'I Can't Show I'm Nervous, But I'm Nervous': Our Favorite Joe De Sena Quotes From Unbreakable CEO, Ep. 8


The season finale of Unbreakable CEO took us to Jacksonville, Florida, the site of Spartan’s return to racing back in June. After months of no events in the United States, the company returned to the core of its business with new protocols and an emphasis on racer safety.

Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena road-tripped to the event with his wife, Courtney, his four children, and assorted Spartan staff members. He allowed us to film him on the ride and at the event, capturing the essence of what turned into a memorable, career-defining weekend. It’s a touch bittersweet watching this episode, as all 2020 races in the U.S. have since been cancelled due to COVID-19, but it also serves as a strong reminder of why we’re so excited to get back at it in 2021.

These are our favorite Joe quotes from the series finale of Unbreakable CEO, with some bonus moments from other badass Spartans. (Click the timestamps, to the right of the quotes, to view them.)

MORE GREAT QUOTES FROM UB CEO: Ep. 1 | Ep. 2 | Ep. 3 | Ep. 4

“Come on, God. I know you want to get even with me, but give me a break.” (2:06)

Joe wonders what he needs to do to finally put on an event. COVID-19, protests and unrest across the country, and how a hurricane? Then again, this is 2020 we’re talking about. Whatever can go wrong will.

“We are holding hands right now across 45 countries. The whole community, the staff — everybody came together to pull this off, and we’re gonna do this.” (4:01)

Joe was a bit saddened by the fact that, due to safety protocols, there were fewer runners than normal toeing the start line and chanting AROO! He was reinvigorated and moved, however, when taking into account just how much work went into putting on this event, and how tremendous the Spartan community is for never saying die.

“I can’t show I’m nervous because he’s only 14 years old, but I’m nervous.” (6:32)

Jack De Sena, Joe’s 14-year-old son, challenged his old man in the DEKAFIT Mile. Joe was nervous — and rightfully so.

“DEKA is so f***ing hard!” (6:37)

Joe doesn’t normally admit that things are difficult. And, when he does, he generally tells people — himself included — to suck it up and just get it done. Joe followed his own advice, but it wasn’t easy. He’s right: DEKA is f***ing hard! The first-ever DEKAFIT event was held at the race in Jacksonville, and it lived up to the billing. Learn more about our functional fitness DEKAthlon here.

"$500 to any kid who can beat my time here." (6:52)

When Joe is nervous, he also gets energized and relishes the challenge. So he offered money to any kid who could top his time. (How long before DEKAFIT is in Las Vegas sportsbooks?) Joe’s plan backfired, as Jack put on an epic performance. Joe, always a man of his word, paid up.

“The No. 1 memory for me, about Jacksonville, was simply people coming up to me and starting to tear up, making me tear up.” (8:08)

Who says Joe isn’t emotional? Spartan’s CEO was taken aback by the kind words and support he received from loyal, passionate Spartans down in Jacksonville. 

“Spartan changed my life.” (8:52)

This isn’t a Joe quote, but we couldn’t leave it out. We heard from many dedicated Spartans in Jacksonville, and it reminded us why we do what we do. One racer, in particular, made us choke up. Her story is sensational. We’ve heard hundreds, if not thousands, of similar stories over the past decade, but they never fail to move us. 

“First real smile I’ve had in a long time.” (10:03)

Another non-Joe quote, this came from a Spartan who had been itching and clawing to get back on the course. After two months in quarantine, not leaving his house, he finally found himself in his element, overcoming obstacles and challenging himself to his limit. For the first time in a long time, he was alive again.

“As a family, we never take a vacation. EVER.” (11:00)

This isn’t hyperbole. Joe De Sena doesn’t believe in vacations, and claims he’s never been on one. He travels, sure, but never, under any circumstances, stops working. There are no “sit on the beach and read” days.

“Without events, people are not staying in shape. They’re not eating healthy, they’re not holding themselves accountable, they’re not going to bed early, and that’s a recipe for disaster." (11:30)

That, in a nutshell, is why we harp on the need to commit to something and mark it on your calendar. People need goals to work towards. After you’ve signed up for your 2021 races, make sure to physically write those dates on a calendar. You won’t believe the effect that that simple exercise has on your training regimen and preparedness. 

“We want to get 100 million people healthy. You know how f***ing hard that is? You try it.” (12:19)

Damn hard — but we’re not going to stop trying.

Amp up your fitness and wellness routine NOW. Click here to find a 2021 Spartan race near you!