by Sarah Dubois
A little over a year ago I stumbled across the Spartan website and I couldn’t comprehend it. As in…what the hell were these people doing? And why were they smiling? I moved on and didn’t give it another thought. Fast forward 9 months. I’ve quit my miserable Fortune 500 sales job (to remain unnamed) taken a couple months off to recoup while getting certified as a personal trainer, got hired as a women’s Bootcamp Instructor and as a Personal Trainer at a fancy gym here in San Diego. Just a slight unplanned turn in the road from my original plan to follow my International Business degree. When does life ever go the way you actually planned it anyway right?
At the very beginning of my fitness career I had an interview with another local San Diego bootcamp. In the interview they asked tough questions that I was pretty used to from the sales world but I didn’t expect in a Bootcamp Instructor interview. “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I had gotten this a million times in past sales job interviews and simply BS’d my way through with some comment even I didn’t believe about management or owning my own businesses blah blah blah. Cripes can you tell I was in the wrong field?! At this point in my fitness career, surprisingly I hadn’t given it alot of thought yet. I answered with the first thing that came to mind that I thought would be fun. My bold response was “I want to be the Race Manager for a major event”. After saying it I realized it was totally true. I love racing and the vibe that surrounds races, expos and fitness events. I also have a business background so why not mesh the two!
I came across a Facebook ad this past fall that showed people crawling through mud. Intrigued, I clicked on it, not realizing at the time this was the same website I had pretty much dissed just a few months back. It’s amazing the things you will try and succeed at with the right mindset. That same day I sent Spartan Races my email and explained I wanted to work for them and why I would be a great fit (even though I’d never done a race!). I like to think my business background and new fitness training experience hold some meaning in this odd world of mud and obstacles. I did my research and learned about the company and their races and within a few weeks I was granted the opportunity to become a Street Team Member. Sweet! My first step into the mud.
I got so excited about the upcoming Spartan Malibu Sprint that like all Spartans, I talked to everyone I knew, friends, family, clients, gym members I knew, gym members I didn’t know, total strangers, you name it. People were intrigued but no one committed. I managed to get ONE person to join me in the race, my Bootcamp coworker. I didn’t let it bug me though. Upon finishing (and loving every step, climb, crawl, jump, wade, swim, lift and hit), I noticed that people seemed more interested when discussing the race with them. Maybe they could see the crazy spark in my eye had ignited.
Post-race, I put up my action photos at my upscale gym. One showed me crawling under the barbed wire while spitting out gravel – something our clients aren’t used to seeing there. Everyone commented on my drooling as if hinting I should be embarrassed by it. Seriously? I’m proud of that drool! I have Joe Desena, founder of the Spartan Races to thank for that photo – he was behind the hose that was blasting my mug. I was running Spartan classes at the gym in the evenings, which mind you had ZERO interest leading up to the Malibu race. Those pictures caused a buzz and instantly my class was full! Before I knew it I had a team of 23 join me for the SoCal Super this past January as A Tribe Called Messed (represent, represent-sent). It was a mix of clients, members, and trainers from my gym, clients from my women’s bootcamp, friends, and friends of friends. Of those 23, eight have became Street Team Members and about 95% of the team has gone on to sign up for next year’s race (whether Malibu, SoCal or both) as well as jump into other obstacle races to train for the Spartans. The remaining 5% just can’t commit this far out, but I expect will register again. All of these teammates were great but alas, I couldn’t seem to get my favorite guy, my boyfriend Kurtis to join me in a race….yet (heehee). I didn’t want to push him too hard to sign up like I did with the others. I wanted him to join me in my new passion by coming to his senses on his own, which I figured had to happen sooner or later right? He was really great about spending entire weekends getting up early, coming to the races, and as a photographer in the making, spending hours taking awesome photos of our team before, during, and after the race. About a week after the race he texted me from work out of the blue “Get your own personal photographer, I’m doing it with you next year” Upon asking what changed his mind? “It just looked like too much fun”.
Aside from racing and running Spartan classes, I continued to do my part as a Street Team member by flyering parking lots of events, and running those races in Spartan gear. I created spreadsheets of everything to keep organized and shared my info with Kati and Coleen. My baffled boyfriend wondered why I was doing all of this extra work for free. My equally baffled response was “um, hello because I love it!” Next thing I know Coleen and I are discussing bringing me on board as Spartan Race’s first Race Manager. I couldn’t have been more flattered and excited at the opportunity to pave the way and hopefully set a great example. My 5 year goal has just happened in one year!!! Amazing, scary, and exciting all in one.
I emailed home to Massachusetts to tell my family how excited I was and that I would be back in August to do the New England Spartan Sprint. “So who is joining me!?” One lone Sparkle, my cousin Colleen responded. We are the same age and she has managed to become an amazing runner of late, after having 2 children. She has been as excited about the Spartan Race as the day I first started talking about it except she lives so far away that we could only chat over email about it and never train. She has already succeeded in getting a handful of people to join the East Coast version of A Tribe Called Messed. I emailed my entire Boston contact list and included my younger sister Caitlin to keep her in the loop. Caitlin wrote this race off awhile back saying there was no way she could/would do it. After reading my email, she was suddenly and surprisingly in. “How would it look if you flew all the way over here to do this race with all your friends but I wasn’t a part of it??” GOOD ANSWER Sparkle! Peer pressure gets another! Since that email, friends are coming out of the woodwork, college buddies who I haven’t seen in 10 years are registering, high school friends, elementary friends, old coworkers.
I’m bringing my love of racing, my dedication to Spartan, and my background have all collided in the perfect job for me. How’s that for a fairy tale ending… or beginning?