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Featured Athlete: Mary Bowen


* Name: Mary Bowen
* Website
* Age: 29

* What is your day job, and do you have other hobbies?:
I have managed Off the Map Tattoo in Easthampton, MA for the past 6 years. I didn’t necessarily intended on landing in the tattoo industry. I actually graduated UMass Amherst with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Administration with a focus on restaurant management, so needless to say I had a pretty different idea for the future. I can honestly say I have one of the coolest jobs on the planet where I’m able to make a good living, travel often and be surrounded by amazing, creative people every day. I absolutely love what I do.

Outside of work and obstacle courses, I can often be found in the air doing circus aerials at Show Circus in Easthampton. Circus is a newly developing passion of mine. I’ve been taking aerial yoga, aerial silks, trapeze and other assorted circus classes for a year now. I have 4 fur kids (2 cats, 2 dogs) who get lots of my time and attention. We often hit the pavement and trails together. I’m also quite a foodie with an affinity for fine wines & whiskey. I equally enjoy eating out and cooking in!

* When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race
My first race was Rugged Maniac September 2012. My chiropractor Mindi, encouraged me to join her team, and it didn’t take much convincing on my end. Two of my best friends joined, as well as two seasoned OCR runners, and fellow Spahtens, Heather Gannoe and Geoff Hart. I had no idea what to expect, neither did my parents who came to cheerlead, expecting that I was running a road 5k. I think all of us got much more than we expected that day. The enthusiasm and welcoming nature Heather and Geoff had, was an amazing first glance at the OCR community. I remember them telling me about Warrior Dash, the Spartan Ultra Beast, and other races they had conquered and immediately I wanted in on all of it.

The race itself was a great first run. Well organized, fun and challenging. My best friend and I pretty immediately set the goal of running Tough Mudder that spring, which was this past June, and we did in fact annihilate Tough Mudder as our second ever obstacle course. I have since also participated in a 5k and 10k road race, Warrior Dash and Foam Fest and I have a long list of upcoming events!

* What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)
Running my first obstacle course, just doing it, is- and will, remain one of my proudest moments and biggest accomplishments in terms of OCRs and life. In 2010 I was my heaviest at 228 lbs. I was unathletic, unhappy and unmotivated. A series of major life changes followed that lead to 60 lbs of weight loss and a huge shift in my overall attitude, appearance and athleticism. When Mindi asked me to do Rugged Maniac, I went in sort of blindly, not knowing what to expect (certainly not expecting the addiction), but feeling confident because I had been working with a personal trainer for 6 months and attending bootcamps, and the like, for over a year. What surprised me the most about the race, was it’s affects on my mind. Every single obstacle was within my reach physically, but still, at every stop, I questioned myself. In my head I was still 228lb Mary that couldn’t do a push up, let alone run a mile or climb over 10 foot walls. I was overcome with joy, and a sense of pride ever
y time I pulled myself over, under or across an obstacle that I was absolutely convinced I wouldn’t be able to do. It’s a hard thing to explain to someone who’s always been fit, or was never over weight, but your body changes much faster than your brain does and often times we sell ourselves incredibly short. Completing Rugged Maniac was a culmination of many things for me, but mostly a reminder that pushing what we believe to be our own limits, is the only way to really find out what they are.

* What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?
The desire to push myself further. To have something to work for. To have fun! Races definitely help keep me in check physically, and I love a challenge. I also love the camaraderie of the events. I have the best friend in the world, Shawn, who has been by my side for every race to date, and I have made some incredible friends along the way- not just in OCRs but on my weight loss journey. Through classes and events with like minded people on a similar path, I have developed some of the more solid friendships I’ve ever had. Friends that sweat together- stick together!

Oh, and the free beer.

* What are your training and/or diet routines? Do you have other athletic pursuits?
I work out just about every day, all sorts of assorted stuff including running, strength training, spin, circus aerials, yoga, hiking and whatever other fun physical activities I can jump into. I try to keep my diet as natural as possible- I suppose paleo-ish, but without as many rules. I also sporadically do juice cleanses, which I think are an incredible way to detox and reboot.

I am currently training for  the Rock and Roll half marathon in Las Vegas this November. I would like to eventually do a full marathon as well as the Dopey Challenge at Disney, which is 4 days of running- a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon then a full. In the world of OCRs I want to be a 10 time Mudder in the next year, as well as take on the Spartan Trifecta and Ultrabeast. I will definitely be getting season passes for both next year.

* Were you always athletic? If not, what athletic changes have you made to keep up the obstacle course race lifestyle?
As I mentioned, in previous years I was quite over weight and unhealthy. My clean eating, exercise and healthy lifestyle changes in general definitely help facilitate better performance in races, but it definitely goes both ways. Races keep me in check and strict on maintaining my level of fitness. Nothing like the fear of doing 30 Burpees at a failed obstacle to keep you motivated.

* Who, alive or dead, would you invite to run an obstacle course race with you?
Lady Gaga- because we would totally have the most badass costumes on the course.

* Tell us a fun fact about yourself that we may not know!
I was featured as #21 on Buzz Feed’s “31 Reasons Tough Mudder Races are for Crazy People”

* What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?
The Big 3-0 is in October, so I’m working towards being in the best shape of my life for that day. Overall, I just want to keep living a healthy conscious lifestyle, adding more obstacle course notches to the bed post, running farther & faster. Maybe running away with the circus someday…

I really look forward to connecting with more Spahtens at upcoming races and being more involved in the OCR community! It’s been an awesome ride so more, and I know it’s just begun!

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