by Beth Connolly

Intense athlete, Spartan Chick, and up-for-any-adventure girl Shannon Roche is the only racer I’ve ever interviewed who talked herself down.

“Are you sure you want to interview me?  I’ve fallen off the wagon,” she wrote in an email before we spoke on the phone.

Then, at the end of our interview, she brought it up again.  “Am I intense enough?  I don’t feel like I measure up to the other athletes you’ve profiled on the blog.”

Chatty and modest, Shannon most certainly does measure up.  This 36-year-old real estate agent, who describes herself as 36 going on 26, just takes her challenges in stride to such an extent that they don’t seem like a big deal.  At least not to her.

She’s always been athletic, starting from her school days of track and volleyball.  But after college graduation, she moved to New York and realized that she needed goals to keep her motivated in her fitness.

So, back in 2006, she started training for a half-marathon.  Having successfully completed that, she moved on to a marathon in 2007 and a triathlon in 2008.  Then, in 2009, she really got serious and signed up for the Escape from Alcatraz, a unique event in San Francisco that she describes as the best racing experience she’s ever had.  To begin the race, a ferry drops off 2000 people in the frigid San Francisco bay  (she estimates temperatures were around 55 degrees F when she did it).  After a 1.5 mile swim to shore, racers face an 18-mile hilly bike, and an 8-mile run over hard and soft sand, including a timed 400-stair climb.

After her Alcatraz adventure, Shannon found herself “bored” once again.  So she decided to join Warrior Fitness Boot Camp in NYC midtown, where she met Kat Dunnigan, who told her about the Spartan Race.  That was all it took for Shannon to sign up for the 8-mile Super Spartan taking place in September 2011 in Staten Island.  “I feel like I’ve done everything else and I’m wanting to try something different,” she said of her decision to compete in a Spartan Race.

Shannon thinks that Warrior Fitness Boot Camp is the perfect way to train for a Spartan Race.  “It has all the elements,” she said.  “Nothing I’ve ever done has pushed my heart rate as much.”  The Boot Camp is an indoor obstacle course run by former Marines who “yell at you with a smile on their faces and push you.”  When she first started last fall, she couldn’t climb all the way up the six-foot tall wall and she couldn’t make it all the way across the monkey bars.  But after just one or two weeks, she noticed improvements in her performance at the course and felt herself getting a lot stronger every day.

Beyond the physical improvements, Shannon loves the camaraderie and encouraging atmosphere she has found at Warrior Fitness, and she’s even convinced her friends to join her as well.  I bet we’ll see them this September, too.

If Shannon’s past performances are any guide, I think that she’ll blow the Super Spartan out of the water.

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