The Spartan Race is so much more than overcoming courses for Anna Bolger.
“You just never know what to expect,” Bolger said. “It’s like life. One of the points in the Spartan Race is to overcome the (race) obstacles and to also overcome the obstacles in life.”
Bolger, 16, who recently won the 2019 U.S. National Series (14- to 17-year-old female age group), is invited to compete in the World Championships on Sept. 28 in Lake Tahoe, Nev.
The Spartan Race is a series of obstacle races of varying distance and difficulty ranging from 3 miles to marathon distances. The obstacle races are the Spartan Sprint (more than 3 miles with 20-plus obstacles), Spartan Super (more than 8 miles with at least 25 obstacles), and the Spartan Beast (More than 12 miles with more than 30 obstacles).
The young Mercer Island resident first competed in a Spartan Race at the age of 14. Since then, Bolger has participated in 21 races, stood on the podium seven times, and now travels the nation to compete.
Depending on the race, Bolger said she’s had to swim in 43-degree lake water, push through strong winds, carry a bucket weighing as much as 100 pounds up and down a hill, and crawl under barbed wire.
“Starting a race, you think you’re going to finish the race, but once you get out there, you hit reality — you get tired,” she said.
To overcome each obstacle, Bolger said she sets goals throughout the race. If she becomes tired, she will take a break and walk it off.
“Setting goals throughout the race helps me finish without getting hurt, dehydrated or hungry,” she said. “It’s the mentality of staying in the game and wanting to finish. I also think about all the Spartans on the course. I look to other people to inspire me as.”
Bolger said it’s the Spartan community that keeps bringing her back. She said other participants in the race have helped her out and offered help when she needed it.
To keep in top shape for the races, Bolger said she hits the gym regularly and casually carries heavy buckets around her neighborhood. With the World Championship being on the summit, Bolger said she is focusing on breathing, long-distance running and strengthening her legs.
After recently winning the U.S. National Series, Bolger said she feels confident.
“You don’t know what you’re going to [face] out there… it could be the hardest race of the season,” she said. “But knowing I won brings a lot of confidence.”
Overall, Bolger said the Spartan Race has helped her see life challenges like “another course obstacle.”
“I look at it as an obstacle and you have to overcome it one way or another,” she said.