How Obstacle Course Racing Can Transform a Marriage

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A couple that races together stays together and this couldn’t be truer for Helmy (46 years old) and June (39 years old) who embarked on their Spartan journey to celebrate their 15 year wedding anniversary after looking for something new to add a spark back into their marriage.

Their Story

Helmy was a cross-country runner back in school but had not exercised regularly for years resulting in an unhealthy overweight BMI reading, while June suffered a hamstring injury which took almost a year to recover from. “The thought of me being unsexy to my wife and the image of growing older with a big fat belly, extreme obesity, and a bad health condition was enough to make me do something,” Helmy said.

Making a conscious decision to find something new to do together, they discovered Spartan Race by accident as June was looking for something to make her stronger for her yoga practice.

“When we both agreed to sign up for our very first OCR, we knew we needed to be very well prepared as it’s not a walk in the park event,” June confirmed.

They soon discovered the training was no walk in a park, struggling to get through the first community session they attended. But they came back the next week after being encouraged by the trainers and challenged by the workouts. Overtime, the OCR training taught them personal endurance, upper body strength, good balance, and most importantly mental fortitude. Now they both attend multiple sessions a week and have even picked up running together.

Knowing how tough Spartan Race is as a beginner, the most memorable moment for them both was running side by side overcoming the obstacles together in their first race in Singapore, likening it to the challenges that they both had in their marriage journey.

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Transformation

Helmy credits June with being the biggest contributor to his transformation, from exercise down to the healthier eating approach they have both embraced. Even though the scales only show a 7lb loss, his BMI is now back in the healthy range having built muscle from all the training, and fitter now than he has ever been.

June attributes the amazing OCR community as helping her be successful. “Everyone comes from different backgrounds and shows such great passion and commitment. They have been supportive throughout our journey and we grew to be a fitness family and eventually great friends,” she says.

Both try and do a few HIIT training sessions a week, some yoga and run when they can. With more races now planned for the remainder of the year, they will increase their training closer to those dates, including traveling overseas to participate in the Spartan Beast in Sparta, Greece.

The best part of racing together? According to June, it’s the fact that they get to wear matching outfits!

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Photo Credit: Spartan Race and Couple

Malaysia Spartan Sprint – Kicking off the Racing Year in Asia

While the USA is seeing freezing race temperatures, most of Asia is still sweltering in 95 degree heat, which was certainly the case for the Malaysian Spartan Sprint on March 12. The first race of the season saw a strong turn out with competitors flying in from Singapore, Hong Kong and as far as Abu Dhabi to join the fast-growing obstacle racing community in Malaysia.

As the sun rose, we were told there would be a slight delay in the start times due to a storm the previous evening, and an issue of wild boars and cows knocking over course markers! That announcement set the tone for what was an extremely challenging Sprint course – I use the term ‘Sprint’ loosely, as the race was almost 6 miles in distance.

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As we set off it started with a set of walls, hurdles, the vertical cargo and then into the jungle for what seemed like a never ending hill climb which continued to the sandbag carry. The terrain was either knee deep mud or uneven trails, and this didn’t let up for the whole course. There were so many river crossings that I lost count in the end, but they were actually a welcome relief from the heat.

The middle part of the race saw a whole heap of obstacles grouped together that were testing people’s stamina and grip strength. The Hercules hoist, a cliff climb, barbed wire crawl, rope climb, Olympus (making its debut in Asia), atlas carry and then rounded off with the spear throw, saw most people hitting the ground for at least 30 burpees.

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Another hilly run followed by a long bucket brigade on a muddy track, and then the end was in sight as you could hear the noise from the race village. A dunk wall, A-frame, more water and then a 200 foot swim which saw victims fall to leg cramps so close to the finish. An unexpected challenging river run against the tide, and on to the dreaded multi-rig which of course saw more people fail than master it.

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I have never been so happy to see a slip wall knowing the fire jump was straight after it.

As I said, a Sprint course like no other, where people were posting times closer to doing the Super distance.

The great thing about obstacle racing in Asia is it seems age is no barrier in participating. Colleen, the woman that won the elite category was only 18 years old and Tess, who came in third in the elite is 47 years old, both inspirational in different ways.

Next in Asia sees a Hong Kong race in April, followed by Singapore in May.

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Photo credits – Raimi Zakaria, Patrick Yap and Ruifeng Seet