I’ve talked about Spartan on a macro level a lot on LinkedIn and other platforms. First, as a digital space that provides a profound communal experience, and secondly, as a community of more than 7 million people who are both highly engaged and highly impressive. I’ve also shared our efforts to fully connect with and represent all of you. And I've witnessed Spartan’s power to offer the in-person community and spiritual fulfillment in a digitally (and now literally) isolated world. Recently, though, I’ve found myself thinking more about Spartan on a micro level. More specifically, how it has impacted so many individual lives, including my own, from a Spartan mother's perspective. For many, Spartan has been a means to overcome or cope with various health issues.
I think of the Bullock family, for example, which was committed to racing even in the face of overwhelming medical challenges. Greg had multiple back surgeries to repair damage from falling from a helicopter while serving in the military. His wife, Stephanie, had a brain tumor removed. Their son, Ruahan, was born prematurely and has required multiple surgeries in his young life. At one point, Greg was unable to walk, and Stephanie was nearly blinded by her tumor.
But Stephanie never stopped thinking about completing a race — a goal she’d set while on bed rest and pregnant with Ruahan. And in 2015, all three Bullocks completed the Spartan Sprint in Atlanta, with Ruahan doing the kids race. As Stephanie wrote to us: “Shit happens, sometimes more to some than others, but the defining moment is what you do to conquer all of the difficult situations in life.”
The stories that each and every Spartan has and that define our incredible community never fail to move and motivate me. There are so many to share, and our website has whole sections dedicated to doing just that.
Spartan Spirit Awards: The Amazing Spartan Mother
What really got me thinking, though, was last year's launch of the Spartan Spirit Awards. A series of accolades created to honor three racers each month who truly exemplify Spartan’s values of grit, determination, and perseverance. Our first awards, given in 2019, coincided with Mother’s Day, and so we wanted to honor some of our Spartan moms who are the embodiment of grit in every way.
Take Lorraine, a Spartan mother and one of our award winners. A full-time mom of seven (including two sets of twins), Lorraine did her first race on a whim four years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Now training for two hours a day, she credits the “me-time” and immense challenges that Spartan provides with finding her own strength and motivating those close to her to do the same.
Or take Jennifer, a business owner and Spartan mother of three who turned to racing after finding herself out of shape and dealing with an autoimmune illness. Later, when her father was diagnosed with ALS, Jennifer credits her Spartan training for keeping her strong in the toughest moments, both emotionally and physically. She notes that she was the only sibling strong enough to lift her father into and out of bed during his final months.
Life Lessons from One Spartan Mother to Another
I’d always known the Spartan spirit was not limited to race days. But hearing these incredible stories of self-care and caretaking made me reflect on the ways in which Spartan plays a role in my life outside the obstacle course or office. It became a part of my identity within the first few minutes of my first race. I remember having the fleeting thought just before plunging into a muddy puddle that, “here goes my clean clothes and my nails are going to get gross and dirty” … and then I was grinning from ear to ear and couldn’t have cared less. Before long, I was racing with all three of my kids.
Nowadays when I find myself particularly challenged or frustrated, I think about women like Stephanie, Lorraine, and Jennifer. They, and the other members of our extended Spartan community, constantly remind me to step up to whatever curveballs life throws at me. (And trust me, there are plenty of those when you’re raising three kids in a busy city like New York and working for a super entrepreneurial company like Spartan.)
Perhaps most importantly, my fellow Spartans have taught me the kind of persevering role model I want to be to my children. The determination central to Spartan’s ethos has become a rallying cry in our household. “Mom, Spartan up,” my kids will say when they catch me in a moment of tiredness or procrastination. Hearing that feels as good as crossing the finish line.