I sometimes get these crazy ideas in my head. So far they haven’t killed me. Yet. One of the craziest I’ve had was to run the Tough Mudder race in Michigan in July 2014. Yeah. I’m still wondering what drove me to that decision. Especially since I didn’t really do much to train. But the idea of pushing myself to be the best has always been part of who I am. Had I gone to a public high school and/or college I would’ve tried out for any sports team. I like making myself better and competing at the same time.
So that’s what brought me to Joe De Sena’s Spartan Up!. I was browsing the “New Nonfiction” section at the library when the title caught my eye. While I think the Spartans were way too into the whole military thing. They certainly knew how to be winners and how to foster that in their culture. De Sena, though, is not a Spartan. He’s just the founder of the Spartan and Death Races. I thought this was going to be his autobiography/philosophy of why he started the Spartan race in the first place. And it sort of was. With a commercial annoyingly buzzing in the background.
At the very least I think De Sena intended this to be his manifesto of why he started the Spartan Race and that’s where he shines. But he can’t help himself from plugging the Spartan Race EVERY CHANCE HE CAN!!!!!! I kept thinking. I get it already. We know about the Spartan Race. Now get back to your point. And he keeps making very weak logical statements about how the Spartan Race can make you a better person. I disagree. I think preparing for the Spartan Race can make you a better person. The exercise and discipline are great skills that should be fostered all our lives.
But he can’t resist telling an anecdote about someone who’s 300 lbs overweight who signed up for the Race and who now is doing triathlons and the like. Which was ok the first two times he did it but by the end it felt like he was following the same pattern for each chapter. By the end you could almost skim the paragraphs because you already knew what information was going to be there.
Overall I liked the philosophy but thought the delivery was bad. I think a good editor could’ve helped him avoid the apparent self-promotion. He has an interesting story to tell and his philosophy is intriguing. But he needs to keep the race separate. It just muddies the water. Pun intended.