My first Spartan Race was in Ottawa back in June 2011. I signed up with my volleyball team for fun. At the time, the idea of getting down and dirty seemed like such a crazy but fun concept so hey, why not give it a try, right?

I raced in an open heat not knowing what to expect other than lots of mud. Being competitive by nature, I wanted to give it my best shot. I was never much of a runner for fear of bringing back old fencing injuries. I had fenced from the tender age of 9 and put my weapons away at 21, fed up of the shin splints and the stress fractures. The idea of running around was certainly not my priority.

I remember that Saturday morning at Camp Fortune. The intensity of the crowd, my adrenaline pumping! I wanted to run it and give it my all. I was definitely out of my comfort zone but I loved it! I had never climbed walls, jumped through fire and yeah, it was a first to tackle gladiators! And let me tell you, that 5K felt like it was at least 15! I was bruised and had scrapes all over but, WOW! I was on a high!

After that race, all I wanted was to do another Spartan Race. And so, my search began. Seeing the next one was in Vermont but was a “Beast”, I figured I couldn’t do a “green level” Spartan before doing a “blue level” race – aka a “Super Spartan”. And so I signed up for the Staten Island Super and eventually upgraded to the Hurricane Heat.

Through Facebook I connected with other mud obsessed people. It was reassuring to see I was not the only crazy person out there. After reading about the Founder’s HH in Amesbury MA, I wanted to be part of it all… The Staten Island Super Hurricane Heat was LIFE CHANGING. I met my Spartan Family there. I was the sole Canadian girl. My team was the Damn Cannucks – despite everyone (except me!) being American. The people that I met during this HH are some of my closest friends up to this day. They are my OCR family. It’s funny to say because I’m usually more of an individual athlete. I have never been a big fan of team events but that HH changed it all! I was with people that understood me, that got the same high from exerting themselves through mud, barbed wire and carrying heavy buckets and running around doing countless burpees (for the fun of it!)

And so this was the beginning of my love story with Spartan Races. I had to wait quite some time to race again. My first competitive race was Tuxedo NY in June 2012. I finished 5th and then I just couldn’t get enough of Spartan Race. I had to do it all – from the Winter Death Race, to Death Race, to back to back races, might they have been Supers or Beasts… Ultra-Beasts (love the glow in the dark medal!)

Coming from Canada, every trip was and still is, a time for me to see my Spartan Family. The camaraderie can’t be explained. It has to be experienced. Yes… You’ll know at the finish line but it doesn’t end there. Spartan Race changes lives. It changed mine. It has built my confidence and has shown me that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. I never expected to become a ranked top athlete and today I am proud to say I have people looking up to me, especially women. SR empowers people… It has even brought my mother and I closer than ever… That’s probably the most epic moment of my racing life thus far: crossing that finish line with my 72 years-young mom. If you haven’t read about that, well you better click on this:

Obstacle racing is my passion. It’s my fuel. It keeps me sane even if the races look insane. Sure, winning is of course a great feeling, but above all, it’s knowing you gave it all you got at that time. I know I am stronger than yesterday and that fortitude to improve every day burns within me thanks to Spartan Race.
I could go on and on about the different races I have done but the best part of it all: the friendships I have made. I treasure them.

Unleash the Beast Within

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Rosanna Crawford
Photos courtesy of Glen Crawford

by Katie Idle, Spartan Race Western Canada

Born and raised in Canmore, Alberta, Rosanna Crawford was cross-country skiing by the time she was walking.  At 10 she started doing biathlons and fell in love with the sport, fascinated by the combination of shooting and skiing.  At 14, Rosanna was competing in national championships and at 16 she was on the national team.   Rosanna competed in her 2008 first world youth and junior championships in Germany and in 2010, she competed in the women’s spring (7.5 km) and Individual (15 km) races at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.  “It was amazing to compete in the Olympics in your home country, with my family watching – very few people get to do that”, she says.  In March this year, Rosanna made it onto the podium with a Gold at the Canadian Biathlon Championships in Quebec.

When the snow melts, Rosanna gets out her roller skis and keeps up her cardio by running, cycling and hiking, under the guidance of her coach.  Seven of the national team train in Canmore; the other six are from all over Canada; Rosanna is the only one who gets to train on her home turf, living just around the corner from her family.

When other twenty-four year olds are out partying, Rosanna is resting and having an early night, preparing for another gruelling day of training.  She trains six days a week.   “A heavy week is twenty-four hours of training, a light week is ten and Sundays are off,” she explains.  Since the age of eighteen, Rosanna has been competing internationally.  From the beginning of May until mid-November, the team cross-trains in Canmore; the winters are spent travelling and competing.  There are nine world cups each winter, held each weekend in a different country, and one world championship.

Cross-country skiing is in the genes – Rosanna’s older sister, Chandra, won a Gold medal in the cross-country ski sprint in the 2006 Torino Olympics.  Luckily for Rosanna, her brother took another route, and is an amazing chef – so he can keep his sister well-fed and give her the fuel she needs to push her limites in training.  What does she eat?  “Protein and veggies.  I stay away from chips and sweets.” What keeps her motivated?  “I belong to a weird bunch of people who like to train really hard – and we’re so lucky to train in such a beautiful place as Canmore.  I love the scenery, the mountains, the wildlife, ” says Rosanna. “Also my goals keep me focused – I want to consistently rank in the Top 15 in the world championships.”

What does she do for fun?  Well, Rosanna has signed up for the Calgary Spartan and will be joining the Elite athlete heat.  “It’s in my backyard and a couple of friends have done Spartan races, and did quite well.  It’ll be fun!”

What’s next?  This winter, the first qualification rounds start for the 2014 Sochi Olympics … GO, CANADA, GO!

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