of the Vescelus family, whose young son is blind, but refuses to not race like his big brother. Justin has given back, donating his time to his Alma Mater’s basketball team as their strength and conditioning coach.
“When you have come from where I was to where I am now,” Justin explains, “you can really get into people’s minds because they know your fully understand both [health] spectrums”.
One must wonder: with the bevy of race options, what is it about Spartan Race that keeps in drawn in? “It’s [founder] Joe [De Sena]‘s mantra,” says Justin. When Justin completed the Beast in Killington, VT but did not receive his trifecta medal, he was understandably angered. But it was a personal email from Joe that put things into perspective. “Joe apologized for the situation but emphasized that I shouldn’t lose sight of the bigger picture. I had accomplished an amazing task and come too far in my life to sweat the small stuff.”
Justin loves Spartan because it is the larger picture; it is as much about the community as it is about the individual, all united under one common goal – to reach the finish line. Justin sees a lot of finish lines in his future. Completing his first trifecta this year, he looks to accomplish two this year. We hope that one day he’ll hand out medals and be the welcoming face that has inspired others to reach the finish.
Trains with Spartan Group X at 360 Fitness in Fairfield, NJ and has competed in Tuxedo, NY (Sprint), Mountain Creek, NJ (Super) and Killington, VT (Beast). Di Bianci works as an Executive Chef and Director of Food & Beverages for The Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset, NJ. He has always wanted to work with kids and since losing the weight and teaching what he’s learned, he has accomplished that dream.