The Spartan Race: a WODMasters Interview with Paul Verona

A Little About the Spartan Race before we talk to Paul Verona

Paul Verona of St. George's School of Medicine

Paul Verona of St. George’s School of Medicine

For those who are unfamiliar, The Spartan Race may offer the ultimate in adventure racing.  A Spartan Race is designed to test the limits of your mental and physical toughness.  They are also a lot of fun.  For those unfamiliar, The Spartan Race is an obstacle course with plenty of mud and water to make things extra exciting.  Thre are three course lengths:  The Spartan Sprint, The Spartan Super and Spartan Beast.  The Sprint is ~3 miles, the Super is `8 and hte Beast is 12 miles or more.  There are also Spartan Kids races and opportunities for team racing.  Spartan Race is unique in the way it helps racers prepare for races, provides nutritional advice and holds free workouts around the country (US).  For those of us who Crossfit, The Spartans also post WODs and offer additional training workshops that are designed to help you perfect your bends, crawls, carrying ability, climbing, hanging, jumping, lifting, lunging, and get you to pull, push, run, sprint, squat and twist with agility.

The Spartan Race as Preparation for Major Life Challenges

We’ve all faced challenges.  Sometimes it can be very difficult to make a jump, especially when what we are leaving is secure and safe and the intended landing point is somewhere out there, hidden by leaves, rocks or crowds.  We interviewed Paul Verona, a student at St. George’s University School of Medicine, currently in his third term.

WODMasters:  What made you decide to take on the challenge of a Spartan Race?

Joe:  I wanted to become fitter and stronger, and joined a gym called ZS Fitness in Long Valley, NJ, close to my home.  They have a great outdoor training space there.  I started Crossfit too. I’d never done that kind of training before and it was fun.  I really liked it.  I’d never heard of the Spartan Race before.  I found out about it at the gym.  A bunch of other people were going so I thought, why not?

WODMasters: What was it like?

Joe Verona: Well, no matter how hard you train, you really won’t know what to expect going in for the first time.  It’s an uphill battle, but if you work hard and stay tough you will make it.  There are times you will want to quit, but then there are people alongside you who are finding it challenging too, who are older, or who have physical handicaps.  So, I thought “I shouldn’t be complaining.”  There was even a guy there who had lost both his legs.  Who am I to complain about something being hard.

WODMasters: what impact has The Spartan Race had on your preparation for medical school.  And on your medical school experience in general?

Joe Verona: Medical school is very challenging and there are a lot of parallels with the Spartan Race.  You really can’t know what it’s going to be like until you’re in it.  Doing The Spartan Race before I started med school gave me a better sense of what I can do. Sometimes you do just want to quit, but when I get those thoughts, I remember the Spartan Race and the guy with no legs.  The Spartan Race gave me great insights,  and a huge confidence boost that has really helped me get through medical school.