And then there was light. That was my first memory as a young Spartan. I remember brightness and being taken out of my comfortable box. My muscles were stiff from what I later learned was a long journey from somewhere called Amazon. I heard laughter and discussion from my adoptive family. They didn’t know what to call me. There was a bright flash as I was just starting to stretch my legs and arms; I remember being placed on a shelf. I heard someone say, “We should call him Sparty.” I caught a glimpse in the mirror and saw I had a red hat with furry white trim and a black headband printed with the word ‘NATRAPS’.
Talks of training filled the air often. I was placed in a bag with comfy towels, but it was dark and smelled funny. The bag opened and once again I was thrust into a bright room. The smell was stronger. It was a mix of sweat and fear. And the sounds were different. Grunts, heavy breathing, and the occasional loud thunk. They called this place a gym and I later found out it was crawling with what they called “gym rats”. I hope they are friendly.
My family let me watch and soon I was allowed to work out with them. I stretched my legs and had a great view of what I learned was called a team. They called themselves Ohio Parkinson’s Warriors. There was much discussion about a trip, and I was so excited to learn I would be allowed to go. They talked about obstacles, running, and something called “mud”. Apparently, there would be lots of this stuff called mud.
We were in a car again and for once I was not in that stinky gym bag. I took my place on the dashboard and watched the world flying by. It was cold and wet and again all they talked about was how much mud there would be on the course. We went to a hotel, and I got to stretch out on a bed and explore the room. But just as I started to get comfy, the lights went out and the door shut. They went to dinner and left me alone – NOT cool… I’ll get them back for that.
In the morning they packed their bags and again, discussions of rain, cold, and mud ensued while they debated what they would wear for the “Spartan race”. Wait, hey! That’s my name, only backward. We’re going to a Spartan?! There was breakfast in the lobby but not everyone was hungry. I could tell they were preoccupied with nerves and excitement–time for me to get them back for the dinner ditch.
Bags were loaded in the car, and they were about to leave for the 20-minute trek to the race site. Then I heard the guy say, “Where’s Sparty?” Oh, NOW you want to know where I’m at? Ha! When they loaded the bags, I jumped off my perch on one of the suitcases and into a jacket pocket. They looked for me, but I was nowhere to be seen. One by one their voices started to panic. “Where is he? Did he fall out in the lobby?” I heard the guy ask the lady at the hotel desk if someone found a ‘doll.’ Hey, I’m ‘NATRAPS’, not a doll! The trunk was opened, and all the bags were dumped out. They looked and looked. “We can’t race without Sparty!” I let them panic a bit more then I stuck my head out of a pocket. Now they wouldn’t let me out of their sight. I was back in my rightful spot on the dashboard, and they took more photos. The guy placed his phone on the dash and for the first time, I saw my photo. I couldn’t believe it. Maybe my headband read SPARTAN, not NATRAPS!? We were on our way.
As soon as we all got out of the car there was that word again. Mud. “Well, I guess this is the first obstacle,” someone said. There were lots of people around. It was cold and gloomy, but the energy was electric. The team picked up their race packets, and we took a few more pictures. HEY! They are all wearing matching headbands with my name on them. This is getting weird.
Then again, relegated to darkness. They stuck me in a less smelly, albeit cold box with clean clothes. I knew they were clean as they didn’t have that gym stink. Thank goodness! Eventually, they came and got me, and their clothes. Where had they been? And yuck! What was all over them? They all really stunk now. I also saw that each one of them had this shiny disk hanging from a ribbon around their neck. My name again! Now I know my last name, Sprint.
They all changed from their stinky, wet clothes that were covered in what I now know was mud… that stuff was all over them. They were tired but relieved and proud. Then back to the car for the long drive home. They were already discussing the next race and where we would all go; maybe next time I’ll get to go on the course and see this mud for myself!
Last Christmas, Sparty, the Spartan Elf on a Shelf, found his way into the Felber family. The Adventures of Sparty the Elf and Friends depicts Sparty’s recent adventure at a terrain race with obstacles in Michigan, called a Spartan Sprint 5k.
The race is 3.1 miles of fun including 20 challenging obstacles on an off-road trail course featuring water and mud. We climbed walls and ropes, crawled under barbed wire, traversed monkey bars, threw spears, and worked as a team to conquer our fears.
Rob Felber and Zoe Blank from Felber PR, alongside Rob’s daughters Elana Felber and Zoe Felber Bluffestone, were joined by fellow Parkinson’s warrior Kirstin. This was the team’s second Spartan race and Zoe Blank’s first.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the Felber PR and Marketing team!