Age may play a role in good health and fitness, but the number alone doesn’t define athletic performance. In the spirit of International Women’s Day this March, three female contenders of the recent Spartan Race in Pampanga, show that conquering the world’s most grueling obstacle course isn’t about seniority or youthfulness—it’s about having a passion for health and the right attitude towards adversity that matter most to overcome any challenge.
Only a number
International Wellness Coach Edna Hearsey Cross testifies to the importance of nutrition, exercise, and mindset to achieving great health and overcoming the Spartan Race. About 33 years ago, Cross suffered a major car accident that left her with mobility issues and pain. Before her ordeal, she had struggled with weight gain during two pregnancies, and had been going to a community gym to get back in shape. The incident only made the struggle more difficult as she depended heavily on medication to lead a normal life.
Fortunately, a fellow mom at the gym introduced her to a nutrition program that helped her get back on track. Soon she healed and regained her strength. It was then that she began developing a taste for adventure: “After recovering and feeling great with no pain I thought I should put myself to the test. I became confident to give it a go and see how far I can go.”
Now at 63, Cross continues to dare herself by competing in marathons and going around the world to climb mountains. Her secret lies in doing regular exercises such as running, yoga, and Pilates, powered by a daily dietary regimen that keeps her energized. To ready herself for more demanding activities like the recent Spartan Race Age Category, she joins a fitness community for bootcamp and obstacle training. She also makes sure to do lots of burpees in case she’s unable to do an obstacle.
Starting it young
On the other end of the age spectrum, four-year-old Skylar Legayada simply lets her natural curiosity and eagerness to drive her enthusiasm for sporty activities. Along with other young participants, she signed up for the Kids Category in the recent Spartan Race for a chance to do what kids do best: play and make friends.
With dreams of becoming like her favorite superhero, Wonder Woman, Legayada gets plenty of encouragement from her family to live an active lifestyle. Some of the exercises she likes doing with her parents include running and climbing the monkey bars or the A-frame at the playground. She also enjoys training with her aunt, who also joined the Spartan Race.
Challenging the self
The recent Spartan Race Sprint in Pampanga proved daunting with more than 25 obstacles across a stretch of 13 kilometers. For first runner-up Melba Vergara, getting through the mud, barbwire, and fire required more than physical conditioning and skill, but also iron mettle.
A seasoned runner in her 40s, Vergara knows that it’s the self that ultimately stands between the athlete and the finish line: “It is true that ‘age is just a number’, but it depends on every individual’s mindset. When competing, I don’t think that I’m older than my peers. Some of my elite competitors are only half my age, but to me that is not the barrier against the young ones. The only thing I know is that I have the heart and determination for it.”
With several Trifectas under her belt, Vergara prepares for tough events such as the Spartan Race by doing freerunning and bouldering. She also strives for moderation when it comes to her diet, listening to her body for what she needs and treating herself to dessert once in a while. Most importantly, during competitions, Vergara tells herself that she isn’t racing with anyone else but herself to keep her nerves calm and ready for the challenge ahead.
All about willpower
Like the three tough ladies above, every Spartan knows that strength of spirit on top of months of hard training is what pushes athletes to beat the odds—no matter their background, competitive experience, or physical limitation. This same tenacity is what every contender must learn to muster in Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge, an American television show featuring a one-mile obstacle course inspired by the Spartan Race.
The Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge gathers together some of the most hardened athletes in teams of five—two women, two men, and one Spartan elite—all of whom understand that age or training isn’t enough to win against obstacles designed to test mind and heart, as much as body. Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge airs Mondays to Fridays at 5:15PM, first and exclusive on Blue Ant Extreme. Blue Ant Extreme is available on SkyCable HD channel 209 and Destiny Cable Digital channel 104.