Since the dramatic images of Team X-T.R.E.M.E. flooded the internet after the Leesburg, VA Super Spartan, fighting their way through the difficult course, Spartan Race HQ has been inundated with questions about the men and women who donned the blacked out masks. Their faces hidden and their identities unknown, the team captured the attention of the Spartan community and it spread like wild fire. Aside from the wounded warrior athletes, the rest of the team are distinguishable only by the call signs stitched into the patches they wear on their arms, and they intend on keeping it that way. This deliberate anonymity is in recognition of their mission to honor, empower, and motivate wounded warriors and to remain selfless in the process. With an upcoming appearance in the Carolinas Beast, I spoke with some members of the team behind the mask about what makes them a unit, a team, and ultimately, a family.
Those athlete patches bear designations like Vigilance, Endurance, Justice, Loyalty, and Commitment. Sacrifice is the designation for the wounded warrior X-Athletes. These self-selected leadership traits are chosen and embodied by the new team members who endure the Team X-T.R.E.M.E. Warrior INDOC process and are selected as Team X-T.R.E.M.E. X-Athletes. We recently published a story about call sign “Justice” the lone female who raced with the team on the day of the Leesburg race and chose her call sign because, “So many wounded Veterans from so many generations haven’t seen justice to the extent we wish we could have provided them when they came home.” She goes on to say, “That one we need to keep in the front of our minds; getting them the support that they deserve and are taken care of by a grateful nation.”
Another Team X-T.R.E.M.E. X-Athlete, a Richmond VA native with the call sign Loyalty, is one of the newer members of the Team. He survived a devastating motorcycle accident in 2008 and in surviving knew “My whole life changed. I knew I had to do something with that.” After completing Team X-T.R.E.M.E. Warrior INDOC and officially joining the team, he chose Loyalty as his call sign because, “Being loyal means that no matter the obstacle, you will be there for your brothers and sisters. Loyalty brings the team together.” And the team did come together. They finished the grueling eight mile course in five and a half hours taking it one obstacle at a time as a unit. Says Team X member Loyalty, “Knowing you will not be left behind and will never leave a teammate behind, a team will accomplish anything. No man left behind. Ever.” They will need that same attitude to get through the longer Beast course in South Carolina in October.
One of the wounded warrior X-Athletes, call sign “Sacrifice” who also chooses to remain anonymous has no doubt of the team’s success in the Carolinas. “Together you can do anything. You can last through anything,” says the 25 year old USMC Sgt. The Leesburg resident who joined the Marine Corps in 2005 lost his left leg below the knee April 1st 2010 while on patrol in Afghanistan after stepping on a pressure plate IED. After a speedy recovery in Walter Reed’s Ward 57, he took off running and never looked back.
He joined Team X-T.R.E.M.E. in April 2012 and in addition to his Spartan finish, has an XTERRA triathlon finish under his belt. To him, “Sacrifice doesn’t mean what I’ve already sacrificed but what more I can give to help our wounded warriors. Whatever happened to me happened. It’s over. Now I can help others.” He’ll be on hand in the Carolinas to support the team in taking on the course.
Team X-T.R.E.M.E. is led by X-Athlete Vigilance, a Marine veteran based out of Richmond, VA. He is looking forward to the longer Carolinas Beast course with the rest of the team, “We welcome it.” He says. “The challenges that we accept are indicative of our determination and passion to honor our wounded brethren’s sacrifice.” He explains. “We take on these events and challenges based on either the opportunity to empower and honor the sacrifice of a wounded warrior or because they have come through our cycle of rehabilitation and now don the gas mask as an icon of overcoming insurmountable odds. We provide them with a stage to show everyone who witnesses, that they are limitless. That is simply our method to the madness.” And they’ll be facing several more miles than they conquered in VA. The South Carolina Beast promises to be a tough course for even the most accomplished Spartan.
Of his call sign Vigilance he says simply, “It hits very close to home and defines me. It’s a fire that started inside of me as a young boy. As I listened to my fathers account of returning home from Vietnam believing he would be welcomed as a hero, to instead be spit upon and cursed. He would later work in the wounded warrior ward at the VA and experienced the emotional and physical pain and suffering of men whose country had abandoned them. All this made a lasting impression on my mind and heart. At a young age I silently vowed that I would honorably serve my country, that I would remain vigilant and this catastrophe would not repeat itself in my generation. I would NEVER forget!” The team has come to represent an elite embodiment of values. We do not rest in complacency but wish to enact and inspire change and make a difference in the lives of these young warriors. “Just imagine what people see when these wounded warrior X-Athletes selflessly continue to serve from behind the mask. People can take solace in that example of physical, mental and emotional fortitude. If these men and women are limitless, then what excuses do we have? We will remain vigilant!”
Team X-T.R.E.M.E. will be participating in another Hero Heat in the Carolinas set to kick off at 9:50AM with proceeds from each race registration in this heat going directly towards Team X-T.R.E.M.E. and their ongoing mission. To be a part of their team on race day and run to support their mission and cause, go HERE and register for their 9:50 heat. Use the password “teamx” during the registration process.
The Spartan Race – Carolinas Heroes Heat with Team X-T.R.E.M.E. promises to be an epic and emotional journey through the Beast course. Team X-T.R.E.M.E. X-Athletes will don their mask along with Marine Cpl. Todd Love and other wounded warriors to show that nothing is impossible through determination and teamwork. You will be motivated and inspired as you walk, run, crawl and swim alongside them and Team X-T.R.E.M.E. Community Athletes as part of their ongoing mission to honor, empower and motivate our nations wounded patriots.
Check out a gallery of Team X images courtesy of Kevin High Photography HERE.