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A few years ago I met a childhood friend for lunch. Like all of us over the years he had changed, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well. His passion for working out and his new-found love of racing was contagious. I listened intently to all the adventures he had gone on, all the amazing obstacles he had overcome. I was impressed…so impressed that he took it upon himself to buy me my very first race ticket.

What kind of race? An OCR (Obstacle Course Race), Tough Mudder to be exact. I was basically being forced into an unknown territory, but he was so passionate and so convincing that it would “be fun”, so what could I say? The night before the race (May 2014), I made the mistake of Googling “Tough Mudder Obstacles.” I literally sat and cried, the fear of failure consuming me. But I had made a promise, and my friend promised not to leave my side during the race. So the next morning I was off and running. It turned out to be one of the craziest, most challenging, and most rewarding experiences of my life.

That nudge, that enthusiastic push from my friend, led me to find my “thing,” my passion, my excitement: OCR’s, namely Spartan Racing. Most of you know I do these for “fun,” although most of you question my definition of fun. Yeah, maybe I am a little crazy, but Spartan races have changed my life. They have forced me to overcome my fears. I have proven to myself that even though I’m older than most racers, I can do these things. My body will do what my mind tells it to do. Don’t get me wrong, weeks before I race I begin to fear the course, doubt myself, beat myself up, but as soon as I get to the starting line it’s me against me. ALWAYS. I compete with MYSELF. I challenge MYSELF. I set goals for MYSELF. It’s my game, my way. I need to be my own cheerleader. It’s the ultimate test of not giving up. It’s the ultimate test of me facing my fears.

A wise friend once told me about FEAR: “The way to overcome fear is through confidence. Confidence comes from knowledge and familiarity. Do the things you fear, know that you are able to do what is needed to be done when the time comes. Do what you must do to gain the knowledge of what must be done, even if you do it in slow, small, steps. If you fail, try again. Build on your efforts. In the end you will find you have more strength and courage than you know, and if nothing else, you will know you failed trying, unlike the timid souls that never know victory or defeat.”

I have met so many incredible people along the way and have made many lifelong friends. We know what it takes to go out there and brave the elements, the course, the unknown. We share a bond of accomplishment. I have witnessed people 300+ pounds finish the same course I endured. People with missing limbs. People in wheelchairs. All with a story. All with a common goal. Teams of people running for a common cause, and in Spartan, no man is left behind—ever. The medal is but a symbol of accomplishment, what holds fast are the memories, the “ah-ha” moments, the “I can’t believe I just did that,” and the “I can’t wait to do that again!”

So find your “fun,” your own crazy joy, and immerse yourself. Drag people into your new-found world, pass along your excitement and your passion. Keep an open mind at all times, because FEAR might just lead you to that one experience…that one person…that can change your life.


Submitted by: Antonette Carfagnini, Certified Crazy and Fitness Instructor at FITT-RX

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