“Hey, what’s this on TV? How cool!” These were my thoughts while sitting in the company break room watching TV and eating my lunch. After watching the entire race I thought to myself “I would totally take part in a race like that.” Who wouldn’t want to run for miles, swim across a river, do obstacles every few hundred yards and finally finish by jumping over a fire pit? I mean come on! A fire pit? Who wouldn’t want to jump over a fire pit? I would later find out that I was watching the 2014 Spartan Race Championships. Just watching this one race would change my life and the way I would look at physical fitness.
Shortly after the race completed, I knew I had to find out more about this thing called a “Spartan race,” so I went to my computer and Googled the words Spartan Race. Once I found Spartan.com I noticed that they had listings for upcoming races and found a race near me. I told myself, “This is it. No more easy runs, no more simple fun runs (unless it is part of my training plan). It is time to start pushing myself and doing one of these races. It is time to put myself in the uncomfortable.”
Months later at a family dinner with my wife’s brothers and sisters, I mentioned I saw this really cool race on TV and that I think we should do it together. They asked me what it was so I described it and showed them a YouTube video. I tried to get them as pumped up as I was, but they seemed a little weary of doing all the running and obstacles. I assured them that it would be fun, but never got any takers. I even reached out to my younger brother to see if he would be willing to do the race but alas he did not want to either.
A couple more months went by and I still thought about the race. I logged in only to find out I had missed it. I thought to myself, “next time I am going to sign up no matter what, even if I don’t know anyone that would run it with me.”
Fast forward to the summer of 2016. I got a text message from my younger brother saying, “hey look what I just did.” Seconds later he sent me a picture of himself finishing the Spartan Super in Seattle with one of his friends from the Tacoma Washington area. I told him how cool that is and that I was proud of him. Now remember this is the guy who told me he did not want to run the Spartan race only a couple of months before. I had asked him what made him do it this time, and he told me that it was just on a whim and that his friend wanted someone with whom to race. I asked him if he wanted to run the Sprint in Squaw Valley, CA. to which he agreed. We then started to make plans to do the Sprint that September.
September rolled around and I was very excited to finally be doing a Spartan race. My only fear was that I was not really prepared for this type of challenge. I had been lifting and building muscle and I had always been pretty decent at running, but I never did hill runs or any kind of obstacles like they had at the race. As the day of the race got closer, the Spartan race designer kept posting videos of some of the obstacles that would be there. All I could think was “man that is going to be hard” and “how am I going to do this without hurting myself?”
Race day came and I had to wake up early to get there for my start time. Even though I live only 45 min away, I didn’t want to be late. On the drive up I was giving my brother crap about him racing at such high elevation since he was so used to running at almost sea level. I mean the race at Squaw Valley starts at or around 6000 feet and goes upto 8000+ feet in elevation- how was he going to be able to handle that? After some banter back and forth we finally decided that we would try and stay together and help each other whenever the other needed.
When it finally came for our time to race, I was shaking with excitement. When the announcer asked “What is your profession,” I let out one of the loudest yells I have ever done saying “I am SPARTAN!” I also remember the announcer telling everyone to wake up the spectators that were in the condos sleeping next to the starting line. When everyone yelled “AROO, AROO, AROO” I am sure that my yell alone was able to wake people up.
Once we started, my brother and I were right beside each other. I looked over and him and I said to him, “Let’s crush this!” We ran through the first couple obstacles together, going through the over, under, thru walls and then the rolling mud hills at a pretty decent speed. Next thing I know, I’m turning around at mile marker one to find my brother only to not see him anywhere. I stopped for a second waiting for him to show up, but thought “man, he’s done one of these before; he should be fine.” I ran to the top of the next hill, flying down the other side. I know, I know, I should have waited for him and just bonded with my brother, but I was so pumped and excited I could not hold back.
By the end, I felt like I killed my first race, only failing the herc hoist and the multi-rig. My upset at the herc hoist was that I did not know I could step on the rope to help with keeping the weight under control. My brother later told me that “secret” after he was done with his race. For the multi-rig, I got about half-way through only to fall and do burpees. I apparently had no clue how to properly succeed at this obstacle, nor would I figure this out for several races to come. Even with doing 60 burpees, I was still able to cross the finish line in 56 minutes. Man did this give me a high that you could not believe! On top of that, with all the crap that I gave my brother I have to say he made it with only failing the multi-rig and coming in around an hour and twenty minutes- not bad for guy that lives at sea level and does not run at that elevation.
I would follow this race up two weeks later with the Beast race in Seattle, WA with my brother and his friend, allowing both of them to get their Trifectas. Not to be out done by my little brother, I would get my Trifecta two weeks later by finishing the Super in Sacramento, CA. Along with earning my Trifecta, it would also be where three of my kids would run their first races, but that story is for another time.