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Featured Athlete: Dan Campolieta

dan staten island

  • Name:

Dan Campolieta

  • Your website:,

  • What is your day job, and do you have other hobbies?:

I am a professional musician – my primary work is as organist and associate music director at a 2000 member church in Hartford, and am a collaborative pianist with various ensembles and soloists in the region.  As a composer, I released my first CD, “Guided Imagery,” in 2012.  On the side, I am a Beachbody Coach as well, which means I’m a rep and help motivate people get fit using programs like P90X, Insanity, and Asylum.  I’m also a certified STRIDE instructor (Strength and Tone Real Intense Dance Exercise).  Otherwise, big Mets/Giants/Knicks fan.

  • Age:


  • When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race.:

My first race was the HH and regular heat at the Staten Island Spartan Super.  I signed up not really knowing what to expect, just knew I had to arrive at 5:00 a.m. with various equipment.  The extra challenges for the HH were that we had to complete the 8 miles course together as a team, and had to do every obstacle AND do 30 burpees after each obstacle.  Those burpees piled up after a while!  I still had energy after the HH so decided to wait 45 minutes and run the course again in the mid-morning.  Though I hit the wall with about 2 miles to go, I finished, racing 16 miles in one day and coming home with two blue medals.  This was the second HH ever, so it was pretty raw and they were still kind of making it up.

I will say that the Staten Island course wasn’t necessarily that difficult, especially in terms of elevation but it was just a nasty, gross course.  There were lots of mud and water obstacles, and it had just rained like crazy the week leading up to the race in late September.  Also, there was a tunnel crawl in a disgusting stream that ran under an overpass.  I remember there being tons of mosquitos, and probably vermin. Somewhere along the course, I got the worst case of poison ivy in my whole life, as did many other competitors.

  • What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?):

I’d have to say completing the Beast this year.  I technically didn’t Trifecta, but I did complete a sprint, a super, and beast in 364 days if you consider just length of time, not calendar year, so that alone was a big one for me.  But anyone who was in Vermont knew how ridiculous the course was.  I was pleased to have finished with a decent time  around 5:13, my goal was to come in under 5:30.  Oddly I felt like I could have gone harder when I was done, so I’m looking forward to next year.

I was nervous about this race because I know how crazy the Spartan founders are, and had heard how difficult the VT course was even before they deemed it the “Spartan Championship Race.”  So we all had no idea what to expect going in.  Finishing was a great feeling, I enjoyed the bragging rights and was glad I was able to play in the church in the next morning experiencing any injuries!

  • What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?:

I love that it is a concrete way to put my skills to the test.  I’ve gotten into fitness over the past 3 years and found that I needed motivators besides just getting to a goal weight, or being able lift a certain amount of weight to keep me going.  I had always run in High School and did X-Country, so competitive running seemed a logical thing to try, but obviously road races don’t have any upper body components.  When I heard about Spartan, and others, I knew it was just for me as it requires a combination of speed, endurance, power, and strength.  I love it because it also feels like a playground for adults.

  • What are your training and/or diet routines? Do you have other athletic pursuits?:

My core program for training is Insanity and Insanity: The Asylum.  I’m able to do this extreme cardio and cross-training program with very little equipment in my living or at church.  Additionally, I try to put a certain amount of miles on the road depending on what I’m training for, and will do WOD’s with local Spahtens whenever we can get together.  I also recently started Beachbody’s newest program Les Mills Combat, which is based on the cert program Body Combat.  Gotta say, I’m loving it.

My diet is basic clean eating, but I eat a lot of carbs honestly, kind of like an athlete’s diet.  I use Shakeology as a daily supplement. I try to tailor my calories to the day I’m having, kind of zig zagging based on my daily activity and workout regimen.  I’m a big believer in eating for performance, which is why carbs don’t scare me and I eat big. Even if you want to lose weight, if you eat for performance in your workouts, the weight loss will come.  If you are eating for weight loss, you will likely be leaving out key nutrients, and also bonk and not see your best results.

As a non-OC racer, I do enjoy regular road races.  I PR’d on the half marathon distance in Hartford this year with a 1:33:39 time.  My pace over the 13.1 was faster than my 5k pace a couple years prior.

  • Were you always athletic? If not, what athletic changes have you made to keep up the obstacle course race lifestyle?:

I was a high-JV X-Country runner in High School and ran Varsity on the 300 hurdles in Track and Field.  I was a twig back then though.  My best 5k as a kid was 18:45, which I never replicated, I swear something was in my oatmeal that morning.  As I went through college and beyond, I gained a good 25 pounds and became sedentary.  As a musician, it’s easy to eat and drink alcohol every night you are out, and you’re always running around to gigs and rehearsals, picking up gas station food or whatever you can find on the way and eating in the car.  P90X was my first program, and it really got me in the right mentality and I lost about 20 pounds and gained muscle.  Since then I’ve kept the weight off and have been focusing more on getting back into running and now obstacle racing.

For me, the biggest changes were mental.

  • Who, alive or dead, would you invite to run an obstacle course race with you?:

I’d love to run with Shaun T, Insanity creator.  I’ve met him a handful of times and he kind of has the Joe De Sena push you to your limits motivational mentality, albeit he is a lot more “clean cut.”  Shaun was a track star back in the day, I think he’d love OCR.

  • Tell us a fun fact about yourself that we may not know!:

When I first started working in Hartford, I was asked to compose and arrange music for the general national meeting/conference of the United Church of Christ, being hosted at the XL Center in Hartford.  A certain IL Senator named Barack Obama was the keynote speaker at said event.

  • What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?:

My goals are to keep moving, and getting better.  I will be doing Boston Tough Mudder in May, and then Trifecta within 6 weeks: Amesbury, NJ Super, and VT Beast.  I also want to complete a 40,000 Ways to Eff Up a 10 Mile Run this year, I was slated to do one with some peeps but then schedule got in the way, so I owe that to myself.

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