This November, Justin Levy, Citrix director of social media, and I completed our first Spartan Trifecta, and Chuan Lim, a staff software engineer, completed his second of the year. You’re probably wondering what a Spartan Trifecta is – and why we’re so proud of ourselves – I’ll explain.

A Spartan Trifecta is earned by completing three different Spartan obstacle course races in one calendar year:

  • One Sprint, which consists of 3+miles with 20-23 obstacles (walls, rope climb, bucket carry, barbed wire crawl, etc.)
  • One Super, which is 8-10 miles with 24-29 obstacles
  • One Beast, a monster race course of 12-16+ miles with 30-35+ obstacles, often including a swim

That’s when people often ask: “Why in the world would anyone want to do that?”

Once, I would have agreed. For the first 50 years of my life, I’d never heard of Spartan races nor did I know much about obstacle course racing.

Then I joined Citrix and met Justin.

Roughly a week after I met him, Justin suffered a grand mal seizure that shattered both of his shoulders. I learned that he would be out for an extended period for reconstructive surgery, and to have brain surgery to remove a tumor that had caused the seizure. Like a lot of others, I wondered how he would respond to this tragedy. Would these injuries force him to change how he lived?

If you know Justin, you know that he refused to let his shattered shoulders, his tumor, chemotherapy, and resulting epilepsy slow him down at all. It’s a remarkable story, and one that he shares in detail through his blog, Built Unstoppable.

During Justin’s recovery, the Citrix executive team and colleagues also impressed me with the way they all rallied around him. His team worked hard to manage the Citrix blog and other social media properties, and our communications team lead stayed in touch with Justin and kept us updated on his progress.

More than any slogan, policy or poster, it was clear that Citrix values good people. It’s a key reason I love working here.

I didn’t really get to know Justin until he finally returned to the office when we worked together on projects. I learned we share a passion for fitness, and that’s how I learned about Spartan obstacle course racing, after Justin completed a Spartan Sprint at AT&T Park.

As he described the different obstacles, from monkey bars to rope climbs to walls, I found myself intrigued. If this guy can come back from all these surgeries to finish this kind of race … I could do that.

And the next thing I knew, I decided to join Justin at his next race, the Monterey Super.

When race day arrived, I picked up Justin and we drove down together. We were both nervous. Justin hadn’t done a Super before, and I’d never done anything like this.

Then once the race started, we just focused on getting through the course and the obstacles. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking, “This is nuts. I’m miserable, exhausted, and dirty and getting scratched up … Why am I doing this?

After we’d covered six miles my right calf began cramping. I could barely walk.

A random middle-aged woman noticed and said, “Cramps? You need mustard.”

She pulled out a Ziploc bag with Burger King mustard packets, and said, “Eat three of these.”

Concerned about her sanity, and not wanting to argue, I took three packets, opened them, and sucked them down. Fortunately I like mustard, though I prefer it on hot dogs.

But within a couple of minutes, my cramps disappeared … and I became a believer in the healing power of mustard. My view of that random woman was transformed. Clearly she was sent from … ABOVE.

Finally, Justin and I dragged ourselves over, under and through the rest of the 30 obstacles and gimped across the finish line, and that’s when I understood the Spartan tagline, “You’ll know at the finish line.”

It was a huge rush. Exhausted, sore and filthy, I could hear that voice in my head saying, “Next time … I’m wearing running pants. I’m gonna pack mustard … and I really need to upgrade my training.”

Later, I completed another Spartan race, just after the 2016 Presidential election. The Sacramento Sprint was a healing experience, where I saw lots of people helping and encouraging one another – regardless of race, ethnicity or political views. I was hooked.

With the force of a new convert, I convinced a friend from church who is into rock climbing to our little team to complete the San Jose Super. He not only outperformed us, but became a Spartan convert. That’s when we decided to complete a Trifecta this year.

While our Citrix colleagues and our families were supportive, they also questioned our collective sanity.

Each one of us has a different way to prepare for each race. Justin shares his workouts via social media for all to see. All I’ll say about mine is that I run longer distances and I’ve boosted my strength training.

Each race we have completed as part of our Trifecta has been a unique adventure. The toughest one was the Tahoe World Championships, where we completed our Beast. We covered 17.8 miles with more than 3000 feet of elevation, and completed 38 obstacles that included an icy swim in a mountain pond.

Each race has also blessed us with magic moments. As non-elite athletes, we focus on finishing, not competing. That means we help each other over obstacles and encourage one another. Racers come from all walks of life, and every race, ethnicity and background, united by a desire to test themselves, overcome obstacles and cross that finish line, where we celebrate together.

In many ways, it’s who we are within Citrix. While we compete as a company, within the organization, we bring people from all around the world to work together, push one another and make a meaningful difference for our customers.

So who wants join us for our next Spartan race?