Georgie Ly is coming home.
The 37-year-old college professor is on a mission to complete six Trifectas on the Spartan race circuit in 2019, covering 23 races in total across the country. And while that typically involves a hectic weekend travel schedule to events in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Vermont, and other locations, this weekend he’s just a train ride away from his next event, the Spartan Stadion at Citi Field in Queens, New York.
Georgie Ly and Stadium Stairs
Ly is a Queens native and grew up rooting for the New York Mets, who have played at Citi Field since it opened in 2009. The upcoming Spartan Stadion event, however, will mark the first time that Ly has visited Citi Field. “I’m excited. It’s just one train ride into the city for me this time,” said Ly, who lives and teaches algebra and precalculus in New Jersey. “But I heard the stadium has a lot of stairs, so we’ll see how that goes for me.”
Ly has never shied away from Spartan’s challenges before. He admits he doesn’t exactly scale every obstacle on the Spartan courses, and he can’t run an entire race from start to finish. Ly, who has cerebral palsy, instead prefers to set a consistent but manageable pace that allows him to finish what he starts, week after week, race after race.
And with that strategy in mind, he’s been steadily adding events to his calendar since he began competing three years ago, culminating with a goal this year to reach the 100-mile mark over a string of competitions from coast to coast. It’s a long way from where he started back in 2016, when he narrowly missed accomplishing even one Trifecta because an event in Vermont that he said, “absolutely kicked my butt.”
What keeps Ly coming back is the sense of camaraderie and community he’s found with Spartan. He’s found that despite his disability, the other competitors have been endlessly supportive of his quest to challenge himself and reach new personal heights within the sport. “It’s all about the atmosphere, and especially the people,” he said. “There are so many people who want to help you out, who don’t want you give up on yourself. It’s OK if you bomb an obstacle: at least you try it. I love doing this. I’m just going to go and go and go, because I know people will always help me.”
Navigating Cerebral Palsy
Georgie Ly says his cerebral palsy doesn’t affect his potential to finish a race, but it does limit his ability to get through some of the courses’ more taxing obstacles. Still, spurred on by a personal trainer years ago to try an activity outside the gym, Ly has embraced Spartan’s unique collection of obstacles, even the messy ones. “Tasting the mud is horrible, but you get used to it doing these races,” Ly said with a laugh. “That’s my absolute favorite, the mud. I just love it.”
And that persistence has helped Ly build a burgeoning fan base on the Spartan circuit. After so many competitions, he’s hard to miss on the courses these days, and shortly after he finished the Charlotte Super and Sprint in North Carolina on April 6, he was approached by fellow competitors who had seen him race in the past. “They kept saying, ‘We know you, we know you!’” Ly said. “It’s so amazing, people know me, and I’m just out there trying to do my race and go on my way. It’s such an accepting community. But I’m not special, I accept myself as equal to everyone else. People cheer me on and it makes me so happy, but the primary objective is to get the course done. I just want to get through the finish line, and everyone is so supportive of that. And that’s what I love.”
— By Nicholas Firchau