It hit me about a quarter of the way through the race last year as I was struggling to run up yet another of the hills in the seemingly endless course. What was I doing? I don't belong out here with these cross country runners, these extreme athletes, or these mountain climbing outdoors types. What I was doing was running my first Spartan Sprint.
The Spartan Sprint is one of the races in the Spartan family that included the Sprint, Super, and Beast. These races are varying distances and intensities and include running, mud, and plenty of obstacles. The Spartan races were founded in 2010 and are the brain child of Joe De Sena a former wall street trader turned extreme race enthusiast who was looking for an escape and for something more rewarding than working 24/7 on the trading floor. Joe originally created what is called the “Death Race” in 2005 which is a race that continues until the last participant is standing which could last as long as 3 days. Although the Death Race was a success, due to the extreme nature of the race it had a limited audience and so he created the Spartan Races for more of a mass appeal.
While the Spartan races are a much tamer version of the death race they still present their own challenges. After each obstacle you not only fight against your body to keep going you also fight against your mind which is telling you to quit altogether or at least slow down. And this is where we get back to me. Why am I doing this? Sitting at a desk 8-10 hours a day can take its toll. Not only are you slowly being removed from the outside world, you can feel you are losing a bit of your physicality, your athleticism, you are becoming less of a person and more of a machine. For me, competing in the Spartan race wasn't a competition against other racers, it was a competition with myself. Can I do this? Can I overcome the physical and mental obstacles to complete the race? Do I still have what it takes?
Although the Spartan race is held in the physical arena I believe when we overcome these types of challenges we can use those wins when we face other challenges in our lives whether they be at home, at work, mental, or physical. Each time we overcome an obstacle we prove to ourselves we still have what it takes, we still can figure our a way to achieve and overcome.
So this is why I ran last year and am training for this years race. To see if I can push myself farther than last year. To see if in a year I have become a better version of myself and if I can beat last years version. To prove only to myself that I can overcome obstacles that are thrown at me and be resilient in the face of challenges.
How about you? How are you challenging yourself to be better today? To zoom by the old version of yourself and leave him in the rear view mirror. Why do you run?
Matthew King, Co-founder