Spartan exists because of you: our community, one that stretches around the world across more than 40 countries. We know you are hurting, and we are confident that you have thoughts on how, together, we can transform tomorrow. We value every voice. We believe that to act, we first must listen. In this new series, Signed, a Spartan, we profile members from our community who have overcome adversity and become advocates for not just OCR, but the kind of transformation it can spur. These Spartans are helping guide the company into a new era of inclusivity — they are inspiring us all to be agents of change. To share your thoughts on how we can celebrate diversity and act against racism, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
More Signed, a Spartan: How One Single Mom Who Never Exercised Became a Spartan for Life
Reaching His Breaking Point
They say sitting can kill you. And it very well may have killed Carlos Taveras.
It’s hard to believe looking at him now — this is a man who has done Super, Beast, and Ultra Beast Spartan races. He’s run the New York, Chicago, and Berlin marathons. He is a fitness beast. (He also happens to be a father of six.)
But in 2012, Taveras had a reckoning with his physical state: At a regular checkup with his doctor, he was at his heaviest and had dangerously high cholesterol levels. Working as an IT specialist for 12 years, he had been sedentary the majority of his days between commuting and his job, and it had taken a toll. His MD wanted to prescribe medication, but Taveras begged him off, promising to improve his diet and exercise. “I told him to give me a year,” he says.
It wasn’t that fitness was foreign to him: Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Taveras was super active as a kid. "Running on the streets, baseball, basketball, pushing and shoving, you name it," he says. After he moved to the U.S. in 1992 to finish school, he started working at a private gym, working his way up to supervisor of four of them. "I don't mind starting at the bottom, looking for my next step," he says. But as he transitioned to the field of IT, he couldn't keep up with his fitness. And that doctor's appointment was a major wake-up call.
Discovering the Spartan Lifestyle
It was the beginning of Taveras’ journey to become a Spartan, and to get in the best shape of his life. He started working out in his basement: “The first time I got so dizzy, I had to sit down!” he says. He started going to a gym and training every day. One of his buddies there mentioned an upcoming Spartan race in Tuxedo, NY. “I said, 'No way, I’m not rolling in mud!'” But something compelled him to sign up, and he was immediately hooked.
Between 2014 and 2018, Taveras was racing almost every weekend. But it was more than the physical aspect that got him addicted — it was the people he met along the way. “I think it was how you develop friendships with people,” he says. “During the race, color doesn’t matter. White, Black, Latino, you’re just another person.” There’s a leveling of the playing field that he appreciates. "I like how the course strips down all of the devices we have," he says. "It’s just us versus the course.”
Connecting With the Community
It was that sense of camaraderie (and his penchant for tech) that led Taveras to start several Spartan communities online, including the OCRLatino Running Crew Facebook group. "It's all about communicating and supporting each other," he says. He stays connected beyond social media, though, galvanizing his group of Spartan friends to participate in races and bringing new people together. Most recently, he organized a 124-mile virtual relay race.
Though juggling his career, a family of six, and studying for his bachelor's degree has prevented him from participating in as many races lately (not to mention the pandemic!), Taveras is more committed than ever to getting back out on the course soon — and investing more in his running goals, as well. Having completed three of the major marathons, he's on a mission to complete the remaining three, and is plotting a 50-mile run from his home in New Jersey to New York City and back. As part of his revived efforts, he's started a podcast appropriately called reCOMMIT.
And, of course, he's planning his return to Spartan racing: He misses that feeling of jumping over the fire to cross the finish line and sharing that accomplishment with fellow Spartans afterwards.
"I miss that feeling of jumping over the fire and thinking, 'Wow, I just did all that and can’t wait to do it again,'" he says. "I’m looking forward to returning to Spartan racing because it keeps me grounded and subscribed to physical functional training."
OUR COMMITMENT TO LESS TALK, MORE ACTION
As part of this initiative, Spartan is committed to taking the following actions:
- Give 200,000+ race tickets to support local communities, starting with BEAT THE STREETS
- Work with youth organizations in marginalized communities to promote active lifestyles
- Reach out to our existing minority communities to give them a louder voice and platform
- Open a 24/7 community hotline to ensure all are heard
- Recruit, develop, and foster athletes from underrepresented communities in the sport of OCR
- Expand our community guidelines to create a social code of conduct to ensure our community is a safe and inclusive space
- Prioritize the efforts of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee to learn from our employees and take meaningful action
- Assess our people operations and hiring practices to help us build a more diverse team and create an equitable and inclusive environment for all employees.