The Spartan Beast is a twelve to sixteen mile mud run on a mountain that consists of things like climbing a twenty-foot rope, picking up atlas stones, climbing over nine foot walls, crawling under barbed-wire, swimming through lakes, and hiking insanely steep mountain sides. You may be asking yourself, "Who the hell wants to do that kind of stuff?" Well, sixty-one No Bullers to be exact wanted to challenge their minds and bodies yesterday, and man did we push our limits. I've done about a dozen OCR's (Obstacle Course Races) over the past three years and I must say that yesterdays Beast in Vernon, NJ was by far the most brutal...and the most rewarding.
Forget the seven hours that most of us spent on this mountain trying to complete the 15.2 mile course, the real work started about six months ago when we decided to make a No Bull team. The day we all signed up is when reality hit that we were all going to be pushing our limits on a very big and very scary mountain. To go into a mountain of this size and a race of this magnitude, without being fully prepared, is a recipe for disaster (not finishing or getting injured). These races on mountains are risky at best, I watched at least a dozen people fall and get injured (not hurt). Unfortunately, even team No Bull had a couple of casualties; but the sad reality is that its part of the game. Statistically speaking, I'm surprised more of us didn't get injured.
I know the risk of getting injured is a big reason that many people don't do these races, and trust me, I get it. I have a business, a mortgage and young kids that depend on me. This is a huge reason why it took me so long to get team No bull to sign up for a race of this magnitude. I treated these races like I do my training methods, we started off a few years back with "easier" mud runs and slowly progressed to tougher, and longer ones. Micro-progression is the key to having long-term success with virtually everything in life.
Considering all the months of tough training, the weeks of anxiety, and the brutality of going up and down that mountain NUMEROUS times, for SEVEN hours, I'd have to say it was 100% worth it. The feeling that came over all of us crossing that finish line (which is jumping over a fire), made it all worth it. There was no more pain or soreness, there was just a feeling of Pride and Confidence that is hard to get (maybe impossible) if you don't challenge yourself to that degree. Now I'll be the first to tell you all that these Spartan Beasts are NOT for everyone. These races are brutal for even the most fittest of athletes, but with proper training, proper nutrition, proper progressions, and an unbreakable mind-set, anyone can do it!
Now forget about the actual race, I want to talk about the real reason I love these OCR's; they make a group of strangers, a family! I was on a mountain with sixty people who train at No Bull, who at one point were just a bunch of individuals before they all met one day training at a small gym on the outskirts of Philly. Our gym brings us together and makes us a team, and these types of mud runs, 10 k's, and charity hikes make us a Family. Not only do we train together, but we hangout together outside of No Bull, we eat together, we share hotels and do races together, we go to each others houses, and we have a ton of love and respect for one another. Even No Bullers that didn't think they were quite ready to run this race still came out and volunteered on the mountain to show their support of their fellow teammates. I must admit, it was a great moral booster seeing my crew out there cheering us on every few miles (and getting some pretty bad-ass pictures).
To say I'm proud of every single one of you guys would be an understatement! Whether you finished in four hours, got injured, or didn't finish the race in the allotted time, you are all still warriors in my book. To even attempt to step out on that mountain makes you a "tough ass human" in my eyes, and I have a ton of respect for you all.
There are no limits to where you can take your fitness journey. Over this past weekend I watched men and women do things that I didn't think were possible. I watched a twelve year old kid finish the ultra-beast (thats 2 laps of the beast) / I watched a man run the Beast BAREFOOT / I watched a person with Cerebral palsy finish the race / I watched a people do the race back to back days / Nothing is impossible!
"Train Your Mind and Your Body Will Follow"