Dear Joe,

I wanted to thank you and your team for the Spartan Races.

I have been in the Marine Corps for over 19 years and done a couple combat tours. After my last combat tour I came back with some heavy PTSD, amongst a myriad of other issues. It has been a daily struggle for 4 years to grind through migraines, daily cluster headaches and back pain, TBI, and the PTSD. I ran my first Spartan in Temecula this year. I got the whim to run it when I was researching 5k’s on Active.com. I have never been the same since. It really smoked me physically, but mentally I was alive! For the first time in 4 years I feel like I am in charge of my body and spirit. 

I have run one since with one of my sons in Phoenix and I signed up for the Vegas Super, Colorado Sprints (both days), Montana Sprint and Hurricane Heat, and the Monterey Beast to complete the trifecta. The annual pass is getting its use from me! I ran the Phoenix Sprint with my son and broke one of my toes about halfway through. I refused to quit or show any pain. It wasn’t till we were done that I told my son, because I was actually thinking about coming back the next day. After 4 years of grinding with the daily debilitating back pain and headaches I felt like a broken toe was not that big of a deal. I keep getting asked by my friends who know about my daily physical pain, why I run Spartans. I tell them proudly that I run them because they make me feel alive and show my body I am still in charge.

Thank you so much. Please share as much as you want. The races and the experiences have been therapeutic.

Semper Fidelis, Lonnie

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Dear Joe,

I was recently invited to Arrows Academy in Columbia, SC to speak to three classes of students about Spartans. My friend, Katie Norman, is a teacher there and is teaching the students history starting from creation. They are currently learning about Greece and more specifically Spartans, so I was invited to give some real life examples in today’s world of what Spartans do. I started out showing the kids my medals and explaining to them the different lengths of Spartan Races. They got to see most of the medals Spartan Race offers including my double trifecta medal and the Ultra-Beast medal I earned in 2013. 

After that we went through a slide show of pictures from different Spartan Races and I got to talk to them about different obstacles that you may see at a Spartan Race. I also told them about the weather competitors would endure while completing these races, like the freezing cold 2013 Charlotte Sprint. I talked about the terrain we would battle through, like at the Ultra Beast or that brutal VA Super last year. I showed them some of my Athletics8 compression gear complete with holes from barb wire and the shoes I would wear for a race.

Katie then showed them some videos of Spartan Race including the Kids Race. They really enjoyed it. After this they got to ask questions, so I answered things about my training, where I got to speak to them about the dedication it takes. I told them about the days where I would get home from a 15 hour day of 2 jobs and then ruck all night to train for the Ultra Beast and head back to work at 7:30am. I answered questions like “Do people die doing this?” and “What happens if you fall in the fire?” One little girl asked if I had ever quit, I almost couldn’t answer it like it didn’t compute in my mind (which I’m proud of). Something like “No, I couldn’t. I mean, it’s just not in me” came out. Hopefully they got the message. Spartans NEVER quit.

After this I got to run a mini Spartan race with them. It was awesome. The kids really enjoyed it. I did it about 4 times with them and then they said, “We want to see how fast Sean can do it.” So who am I to disappoint a bunch of kids. All in all it was a great day, the kids were awesome and I’m sure some of them will one day run a Spartan Race. This is when all the pain in training is worth it. Finish lines are great, but impacting lives for a greater good is what I’m all about.

Thanks for the Spartan Races Joe,

Sean

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Dear Joe,

She’s gonna kill me but…

I had to thank you for putting on your Spartan Singles on Instagram. This is gonna sound crazy and it kinda is, I admit. However, well, I met the most amazing, gorgeous, genuine, inspiring, Spartan woman from this. We actually started talking on Valentine’s Day of all days and have been in constant communication since. Now here’s where it gets tricky.

Julia is a reservist in the Navy and when we started talking she was at home saying her last goodbyes to her family before she deployed to Afghanistan (where she is now). So we have not had a chance to physically meet yet. Through text, phone calls, emails…. well, we pretty much have totally fallen for each other. I know that sounds crazy… but when you know, you know.

So she is currently overseas now and as an active duty Army guy who has a few deployments under my belt, including one to Afghanistan, I find myself in a very unusual position sending her letters and care packages. Usually I’m the one getting them while I’m deployed. The whole, waiting around the phone 24/7 just in case she calls… yeah… that’s on me this time, but don’t worry, it hasn’t interfered with my burpees! Actually it has probably improved my run times because I run faster so I can get back to my phone quicker. She is blessed with a pretty good gym over there so she will be staying in shape and getting ready for the first Race we can get to together, which will probably be the Texas Beast. Looking forward to it!

I will be working towards my Trifecta this year, something that she would have really liked to accomplish and hopefully still will be able to. If not, then I guess her and I will accomplish it together the following year, because we both know that we are in this for the long term… very long term.

Now here is the kicker… If all that wasn’t crazy enough, during my last deployment I was in Alpha Company 2-30 Infantry, 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. Our nick name/radio call sign: “Spartan” (no joke, and we took that to heart that we were Spartans), but there were less than 300 of us at a remote outpost. Now, my girlfriend – yep, we made it official even though having never met in person…. when you know you know), she is located in the Area of Operations “Spartan” (also not a joke), and actually I have been to the base she is now staying at. And of course, finally we met in no small part at all due to the “Spartan Race”.

So, I (actually we) want to thank you! Not only for your races that we both have loved individually, and look forward to enjoying as a couple in the near and long future, but for bringing this Spartan couple together. Look for us on the battlefield of the Texas Beast! Shake her hand! She is my inspiration, my hero, and as crazy as it sounds under the circumstances, the love of my life.

Sincerely,
Spartan Kyle

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Joe Cordovax followed the Spartan WODs every day from November through January in order to prepare for the race in Temecula. Between 4am and 6am, 5 days a week, you’ll find him there. It’s here that he met Michelle Clark, who would be his team captain for the event in Temecula. Citing Michelle as his driving force, Joe successfully completed the race. What sets Joe apart is that he is 78 years young.

Wanting to share what he experienced, Joe wrote to his namesake.

Dear Joe,

Well it is over and I ended as Age Group Champion. I was part of a team Michelle’s Minions. I will admit I was assisted in a few of the obstacles. What a great way to challenge yourself, so after all the mud, scrapes I was none the worse for wear for a 78 year old. I look forward to doing another when I hit 80.

My friends and family were not aware of me doing the run. I sent an e-mail to all my friends to let them know that I was going to attempt something I had never done before. So they were unaware until I finished.

It was a hard won battle for me but I was not about to give up. Ending as Age Group Champion is a highlight for me.

This is a quote from Ali and it fit me perfectly; “I hated every minute of training but I said ‘Don’t quit suffer now and live the rest of your life as a Champion.’”

There are no secrest to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

Thanks very much

Joe from Temecula

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Spartan Mitch wrote a short, but powerful note recently. Despite everything that could go wrong, he’s pushing through.
Dear Joe,

Again, thank you for this weekend.  I learned a great deal about myself and how great everyone is at Spartan, especially the volunteers.  This race was very important to me…..it has changed my outlook on life.  I don’t want to sound too philosophical, but it has.  This is why:

My family’s life has been turned upside down in the past couple of years.

-I was shot in an attempted break in Dec. of 2011

-My sister died in January of 2012

-We lost our farm, business, house—everything in 2013

-My other sister died in June 2013

I am not looking for sympathy.  I just wanted you to understand what this meant to me and my family.  What you and Joe do at Spartan is AMAZING!  I never thought I would thank someone for putting me through hell.

I don’t know what will happen from here, but I do know that I believe that my future is with Spartan Race.  I will see you in a couple of weeks!

Grace,

Mitch

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Heather Lych wrote in recently about her time in Temecula and we were so moved by her story that we felt compelled to share it.

Dear Joe and Spartan Race,

I’m so grateful for all of you being there and and of course for ALL of your help,support,and encouragement from everyone. If it wasn’t for everyone who helped me with their selflessness and determination to see that I finished, I would have never crossed that finish line.

You believed in me when I already given up on myself and for that I am truly grateful. I got to see something that most people don’t realize exists in our society today and quite honestly, it touched my soul and restored some of my faith in humanity. I witnessed the courage, determination, heart and spirit that defines the meaning of a true Spartan! 

I’ve always prided myself in being tougher than the average woman. I’ve  faced my share of obstacles in my 37 years on this world, starting when I was just 8yrs old. A couple of neighborhood friends and I were taking turns riding a mountain bike that one of the girls had just received as a Christmas gift less than 2 weeks prior. The bike was a little big for me, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Unfortunately, the mother of a girl that lived next door was drunk and hit me head on with the Toyota truck she was driving. 

 

I literally went through the windshield from the outside, coming to rest half inside the truck and the lower half of my body still across the hood. My injuries were severe to critical, the least of which being a broken femur that required a screw through my knee to secure to secure 70lbs of tractiontraction in hopes of pulling the bone straight and to normal length again, instead of overlapping making one leg shorter.

The  more life threatening injuries I suffered were severe neck, spinal chord, severe trauma to my head and facial injuries that laid my forehead wide open. My parents were told it was a miracle I survived. After countless weeks in hospital and excruciatingly painful hours in physical therapy, I was released home in a wheelchair never to walk again.

I took that as a challenge. After suddenly becoming a single mother I decided to meet life’s challenge and  raise the ante. On Jan 26th, 2014, the day after turning 37, myself and 5 other amazing people entered our first Spartan Sprint as “The Ranch Team”. My teammates all did amazingly well and have decided to continue on and complete their Trifecta. Unfortunately, around the third mile I sustained an injury to my hip. I was in unbearable pain and to have to just give up on myself after everything that I’ve lived through, it all came down to this.

I couldn’t continue I couldn’t take another step. I was in so much pain I wanted can just crawl into a hole and die. I’ve always prided myself on being stubborn and strong and survivor with a “tell-me-I-can’t -do-something-and-watch-me-” attitude. I was giving up on myself. Thank God for the most amazing people that I’ve ever been blessed enough to meet, the Spartan staff and medical personnel! In particular 2 good looking gentleman from Spartan headquarters and two medics. They refused to let me give up on myself. They were determined to see me finish my first Spartan race and cross that finish line.  They carried me the last mile completing the remaining obstacles as we went. 

They made sure that I crossed that finish line. Their selflessness and heart they showed me that day was overwhelming. I’m forever grateful to those amazing people. They are my heroes!

Although I didnt walk across the finish line the way that I’d intended, I have a renewed faith in myself and found my inner strength and stubbornness and courage. I’m a survivor and I hope that my heroes that believed in me will be there to watch me cross the finish line in my next Spartan Race.  God bless, my heroes.

See you at the finish line!
AROO!

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Spartan Race would like to welcome you to a new feature that we will run every week. We invite you to write a letter to Joe and ask him whatever you like. Questions, praise, suggestions, advice… whatever the case may be, Joe is here to help you!

This week, Discouraged In Downey has got in touch.

Dear Joe,

Last year I managed to get in great shape and was right where I wanted to be until I came down with an unexpected medical setback. Once I rebounded from that and was given the “all clear” from my physician to start exercising again, after over a month off, I was knocked down by this monster flu everyone is sharing with everyone else.

Now, I am finally on the road to recovery from that, but find my motivation is absolutely gone at this point. I have nothing to work toward or look forward to. How can I get myself back on track, without an event in mind, but rather, get my mind back on just being healthy and staying there?

My past life as a couch potato is lurking!

Discouraged in Downey

Got a question for Joe? Send them to us@spartan.com

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