Thinking about taking on an obstacle course race (OCR) – let alone on desert sand dunes – would fill many people with dread.
But as Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius put it nearly 2000 years ago: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
That’s part of the reason 2022 Spartan World Championship chose 150 UAE-residing, Spartan Race ambassadors to spread the word about their love for these events, the strong community that engages with them, and what they’ve overcome doing them.
These athletes have learned to view those obstacles as opportunities – and they have some deep wisdom about how you can too.
For example Greta Treeby, a 41-year-old athlete from Malta who has completed seven Spartan races since 2021.
“When I decided to start training for Spartan Races, it wasn’t only about the physical training and overcoming the obstacles physically,” she explained. “For me overcoming the obstacle also represents overcoming challenges that we face in life. So, it helps me in that respect to become mentally stronger.”
And that’s something that all the ambassadors are passionate about when it comes to promoting the sport, which has become a major part of their lives. Take Jayson Castillo, a resident of Abu Dhabi from the Philippines who organizes free fitness sessions for residents every week.
“I’m just doing what I’m doing, spreading the word, keeping the community active and introducing the race to everyone who’s not into it yet,” he explains. “I’m also a SGX (Spartan Group training program) coach. So, I showcase my talents as a coach for free, as I want to give back to the community. At the same time, I’m also a sprint coach so I’m also teaching people how to run their first sprints and how to run 5k or 10k, which they can then apply to the Spartan Race.”
While giving back to the community is part of the Spartan DNA, the only way to really understand the spirit of this event is to face the grueling course yourself.
“My biggest challenge of Spartan Races was during the 21-kilometer race last year,” says Hosam Yossef, an Egyptian Spartan ambassador from Dubai. It was in Liwa and the dunes were massive and we took a lot of time to finish. But it’s a great community, everyone is supporting each other and if you find anyone struggling, you help them out.”
Greta continues: “I think it’s amazing because people who are out there using social media are seeing normal people in full-time jobs and with family commitments doing challenges that maybe they themselves want to do. They start to think, ‘okay, I can do it too’. So, we love to reach out to the community and show them nothing is impossible with training and with motivation”.
“As ambassadors our job is to raise awareness and find people to join our community and to try the sport and races, because it is for everyone. No matter how fast, how tall, how short you are, you are welcome. You’ll do the race, you’ll finish it and will have fun”, Hosam ends.
• The 2022 World Spartan Championships were held on December 3 and 4 at the 2022 Al Wathba Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa. To sign up for a race or learn more about getting involved in this sport, go to Arabia.Spartan.com
Asha Sherwood owns Abu Dhabi Review, an online and social platform that gives you the scoop on everything happening in the capital.