Reaching New Peaks: Andy Weinberg
by Carrie Adams
Growing up in Peoria, IL, Andy Weinberg, 41, always loved the water. He swam competitively in high school and college, and when he did his first triathlon in high school, he fell in love. At the time there weren’t many people doing them, and after college Andy spent a couple years really hitting the triathlon circuit. He burnt out with swimming after a few years and decided to focus on running instead. Admittedly never “super-fast,” he trained consistently and did 11 marathons in one year alone.
Then, after running into a hometown acquaintance at an event whot told him about ultra-marathons, Andy caught the bug. He has now completed over 40 ultras, mostly 50-mile and 100-mile distances. Through the challenge of running extreme distances, Andy learned what it felt like to push himself and succeed. Of course it wasn’t long until he had to try an Ironman, a double Ironman, even a triple.
Weinberg met Joe DeSena through mutual friends in 2005 where they completed theVermont 100. When Andy came back to Vermont for an all-night snowshoe, the two soon found themselves talking about how racers can become “soft” because they always know what to expect. “An ultra isn’t an easy race, but when you know it’s 100 miles, you can train for that. You can prepare for that,” Andy said. He and Joe spent the night talking about a new kind of race. A race in which participants wouldn’t know when it would start or finish, or even what the race would consist of. In other words, a race that no one can train for. Racers would simply need to summon the courage and show up. So the Death Race was born. Andy began putting on races in Vermont with Joe and three years later he moved his family to Vermont to teach and race direct full time. (By the way, he biked the 1200 miles from Peoria to VT in seven days, mainly because his friends said he couldn’t.)
The Spartan Race is born out of the same spirit. The Death Race is the most extreme and designed for only the most extreme athletes but Spartan isn’t a walk in the park. It’s there to attract serious athletes who want to compete. Andy says, “Spartan Race is unique because the team involved, the whole company is athletes. They run races, they’ve traveled the world, they know racing and they know athletes. Most of the other obstacle races can’t say that. And Spartan events are races… not parties. It’s about going as hard as you can.” On a personal level, Weinberg feels that Spartan Races play a role in preventing illness by inspiring people to get off the couch and get active. “Our nation is at its absolute worst place. Childhood obesity and diabetes are both preventable as long as you make good choices. You just have to get out there and exercise a bit. Why not let Spartan help you get there?”