by Willy Marante, Reebok Super Spartan Miami Finisher

Definition of Spartan: Courageous in the face of pain, danger, or adversity.
This couldn’t be any more true. Those 3 words describe exactly everything I endured before, during and the last 48 hours leading up to race day.

I can honestly say that this race, the training, and the people I’ve met along the way have changed my life forever. Over 6 months ago, I was in a deep stage of depression. I had literally hit rock bottom! I needed a change. I decided to go running one day and it felt therapeutic. With every step I felt the pain and anger leave my body.

One day, as I was riding down Hollywood Beach; a buddy of mine started talking to me about CrossFit. I decided to look into it and take a beginners class. Dominick and all the coaches at Caution CrossFit have been nothing short of amazing. It’s not a gym it’s like family. I decided to try a competition.

At the competition, I came across The Spartan Race table. I had been hearing a few guys around the box talking about this race and I was somewhat intrigued by it, I had the greatest luxury of meeting Miami Race Manager and Street Team Member  Geishel Valverde. I started to inquire questions about this race; one of my best friends had recently talked me into signing up for a 5k mud run (to this day I still don’t know how I let her talk me into it). Ms. Valverde and I spoke and she gave me a link and a wristband that says, “Unbreakable.” Little does anyone know that I never took that band off since then; it became a reminder to me every day of what was to come and of what my new goal would be.

I signed up for the email of Spartan WOD, continued my CrossFit and my dieting. The dieting was the toughest element to my training. I was a regular junk food, fast food drive thru type of guy. And working in the nightclub industry didn’t make it any easier.

I felt like a little kid learning how to eat again. Reading on nutrition and learning about the proper way to fuel my body. Going to the gym while trying to finish a WOD and not being able to complete that task and even a simple run at times I would question myself by asking, “What am I doing?” Slowly but surely, I found myself completing the WODS, my endurance was getting better and I was running further along with every lift, squat, and burpee I got better.

Early January I suffered the death of my cousin; a woman who was like a sister and supported my every move, decision and crazy idea. The lost completely got me off track and off from what had become my daily routine/lifestyle. I had stopped training, WOD, and dieting. I was so down and depressed that I had begun to think I wouldn’t do the race. A conversation with a friend convinced me to keep trying.

The week of the race, things were miserable. I wasn’t feeling good, the depression was kicking in again, and even the day before the race I had my car broken into and had things stolen. My mind was only telling me. I knew I was being tested.

Saturday, February 23rd I told my friend I wasn’t running and she said, “You’re not running for time, you’re not going to come in first but you have to run it and finish what you’ve started, you go, you line up and you give yourself the opportunity, if you should happen to fail then you fail trying, covered in dirt, mud, blood and tears not failing from home in bed.”

I began thinking to myself, “I have worked hard. I’ve never quit anything I’ve started. I’ve always been a fighter. I fight every day I’m in the box, I fight for my family, and I’m a fighter! I told myself at the beginning I would finish this race as a birthday present to myself (February 25th is my birthday) and I specifically chose this to say for that.

I told myself, “I’m not challenging Spartan, Spartan is challenging me and I challenge it to beat me and not let me cross.”

Throughout the race there were some challenges: running, crawling, swimming, sliding and jumping. Thinking back and analyzing it now I realize it’s more of a mental than physical challenge. Around the 5 1/2 mile mark, I was running out of gas. I thought back to everyone who has ever told me, “You won’t, you can’t, and that’s crazy,” All of a sudden I had the energy I needed. Around the last leg I stopped to breathe. I looked up at the sky and I told my angels (my grandpa, my brother, cousin and many others) “I know you guys are all with me and will carry me to the end.”

As I got to the final wall climb and slid down all muddy, weary and tired I caught sight of the finish line and it was like a sudden burst of adrenaline came through me. As I got my medal, I threw myself on the floor and cried the tears of joy knowing that this would serve as a reminder that I need to keep fighting, that I can do anything I set my mind to and that anything is possible when you put your heart and soul into it!

Thank You, Spartan Race!

Spartan will be in Florida TWICE in 2014.  Orlando, January 11th for a Spartan Sprint and Miami April 12th and 13th for a Super Spartan.  Register today for an event near you!

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