Things happen in life that are not fair, that test your faith in people, maybe even give up on society. We all have been there at some point or another so when you become a part of something so pure, whole, and unstoppable, you hold onto it and would die protecting it. That is the Corn Fed Spartans and it was no different at the Spartan Super at Cliffs Insane Off-Road Park in Marseilles, Illinois on June 19-21. With camping a half mile away and a weekend of Corn Fed, things always happen and it’s a perfect combination of the best medicine to get people back on track. Personally, I took a different approach to it this year. This race 2 years ago was a sprint, the first of many which catapulted the drive to bring a race to Indiana and, more importantly, create a team that holds the standard for pushing the envelope all the while keeping a family feel to it, the Corn Fed Spartans. I did not participate in the Hurricane Heat but instead got another involved that I have a feeling will take Spartan Race by storm with his extreme motivational talent and drive to make his clients be the best they can be. Coach Pain Dwayne has quickly became a friend and motivator for me and to see his excitement while driving the HH group was exactly why all of us lean towards Spartan Race as being the best OCR out there. From seeing the pictures from the HH, it looked to be one for the ages with the pain yet happiness in their faces. Great job HH’ers. You have earned your spot in this elite team of great individuals.
Saturday morning Candie and I promised Mike Morris, Head Race Director, that we would pre run the course to make sure to properly tag areas that may cause people to get lost. Having done the first half and going backwards on the second half, it looked to be a rough, rugged course that reflected the very first race Spartan Race put on here….except twice as long! Being the only one on the course and out in the middle of nowhere gave me time to think about what the last 1 1/2 years has meant to so many. What these races mean to so many. How the difficulty of mud, water, obstacles, and some running gets people out of the house and makes them accomplish things they never thought they would. I love this stuff!
With the team heat getting closer, we were pleasantly surprised by Spartan Race. We were not the biggest team on Saturday but they graciously gave us a team tent we all could meet in with a nice thank you letter on how much they appreciate teams like us that are so willing to give them our time to help them get set up. Thank you to all who volunteered and became a part of the Spartan Race family. The buzz within our team is always pretty intense and motivating. It gets you so caught up in the moment of like minded people who only know you through Facebook but share the passion of OCR’s and the team that things seem like they fly by when in all reality the time is going slow. Team pictures went off a little early, missing some people from the picture. Sorry to those who missed it. We all try so hard to get everyone in and are bummed when we can’t. Indiana was the same way.
The team heat started with Coach Pain giving a hell of a motivational speech that got us all pumped and ready for battle. For the first time, I did not run elite and only did the CFS sweeper heat, something we officially started in Indiana with being the last of the Corn Fed members to cross to make sure all of our team would make it through. Since we knew it would be a walk/jog pace, I decided to wear a 60 lb weight vest. This later turned into a near disaster. Along with me, Bret Byerly, Justin Lahrman, and Candie Bobick all wore weight vests. Honestly, I don’t remember seeing anyone else doing that, member or non-member. Wonder why? The heat got released and we were off to take on a brutal course that eats off-road vehicles for breakfast.
A certain mindset is needed when doing a race with a weight vest and being a part of the CFS Sweeper Team. Obviously the weight vest the longer you wear it will cause joints and body to get more fatigued and eventually swelling will happen along with a little bit of muscle failure. The best thing to do is get through the race as quickly as possible. This contradicts the very reason the CFS Sweeper Team is out there. We will go slow and make sure everyone we come across, member or nonmember, get over obstacles, through barb wire, and across the finish line…..oh yeah, and get lots of pictures! Team is the word of the day because if we didn’t use each other to get over and under obstacles, we wouldn’t have made it. We rely on everyone in the group to make sure we are there when we need them. I can’t remember the obstacles in order but over unders, barb wire, tire flips, tire drags, Hercules hoist, tractor pull w/ log carry, hobi hop, walls, cargo nets, and sandbag carry is most of them if not all. Half way through we came upon a pond which was used for the rope climb the first year this race was here. Instead now, its 18 foot deep in the center. Till now, I had never went through water with a weight vest. You always have to try and push the envelope, right? I figured, hold onto the rope, pull myself across and its all good. A few mistakes were made. I picked a rope in the center instead of the outside (rope was looser in the middle). I made it halfway out and when I knew I was going down, I should have taken a deep breath and just went and pulled
myself along the rope until getting to the end. Halfway out, I went down, and when I mean down, I went DOWN with no chance of getting back above water for air. So many thoughts flashed before my eyes in the seconds I was inhaling water. It makes me tear up just thinking about it. My son, Ethan. Candie, friends, family, CFS, and the memories to go with it. I’ve not told anyone this since its happened because of the emotional feelings I have behind it. I also only told one person that I teared up right after talking with Mike Morris on our way to the spear throw. Lucky for me there were capable divers and lifeguards who brought me back up and allowed me to cough and puke water up so I could breath. In her haste to get to me, Candie, who was also wearing a weight vest went down which prompted them to leave me with 1 girl to get her. Yeah, I went back down but was brought back up quickly. That was a scary experience and looking back at it, would cause a lot of people to quit or pack it in. I am thankful that we did neither!
The 45 degree wall and rope climb were next. The 45 wall was okay with getting lots of help from Jeff to get over and after helping our team and a few others up, the rope climb was next. A very difficult climb and being 3 feet away from the bell and not going any further was a big disappointment. After a short jog we came upon the spear throw. I believe I have learned a trick to the spear throw though. Under handed throw works like a charm. There is a video showing it here. With half the race being completed, we knew that we would be out for another 3 1/2-4 hours.
A series of steep hills, muddy paths, and difficult obstacles are always made better when there is family with you in the trenches going through the same shit you’re going through. Our crew was starting to get tired, sore, and weak and everyone, especially towards the end was ready for the race to be done. Traverse wall, barbed wire, under a wall in water, and more barbed wire gave us the site we were looking for…..the gladiator pit. In CFS fashion, we created a wall much like a kick return in football does and barreled through the center of them with our flag secured in the center and all of us crossing the finish line 7:18:58 after we took off from the finish line. Medals around our necks, shirts in our hands, and another race where the Corn Fed Spartans used good old fashioned teamwork to get each other across the finish line.
There are always lessons learned from each and every race. Anything is possible, you could die tomorrow, right now even. Have you done everything you have wanted to do with your life? Have you went to the places you want to go to? Is there something you keep putting off because you think you have time? What is stopping you? Work? School? Home? A lot of people say life gets in the way of doing the things they want to do. I say this, life is not getting in the way of you, you are getting in the way of life. Is it your purpose in life to hold yourself back, to create so much you “have” to do that you can’t slow down and daydream a bit? My advice, which may not be worth much, is to see something new everyday, try something you haven’t tried, create a bucket list and actually do it. Life is short, take it in your hands with a death grip because that is the only thing that should stop you from completing “your” life list.