Last month, we launched the Spartan Spirit Awards, celebrating the people who truly embody the key Spartan values: grit, determination, and perseverance. This week's Spirit Awards winner is superhero Fran Martinez, who overcame one of life’s biggest obstacles—the loss of a child. Find out what he had to say about his personal journey.
Five years ago, Fran Martinez lost his only child to a rare genetic disease. His son, Daniel, was only 18 months old. Two weeks later, his wife left him.
“The first thing that came to my mind is, if he’s going, I'm going. I want to follow him,” said Martinez. “I was ready to go. That was the bottom point.”
With the support of friends and his own courage, Martinez created something beautiful out of his lowest moment: A community of parents who are using their grief as strength.
How Fran Martinez Found Spartan Race
“It took me a year after all this happened to live through the pain. I went alone to a house in the mountains, which was the worst thing I could have done, being away from everyone. Until two of my good friends came to pick me up and gave me what I needed, which was love and a sense of belonging and community,” said Martinez.
“My friends said, you have to come with us to do a Spartan Race. And that’s how I found Spartan.”
How Grief and Pain Helped Him Grow
“The Spartan course is a metaphor for life,” said Martinez. “Every time you go through an obstacle you become stronger and better.”
“In my particular case, what I needed was to find my limit and feel the pain. I was pushing myself to the limit and I couldn’t find it. I realized the only place where I could get it was in a Spartan Race. The pain, it makes me grow.”
Giving Back to Other Parents
“I’ve got myself in a good place and now it’s time to make a step towards others,” said Martinez.
“Through Spartan, I want to show other parents that life is wonderful. Through pain, you can go to wonder. I am living proof that you don’t have to be a superhero to do a Spartan Race. You just have to work and go find your limit.”
Fran Martinez is Creating a Community of Spartan Parents
“First, they need to know, they are not alone. Second, those parents who have gone through this, they don’t know it, but they are so strong," says Martinez. "They are probably some of the strongest people we know. So let’s take them over to Spartan and show them how strong they are.”
Martinez has connected with more than 3,000 parents who are currently going through tragedy or have lost a child. He and Angel Sanz, the country manager for Spartan Spain, are inviting these parents to run in a special Heroes Heat at the Barcelona Spartan Sprint in October 2019. They plan to do it at every Spain Spartan Race thereafter.
“This is not the end," said Martinez. "This is the beginning.”
Q&A with Spartan Spirit Award Winner Fran Martinez
Spartan Race: What brought you to Spartan Race? Fran Martinez: My coach told me about some races where we had to overcome obstacles and which were considered the toughest in the world, I needed to test my ability and my mind.
SR: How has competing in Spartan Races transformed your life? FM: I have met wonderful people that I consider family, I have seen amazing countries and landscapes and experiences that have changed my life forever.
SR: What does your life (physical condition, mental well-being, and happiness in general) look like now? FM: Totally different from my previous life. Now I feel able to face life's challenges that I previously doubted. I am physically more agile, strong and resilient, and when facing a problem I feel much more qualified to handle it. And of course, daily improvements bring me happiness and stability. In short, my life has changed completely.
SR: Your experience inspired you to start something called 'Heroes Heat': what is that? Tell us about it. FM: I felt the need to return the gift I have received and share it with others, so I started Heroes Heat [a special heat in a Spartan Race for parents struggling with the loss of a child]. It is my way of designing something to try to help others without asking anything in return, only the satisfaction of seeing someone overcome fears or alleviate suffering, as [Spartan] did with me. It is gratitude and transformation.
SR: What is your advice for other people who are suffering or struggling? FM: For people who are suffering, I would tell them that we only have one life and that no matter how hard it is we have to learn to love ourselves and let ourselves be loved. That way you will be able to see the positive side of things. There are wonderful people willing to love you and help you without asking for anything in return but first, one must be yourself. To those who are fighting [for peace from struggle], they should know they've already taken the first and most important step. They are fighting, they have not let themselves be carried away or knocked down, and that says a lot about them. With the love of family or friends, everything is easier — even climbing the highest mountain, knowing, in the end, trusting we will know how to find happiness.
For more from Fran Martinez, listen to the Spartan Up! podcast in its entirety.
This episode of Spartan Up is brought to you by Duke Cannon. Visit Dukecannon.com right now to get 15% off your first order with the promo code SPARTAN. Free shipping on orders over $35
1:00 Interview begins with Fran Martinez & guest host/ translator Angel Sanz
2:00 losing his son
3:00 searching to push himself beyond the pain
4:00 wanting to “go”
5:00 his wife leaves him
6:00 friends pulling him out of depression
7:00 finding Spartan Race
7:30 Dukecannon.com break
9:30 letting other parents know they are not alone & are strong
10:40 the “Hero’s Heat”
12:30 letting people love you & loving yourself
14:00 Proyecto Daniel
14:45 Joe De Sena, Sefra Alexandra, Col. Nye & Johnny Waite discusses the interview
Producer – Marion Abrams, Madmotion, llc.
Hosts: Joe De Sena, Sefra Alexandra, Col. Nye, Johnny Waite & guest translator Angel Sanz
Synopsis – Sefra Alexandra | Seed Huntress
Production Assistant - Andrea Hagarty
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