Spartans Don’t Race Alone

This has been my view for the last 9 hours.

It’s 90 degrees out here.

I want desperately to be on that mountain. Any mountain. Hell, I’d take a flat trail at this point.

But these Spartan Kids Races, y’all.

I was happy to see the same Spartan crew there as last year.

Knucklehead: “I remember you. You’re an issue.”

Me: “I’m a freakin ray of sunshine.”

Knucklehead: “Just watch yourself. Don’t give me a hard time.”

Me: “I think you’re confusing me with the redhead from last year.”

Knucklehead: “Nope. I remember your name. It’s the opposite of your personality.”

Me: “Fair enough.”

I spent the next 9 hours giving Knucklehead a hard time.

And registering kids that could barely contain their excitement about running a Spartan. Teaching them to “AROO!” Fastening spectator wristbands to grown men without catching a single arm hair. (It’s a skill.) Trying to convince mothers to let me hold their babies. (In a totally not creepy motherly way. No one would.) I did convince one woman to let me handle her giant Great Dane looking dog while she filled out paper work.

He was completely uninterested in me.

He just casually drug me along behind him as he peed on Knucklehead’s Spartan banners.

During my 9 hours of volunteering, I didn’t see a single child on a cell phone or gameboy or iPad or any other electronic.

They were too busy being awesome. Challenging themselves and proving to themselves and the world that they can do any-damn-thing.

Several of those kids were from our very own running family.

Including Endong’s boy.

As they were leaving, Endong suggested burpees.

Like I’m gonna say no to the exercise I hate most in the world.

Random Dude in response to burpees: “Why?”

Me: “I know, right?”

He just looked confused and walked away.

Watched a little girl have an animated conversation with Knucklehead. And when she was done and was walking away said, “Bye Knicklehead.”

Thus the nickname.

The look of shock on that former military man’s face when a five year old Spartan called him knucklehead may have been the highlight of the day.

Until the last heat. The 3pm Special Spartan heat.

One child was registered to run that heat.

A tiny little four year old boy.

And Spartans don’t let Spartans race alone.

So staff and volunteers lined up at the start with him and his mom and his slightly older sister.

I intended to run with the girl. Because Girls on the Run and all.

Until she took off from the starting line like a freakin cheetah.

It took me a good 1/4 mile to catch up with her. She didn’t need me. She was jumping walls and climbing cargo nets and beasting the course. The half mile course. That I was struggling to make it through. We got to the low crawl through the water. She hesitated. My time to shine. “Nah girl. I got you. We’ll crawl through together.”

She looked at me, kinda shrugged, dropped into the water, and shimmied her way right on through and out the other side.

Meanwhile, I was still trying to make my butt fit under the first line.

She absolutely didn’t need me.

And not only did she not need me. But in my efforts to force my support onto her, I tore my 44-year old knees all to hell and had to hobble back to the finish line.

They gave me a Spartan Kids wristband for my sorry ass efforts.

Then I gathered with the rest of the staff and volunteers to support little man and his mom as they got to the cargo net.

Little man was terrified. He didn’t want to go near it. He damn sure wasn’t going over on his own.

So mom put this little man on her back as staff and volunteers surrounded her. And she carried him as she climbed up and over.

That is Spartan as hell.

I hope Spartan shares the photos. Because it was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever witnessed.

My 9 hour shift turned into 10. And it was so fully worth it.

I get to go back for more tomorrow.

You should bring your kids.

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