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In the most recent column I gave a brief account of my experience in the Spartan Race, making light of some of the things you couldn’t prepare for until you had experienced it.  This time, on a more serious note, I want to share some of the amazing people I had the pleasure to meet or observe along this challenging course.

For those not familiar to it, the Spartan Race is a 5, 8, or 13 mile off-road foot race with obstacles and tasks strung throughout the course.  Its purpose is to test your physical fitness, and see if you are worthy to stand with the legendary Spartan soldiers of ancient times.  While this event is held many places across the United States and the world, it FINALLY came to Indiana this past May, so I HAD to go!

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Can I get an “AROO!”?  (That’s what the Spartans yell…so they say.)

The Winner

For every event there is someone who is the best.  In this case, it was exactly who you expected it to be.  18 year old male, 5’10”,  175 lbs, six pack abs, with the perfect combination of strength and stamina.  He tore through a course that took me 2 hours and 19 minutes to complete in 1 hour, 20 minutes!  Really?! An hour faster?!  Amazing!  I marvel at that physical ability combined with mental discipline and focus.

AROO!

The Soldier

I met Lilly and her husband 1/2 way through the course at the top of a particularly gnarly hill.  An Iraqi war veteran, Lilly, with the help of her loving companion, were working through a bout of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) brought on from being in the woods, under stress.  You could tell they had done this before, as he talked to her firmly but softly, to help her regain her composure.  We locked eyes for a moment after she calmed.  She smiled, mildly. “You good?”, I asked.  She nodded and shared “PTSD.  I’m good for now.”  I offered her a low knuckle bump, which she accepted, thanked her for her service and moved on.  She was amazing!

AROO!

The Amputee

At the base of a hill about 2/3 along the route, a group of friends stood circling something on the ground.  It wasn’t a something but a someone, and this someone had a prothetic leg.  He sat in the mud, his leg resting across his lap, as he viewed and rubbed his sore stump.  He was so calm.  His friends were not as they tried to figure out a way to get their friend up the hill.  “I’m done” he said.  “No, we can finish this” they argued.  I moved on thankful to witness great friendship and commitment to one another.

AROO!

Everyone was out there for a reason.  Choosing to slug through the mud, climb the hills, face external and internal adversity to prove something.  My hope is that they left satisfied with their effort and sacrifice.  They probably don’t know the impact they had on others that day, and I’m thankful for their effort and choosing to test themselves.

I offer them my loudest, sincerest “AROO!”

Spartan for a Day

July 7, 2015

A month ago I participated in the Spartan Race.  I had heard a lot about this event which is held across the United States, but it was finally coming to scenic Metamora, IN and I didn’t want to miss out.  So I signed up this past January and began training to play the role of Spartan for an afternoon.

For those not familiar to it, the Spartan Race is a 5, 8, or 13 mile off-road foot race with obstacles and tasks strung throughout the course.  I chose the 5 miler.  Its purpose is to test your physical fitness, and see if you are worthy to stand with the legendary Spartan soldiers of ancient times.

Can I get an “AROO!”?  (That’s what the Spartans yell…so they say.)

To prepare for this event, I did some research and learned several things about training programs, the obstacles we might face, average completion times, suggested clothing.  Now that I’ve passed the test, I would like to pass on a few things I learned along the path.

Mud can get behind your contacts

Did you know that when you submerge yourself in muddy water, when you come up and open your eyes the muddy water can get behind your contacts?  It’s true!  I was completely blind for an eternity (probably just 60 seconds).  There is no surface clean enough to help, so I just walked and blinked until my vision returned enough for me to begin running again.  AROO!

There ARE mountains in Indiana

Now I’ve lived in Indiana all my life, adventuring through much of it from Auburn, to Bloomington, to Madison.  Yes, much of it is flat.  Yes, there are serious hills.  But, there are mountains in Metamora!  We huffed and puffed, clamoring up these enormous peaks on all fours, with our hearts beating our of our chests…and they never seemed to end! I don’t know if they’ve always been there, the faults are shifting, or it they were shipped in just for this race, but they’re real!  AROO!

Pee where you are

I’ve participated in 5 mile events before.  Normally, they take me about 40 ish minutes to complete depending on terrain.  Being a Spartan required 2 hours and 19 minutes of constant motion while covered in mud.  Your best bathroom option is to just “go” in your pants and hope the clean spot doesn’t give you away.  Don’t do it in the muddy water…it’s bad enough as is.  AROO!

I can throw a spear

There it was.  Standing in the field.  Staring me down.  Not moving an inch.  A deadly…..Indiana hay bail…with a wooden Spartan helmet on.  One throw is all I get.  So I took a deep breath and hurled the spear (wooden shovel handle with a metal something on the end) hard and straight.  Not saying I could do it in battle, but that hay bail is DEAD!  AROO!

I learned a lot about a lot during my adventure through this event, and if you want to hear everything, I would love to grab a drink and tell you about it.  Many have asked “was it fun?”  My response is “It was terrible at the time, but everyday that goes by I’m more glad that I did it”.  I loved the challenge.  I’m honored to work through it with my friend, Cody.  I’m blessed to be healthy enough to try something this physically crazy, and I hope you get to enjoy a similar experience.

Can I get an “AROO!”?