By Carrie Adams
Emails flood into HQ every day from our athletes. We hear stories of weight loss, of reclaiming lives, and of ultimately conquering their own fears or overcoming their obstacles to finish. We get before and after pictures, hear stories from the hilarious to the sobering and we often talk about the people who find our finish lines, how thousands come together on race day, each bringing their own story and their own reason for being there and how we wish we could tell all their stories. How we wish that before they left we could find out what brought them out and we could properly congratulate every finisher for not just their work on race day, but for all the days before, and we hope that they take that accomplishment with them when they leave a Spartan Race venue and it becomes a part of them.
One story came to me and like so many others, I opened it without expectation and began to read the words of one of our athletes. I sat in stunned silence reading the story of a woman who will be running in PA this Saturday, who has overcome obstacles so few of us could begin to understand and at Spartan HQ we applaud and acknowledge her courage in sharing her harrowing story that shows that even the darkest times can be opportunities for us to find ourselves and find strength we didn’t know existed inside of us. She’s a survivor of domestic abuse and has used her training for a Spartan Race as a platform to lift her up and out of the horrific situation. She’s reclaimed her life. Hear her tell her story, in her own words, one of the most powerful stories that’s ever crossed my desk as Spartan Race Blog Editor:
[Editor's Note: In order to protect the writer and her family, we have left her name and identity anonymous.]
I’ve been a victim of domestic violence for over a decade. The broken bones, bruises and scarring are nothing compared to my loss of my self-respect and freedom. Prior to my marriage, I was an athlete. Noncompetitive but I always gave 100%! Roller hockey, Running, Motocross, Tennis to name a few, I loved being active. After my marriage, and little by little, I was forced to give up the things I loved; guilted into quitting because my activities were taking time and attention away from my husband. I complied, telling myself that being a good wife was my priority. After a couple of years, I was prisoner in my own home. I was isolated from all my friends and family, 20 pounds overweight and completely devoid of pride and self-respect. That’s about when the physical abuse started. The most serious injuries were broken vertebrae and a torn ACL which have caused me years of pain. As far as I was convinced, I would never run again. I was despondent and in complete denial. I was a college graduate, domestic abuse was something foreign to me, and I convinced myself that it was my fault. I learned to navigate the life of a battered spouse in secret.
A little over a year ago, I saw a banner ad on a web site for the Spartan Race. I don’t know what made me click on it, but once I read about the Spartan Race Series – my life changed! My inner voice screamed, “Run the race!” and the pictures of the racers’ faces as they crossed the finish line woke up something fierce inside me! For months I debated whether I should sign up for the race, all the while starting to tune up my body and mind.
I started small, a few sit-ups on the living room floor when my husband wasn’t in the room. Then I progressed to running at work during my lunch break. Any time I could find to sneak some exercise in, I did! Push-ups on my office floor, leg lifts in the bathroom. I even turned yard work into an Olympic event. Then I finally made the commitment and registered for the race. My race date; July 14th, 2012 became the most important date in my life! I pushed myself to the limits, encouraged and motivated by the upcoming race. Having that goal, registering for that race and preparing for it FINALLY gave me the courage to stand up. My new strength and endurance gave me ability to defend myself and if I had to run away, he couldn’t catch me! The police station was 0.6 miles from my door and I knew I could get there in under 4 minutes.
It wasn’t easy but now, I have courage, strength, self respect and the frantic desire to live again. I’m part of a wonderful support group and now that I can exercise out in the open, I’ve joined a gym and am training every spare moment I get. I have pain from the pins and bolts in my knee and back but I fight through it simply by visualizing that finish line. Because of the Spartan Race – I am no longer a victim. This race not only helped me find who I used to be, but helped me become a new and better person. The Spartan Race helped me find the courage, endurance and drive I needed to break out of this abusive cycle and for that, I can never thank you enough. My transformation has been astonishing from both a physical and mental perspective and I am so grateful to your organization for fostering this. In an effort to give back, I’ll be signing up to volunteer for the race and I cannot wait to join everyone on the “battlefield” for a day of fun and self-discovery.
My sincerest gratitude for all your organization stands for. Thank you for helping me get my life back.