OMR interviewed Spartan women's ambassador Emily le Roux about all things Spartan. Read the full interview below.
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1. What made you want to be part of Spartan?
Quite honestly it was people. I met Joe De Sena in Tokyo where he had moved to support the launch of Spartan Race Japan. At the same time I found myself in friendly competition in the Cross Fit box with Emily Downey who now runs Spartan Race Japan. They have infectious personalities, driven by something that is hard to explain other than the passion they have to drive others to achieve more that they thought possible. I knew right then that Spartan would inspire me, help me inspire others and on a personal level push me to be the best version of myself.
2. Your new role sounds full on and extremely rewarding, what does it involve?
Spartan is for those willing to mentally and physically push to achieve their personal best. It is a sport, mindset, community and way of life. Above all, it is a catalyst for transformation, pushing you beyond what you thought was possible. The Spartan Women community is for everyone whether you are 4 or 94. A lot of time is invested to listening to the stories of women and girls who have found their way to the start line of a race and have become empowered to share their journey with others. By shining a spotlight on our community, we are able to encourage women and girls from all backgrounds, cultures and of course levels of fitness. I also work with Partners in the International markets who are looking for innovative ways to engage with our racing community and support our mission to rip 100 million people off the couch.
3. I’m delighted to hear that 40% of competitors are female, that’s a high percentage. Do you see that figure rising and how do you intend to make that happen?
I would love to see a 50/50 split globally in the near future. Consistently, I see that women and girls get together with a group for their first race. This means that they train together, race together, get very muddy together and as a result form stronger friendships, teamwork and camaraderie. Organically they bring new members into their group create an unbelievable environment for everyone to push themselves beyond what they thought was possible. At Spartan we are committed to ensuring that everyone, male and female has the support they need to train, eat well and enjoy every aspect of Spartan racing.
4. Where is the future of Spartan heading do you think?
Into more countries first of all. This year we have inaugural races in Ireland, Romania and South Africa. Spartan is in the driving seat, taking OCR to the Olympics and Paralympics. This is so exciting, especially for the younger racers who are, for the first time this year, able to complete in age group categories. I think Spartan Race will produce some Olympians and Paralympian's in the future!
5. What advice would you give anyone who is considering doing a spartan race? What would you advise regarding nutrition, training and preparation?
Just do it! That is the advice from thousands of women and girls who have also found themselves considering entering. We have a saying "You'll know at the finish line'. This is very true. It is difficult to explain the feeling of accomplishment when you cross the finish line. The smiles on race photos say it all. In terms of nutrition, training and preparation everyone is different, with different aspirations and varying amounts of time available to train. My advice would be to find some girlfriends or a partner who will commit to training with you (strength in numbers and all that...). You can find heaps of advice on Spartan.com and you can easily reach out to the Spartan Women community and be bombarded with friendly, supporting advice - anything from what shoes to wear to shorts versus capris.
6. What motivates you to want to empower women so much and have you always felt so strongly about women and equality?
Both of my grandmothers were strong women who possessed the 'never give up' attitude. And having 2 younger brothers made me raise the bar on what I expected of myself. Working at Michael Page where men were very likely to be hired if they had been to public school and played rugby sharpened my ambition to work hard and be considered an equal. But it was my move to Japan in 2011 with a 12-month baby that I really started to see to unfortunate inequities in the workplace and the expectation that many young girls had of themselves. A BBC reporter, Mariko Oi, reported that more 16-year-old girls than ever in Japan aspire to be a housewife and don't consider a career as an option. I am proud and happy to say that quite a few of my previous co-workers are now mothers and successful business women with the confidence and ambition that will inspire many others to follow in their footsteps.
7. If you believe we are all equal regardless of gender, why is there a male/female split in waves and why do the men go first?
You are right that the elite waves are often split by gender. All other waves are co-gender, unless there is a race wave for a big team that has been specifically requested. The Elite women set off after the men to ensure that there are limited times where there is a delay on an obstacle and we want to give all of the elites the opportunity to power through the obstacles with no delays or waiting. I see Spartan as a gender-neutral sport where regardless of age, ability, able bodied or less able bodied we are all on the start line together in the Open waves. It is amazing!.
8. Besides your professional connection to Spartan, what are your personal goals for OCR?
I need to conquer the spear throw. I just cannot do it and it is infuriating! Otherwise, my goals are to enjoy every minute of every race. I know I am going to meet some amazing people and that is very exciting.
9. Do you have any pre/post-race rituals? We’re not just talking coco pops!
Ha ha. One of my friends, a professional nutritionist for some national UK teams told me about coco pops. It was the best advice! I don't really have any rituals. There is so much going on before and after a race that I don't really plan too much. I do LOVE chocolate though, so I will generally have a Dairy Milk stashed away to enjoy post-race, guilt free!
10. What is your favourite, most memorable race and why?
2017 World Championships in North Lake Tahoe. It was an absolute privilege to be racing with people from all over the world with stunning scenery everywhere you looked. I also raced with two new friends there, which was a very powerful bonding experience.
11. Who would you most like to see take on a Spartan race? This could be a friend, a celebrity, the Prime Minister, your dog... Why would you want them to and what do you think they would bring to an event?
I would just like to see someone who had never contemplated a race before. Someone who, like me, stumbled across Spartan and crossed the finish line with a mixture elation, pride and the hunger to take on another challenge. I believe that those feelings on the finish line drive many people to reassess themselves. With that boost of confidence, he or she might go for a promotion at work, ask for a pay rise, step up in his/her community. If you think about it, every Monday morning there are thousands of Spartans who wake up on the Monday morning with a bounce in their step, a boost of confidence, ready to take on the world!