As March closes and Spring appears, so has the Spartan Honor series starting in April at Fort Benning, GA. Out like a Lion they say… in like a Lamb. There is nothing subtle about the Honor Series or Spartan Racing in general. There is no lamb here. As a US Marine Corps Veteran, an SGX Coach and a Spartan Racer, I personally connect with Spartan’s military-themed races and support them with as much passion as they support our Armed Forces. Widely successful in 2017, 2018 continues with a series of seven races that are tailored to the Military. To make them even more special, many of them are held on Military bases and normally the race is occupied by active members of the Armed Forces, Veterans and Wounded Warriors.
Back in the early 90s when I personally set foot on the yellow footprints at Parris Island, I knew I was in for a ride. Nothing that took place during boot camp or the years that followed would have prepared me to believe that now in my 40s I would be back out on the obstacles. Much like I had done when I was 19 years old. Most people don’t have that level of foresight. I am happy to say that have had these experiences as they have been life changing.
For those of you new to military ways or not aware of the training most recruits go through, OCR is actually one of the requirements to successfully complete recruit training. You will also find yourself continuing this effort throughout your time in the military and in some branches of service, having to qualify and re-qualify for time on them repeatedly.
Obstacle course racing was something I had not personally done prior to boot camp. As with many who first encounter it, a little paranoia is actually normal and usually affects everyone who stares down their first obstacle course. The order is given to attack that obstacle course (in boot camp we called it the –O- course) not like a lamb, but a ferocious lion in combat. Grit, perseverance and pure effort get you through. You follow orders, directions or directives and you will complete it.
The problem is your mind will drift to ‘You want me to complete all that in under a minute?’
My first run of the obstacle course was, as memory recalls, not as good as it was after having done it 100 more times and then graduating boot camp. What I learned was, the first struggle was mental (doubt, uncertainty) and then the second was physical (getting better at it and later dominating it). Sound familiar? Fearful of falling, unsure of the obstacles themselves, not in the perfect physical shape to do the specific requirements asked of you… sound familiar? To those new to OCR, Spartan Races can be intimidating.
After getting back into obstacle racing many years later when it started to become popular and more accessible, it seemed natural for me to be highly interested in attempting it again. Starting to train for it was easier for me because having gone through something like it once before, many of the fears first time racers had didn’t affect me (mental). What did affect me was time, age and ability (physical). In 2016 I ran my first Spartan Race. I had done a few others prior to that, however this was the first Spartan and I went directly for a Spartan Super. Having felt ready, I already realized that this was not something I was worried about or fearful of, but I felt I was moving up a notch in the OCR world to complete a Spartan. Become a US Marine, become a Spartan.
Now a couple of years later, having earned multiple Trifectas, becoming an SGX coach and training almost daily to get better, I have found a new love for OCR. I didn’t think it could get any better until it I found out that I could do this and marry the two, military and OCR, together by completing an Honor Series Spartan Race.
Honor Series races are held on military bases and/or held with members of the US military. What better way to pay homage, contribute to helping veterans in need and run side-by-side with brethren from time past?
So in sum, for first-time racers you try to remember the following points which may help ease the fear of racing or attempting your first race:
- The first battle to overcome is the battle of the mind. You can do this by starting a couch-to-sprint training plan and getting more comfortable with your body and its ability to run an obstacle course.
- Run in the Open heats where you can get help if needed. There is no shame in this. Most elite obstacle racers needed to start somewhere and many of them started in open heats and gradually built themselves up to running in competitive or elite heats. This is how you can start to overcome the second battle which is physical.
For those of you who are already racing:
- If you have not already done so, you should consider the honor series. Another great way to help out our Military and give back is to simply race! A portion of every race registration will be given to OSCARMIKE in support of wounded veterans. $20.00 from every race registration will be donated by Spartan and USAA’s partnership. If you use code USAA at checkout, you will received a free OSCARMIKE t-shirt when you complete your registration.
For those who are not aware of the Oscar Mike Foundation, it is a veteran owned and operated public charity that wants to see all injured Veterans utilize their full potential and live rewarding and productive lives. It does this through using all proceeds to provide financial support to injured Veterans who are looking for opportunities to stay active. For those who have seen them race in the past, it is very humbling, inspirational and motivating to see these men and women put forth grit, heart and passion on the course.
You can start your Honor Series racing next month in Fort Benning, GA on 4/14 with a Spartan Sprint. For the rest of the year until the final race on 10/27, you can attempt to run on both sides of the US and complete the series.
I hope to see you join us for at least one, if not all of these outstanding races in the series and remember; every registration helps to support a great cause and those who need our help on and off the battlefield, the OCR course and here at home.
I am honored to have been able to serve eight years in the US Military, particularly the US Marine Corps taught me a thing or two about life. I am proud to be able to give of myself to something bigger than me and help others whenever I can. I am honored to race. It has been a long search to find companies that really want to help vets and give back. I am honored to call myself a Spartan and appreciate all they do for individuals and groups they serve. It is after all about service. Service to others is the true honor. Aroo!