Editor’s note: This is the sixth story in our new series “Everyday Athletes,” in which we talk with people who are out and about enjoying some outdoor recreation. Sports is all around us and we’re on the lookout. If you know someone who would make a great “Everyday Athlete” please contact sports editor Bill Stewart at [email protected]

Jim Delorie needed a challenge.

About five years ago, Delorie, the assistant dean of student engagement at Thomas College in Waterville, was looking for a way to ease into long-distance running — and for a way to make it interesting. Delorie, who played football  at Div. III Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts from 1999-2003, said he found it by participating in Spartan races.

Spartan races have competitors navigate tough obstacles during a distance race.

Although the coronavirus has canceled Spartan races through the spring and summer, the 39-year-old Delorie has stayed fit by logging miles on the roads near his home in Oakland.

 

 

Q: How long have you been doing Spartan races?

A: My first race was 2014. I started taking it seriously in 2015. I tried it in 2014 and realized I liked it, and that I was not very good at it. I needed to get fit again. And I was never a runner. Obstacle course racing sounds fun, you get to carry around buckets of gravel, swing on a rig, do monkey bars and climb a rope. But in reality, 98 percent of the race is running. So that was like ‘Well I won’t fail at obstacles because I can climb (the monkey bars) and they’re fun, but I am not fast anymore.’ I took a while to become a runner, but I wasn’t a runner in the past. A three-mile run used to scare me. Now, I ran 30 miles a couple of weeks ago in one day. I run 40-plus miles a week most weeks now. But it took me that year to get used to it.

 

Q: Was doing Spartan races a way to ease into running?

A: Absolutely. I love competition, so that helps. I was a collegiate football player, so the explosive parts of that training was in line with what I liked. The (long distance) running was new. What I liked to say was ‘If you’ve got 20 obstacles in five miles, at every half-mile, you’re stopping to do something.’ Now I just enjoy running. But it was a mental process of like ‘I’ve got to do five miles today? How am I going to do that?  That’s going to take forever.’ I don’t even consider that a full workout anymore.

 

 

Q: What was the last event you participated in?

A: My last event would have been in November. A lot of races become few and far between in January and February time frame, and early March, just because they don’t want to do it in the snow. I usually try to take an extended offseason, because in the spring, summer and fall, races can be multiple times a month. You don’t get a lot of downtime to let your body recover. I was at Fenway (Park in Boston) for the Spartan Sprint in November. Spartan have a variety of race series, they have a sprint, super and a beast. The sprint is their shortest, the super is longer and their beast is usually 13 or 14 miles. They try to say it’s a 5K, 10K or 15K, but they’re not real accurate with that… One of their series is the Stadium Series, where you get to run at different stadiums and one of the originals and one of the last ones they do every year is at Fenway. It’s one of my favorite races. I always do well, and it’s just fun. You run a 5K and do 20 different obstacles in Fenway Park.

 

Q: How much fun is it to run around Fenway?

A: It’s cool. They don’t let you run around the grass, but you get run the warning track, you finish on the warning track. We make it a family event. My wife (Amanda), child (Cooper) and my sister comes with her two kids. My wife and sister like it because they’ll run the last heat of the day on Saturday, so they get to run under the lights. But they put 14,000 people through there in two days, it’s crazy. And they have a kids race, so in two days they have three races, a half-mile, mile and two-mile, so they get a little trifecta medal because they’ve done three races. That’s one of the things they look forward to. They have to carry sandbags and they have to jump rope and crawl through stuff. I will say this: Running the narrow aisles at Fenway Park is treacherous. I’ve done (AT&T Stadium in Dallas), I’ve been to Philly, I’ve been to (Citi Field in New York), I’ve been down to (Washington D.C.) for the (Nationals Park). I didn’t go to Lambeau Field (in Green Bay, Wisc.). They did it there one year, and I didn’t go because I thought they would be back there, and now they don’t so I missed it.

Jim Delorie runs at the Quarry Road Trails on Friday in Waterville. Delorie competes in obstacle course races. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

What’s been the toughest Spartan race you’ve participated in?

The toughest race I’ve done would probably be the World Championship race in Tahoe (California) last fall. I got second in my age group (Delorie finished in 3:01, placing him second in the 35-39 age group), but it snowed Saturday night, and I raced on Sunday. We ran up Squaw Mountain, which is an Olympic venue — which was cool, to run an Olympic venue — but you started at 7,000 feet elevation, then you ran up to 9,000, then back down. It was 14 miles with like, 7,000 feet of elevation gain between going up and down the mountain twice. And there was a swim at the top — with a holding pond of water — at the top of Squaw Mountain. It snowed, it was 32 degrees and windy, and they made us swim. Yeah, it was cold. Luckily, I can descend quickly, and you were able to get right out of that and start a descent where you could get your legs moving and warm up. But other people were not so lucky. And what was crazy was, it was 65 (degrees) and sunny on Saturday. And then (a storm) came on the mountains in California and dumped three inches of snow overnight.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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