Danielle Rieck had practiced ballet from the age of two into her 30s. She surely drew on the discipline and pain tolerance from her career to help propel her through an Agoge.
“At Agoge 001, it was the coldest weekend that Vermont had seen in years,” she says. “At one point they took us in and had us take off our boots to make sure we didn’t have frostbite and weren’t hypothermic. My toe was black.”
It was the end of the day for Rieck. There was talk about amputation.
“It was the first time I realized I wasn’t indestructible. I just really wanted to be with my team. I felt like I had let people down. It was hard.”
She decided to take the moment and burn it as fuel. “You learn that failing maybe isn’t the worst thing. I was going to grow from this and work harder.”
It was an attitude she had used successfully in the ballet world. “You really have to be good,” she says. “There are no off days. You can’t skip. When you’re not training, somebody else is, and they’re going to take the job away from you. So you have to keep going, and you have to keep working harder. I still do consider myself a ballerina, and I think I have a little fighter in me, too.”
What powers Rieck in her relentless push in the Spartan Racing world?
“The times when you are at your lowest are some of the best memories,” she says. “They’re some of the times when I’ve just looked and been like, I’m around the most amazing people, I’m learning more about myself right now.”
She adds, “When things are easy and good, they’re forgettable. When I look at my feet and how destroyed they are, it’s my favorite thing about me. These bumps and bruises and scars—that’s who I am.”
The secret to her ability to endure?
“It’s all mental. Physically you can do this stuff.” It feels good to do it, she adds. “Just do it.”