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.)
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.
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!
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.
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!”