I stepped my game up with this event, especially after the course surprised me before we started. At 4.5 miles and 25 obstacles, this bad boy represented the outer limits of my endurance. Through fire, woods and tons of mud, I completed my 13th 90 day Challenge in style and glory. Here’s 5 lessons that I learned over the course of 2.5-hour run.

1) Fuel properly.
I set myself up for struggle before I even reached the course. The carbs and flour in that Old Timer’s Breakfast from Cracker Barrel really sat like a rock in my body as I started to run. Before my next race, I’ll be sure to load up clean with all-natural food. Bacon and eggs with a Vi shake, anyone?

2) We are all family here.
I got separated from my team on two separate occasions, leaving me to go solo on the course. What could have spelled disaster for my race actually never became an issue. On a Spartan course, we are all in it together. When I needed a hand, another Spartan would provide. Chasing glory is a team sport, and we all share the same badge of muddy honor out there.

3) Leave no Spartan behind.
I learned this from my adopted team leader, a powerful veteran who led two younger Spartans on the course. “Leave no Spartan behind,” he said, after I’d passed a fatigued man on the trail. That simple order became my mantra. For the remainder of my time, I helped fellow Spartans where I could: words of encouragement; a boost to climb a high wall; massage a cramped calf in sight of the finish line. Leave no Spartan–no team member–behind on your course.

4) It’s all possible.
4.5 mile course. 26 obstacles. 30 burpees for any obstacle failure? Challenge accepted. The Spartan Race demands a high price for glory. Even now, my right hip flexor gives me a limp, while my left tricep reminds me to leave the heavy lifting alone for a bit. The scrapes on my left forearm still burn from all the mud crawls under barbed wire. I paid the price and exceeded my physical limits, finding glory along the way.

5) Finish the job, no matter how long it takes.
Going into this course, I expected a completion time of 90 minutes at the outset. My actual time–2:32:56. Over two hours where time and the outside world lost their meaning. You don’t think about your job when carrying bucket of rocks through the woods. Cell phones don’t matter when climbing a mud-slicked rope out of 3 feet of brown water. All you care about is continuing down the path and doing whatever it takes to finish. I may have finished behind the rest of my team on that day, but I finished far ahead of everyone who never even started.

My name is Brett. I am a Spartan.

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