October 18, 2021

Training hard to be a Spartan

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Lee Boreland trains at the Cortland YMCA for the upcoming Spartan race at Greek Peak, scheduled for March 4.

Fitness enthusiasts will test their strength and endurance, racing through miles of perilous obstacles in the first winter Spartan Sprint held in the United States at Greek Peak in March.
Spartan races, which began in 2010, are intense obstacle course races held year round throughout the U.S.

The Spartan Sprint at Greek Peak on March 4 — sponsored by Reebok — will be a 3.5-mile sprint using the resort’s Odyssey, black diamond trail, and the Olympian, double black diamond trail — rated as one of the top 10 most challenging ski runs in Upstate New York. The resort’s adventure and tubing center will also be used.

The race course will include 20 to 23 obstacles such as sandbag carrying, snow tunnels, a rope climb and an inverted wall, according to a written statement by Greek Peak.

Between grueling weather conditions and the challenging obstacles, a participant’s body can take a beating during the race. Cortland native Lee Boreland found this out during his first Spartan race a few years ago in Pennsylvania.

“It was the toughest thing I have done in my entire life,” he said. “It took a lot out of me.”
If a racer cannot complete an obstacle, they have to do “burpees” — a push-up type of workout that requires them to jump up from a push-up position — before continuing the course.

Boreland said those were “not fun” and he ended up getting dehydrated during the race. But since then, he has competed in smaller obstacle challenges and changed his workout routine in preparation for the Spartan race at Greek Peak.

He spends his days training at the Cortland YMCA, focusing on building his core muscles, lifting weights and doing cardiovascular workouts. He said it is important to balance the three, but, to him, core is the most important. He’ll start his workouts doing about 50 sit-ups on a large inflated exercise ball.

While the uncertainty of the weather conditions he may face in March may make him second guess what he signed himself up for, he is fully committed, especially since he is doing his race with his daughter, Ammarie.

“It gives me more motivation,” Boreland said about competing with his daughter. “You can’t back out once you commit to do it with your kid.”

They exercise separately, but Boreland said they both have the goal of just finishing the race. For him, he would like to complete the entire race without having to stop and do burpees.

Teamwork is a big aspect of the competition, as racers can help each other out with an obstacle. Boreland said that is one of his favorite parts of the competition. It is a sentiment shared by McGraw native Nicole Law.

She, along with about 30 other people who train at Seven Valley Crossfit, at 50 Main St. in Cortland, plan to compete in the event.

“It is a lot of fun to do as a group,” Law said.

Like Boreland, this year’s race will be just her second Spartan race. Law’s main way of training for the event is through Crossfit — a fitness regimen that combines elements of weight lifting, gymnastics, plyometrics, calisthenics and many other exercises.

She just started doing Crossfit about a year ago, not too long before she competed in her first Spartan race. She found out during that race that there was much training she needed to do.

This year she is focusing on core building and her grip strength. One of her toughest challenges during her first race was she found she had a hard time holding onto the monkey bars and rope climbing.

“I’m more prepared having improved my general strength,” she said.

Having competed in a Spartan race previously gives both Boreland and Law an idea of what to expect, since the actual map of the race course is not released until the day before the race.

Despite all of the challenges and hardships the Spartan poses, both Law and Boreland say they are already looking forward to doing more Spartan races this year.

“I don’t ever plan on quitting,” Law said.