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Fire, mud, risk of death - all in a day's run in the Spartan Race
Justin Jindra will never forget the crucible. No Marine can.
On Saturday at Fort Carson's Iron Horse Park, five miles of running in mud and water, through military-style obstacles while pushing one’s self to the limit took the 26-year-old Peyton military contractor back to the final phase of boot camp.
That’s the idea of Spartan Race, which brought its unique obstacle course race to the Pikes Peak region for the first time.
“I’ve been to Iraq, but as I was going uphill with that pack with the simulated gunfire, it reminded me of the crucible,” said Jindra, referring to the 54-hour rite of passage when recruits work together in extreme conditions to complete various missions with very little food and sleep. “The 4th Infantry and Special Forces made the obstacles, and it was the closest thing to the crucible in the Marine Corps.”
(Think you'd like to try a similar race? Read about other area mud runs, obstacle courses and adventure races.)
Bringing together hard-core warriors, fitness enthusiasts and those somewhere in the middle, Saturday’s Military Sprint attracted a staggering 3,217 entrants to the Mountain Post, ready to put their physical fitness, resilience, strength, stamina and personal hygiene to the test.
It wasn’t a race for the faint of heart, or those who don’t like getting a little dirty. OK, a lot dirty.
“Oh yeah, I went right to the showers,” said Larry Jannotti, 44, a longtime law enforcement officer in Henderson, Nev. “It’s one of the muddiest courses out there. I did one of these in Temecula (Calif.) and I’m going to Utah in June. I do this on my days off. I like to work out.”
All contestants were required to sign a waiver acknowledging the Spartan Race carried the risk of injury and/or death, not limited to “drowning, near-drowning, sprains, strains, fractures,” just to name a few.
For Maria Sanchez, a junior double majoring in cultural anthropology and film at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., her first Spartan Race proved to be a bit of a letdown.
“I thought it would be a lot harder,” Sanchez, 20, said. “I was really nervous, and jumping through the fire at the end was awesome. I don’t like to run, and I’d rather do the stunts than running. I’d like to do a race like this every year, if I can ever find the time.”
Matthew Jackson, who runs track at Cheyenne East High School and is just weeks from graduation, found enough time to squeeze in his first Spartan Race and keep his obligations to his prom date later Saturday.
His victory in the second heat – the first was won by multiple-champion Hobie Call of Erda, Utah – gave him confidence to push through the rest of track season and into his collegiate career at Gillette Community College.
"After this, I’ll be able to fly right through the 5K now,” said Jackson, 17, who was running for his brother, a West Point graduate stationed in Hawaii. “My coaches didn’t want me doing this, but I’ve been training for this for nine months, conditioning like crazy. You just can’t prepare for the obstacles, but the guys behind you, they really push you.”
Which is how Jindra described the experience when recruits become Marines.
“Being out here, you have that bond, even if you’ve never met before,” Jindra said. “You just want to cross the finish line, to have that goal in mind. What keeps you going is the guy behind you.”