“Prepare for Glory” … “When I ask you who you are, you will respond in a loud and boisterous manner: I AM A SPARTAN! Look at the Spartan on your right, look at the Spartan on your left, you will draw strength from him or her, you will not let them fail. You will attack each and every obstacle; you will attack each and every difficulty; you will succeed; you will conquer and not be conquered. No retreat. No surrender. Who are you? I AM A SPARTAN!”
Aroo, Aroo, Aroo—Release runners.
Thus, the quest began on April 27, 2013 in Laurel, Indiana at an event called the Spartan Sprint which is the shortest of a series of obstacle races in the Spartan Races. The Spartan Sprint was advertised as a 3+ mile endurance event; however, if the mile markers on the course were correct, it turned out to be at least 5+ miles. I suppose this would technically make the 3+ mile advertisement accurate. The objective was to overcome adversities. The added distance was certainly an unexpected adversity.
Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David and I participated in the event, but we were unaware of our joint appearance until just a few days before. We had dinner together at the same table on Tuesday, April 23rd at the regional judges’ meeting in Jeffersonville not knowing that each of us had signed on to the event. On Wednesday April 24th, I was getting pretty anxious awaiting our official start time and race day logistics. The details arrived via the internet at approximately 6:30 P.M. I discovered a listing of all participants and their ages. I started to look for participants of my vintage and discovered there were very few; so, I became even more anxious. As I was going through the list I noticed one entrant as follows:
David, Steve M 56 1236 11:15AM
And, I thought “Is it possible that this is our Supreme Court Justice David?” The next day I left a message at the Supreme Court and the Judicial Center. Jane Seigel (who always provides help and assistance) contacted me and confirmed that it was indeed our Justice David and put me in contact as he was still on the road on Court business.
I don’t know how Justice David came to the decision to participate in the event, but I was issued a challenge by the real Spartan in our family, my 17 year old son, Nicholas. He had discovered the event while researching Greek history. He asked me to view the website and suggested that he and some of his friends would like to participate. He challenged me to consider it while expressing mocked concern that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, finish; or perhaps I might get hurt, or die, along the way. In an attempt to maintain my status as Alpha male of our clan, I obviously could not let this challenge pass without a battle. Right before we were released to begin the trek, Nicholas turned to me, smiled and said, “Don’t die out there old man!”
I replied, “I’ll wait for you at the finish line.” The challenge between young and old was on. I started to recruit team members for the Salem Spartans. I was looking for warriors and/or athletes who would prove that mental toughness and perseverance could overcome raw strength and youth. During the race, I discovered it took strength, focus, perseverance, and sometimes assistance from other Spartans to complete the challenge. There were 7 and 8 foot walls to scale; large stones to lift, pull, and carry; mud and barbed wire to crawl through uphill; muddy water; distances to traverse (sometimes while weighted down); and fire and gladiators waiting to thwart and beat you at the finish line.
Before the race, we exchanged good wishes for success; and, afterward, we exchanged stories of obstacles for which we had to pay the penalty. The penalty for failing to overcome an obstacle is 30 burpees, which is a combination squat thrust push up and vertical jump. Other penalties included pain, cuts, abrasions, and bruises; but ultimately, success was ours.
The Spartan Race website states that participants face “an obstacle course race designed to test your resilience, strength, stamina, quick decision-making skills, and the ability to laugh in the face of adversity.” Sounds like the legal profession, or law school, doesn’t it? Justice David finished the course in 1:45:28 placing 4th in our age group and 759th overall. I finished in 2:30:06 placing 18th in our age group and 3074th overall. Perhaps that is some indication as to why he is a Supreme and I am a trial court judge in a small town. I am proud of the work that I do and the work of all my brothers and sisters in the Judicial Branch, including our support team.
The site further states “…we want to own obstacle course racing and our unique obstacle courses will demand every ounce of your strength, ingenuity, and animal instinct.” I concur and although I cannot speak for the Honorable Spartan Justice David, he called me early Monday morning and from our conversation, I would suggest even though he has encountered other obstacle courses while fulfilling his duty and obligations to Uncle Sam in the United States Army, he would AFFIRM my analysis.
Footnote: My kid beat me by 28 minutes.