Unlikely Duo Conquer Spartan

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This year’s Virginia Reebok Spartan Super at Wintergreen Resort challenged all who participated with obstacles that included log hurdles, tyro traverse, water pits, plate drag, spear throw, barbed wire crawl, fire jump and much more. The mix of racers is impressive as you can see from the stats of a 41-year-old elite racer in first place and a 16-year-old open racer in second place.

Top five racers in the Spartan Super ELITE:
NAME                       BIB    AGE    GENDER    TIME
1 Matt Novakovich    9819     41                M            1:54:48
2 Ryan Woods            11638   36               M             1:58:44
3 Ryan Kent                8724    29                M            2:02:26
4 Matthew Kempson 8715    25                M            2:04:24
5 Chris Schapman      10591  34                M            2:05:2

Top five racers in the Spartan Super OPEN:
NAME                         BIB    AGE      GENDER    TIME
1 Carl Beigler                6327    36                  M             2:30:10
2 Phillip Hall                12211    16                 M              2:31:54
3 Alex Garcia                11791    32                 M              2:32:12
4 Debby Myers             9704    43                  F               2:37:59
5 Jackson Nisewaner  9784    24                  M             2:38:24

I kept hearing buzz among the racers about a specific racing duo. Curious, I sought them out at the end. The woman, Desirée Rincón and her dog, Roxie have been running together for about two and a half years. The first obstacle course races they participated in together were local ones in Florida. “It was a fluke,” said Desirée. “I used to leave Roxie with a friend at the start line; one day at a run called the Hog Wild Mud Run she broke her leash and caught up with me. She ended up going through all the obstacles with me, jumping over walls and crawling under barbed wire.”

Roxie’s first Spartan race was the Atlanta Sprint in March of 2014. Roxie completed three Spartan Trifectas last year. A Trifecta is the completion of three separate Spartan distances – the Sprint, Super and Beast all within the same calendar year. So far this year Desirée and Roxie have completed two Trifectas and are shooting for four!

Roxie is not only Desirée’s racing partner, but also her lifeline. Desirée is in remission from gastric cancer, ended up developing diabetes and now suffers from seizures induced by hypoglycemia. Roxie, her highly trained service dog, alerts Desirée when her blood sugar drops. “The fact that she is awesome as a running partner and negotiates obstacles like a boss is just icing on the cake,” said Desirée. They have completed more than 50 races together from small local 5Ks to half marathons to Spartan Races and more.

“I love to see how motivated racers get when they see Roxie on the course, especially if she throws out an AROO! at them, or if she high-fives them or gives them a kiss,” said Desirée. “I get a sense of overwhelming pride in my chest every time I see her little furry butt scale a cargo net or jump over a five-foot wall.” Swimming obstacles are on the top of Roxie’s list of favorites – she loved the Miami Spartan Super and the Palmerton Super.

Roxie’s race gear includes a high-visibility vest with reflective piping because she’s small and Desirée wants to ensure she’s visible to other runners on the course. The vest has a place for Roxie’s racing bib and service dog ID. Desirée also puts a Kong harness on Roxie that has a handle on the top, which is particularly important for the obstacle portions her like the A-frame cargo net where Desirée needs to ensure she has a grip on her. The harness generally has a little stainless steel sealed cylinder attached containing Desirée’s medication. Roxie wears booties when terrain has snow or gravel, or if they’re running on hot asphalt. If a race has few water stations or is particularly grueling in nature, Roxie will wear saddle bags to carry water for herself and essentials for Desirée like glucose tablets, jerky and other pertinent items.

The furthest the dynamic duo has traveled so far is to the West Coast for the Temecula Spartan Beast. To bring Roxie to a race, Desirée has to present a copy of Roxie’s certificate of training, a letter from her vet, a copy of her shot records, a letter from Desirée’s doctor and a medical information form. Roxie isn’t registered in the races per se, but the staff are notified that she is there and on a course. At Spartan Races, Roxie wears Desirée’s same bib number. Also, at major nationwide races like Spartan, Roxie gets a free medal upon finishing.

Desirée and Roxie are part of a group called I Run 4 (IR4). Runners are paired with a child who can’t run due to a disability, and they run on the child’s behalf. Roxie runs for a young man named Bailey who lives in Michigan. All the medals that Roxie earns at races are collected and mailed out to Bailey.

Next year Desirée plans to take Roxie with her to races in the UK and Canada, and possibly Mexico and Spain. The average lifespan for service dogs is seven years, at which point they are retired from service, but Desirée doesn’t think Roxie will be ready to retire at that age because of her energy level. The duo’s overall goal is to live to see another day of racing, and race each race together as if it were their last!

Visit the Spartan Race website to find your next challenge! Take advantage of their great new TEAM promo; sign up three people and you race for free and they get $20 off! Catch the World Championship Lake Tahoe Spartan Race and the new season of Spartan Race on NBC.

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