Malibu Spartan Race brings out extreme race diehards

Spear throwing, fire jumping and mud crawls were just a few of the obstacles race enthusiasts faced at this past Sunday’s first-ever Malibu Spartan Race. Hundreds of people came out to test their skills at the race, which took place in the hills above Calamigos Ranch, off Latigo Canyon Road. The race started at 10 a.m. and had several heats throughout the day. Each race lasted about an hour, with the course being just a little more than two miles. The course also included a giant net scale, eight-foot wall climb and crawling under barbwire in mud to the finish line.

Extreme race junkies Joe DeSena, Brian Duncanson, Andy Weinberg, Mike Morris, Shaun Bain and Noel Hanna founded this unique race in 2002. The idea came about after they had met at a challenging Malibu Hills race that lasted a couple of days. DeSena explained they wanted to put on a race that was unlike anything else in the world.

“We wanted to create something that breaks you, the way life does,” he said. “If you think about 200 years ago, you’d walk outside with your friend and maybe you wouldn’t come home with a friend because an animal would get them or they’d fall off a cliff. It’s only in the last 100 years that you’ve got indoor plumping, cars that start when you turn a key. It’s a very easy life.”

This inspired them to first create the “Death Race,” which consisted of an intensive trek through the wilderness for an undisclosed amount of time. Realizing that only a limited number of people could compete and finish the race, they decided to create something more accessible to the public.

“Last Spring in Vermont we held the first Spartan Race and I watched around 1,000 people cross the finish line, smiling from ear to ear,” DeSena said. “They want this.”

Many Spartan Race participants dressed in costumes to support the event, such as Anaheim resident Justin Chavers, who dressed up as a Spartan. A thrill seeker, Chavers works at Knott’s Berry Farm as a stuntman and also competes in various mud races.

“Being an active person is right up my alley,” he said. “Being physical is what I like to do and it’s also nice getting out and enjoying a beautiful day. It feels good and it’s better than sitting on a couch at home.”

Another fan of the course was Arash Dehghani, who is in the Navy and works out at least two times a day, six days a week to stay in top shape.

“The Spartan race is something that’s like pure testosterone,” he said. “It’s like living prehistoric times of man and the brutality of how their lives were.”

While the majority of the participants are usually male, there were also quite a few females who competed in the race and held their own. Rose-Marie Jarry, who is originally from Montreal, Canada, participates in every Spartan Race and usually takes first place in the women’s division-which she did again this year.

“The course is different every time and this one was definitely the hardest because of the hills, they’re really steep, but it was a lot of fun,” she said. “I used to do track and field and I love to run and stay in shape.”

First place winners of this event received a free entry and expense paid trip to compete in the Death Race in Vermont, while second place winners received a gift certificate for Vibram shoes.

Next year, the Spartan Race will take place at 25 different locations around the world, including England and South Africa. But for now, DeSena and the other founders just hope the next Spartan Race in San Diego will be as successful as this one and are looking forward to keeping the race going for many more years to come.

“We realized our mission on this planet is to get a million people off their couches and away from their video games, off the cigarettes, undo the nail painting and get out and get dirty because it’s a life-changing experience,” DeSena said.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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