by David Chandler
I ran my first Reebok Spartan Race in March last year. I was at a low point in my life and was having trouble dealing with things and trying to find myself again. I was lifting weights like crazy and thought that the little bit of biking I did would get me through a race. I thought that I would be competitive in my first Spartan Race, but that race broke me. I am extremely competitive and from that breaking point, I decided I would turn myself into a Spartan. I started running and working more specifically on obstacle course race training instead of just lifting weights.

From March until July I trained like crazy between going to school and work. Training started to become my meditation and the place that I could go to escape everything else in my life. No matter what was going on in life I could get away from it and make myself a better person with each training session. My life consisted of two-a-day trainings; I’d train before and after school or work.

When I learned about the Spartan Ultra Beast, I knew I had to do it. I had to take on the biggest challenge of my life and conquer a race that scared me. Crossing the finish line of the Ultra Beast (and all the other Spartan Races I’ve finished) was the biggest feeling of accomplishment I have ever experienced.
I have become friends with many of the elite Spartan racers that I am in competition with, but I love each and every person that is putting his or her body and heart on the line each and every race. Even though I only see these people during race weekends, the camaraderie that we have makes all of them my good friends. Since I started training for Reebok Spartan Races my life has been more of an adventure than I ever could have imagined. I travel the country to compete with my friends. Each race and every race is a new adventure with all the new things Reebok Spartan Race throws at us each event. Spartan has helped me find myself and helped me to be happier than I have ever been in my life.

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by Jeffrey Bent

Life Changes
Sometimes our lives take abrupt turns. In 2011 I was living in Orlando Florida, a husband of 15 years and a father to two wonderful children. I owned a broadband engineering company and traveled the United States extensively for work. Life was good. The tides can change all too quickly. By the end of that year, I found myself separated from my wife and lacking a purpose in my life.

I began 2012 with a life-changing seminar that motivated me to begin a physical transformation. I set some lofty goals to make 2012 a year not to be forgotten. I had thought about maybe my first marathon or two, maybe even a triathlon? After a June 2nd Warrior Dash in Oklahoma City was cancelled, I knew this was my opportunity to try a Spartan Race. I had heard about Spartan but the opportunity to race had never presented itself. So after a Friday with friends in Charlotte North Carolina, I decided to take the ten plus hour drive to Tuxedo, NY for my first one.

A New Beginning
I arrived late Saturday evening at a college friend’s home. On just a few hours of rest, I headed over to the venue to register for the “elite heat”. I remember before I had even attached my bib a stranger was offering me a pre-race fuel mix; that stranger is now Spartan friend Walter Lyon. I remember wandering to the front of the starting line & hearing the MC talk about the previous day’s women’s winner. That woman, Andi Hardy, is now one of my best friends. She was at the starting line as well and I remember looking over at her and her battered and bruised legs. Thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”

The adrenaline was unlike any I had ever experienced before; the mountain and obstacles were unlike any challenge I had previously undertaken. An hour into the race I was tangled up in the barbed wire and several racers immediately came to my aide. 1:02 was my official time. I was the 7th man to cross the finish, 8th overall, and 2nd in my age group. The sense of accomplishment from this race was amazing. I knew this was the race that had changed my life forever. An epic achievement!

Keeping the Peace
As fun as this race was, I knew that at 40 years old it would be a challenge for me to remain healthy and also injury free. I decided my best chance to remain in good health would be to take up Yoga. When I first began my Yoga practice, I had no idea of the benefits that it would have, both mentally and physically. After almost a year of yoga, I am in the best physical condition of my life. The calm and peace that I have in my everyday life is beyond comparison. As an elite racer, I have many opportunities to share my yoga with the world. Many people have started a Yoga regiment because I passionately share it everywhere I go. The sense I get from sharing has given me a purpose. I found this purpose because of Spartan Race.

I have always been an adrenaline junkie but the competition and camaraderie that exists within Spartan is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I have completed 5 Sprints, 3 Supers, and 2 Beasts. The friends I’ve meet though Spartan share a passion for wellness and a desire to improve, just as I do. These people have become my Spartan family. I look forward to each race weekend as much as anything I have ever anticipated. Each race brings a new challenge, but the only one that I have to compete with is myself.

Namaste.

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by David Magida, Elite Spartan Athlete

“You’re too competitive.”

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve heard that in my life. Growing up I had to win everything I did no matter how obnoxious my desire to be victorious appeared to others. When I discovered running I found an appropriate outlet for that competitive fire.

I won my first cash prize race in fourth grade and never looked back. A conference champion in high school, I abandoned the sport I loved after a brief stint running collegiately. Years of mileage, repeated injuries, poor performances, and numerous clashes with the head coach left me burnt out and with no desire to run. And so I didn’t run for over five years.

I stayed in decent shape, lifting weights and playing pickup basketball and flag football daily, but something in my life was missing. My competitive fire faded. More importantly, running had been my way of clearing my mind, my period of reflection, and I no longer had it. Then I encountered Reebok Spartan Race and everything changed.

It was March 2011 when I heard the race was coming to Florida. After reading the description, I knew I had to run this race and I had to win. I trained for a few weeks, peaking at a run of four miles, and registered. The race was a Super Spartan, 8 miles of brutal intensity. I raced the noon heat, with temperatures peaking at 97 degrees.

At the starting line, I started to get that feeling I had missed the previous five years. That nervous anticipation, the intensity you can pick up off the other athletes, and that competitive fire within myself. As the race began, I nestled myself in with the leaders. About a mile in I saw it: The eight-foot wall. The race leader, a pure runner, had reached the wall about six seconds before me and was just standing, staring up at it, trying to figure out how to conquer that beast.

I didn’t hesitate, I leapt up and over putting myself into the lead. It was at that moment I realized, “I was made for this.” I never relinquished the lead that day, running as if my life depended on it. Upon crossing the finish line I could barely stand and the only thing I could say was, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

That day I was reinvigorated. I immediately doubled my training and began an intense running regimen that led me to two marathons and countless road races over the following eight months. Since then my free time has centered on two-a-days, unconventional workouts, nutrition, and recovery.

My time with Spartan has taught me a great deal. These races test my limits in a way other races haven’t been able to. I learned a lot about myself when I was pushed to the max. I learned how much I really care about winning, not only while I race but while I train as well. And I found out that I can tolerate pain.

I also learned that there are a lot of awesome people with the same mentality as me. I’ve immersed myself in a community of athletes who compete like champions but genuinely care about one another. Once we cross that finish line, we’re a family again. The camaraderie is incredible. We share advice on nutrition, training, injury prevention, and recovery. We often travel together and room together. I have a whole circle of Spartan friends from around the country that I never would have known otherwise, and I’m proud to say they’re just as crazy as I am.

Spartan Race has given me a new training goal. After the Ultra Beast, I realized the need to apply myself specifically to Spartan Race. While last year I focused on endurance, this year will be about speed and power. My training has shifted from pure distance running to a combination of high intensity intervals, hill repeats and unconventional strength work. Passersby may see me carrying a large rock or my bucket full of cement down the sidewalk, running with a weight vest or doing lunges with a large log on my back. I know they think I’m insane. Many of them tell me, as do my friends.

I train like this because I want to be the best. There’s nothing I want more than to raise a Spartan Helmet over my head in victory. I’m chasing some pretty amazing athletes and it’s going to take countless hours of dedication to catch them. I can’t get back the years I didn’t run. But I can devote myself to getting the most out of the rest of my life. Nobody tells me I’m too competitive anymore. They just tell me I’m crazy. I don’t mind it though, because I’m a Spartan. Spartan Race reunited me with running and in doing so it brought me peace.

Where will your Spartan finish line be? Sign up today.

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by Christopher Rutz, Spartan elite athlete

Two years ago, I ran my first Spartan Race, the 2011 Arizona Super. I did not know it at the time but my life would never be the same again. I did not realize how unique Spartan Racing was until I tried out some other events. The competition and sense of accomplishment that comes from running a Spartan Race is unparalleled. Later in 2011, I returned to Spartan Racing at the Malibu Sprint and declared that 2012 would be my “Year of the Spartan”.  2012 was an adventure for me. I ran 24 Spartan Races and hit more than a dozen different race venues.


 

 
Along the way, a group of top athletes developed a camaraderie that is unlike anything I have experienced in my athletic career. We are competitors on the course but we encourage and help one another along the way. This takes on many facets including training advice, racing advice, sharing hotel rooms and/or coordinating travel. Often we refer to one another as our “Spartan Family.”

In my athletic past, I have always been involved in competitive endeavors. My level of success varied from activity to activity. Spartan Race has allowed me to showcase the consistent and dedicated training over my athletic career.

When asked “how has Spartan changed my life?”, I have two thoughts.

One is the external focus. I have been able to build and be a part of the Spartan community as an athlete, a mentor, and a coach. I have helped people accomplish their personal goals.

Second is the internal focus. Spartan Racing has allowed me to truly think of myself as an elite/professional athlete. I have won prize money, I have secured sponsors and I have fans.  I am near the top of a new sport that will grow exponentially over the next few years.

I am excited to be involved in the first chapters of the book that is being written on Obstacle Racing and plan to be involved in the sport as the story evolves.

Are you ready for your shot at Spartan glory?  Sign up HERE.

[Editor's Note: Chris Rutz is a regular on our Spartan Race series.  Follow him @ToughRutz on Twitter and Tough Training on Facebook]

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by Hunter McIntyre, Spartan Elite Athete

Hunter McIntyre and Hobie Call

I am a Spartan.  I am not a mountain man born and raised for the tough harsh elements of this Earth.  I was born on the upper east side of Manhattan, raised in Connecticut where the biggest hill around was my in my backyard, which was used for sledding.  Growing up I spent my time in the woods running around with a BB gun and a pocket full of fire crackers looking to stir up a good time.

I began my sports career with wrestling and picked up cross-country along the way in my Junior year of high school (because my dad told me to.)  I never had much love for either sport.  I would have rather spent my time planning an adventure with my friends. As my high school years came and went my sports career became a thing of the past.

Fast forward five years.   I moved across America to live in the star-studded hills of Malibu in a bro mansion with seven of my buddies from school. I decided to put my adventure pants back on and begin exploring my surroundings, quickly falling in love with my new habitat. I began working out in the mountains all day everyday, running, climbing and lifting anything that got in my path. Around September one of my roommates charged into my bedroom screaming something about Spartans.  I was intrigued by the race and signed up myself.  So in November I was lined up at the starting line at Calamigos Ranch in my underpants and bandana, ready to show the world how to win a race in style.  Thirty five minutes later I was covered in mud and filled with an amazing sense of accomplishment.

 

I was hooked.  It was time to test the competition by taking a run for the gold. I did my research and quickly saw that Spartan Race was full of talented athletes.  Especially one man named Hobie Call. Training became more intense, I focused on a CrossFit style and logging the miles in the hills of Malibu. By the time November rolled around, I had raced four times taking first place at each so I decided that I would take my chance against the best in Sacramento.  After running the longest race of my life, I took an honorable third against Hobie but I walked away with much more than a smile from ear to ear and a pocket full of mud.

I was quickly adopted into the world of Spartan warriors that has spread worldwide. I was getting messages daily from people telling me that I was an inspiration and to keep up the good work. I now had a family of people I had never met cheering me on at my races.  Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) is unlike any other sport.  Challenging, ever-changing, and exciting it’s become my sport.  The Reebok Spartan Race provides camaraderie and support provided amongst the racers, like no other sport I’ve seen.  Since I first set foot on a Spartan course in 2011, I knew my life had changed but with this New Year I have decided to take my commitment to another level. I am truly thankful to be a part of a sport that allows me to travel the world while experiencing all of its toughest challenges and amazing people.

It’s time to test yourself.  Get registered.  Find an event near you and join me in a Reebok Spartan Race in 2013.

 

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by Ang Reynolds, Spartan Elite Athlete

I hate standing at the starting line of a Reebok Spartan Race. I feel the same nerves each and every time. They felt no different at my last race as they did at my very first. I have come to realize that the sickness I feel in my stomach is as much a part of me as the race itself. My friends and I hug, wish each other luck, and take pictures, but we’re largely silent. This fear might be the fear of competition, the fear of adventure, or more likely, the fear of the unknown. Each and every one of us deals with our fears, our demons, my fear just happens to be a large part of something that I love.

Five years ago my husband walked away from our marriage. In the weeks that followed his departure, I ran more cumulative miles than I had logged in many years. I ran away from the pain. I ran to stay strong for my three children. I ran for my life. These “therapy runs” continued for hours and I began to heal. My life came back together piece by piece and I looked for my next challenge. I enjoy competition, and set my sights on The Boston Marathon. After qualifying and running Boston, I realized something was still missing. I began to forget why I once fell in love with running and started to slip away from the sport that I loved.
 

 
In December 2011, a friend asked me to join her for a Spartan Race. The Malibu Sprint changed my life. For the first time in a long time, I felt alive and I remembered why I love to compete. A Spartan Race is so much more than a race; it is an adventure, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. Each turn brings a new obstacle and a new experience. Each race is not only a unique accomplishment but also something different to be proud of. I learn as much at the races that I lose as the races that I win, and continually meet amazing people along the way.

Over the last year I have met some of my best friends through theSpartan Race Series. These are the people that I wanted to beat to the finish line at the end of the day, but also the people that I share my days and nights with. We stay out late, and sleep late into the morning. We jump in lakes, stand around fires, and huddle together in the pouring rain to warm our bodies. We help each other limp across the finish line and wipe the blood off our broken and bruised bodies. We share some of the roughest times in our lives and but also in each other’s greatest joys. Our camaraderie is unparalleled. It is unlike anything that I have ever experienced.

My friends and I often talk about our Spartan tattoos. Our tattoos are not comprised of ink and a needle; our tattoos are made of rope burns, barbed wire, and rocks. These tattoos do not solely lie on the surface of our skin. Each of us has a special imprint on our soul for Spartan Race. This imprint will remain long after we are done racing, because this is an adventure we will never forget. My fears will never get the best of me. I will stand at the start line with my demons and when the smoke begins to fill the air, I will run into the battle because this adventure is too good to pass by.

Now it’s your turn.  Get registered.  Find an event near you and join me in a Reebok Spartan Race in 2013.

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