I discovered my passion for running back in 2011, and since then I’ve had the pleasure of participating in many races – most of which have been run in the sole pursuit of achieving my own personal accomplishments. I’ve sought to run a faster 5K, to gain a half marathon PR, to place in my age group at local obstacle races, and eventually I found myself approaching the starting line of many races with the intent of earning my place on the coveted podium.
I love the thrill of racing, and I find enjoyment in pushing my own personal limits while testing my overall physical strength and endurance. To race is exhilarating, and provides a unique sense of pride and self-actualization as new thresholds are crossed, new bars are set, and lofty goals are realized by way of hard work, dedication, and perseverance.
Yet, once in a while I find that it is refreshing to take a step back and participate not for my own personal gain, but instead for the pure joy of sharing an experience with fellow Obstacle Race fans.
I was able to experience this pleasure during the South Carolina Spartan Beast this past weekend.
Earlier this year, Darien Trombley began his journey toward earning the Spartan Trifecta. As a teenage boy with Cerebral Palsy, this ambition is no small feat, however he was determined to make his dream a reality.
Darien earned his first medal at the Spartan Sprint, hosted in the Buccaneers home stadium in Tampa, Florida. A few months later he embarked unto the treacherous, clay-laden terrain of an ATV course just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, gaining his second piece of the Trifecta pie after completing a challenging Spartan Super. Finally November arrived, signifying that it was time for the final act, and Darien made his way north to South Carolina to complete his Trifecta at the 12 mile Spartan Beast. This race was to be hosted at Carolina Adventure World, one of the largest ATV parks in the country, and it promised a hilly course riddled with a non-stop barrage of challenges.
Despite freezing temperatures, technical terrain, difficult obstacles, and a body which many would write off as incapable of conquering the challenges of a Spartan Race, Darien pushed onward with quiet determination. Having joined him during the Atlanta Super, I had committed to seeing him through to the finish at the Carolina Beast, and could never have anticipated just how humbling the experience would be.
Not once did Darien complain during the seven and a half hour trek through the South Carolina wilderness. He quietly pressed onward, taking each challenge in stride and never once lamenting as we assisted him through the many miles, trails, and obstacles which were encountered.
I was happy for the opportunity to lend an arm as he trudged across muddy passages, and to assist in pulling his wheelchair through several miles of the winding, hilly trails. It was an incredible day, and each team member assisted in keeping morale high as we supported one another throughout the entire race.
Upon crossing the finish line, Darien marched with determination toward the closest volunteer to collect his medal, pride beaming from his radiant smile. He had done it, and I felt fortunate to have been part of his experience.
Spending time with Darien made me realize just how special it can be to take a step away from racing for oneself, and to instead focus on helping another person acheive their goals. And while I’m sure there will be many races down the road which I’ll be running for my own personal goals, I will always cherish the time I spent with Darien and our many wonderful MudRunFun teammates on the Spartan courses this year.
Congratulations on your incredible achievement Darien! You are an inspiration to us all!