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Spahten Story: Mike Downey

Mike came to my attention when he posted his massive improvement in times from the Fenway Spartan Race, to the Citi Field Spartan Race – in a few short months he went from dead last on the time sheets to a really solid performance. He credited the motivation and inspiration he got from the New England Spahtens, and the OCR class our good friend Rich Borgatti runs out of his Mountain Strength Crossfit facility.

Mike Downey time sheet


I asked him to tell his story.


For almost all of my 20’s I had been physically inactive and just not very motivated just got stuck in the grind of the 40 hr work week. When I hit 29 I decided to set a goal for myself of by the time I hit 30 to do something active and semi competitive. I found out that there was a team from Boston that was trying to get together a team for a box lacrosse tournament, so I joined the team and reached my goal of doing something by the time I was 30 but it was then I realized how badly out of shape I was and after each shift I felt like I was going to die and could barley breath. After doing the lacrosse tournament for a few years and not really doing much to physically better myself I got to the next chapter of bettering myself Spartan race


My journey on the Spartan road began in September 2012 when one of my friends mentioned they were going to be having a race at Fenway park ( I am a huge life long fan of the Boston red sox)  and he asked if I wanted to do it with him and a few friends that were going to do it and I originally said no way I have seen those events and I am way out of shape and I will end up hurting myself and even a few people I know were telling me that this might be a bit of a lofty goal in my current condition. After a week or so another friend of mine was trying to talk me into it and after a bit of back and forth and teasing each other on who could do better we took the next step and signed up. So it was about t-8 weeks till race day and I was over 255lbs and had a 54” stomach and could barely walk a full mile without being out of breath and needing to take a seat. Every day I would try to walk and jog a little more than the day before knowing I wanted to do the best I could in the greatest baseball park in the world.

When race day had arrived had a nice early wake up call so I could make sure I was at the park the second everything opened so I could take my time warm up and get ready for the madness that was to come, When we hit the line and started to do our burpees and right into the bear crawl I kept saying to myself “ what was I thinking, why did I get myself into this mess I am going to die” we got through the first few obstacles and then we arrived to the Budweiser roof deck with the obstacle if deadlifting the cement stone and carrying it about 25 feet and them proceeding to do 15 burpees it was here I hit my wall and collapsed and was on my back for a good ten mins and the entire time I kept telling the staff and Spartan volunteers I want to give up I cant do this  but they wouldn’t let me they kept telling me “ I had this, you can get to that finish line just do one burpee at a time” . It was at this point I saw what the true meaning of Spartan was about, helping people go beyond there threshold of what they can do and encourage them to push through the wall and do the unthinkable. From this moment on I kept saying to myself “ I got this I can make it to the finish line , I can not fail in this building I have to succeed, and all along the course I kept hearing words of encouragement from the other runners and volunteers and that kept me energized . So I kept on going sometimes at not much more than a snail’s pace but one by one I got through each obstacle and did my penalty burpees as needed.

As we got into the bleacher big concourse I really started to catch my second wind and my mind went blank and just let my body keep on pushing. Once we reached the warning track I felt like nothing could stop me and I was going to do this and I did. Crossing the finish line was the most surreal thing I have ever felt and I instantly saw that nothing in my life is impossible anymore and as long as I keep my mind on the prize I can do anything

Me and my teammate had the two slowest times for the Sunday heat but honestly it dident matter because I could say I conquered Spartan race. If anything having the slowest time is a good thing because it put the fire in my belly to want to do better and know I couldn’t let my little journey end like that and I needed a little redemption for myself and to show myself that I have what it takes deep down to make myself better. I have had several people at work and personal life see what this race has done to me and it it making them see its time for them to make chances for the better also.

In 2013 I joined the Spartan race street tem and through talking to the people on there and trying to find people to work out and help me with training I was introduced to the New England Spahtens and I started reading all the postings and chiming in every once and a great while, then the group posted that a gym in the area was going to start offering a OCR training course once a week. I have been going to the class every week and gotten the chance to meet a few of the spahtens and I know it is because of that class I have gotten quite a bit better at OCR with just the instructions we have been given and getting the tips we have learned on how to approach some of the obstacles

As of right now I am planning on 4 Spartan sprints and one hurricane heat and have been working out 6 days a week to get ready and so far have lost about 7lbs and about 10” off my stomach. My goal for the year is for the citi field race to get a sub 2 hour time and by the time I hit Fenway to be able to do that course in 90 mins or less.

Today April 13, 2013 I am writing this after completing my first race of the season @ citi field in NYC and not only did I meet my goal but I smashed it and basically reached the goal I was aiming to not hit till November at Fenway. So in a matter of 5 months I went from taking 2hr35 min to complete a Spartan sprint to 1hr38min something I am still shocked about how much I was able to improve my time. So I have revised my goal for the fenway park sprint and I want to do it within 75 mins.


There have been so many amazing stories about how Spartan race and the other OCR have changed peoples lives and now I am another story to add to that book. I hope my words can reach one person and help inspire them to take that first step from the couch to the bettering there life


2 thoughts on “Spahten Story: Mike Downey

  1. […] My first OCR was the spartan sprint at fenway park in 2012. a few months back the spahtens published a little write up about my first race. in short it was living hell for me and i honestly did not think i was going to finish but once i broke through the wall i just got into the zone and kept moving forward till i hit the finish line […]

  2. thank you very much for posting this. I could have not done this without the help of a lot of people and I hope maybe this will reach someone and help inspire them to get off the couch and take that first step to greatness.

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