By Eric Noel Roman
“Eric it’s okay, you were one of eight hundred who tried. It does not matter that you didn’t finish.” Remarked my good friend Alan as I sat sobbing.
It was September 15, 2018 and I was embarking on my second attempt to complete the Spartan Ultra Beast in Killington, Vermont. My first time was the same weekend of 2017 and I finished roughly thirty-two miles close to fifteen hours. This second try, I felt stronger, healthier, and confident I would finish. The race began in morning darkness and chilly.
The race director’s voice could be heard through a sound system explaining the rules, followed by the inspirational speech heard at every race. The speech finished and I darted off on the second try to this monster race. Lap one was roughly fifteen miles and was littered with all types of spartan obstacles, incredibly hard inclines, and the beloved transition area. Upon completing the first lap in about eight hours, I felt more confident than the year before, to the point I was talking trash. I left the transition point where I restocked my hydration pack with proper nutrition and a fresh change of clothes. I felt spectacular as I chatted with other racers pacing this mountain. I stopped regularly to absorb the views and heard my running mate call out my name. So I decided to slow down as he caught up. Not much longer our third member caught up. Three stooges walking together nearing three-quarters of the race.
As we scaled down the side of a hill I saw Alan waiting for me. We approached him and noticed scissors in his hand. “I hate to do this, but I have to cut off your time chips fellas. I told you guys I was going to be waiting for you.” At mile twenty-seven of thirty I was pulled off due to time constraint. This failure did not hit me hard because I slowed down to help push other racers as well, as give emergency nutrition. I was proud to not finish 2018 because I was helping others.
One year later, I returned to the same mountain for redemption. The scene was the exact same just colder and cloudier. This time I was fighting to keep my body temperature steady. I reached obstacles only to fail them due to the frozen state of my hands. I was running along the ridge of Killington Peak and the temperature was in the thirties. I was running in the clouds and lap one came to a miserable end. Suddenly I began to shiver uncontrollably and began to lose feeling in my feet and legs. Hello hypothermia. Needless to say, I gave up my time chip and walked into the lodging.
I sat down and began to cry. This year was a redemption and I failed. However, this loss was different because I knew I could finish. I was prepared physically and mentally. Then the unexpected cold hit, and stopped me, with a sharp punch to my ego.
After few days, I began to realize that I did not fail, I learned a lesson. Prepare for the unexpected. Failures are lessons in disguise. Those lessons are the building blocks to accomplishment.
Eric Noel Roman DJ, obstacle racer, motivational writer from North Miami Beach, living life one day at a time, and making a difference one person at a time.