With challenge comes a unique opportunity for bonding. Ask any group of athletes: The teammate they train with are among the most important people in their lives. So it’s no wonder that more families are deciding to brave Spartan races together—helping each other over walls and through mud, even when energy and muscles are failing, helps build powerful family connections. Call them Spartan vacations.
Perhaps that’s why families are increasingly replacing their normal beach vacations and Disneyland trips with races. Spartan vacations generally cost less than those trips, and according to Megan Oesterreich, mother of three, they do more for the family. “For us, Spartan racing has become so valuable,” she says. “I want all my kids to know how to appreciate their bodies, to value strength and function. I want them to push themselves, learn their limits and how to set goals and work at them. I especially want my daughter to know she can do anything she wants and can be strong and competitive as well as beautiful and smart.”
Oesterreich certainly isn’t alone. Here, she and her fellow Spartans share why they go for a Spartan vacation in place of traditional family vacations.
Niki Lane Goerner During a camping trip to Asheville, North Carolina, in 2009, Goerner's now-husband proposed. Three kids later, they're preparing to make the 561-mile drive back to Asheville—this time for the Super.
“We are Spartans, and that means something to my kids. For us, using a Spartan as a vacation is ideal. For the Super coming up in North Carolina, my parents, brother, his wife and son, my cousin, her husband and daughter, and an aunt are all coming along, and we’ll stay together. We love vacations where we all rent a house together, so that we have that down time with family, and I’ll be able to relax in the beautiful mountains as I recover from the Super.”
Chase Brown *After first racing with his dad and sister, 16-year-old Brown managed to get his mom and other sister excited about Spartan. Now the Virginia-based family has raced together in Atlanta, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C., and next up is the trifecta weekend in West Virginia.
”Spartan has changed my family in a very good way. Most of the time we can’t afford [a more expensive] vacation, so we volunteer at the races and then get to race for free. I love seeing my family succeed and helping them. Since I know how to do the obstacles, I can give them tips or lifts up a wall, or let them put some gravel in my bucket and split burpees and stuff like that. Overcoming any obstacle as a family and jumping the fire at the end of all of it is the best feeling ever.”
Gail Harrison *After crossing the finish line of the South Carolina Beast with her husband and 13-year-old son in 2012, Harrison knew that her family would be racing together again. Now with 21 trifectas under her belt (her son’s at 15), she's a dedicated to the Spartan vacation. The Plant City, Florida, family has traveled hundreds of miles to check off bucket-list races. *
“We have completed over 65 Spartan races and visited some very awesome places including Hawaii, Southern California, Lake Tahoe, Killington, Chicago, Austin, Dallas, and Breckenridge. When we are out on the course, whether we are running together or separately, we are focused on the race and our fellow racers. For us, this is the ultimate family vacation. There are no thoughts about work, or school, or chores. We are enjoying the course, obstacles, and new friends. We are discovering the awesome things we can do for ourselves and others.”
Steve Costanza *With his wife and daughter, 16, Costanza is looking forward to a trip to Lake Tahoe in September for the family’s next Beast. It's the follow-up on a trip the family took last year to Hawaii, where his daughter conquered her first Ultra Beast (and then, the following day, took on the Sprint with him and his wife). *
“I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 25 years ago. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I decided that I was not going to let the illness rule me. The change happened when my daughter did her first Spartan race in 2015. To watch her finish, and see the support she received not only from the group she ran with but from strangers within the Spartan community, we knew we wanted to be a part of it. That feeling is what makes Spartan our ultimate trip. We sit together as a family and plan out which races to do based on where we would like to visit and make little vacations out of the trip. My wife loves volunteering and has volunteered at a number of races throughout California, as well as Hawaii and Colorado. I love that my family is as passionate about the Spartan way as much as I am. It’s something we share, together.”
Megan Oesterreich *At almost 41 years old, Megan credits Spartan for helping her get in the best shape of her life. Last year, her 10-, 8-, and 5-year-old kids ran five of the seven Spartans she did. And while the races themselves are outstanding, what this mom loves most is their journey to get there, spending days as a family in their RV. *
“As a family doing Spartan, it’s about doing something active and healthy together. It’s about the whole experience. By doing this together, I have found a new, fitter, happier me which only leads to being a better mother and partner. The kids see a strong mother who takes some time for herself while still including the kiddos.”