Nathan Gant, 13, was a victim to what many kids experience: bullying. Since being homeschooled, the teen discovered Spartan racing and found a place he belongs.
Spartan races are distance running combined with obstacles. There are 3-mile, 8-mile, and 13-mile races for adults. The kids race is two miles. Obstacles include everything from rope climbs to sandbag carrying, bucket carrying, and swinging rings.
“Spartan really changed everything around for him in terms of feeling more confident about himself and building his self-esteem,” Nathan’s mom Karen Gant says. “That has been a wonderful outlet. The Spartan family is so welcoming and nice. It was a perfect fit for what he needed at that time. Nathan has really become confident and overcome the bully mentality.”
Nathan originally saw Spartan racing on television. After some research, he discovered they have kids races, and he decided to try it out. The former basketball and soccer player says that Spartan fits his personality more.
“I love that it is gritty and hard,” Nathan says. “There’s not many kids who want to put in the hard work to win.”
Nathan began training and came in 4th place in his first Spartan race in Atlanta in April last year. Kids who place on the podium are invited to the World Games. That gave him even more motivation after that first race.
Nathan went on to win his next race in Ashville and qualified to compete at the World Games. This past December, Nathan beat out 49 other kids to win the World Games.
“It was really cool. Sixteen different countries were there and all different languages,” he says. “I just went in and was going to accept what the outcome would be. I ran my best race. I wasn’t worried about how the others were doing.”
To train for Spartan events, Nathan does a lot of running, weight training, upper body work, and core. He says it really is “full body fitness.” Since he is homeschooled, Nathan is able to get his schoolwork done in the morning and have free time in the afternoons to train.
“We encourage kids to not tolerate bullying and stand up for each other. Try new things and be confident in yourself,” Karen says.
Nathan agrees with his mom and says that racing has helped him feel more confident in himself, and he now knows he can do anything he sets his mind to.
“Spartan racing helps me feel good and overcome obstacles that get in my way,” he says.
Nathan’s next Spartan race is Feb. 22 in Jacksonville, FL. If he places, he will have the opportunity to go back to the World Games. However, after he turns 14 this summer, he hopes to participate in the adult races.
As for encouraging others to get involved, Nathan says kids should go out and try it to see if they enjoy it.
“Eventually they can become one of the greatest if they put in the hard work and if they love what they’re doing.”
By Christin Yates
Photo by Tindall Stephens