Dear Joe,

My name is Nathaniel Fuentes and I’m a Santa Clara Pueblo Native (Tewa) from New Mexico. From 2003 until 2013 I was a massage therapist/bodyworker, when in 2013 I decided that I wanted to expand who I was and what I could become.

My career as a therapist is something that I could not complain about. It had provided, entertained, enlightened and inspired me, but when I went through being partially paralyzed as I’ll mention a little later – and the recovery – it made doing bodywork a very physically unpleasant occupation. Today, I no long practice in a clinic or from my home office but instead manufacture a pain salve that I created and later refined during the days of pain and discomfort in order to free myself from the pharmaceutical opiates that I had started to become addicted to for the management of the pain and discomfort that I was going through. Currently I’m in the continued process of repairing and evolving from where I was to where I now can be.

I finished my first Spartan Race, a Military Sprint in May 2014 at Ft. Carson, CO and I’m now training for the Spartan Trifecta that’s being held on the Island of Oahu in Hawaii this August. I started training in October 2013 for the Spartan Race, after losing 45lbs while being on a traditional Pueblo food diet.

My starting weight was 160lbs from 215lbs and a 35% BMI and running a mile took me over 15+ minutes. Now in June 2014 after gaining 45lbs I weigh 200-205 with a BMI of 23 and I average a mile in 6:30, while running up to 12 miles and hitting the gym almost daily.

Why I do this? Besides wanting to be a healthier individual? In 2011, I was diagnosed with an incurable disease known as Degenerative Disc Disease. This a disease that deteriorates the cartilage between the bones and leaves those who suffer from it in discomfort or pain. Because of the disease’s accelerated progress, it left me paralyzed for three months. With the inability to move from my bed, from my house, to walk, run, jump and even hold the ones I love, freedom and independence would no longer be the same. Battling through depression, self-doubt and the inability to move with wherever and whenever I liked, combined with the realism that in the near future the use of one or both my legs could be gone, I decided and made a change. This change would be to push myself to my limits and beyond, to enjoy the gifts that we all take for granted like the ability to walk, to jump, to run, and to not cower from my pain but to use it to pick myself up, to rebuild from the ground up who I am, and no matter what the outcome.

Thanks, Spartan Race

Here is a link of a teaser trailer for the Road to the Spartan Trifecta.

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Dear Joe,

Hello! As I’m sure you guys there are Spartan HQ receive a lot of these emails, I still wanted to share my story and how much of an impact your organization is. My name is Sean Fitzpatrick and a good portion of my life young life has been filled with struggles and setbacks, some out of my control and some not. In 1st grade I had my first kidney stone which had to be surgically removed, something doctors said was very very rare for a child of that age. I continued to get kidney stones every year and still do. I’m 21 years old and have had 25 stones thus far, some passing on their own and some having to be surgically removed. The frequency of having these stones made exercising very difficult as it would put my on bed rest for extended periods of time and I eventually stopped exercising all together, thus leading me to weighing 250lbs at the age of 18.

I discovered Spartan Race three years ago when I at my heaviest weight and the lowest point in my life. However, the idea of the Spartan Race resonated deeply within me – seeing many people of different struggles completing your races, and the strong motivation your company displays for it’s racers. It was then I decided to make a change and bring life back into my life. I was determined to run a race that coming summer. It started with running down the block and not being able to catch my breath, to running a 13 minute mile, to running multiple miles at a time. I kept track of everything I ate, weight lifted, 5 days a week, running 6 days a week. As my weight went down, my happiness sky rocketed. I told myself over and over how I was going to run that race for myself and accomplish something for me. Four weeks before the Sprint, I felt an all too familiar pain in my lower back and I knew what it meant. I drank a gallon of water a day in hopes of passing the stone, but it never came and the pain grew and grew. As the race crept closer I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it, so I had to put it on the back burner and I was crushed. I eventually passed the stone, but my pride still took a hit, but I still have one thing: A new found confidence, a new found self, and a new found life. I wouldn’t put my physical fitness to the waste side any more.

Flash forward three years, and I’m now, as of June 5th, 2014, weighing in at a healthy 175lbs, running 25+ miles a week, weight lifting/training 6 days a week, hiking frequently, and experiencing all the joys that come with being able to have control over your own body. I still get kidney stones (to my doctor’s dismay), but I push trough the pain when I can, and it actually helps pass the stones with no complications.

On 6/01/14 I ran my first Sprint at Tuxedo Ridge, I put my all into it. At the starting line I wasn’t as confident as I thought I was going to be, looking at fellow Spartans and seeing how confident they looked. But as I began I pushed past many in my heat and blew through each obstacle, not failing any of them. Once I reached the finish line I was overcome by my personal accomplishment – I ran 95% of the race, uphill and down, completed every obstacle without any problem, and helped individuals who needed it. My girlfriend and friend were literally shocked how well I did ! I placed in the top 7% overall, something I never thought would be possible. I’m now on my way to earning my first (of many) trifecta’s!!!

I know this was a long-winded story, but I just had to share with you guys at HQ because it’s because of you guys that I was given the tools to turn my life around. Everything the Spartan Race stands for is something I wish to bring to my life, and the lives of those around me.

Overall, I just want to say thank you.

Sean Fitzpatrick 

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Dear Joe,

I’m a pretty normal citizen; a 25 year old female, former collegiate athlete, and now in a career which I absolutely love – teaching. A couple of years ago I began to get involved with running, and truly found my niche. It was something I could do, a way to clear my mind and spend time with myself. It was simply “me time”, and I enjoyed it. I eventually ran a few half marathons and figured “Hey, that was great, good job!” Then that was it, I casually kept up with it, ran a little here and there, but nothing much. Until recently when I found the Spartan Race. Now I have never done a Spartan Race, I have only heard about it and began seriously considering it just a few weeks ago. I saw that the book ‘Spartan Up’ had been released and decided to get myself a copy. Since it’s arrived in the mail, I’ve really had my head in it, and was able to read the majority of it while traveling back to California yesterday, bookmarking  it just after the chapter about the “Cookie Test”.

I was pretty intrigued by the test and immediately thought to myself, “Hey that’s me!” For the last few months I have been taking the cookie, the easy way out, not even giving myself the chance to hold off. For example, I was choosing to sleep in rather than run. Each night I would tell myself, “Ok Alex, you’re going to run in the morning”, but when morning would arrive I’d get up, move around in my nice warm bed, and just tell myself, “Nah, I’ll run later”. But did I ever run later? Nope.  This cycle continued for a while, the pounds packed on again, and I was back to square one.

Alex Lopez was inspired by “Spartan Up!”

But then I read about the ‘Cookie Test’, and it made me think about it a lot. After being exhausted from my trip back home (3 hour drive in the morning, flight to LA, bus ride to Union Station, train ride to Corona, and a car ride to my final destination in Lake Elsinore), I had originally figured the next day I would sleep in. That is what my plan was, and I was sure I wasn’t going to wake up till noon, but somehow now my intentions seemed to be different.

The next morning I woke randomly at 6:30am, slowly rising while I lay in bed. I kept telling myself, “30 minutes more”, but I couldn’t seem to fall back asleep. Then all of a sudden the ‘Cookie Test’ came to mind. I told myself that I wouldn’t take the cookie this early, that I’m going to get up and go run. So running I went. I was pretty shocked at myself, thrilled with the realization that I could talk myself out of sleeping in another 30 minutes, and there I was, outside in the fresh air in my running gear. I wanted to make the run count so I set out for a distance of 5 miles. No big deal, I’ve been running here and there, trying to be consistent, so hey, “I’ve got this” I told myself. The route I took began with a loop, a mile to the left with direct route back which would result in two miles right before I hit the straight away stretch on the other side of the street to achieve three miles.

My run was going great, it felt good to breathe in the fresh air, to take in the scenery, and to enjoy the fact that I was home. I had reached a mile and made the turn to head back to the point where I began, which is the entrance to the street where my house is.  As I’m running, I reach the two mile mark and begin the three mile stretch when I encounter an older woman walking on the sidewalk.  I made the decision to jog off of the sidewalk to pass her, and when jumping back on the sidewalk I felt a painful poke right below the base of my big toe. I had to do  a ‘hippity hop’ and stopped to figure out what was wrong. I immediately took off my shoe, looked inside, and what I saw was a thorn coming through my shoe. Not just your typical thorn, but a 2 inch thorn; where it came from I had no idea. My foot began to throb in the most painful way ever. I tried to take out the thorn but it just wasn’t happening. I finally removed the insole, bent my shoe backwards, and with my teeth pulled it out.

Before putting my shoe back on, I took off my sock to see the damage. I saw blood on the outside of my sock, then saw a puncture wound where the thorn had pierced through my foot. I couldn’t shake the pain, but tried to put my shoe on anyway. So there I was, at was the entrance of the street where my house is, and my first thought was “I could stop my run now, go home, and rest.”  At that point I was really talking myself out of continuing my run. I was about to throw in the towel and just say “F it”, but the next thought that consumed me was “Don’t take the cookie”. I began repeating that phrase over and over in my head, “Don’t take the cookie”. I put my shoe back on, laced it up, and went for the rest of my run.  The throbbing in my foot was immense, it freaking hurt like hell, but I had already decided that I wasn’t going to take the cookie; so I kept going, further, harder. One mile passed, then another, until I reached my goal . After reaching five miles, I decided to continue on and went for a hill workout. I figured the pain that I would feel from my workout would take over the throbbing pain in my foot, and soon enough I had forgotten all about it.
After I completed my five plus mile run and hill workout, I returned home. I immediately took off my shoe the pain returned. But it had drastically diminished because I felt incredibly accomplished; I had pushed through the pain, I fought it, I SPARTAN’D UP! And although walking is a hassle because my foot is still in pain, it’s all good! You know why? Because I didn’t take the cookie.

Alex Lopez

To buy your copy of “Spartan Up!”, click here.

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Dear Joe,

It’s taken a little guts to admit this to you guys, and I’m not looking for any kinda spotlight, but just so you know you guys are awesome.

I’m a Firefighter/Paramedic as a civilian and a Combat Medic in the Florida National Guard. You’d think that we would be in the best of shape, but I’m here to tell you that most of us aren’t, and sadly I was one of the ones in better shape.

I was miserable, lost in the rat race that is the gym, no real direction and to be honest, failing miserably. Home, family, school, and personal life continued to fall apart around me and I was searching for something to hold me above water, to focus on the good. My friend Andrew Fuentes, a buddy of mine, told me about the Spartan Race they ran in Miami last year with other medics from my unit. I so badly wanted to be involved, so I looked up the race itself.

Zach (right) and his buddies complete the Super.

I didn’t realize there was such a following, deeper than any other mud or obstacle race, that it was a lifestyle. I quickly jumped into the WODs, albeit slow (and miserably at times), and the diets. I missed the Tampa Spartan, but I sucked it up and signed up for the Spartan Super in Miami. I’ve been busting my ass and I’m ready to become a Spartan.

Thanks for all you do, and keep up the awesome work!

Zach Parrish

Sign up for your next Spartan Race here and we’ll see you at the finish line…

 


 

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Dear Joe,

My name is Kevin Donoghue and I wanted to personally thank you for including me in the special needs race last Saturday.

Inclusion, of the pro & elite athletes, sounds a little strange.  But it was your reaching out to us that gave us the opportunity to truly shine.

Many of us have been blessed with athletic ability. Fewer of us have been blessed with the ability to participate in our sport at the highest level.

Savanah celebrates her medal father Eddie on the left with Spartan Ambassador Athlete, Kevin Donoghue on the right

It’s so important for us to use these gifts as tools to help others.  Our trophies and medals are great, but spending time with those kids was an experience I will never forget and always treasure.  To see the joy on Savanah’s face, & the pride in her father’s eyes brought true joy to my heart.  I believe all the athletes felt just the same.

I hope in the future we can all collaborate again!

Gratefully,
Kevin Donoghue

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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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