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Featured Athlete: Sandy Rhee

Sandy Rhee

  • Name:

Sandy Rhee

  • Your website:

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

My day job is as The Organization Guru. I provide organization services and teaching to home owners, students, and teachers. I spent 15 years teaching middle and high school math before this. My other hobbies include reading and puzzles (Sudoku, KenKen, Hidato, Kakuro, etc.)

  • Age:


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

My first race was the Tough Mudder VT on May 5, 2011. Some friends at my gym decided to put together a group and I thought it sounded like a great challenge and a lot of fun, so I signed up. We had a team of 41 and 39 of us finished (we had one sprained ankle and one case of hypothermia). Up until that point, I don’t think I’d ever worked as hard for anything in my life. I never doubted that I could finish, but it was pretty difficult for me. The hills of Mt. Snow in VT seemed to be never ending! I also had a full blown panic attack while standing on the platform of the Walk the Plank obstacle. I tried to go for almost 30 minutes before actually jumping. Luckily, that obstacle has gotten a bit easier each time I’ve done it, so no more panic attacks.

That TM was the beginning of my addiction to OCRs. I did 8 of them in 2011, including 2 TMs and 1 Spartan Sprint. In 2012, I started off the year a bit earlier and filled it up quite well with over 20 OCRs including 4 TMs, 5 Spartans (including the trifecta) and my first hurricane heat. I’m now planning out 2013.

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

I’m going to cheat here and list a few.

As I described above, the greatest fear I overcame was on the Walk the Plank obstacle in the TM races. I still had minor panic attacks at my 2nd and 3rd races, but then was able to overcome it completely on the 4th – 6th and the jump at the Spartan Super in NJ.

My greatest accomplishment was finishing the Spartan Beast on Mt. Killington in VT. This will likely be the only race in my career where I have a realistic chance to cut 3 or 4 hours off my time. I’m looking forward to it again in 2013.

Overall, what makes me the happiest with OCRs is the camaraderie and teamwork that can be involved. I don’t try to go for the fastest possible time because that cuts out all the helping I like to do. The best was during the Sweeper heat of the Spartan Sprint in Amesbury this year. While cleaning up trash at the 8′ walls, I had the opportunity to help a large number of people get over them. Each was satisfying, but one in particular made me the happiest. There was a guy whose teammates (1 other guy and 3 or 4 girls) didn’t even offer to try to help him conquer the walls. I could tell that he really wanted to though. When I offered to help, he claimed that he weighed 300 pounds (I don’t believe him) and there was NO WAY he could do it. I simply asked him, “Do you want to get over?” He said yes. With some direction to his friends, we were able to have him stand on my lower back on the first wall and my shoulder on the second wall and get over both. The look on his face when he did it meant everything to me. That is a huge part of why I like these races so much.

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

The people, of course! Really, it is the teamwork that keeps me coming back. I love the fact that you don’t even have to have your own team! I’ve done several races without knowing a single other person there. It doesn’t matter. If I need help, I simply ask for it. If someone else needs help, I offer it. It is a great feeling to know that you helped someone accomplish something they couldn’t do on their own.

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

I don’t have anything special here. I try to eat well, but I don’t obsess over it. I train at a gym that specializes in full body conditioning and is perfect for OCRs. Workouts include tire flips, truck pushes, battling ropes, and tons of burpees. In addition, I am working to increase my running capabilities. I was starting to sign up for triathlons when I discovered OCRs, but those have since fallen by the wayside.

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

I was always an active kid, but I wasn’t especially good at anything. In my head I could throw a good pitch and a spiral pass and hit the tennis ball over the net rather than over the wall, but in actuality, not so much. I was a varsity swimmer in high school. I’ve also always liked to lift weights. I’d love to get back to the 100 pound high school kid who could bench 150 and leg press 360, but I don’t think 100 pounds would be a healthy weight to shoot for anymore!  Now, I just want to be functionally fit. I want to lift and run and carry things without worrying about pulling a muscle or throwing my back out. As an organizer, it is great to be able to help my clients move things without having to call anyone for help with the heavy lifting.

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

Makoto Nagano – one of only three winners of Ninja Warrior (the Japanese show, not American Ninja Warrior!)

Other than that, I wish my husband, Vince, liked them to run with me.

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

The jump rope record I set as a fifth grader (10 mins 51 seconds) held for over 10 years.

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

I want to get faster and stronger, I want to fill my 2013 calendar with many of the same races I did this year plus a few to push me out of my comfort zone (GoRuck Boston on 3/16/13), and I want to aim for a double trifecta in either 2013 or 2014.

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