We're constantly amazed by the hundreds of Spartan teams that compete from coast to coast. They're friends, veterans, colleagues, and family members. They're inspirations, role models, champions, and barrier breakers. And more often that not, they're on a mission. They're racing and competing for a cause, for something far bigger than them.
For awareness. For remembrance. To never forget and to persevere and to push forward, even in the hardest, most painful, most challenging times. When you think you might break, and you need something to live for and fight for, something to keep your spirit alive — or someone else's.
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That's the essence of Team Indy Effect.
Team Indy Effect was formed shortly after Indy Llew Jones, who was only 5 years old, tragically died from cancer. Following her passing on June 3, 2021, Indy's parents, Terah and Brian Jones, decided to begin running Spartan races in her honor. Their first two were last year, in Dallas and Florida, and in 2022 they've finished races in Arizona, Montana, and Utah. In August, they'll run the Hawaii Spartan race in Oahu.
Determined to honor Indy's short but impactful life and share her incredible spirit with the masses, the Jones' have built an incredible team in just over a year. They've recruited just under 100 people to join in their efforts, and Brian's goal is to become one of the 10 largest Spartan teams in the United States.
"We've had an awesome time doing it," Brian said, "and we can really feel her spirit running with us in the races. It's been an amazing experience to carry her with us in the races, and we expect that we'll continue to do three or four races each year in the future ... It's been a really cool opportunity to carry her legacy on and continue to live life and spend quality time together doing something awesome like Spartan races."
As Team Indy Effect's team has grown, so too has Terah's reach. Indy's mom, who documents the team's experiences on the course, now has 250,000 followers on Instagram. Her followers have gotten a small sliver of what made Indy so special and so loving, and her legacy continues to build with every race and every post.
"Almost all of the [Team Indy Effect] racers had a story of how Indy helped them through the race during hard moments," Terah wrote after 65 people raced in support of Indy in Utah. "An orange butterfly flying beside them, purple wildflowers along the trail, thoughts she placed on their hearts ... It was sobering to be reminded why we were all there, but beautiful, too, because great effort was put forth to run for one special little girl.
"I am so proud of everyone who raced and am humbled by the amount of support and love we saw this weekend. It’s easy to feel like everyone has moved on now, but Indy lives on in so many hearts, and this was a reminder of that."
The primary purpose of Team Indy Effect will always be to honor Indy's beautiful soul, and the impact that she had on so many people during her brief life. But throughout the team's journey, many other lives have been touched as a result, and some of the stories have been awe-inspiring.
Terah's father is a prime example of the transformative effect that teamwork, and racing for a cause, can have on one's life. After Indy's death, he relapsed into drug addiction, and Terah was convinced that he wasn't going to recover. But inspired by Indy, he worked his way back from the depths of addiction, set his sights on coming back stronger, and finished his first race with the team in Montana.
Team Indy Effect is on a mission to continue expanding in the coming months and years, and Brian Jones has a message for Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena: Make some room, 'cause we're coming.
"Pretty soon Spartan is going to have to give us our own private race because we'll have so many people," he says with a laugh.
Nothing would make us happier.