As a college theater major and a self-proclaimed book nerd, Cathryn never considered herself athletic. After volunteering at the Palmerton Sprint in 2013, the 37-year-old decided that she needed to try racing herself. “I felt drawn to the sport, but completely intimidated at the same time,” she says. “I used to climb trees when I was little and I didn’t hate it, so the obstacle portion is what hooked me in.”
To prepare, she hired a personal trainer. Her goal as an athlete? Nail as many obstacles as possible, get that fire jump photo, and finish the race. Her goal as a single mom? Be an example for her son.
“I want my son to be proud of me and think I’m cool,” she says. “But more importantly I want him to know that he can do anything he wants to do, that any obstacle that comes his way, there is a way around it, through it, over it. Every step I take is for him, to show him that you just have to keep going.”
The truth is, every race is better when you know why you signed up in the first place. Having purpose helps you unlock your potential, so we asked five Spartans to share what drives them.
1. “It was time to lose weight”
“I was always a heavy girl. On my 24th birthday, something clicked in my head that this was the time to take control. I worked my butt off and lost just over 75 pounds in about a year. Two days before I turned 25, I ran my first Spartan Sprint in Tuxedo, New York. On race day, I didn’t know a single person. My parents came to spectate and that was it. It was by no means easy, running up and down a mountain for 4.7 miles, climbing walls and hauling sandbags. And while I failed my fair share of obstacles, I made it to the fire jump and crossed the finish line. From that point forward, I was hooked. My mom said to me ‘You are a Spartan. Nobody can ever take this away from you,.’ And she’s right. I’m a Spartan, and a whole new person because of it.”—Chelsea A., 37
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2. “The friendships are unbeatable”
“It’s the camaraderie that keeps me coming back for more. Since getting hooked on Spartan, I’ve always wanted to get others involved challenging/motivating people to join my team. My hook? I tell them it’s like a day at the spa crawling through the mud. The energy levels, watching others conquer their biggest challenges, and the funny stories we all share—it’s priceless.”—Brian M., 44
3. “When I race, depression can’t catch me”
“When I’m racing, I think about myself and my struggles. I’ve battled depression since high school. It comes and goes, but it’s always there. I think about the struggles I’ve dealt with in my own personal life and remind myself that I survived the nights that were too dark, the thoughts that were too loud, and the pain I thought would never lessen. If I can get through that, I can get to that fire jump, and hopefully I can inspire someone as well.”—Cathryn H., 37
4. “I race to reclaim myself”
“After my divorce, I felt like I had I lost my sense of purpose. I had my son, but quickly learned that I needed something for myself. I found obstacle course racing and with that Spartan came along. The Spartan mentality helps me drive myself to become better every day.”—Tim W., 37
5. “I need to prove that I’m tough enough to handle anything”
“Spartan is my opportunity to leave everything going on in my life behind. I’m able to forget my stressors. Not think about my job. Put aside my worries and just focus on the literal path and obstacles in front of me. It’s a constant reminder that no matter what life throws at me, I can go back and handle it head on. I take the mentality I use during a race back to my life each and every time. After battling depression, racing became a way to train my strength, self-confidence, self-esteem, and yes, my figure. It was the push and empowerment I needed and still need to be my best self.”—Perri G., 30
Ready to give Spartan a try? Here’s everything you need to know to find your race.