December 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

The 2010 Texas Spartan Race had finished, and the organizers were two hours into the cleanup process.  Suddenly, a couple arrived at the race course, sweaty and out of breath, and approached the organizers.  The couple had signed up for the race and were on their way to compete when they were in a car accident.  A tow truck had arrived at the scene of the accident to remove the car. The two would-be competitors managed to convince the driver to give them a lift to the race, but the driver could only drop them off eight miles away from the starting line.  Refusing to admit defeat, the couple ran the rest of the way to the racecourse.

There was nothing for the race organizers to do but reassemble the racecourse and send the two Spartans into it.  The Spartan Race founding team ran the course alongside the couple, to honor their true Spartan Spirit.

The couple exemplify the values that compose the Spartan Spirit: honor, persistence, determination, ingenuity, and physical and mental endurance in the face of adversity. When an average person would have given up, the couple used a combination of creativity and fitness to push forward.  They could not accept any outcome other than meeting their goal: to compete in the Spartan Race.

The values of the Spartan Spirit are the true purpose of the Spartan Race series, created in 2010 by a team of athletic and creative individuals.  They seek to promote not only their race events, but through these events a return to form of sorts—that is, a return to the values and lifestyle that made ancient Spartans immensely successful warriors.

For those unfamiliar, Sparta was an ancient city-state of fierce warriors.  Their skill in battle was no accident; rather, the entire fabric of their society was constructed so that each man had no choice but become a true competitor.  From the age of seven until the age of twenty, Spartan males were trained in military camps.  They learned to endure physical pain, survival skills, and rigid discipline.

This lifestyle instilled a specific set of values into the heart of every Spartan.  They spurned luxury and physical comfort, choosing instead self-reliance and self-denial. Their society was structured and orderly: no man sought to take more for himself than his neighbor had, but instead to give all that he could to the cause of his people. While other ancient societies abandoned their martial values once they reached a certain level of material comfort, the Spartans continued to adhere to a rigorous code of ethics regardless of material circumstances, and in fact rejected material comfort and leisure time.

The model of Spartan society is incredibly relevant to modern Western society.  Today’s Western culture is imbalanced in its obsessive pursuit of material comfort and convenience.  In other words, we’ve gone soft.  The only solution is to return to our roots as human beings through intense physical training and mental challenges.  The Spartan Race is not about running a faster time, as in a marathon, nor is it solely a test of physical fitness.  It is a unique combination of physical and mental challenges that seeks to emulate the courageous lives of the Spartan people and promote their values.

If we in today’s society push ourselves beyond what we believe to be our personal limits, we will be surprised with what we find: a new sense of courage in conviction and self-reliance.  If we rely on our own courage to compete in a draining physical competition, we will be able to rely on our own courage to meet goals in our careers and personal lives.


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