How One Spartan Raced Back From a Sedentary Death Sentence
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."