The glint of pride in Alberto Medellin’s eyes is all too apparent when he talks about his children. His smile widens when he talks about them.

“In this day and age where everyone is trying to just fit in I want to encourage my kids to be different, stand out, break the mold and stay off the couch!

“My journey to become more active started in the beginning of 2012 as I was coming out of a bitter divorce. I had a lot of positive people around me who were encouraging me to focus on rebuilding a better life for myself and my kids. That’s when I started exercising, running, and losing weight. I wanted to be a better Dad and to show my children that even when life deals you a major blow, you get back up and you keep moving forward”, says the resident of Galveston, Texas.

“I did my first real obstacle race in October of 2012. It was very challenging and right then I knew I was hooked. The best part was that I was able to bring my son, Alex, along to witness me crossing the finish line. It was a very positive experience and I could tell he was becoming interested in what Dad was doing with all that mud. This race was followed by the Texas Spartan Beast in Glen Rose in December 2012. After being chewed up and spit out of that course, I knew I wanted to do more!”

Across 2012 and 2013, Alberto ran numerous road races, one of which being his first full marathon. Despite the contact with his kids not being as much as he would prefer, he would always keep his children, Alex and Marissa, up to date with what he was doing and what was happening. Before long they caught the running bug too. Like any child who sees their father do something, they wanted to emulate what they saw. Alberto was leading by example.

He laughs, “I’m that Dad you see playing on the monkey bars with his kids. Marissa and I have done a Glow Run together and Alex and I have run a 5K together. I am so proud of their willingness to get out and move. Don’t get me wrong, they still love video games and stuff like that but now we have a barter system at home. If they want to play the video game for 30 minutes, we all do burpees!”

“Marissa says she actually likes burpees”, he hastens to add, “true story, so do I. Alex thinks that it’s an even trade of burpees for video game playing time. Marissa really enjoys running with me and Alex is looking forward to running his first mud run this year. We are all going to be running in the Graffiti Run in Galveston next month together which will be amazing.”

But it’s clear that his children don’t just see their father as a simply “a dad”. He’s so much more than that. Alberto has a picture of himself completing the 2013 Texas Beast by the fire jump, but it’s not because of any selfish motives. His children saw the picture and were in awe of it.

“I can’t wait for the race pictures to be released after each race just so I can show them. They always get excited when they see their dad rolling in the mud or jumping over fire. The sequence of photos from the Beast were taken in such a way that I could literally click through them and you could see me running to and then jumping over the fire obstacle. As soon as they saw the fire jumping picture, Alex said, ‘Dad, can you blow that one up’. I’ve never blown up any of my race photos and they’ve never asked so I knew this was one they liked. The next day Marissa and I went to Wal-Mart to get it done. As soon as we got home with the finished product Alex started scouting out a location to hang it. We all decided to hang it in my room for now.”

That bond that only a father has with his children, especially in Alberto’s situation, is a unique one and it serves as an inspiration for the next generation behind him.

“The thought of them keeps me going, especially on my longer runs on the weekends. More recently I’ve been inspired by my cousin’s son, Marcos, who is currently battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He’s Alex’s age so it really hits close to home. When I think about how much that 20 mile run hurts, I think of what he has to go through during his treatment. I hug my kids a little harder these days.”

With more running and activities planned for the future and his kids becoming more and more fit, he knows that somewhere down the line they will begin catching him up and even passing him by.  That day can’t come quick enough.

“Oh, that day will come faster than I will expect it. I’ll be 40 next year and I know my time living like a speed demon is limited. I look forward to the day that my kids pass me on the trails. That day will be very memorable.”

A father and a hero in the eyes of his children Alberto is forever leading by example.

See you at the finish line…

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Alarming findings of a 46 year-long research project that is to be presented at the American Heart Association, suggests that children today cannot run as fast as their parents when they were of the same age.
The document suggests that both boys and girls from ages ranging from 9 through 17 are, on average, seeing cardiovascular endurance levels falling at around 5% per year. These tests being gauged on running over a set time.

Interestingly, these figures also include countries outside of what would be the usual suspects of the developed western world.  Some parts of Asia such as South Korea, China and Hong Kong are also reflecting the same figures.
Both the Lead researcher at Univeristy of South Australia’s School of Medicine, Dr Grant Tomkinson and Prof Michael Gwitz of the American Heart Association emphasize the need for cardiovascular exercise from a young age.

“Dr Tomkinson said children needed to be inspired and encouraged to do more vigorous exercise. If a young person is generally unfit now, then they are more likely to develop conditions like heart disease later in life,” said Dr Tomkinson. 

Christopher Allen of the British Heart Foundation, said: “It’s well established that being physically inactive in childhood can have serious health implications later in life.

“Keeping active can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and the sooner kids start, the better. “By encouraging children to get active, we can help protect their hearts as they grow up. Parents, schools and community groups can all help kids on their way to 60 minutes exercise a day.”

Even something as simple as an hour’s worth of activity whereby a little sweating is brought on can help. Whether this is constant play, running, sports or similar, this activity can be broken into small “chunks” at a time.

Spartan Race recognized these facts very early on and as such, Spartan Kids is now a popular part of each Spartan Race event. Parents are welcome to register their child for the Junior race (ages 4-8) or for Varsity (ages 9-13) so that they can experience the thrill of racing a Spartan course with the promise of a medal and a shirt at the finish line.

As the old, old adage goes, “let the children play”.

See you at the finish line…

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