Teenage years for everyone are a time of change. As a 16 year old, the biggest change I’ve had this year was more on my perspective on health and well-being. Living in a city like Beijing makes this difficult, because of all sorts of health hazards lurking behind every corner, from bad air quality to undrinkable water. But, with inspiration and a bit of will power, a healthy lifestyle can be achieved. I found my motivation from an obstacle race organization founded in Vermont, US.
The Spartan Race is possibly the most successful, most popular, and most challenging obstacle race in the world. Each year, Spartan Race holds obstacle races from Brazil to the Czech Republic. Last year, it finally landed in China. After I heard that the event would be challenging and full of mud, sweat, and tears, I was psyched. As the younger brother in the Lindesay family here in Beijing, I started my training before I even told my brother about the race.
Spartan Race has an ideology revolving around the principles of the Spartans in Ancient Greece; this race will not only test your physical strength and endurance, but also your mental focus, and willpower.
Spartan Race’s shortest race, the Sprint, was the one I was up against last May. The course ran almost 7km with 22 muscle-straining obstacles. I knew I had only a limited time to train, so I put my head down and got into it. When the day came, I was ready; as the horn sounded, we stormed across the starting line, and before I knew it, I was crossing the finish. Spartan Race tells the runners, “You’ll know at the finish line.” True enough, when I crossed the finish line and received my medal, I knew I was hooked and had to come back for more, as I felt the Sprint wasn’t enough. Next, I’m going to take on the 13km Super, then the 21km Beast – the other two Spartan races which have even more obstacles!
I kept my training going, and during my summer holiday in the UK, I participated in my second Spartan Sprint near Edinburgh. Actually, I improved my personal best by 30 minutes, finished second in my age group, and 45th out of a total of 800 racers.
My next challenge is the 13km Spartan Super in Beijing this month. I urge all Beijing teenagers my age to transform and build stronger and healthier bodies and join me at the Spartan Super.
Currently, Spartan Race is challenging runners, athletes, and other enthusiasts in 35 countries worldwide. Its CEO, Joe De Sena, is an absolute legend in the adventure and endurance racing world. I actually have read two of his books! He is an amazing inspiration, and is disciplined when it comes to anything in life. We got a chance to talk to him about the race in China, and here’s what he told us.
I know that your children train a lot for their age. In what age, in your opinion, should serious training start? And, do you think physical education in school is enough, or should parents play a bigger role in this?
Serious training for children should start at 5-6 years old. Most schools are cutting physical education but parents play the most critical role in a child’s physical education. This MUST become part of their everyday activity.
When you were around 16/17, were you into physical activity?
That time of my life I was sweating, working and physically active 18 hours a day!
Some parents are worried about injuries that could happen in the race. What are your tips or advice for the young competitors?
Train hard, race easy. Kids are resilient. They should be crawling, jumping, and swinging. We are “animals” and we are not meant to sit in front of iPads or other gadgets all day long. That’s doing more damage than crawling in the mud.
When you started Spartan Race, did you think you could make it this big and change so many people’s lives?
When we started Spartan Race, I thought maybe we could reach 50,000 people. Never did we think 1 million per year in 35 countries!
Who’s the youngest Spartan you know that has participated in a Sprint/Super/Beast?
My children at 7 have all done the Spartan Sprint, Super, and Beast races.
I know a few people who think Spartan Race is too extreme. What’s your response to these comments?
Spartan Race too extreme? We have all learned “helplessness” as our bodies are designed for this. Unless we let our bodies and minds do the work, they will become too sedentary and complacent and that will negatively affect us.
How can runners stay motivated when joining this kind of race? What kind of benefits can we get from joining the Spartan Race?
The main benefit Spartans get by signing up is they will lose 10 plus pounds as it “scares” them into shape. The other benefits are new friends, better bonds with friends, fitter bodies, and stronger minds, among others.
Is China welcoming Spartan Race? How popular is it in China compared to races in other countries?
China is exploding with Spartans. This is becoming a tremendous market for us and will be the largest in the world for Spartan.
How can we apply Spartan values to our day to day lives as teenagers?
Teenagers need to build confidence and need to be active and make friends. There is NO better activity than becoming a Spartan and starting to instill these Spartan values into their lives. It is a very healthy activity and it breeds confidence.
Photos: Courtesy of Thomas Lindesay and Joe De Sena/Spartan Race
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