More About the Author
Joseph De Sena, 44, has been an entrepreneur since his pre-teens. From selling fireworks at age eight, to starting a t-shirt business in high school, to building a multimillion-dollar pool business in college, to creating a Wall Street trading firm, De Sena is a living definition of the word "entrepreneur." Currently he is a managing director for ICAP, a brokerage agency.
De Sena knows what it feels like to succeed outside the office, too - and that's the feeling he seeks to bring to the world's athletes with the Spartan Race series. Throughout his lifetime, he's competed in any extreme sports adventure he could find, testing his mental and physical endurance against nature.
Growing up in Queens, Joe's mother valued healthy eating and living and passed along that value system. It's been well-documented that he worked hard growing up and ultimately got to Wall Street, where he made his mark and made himself a small fortune. He moved his family to Pittsfield, Vermont, and quickly entrenched himself and his family in the local landscape. Joe moved to Vermont in an attempt to get back to the way things used to be.
It's also well documented that Joe turned an interest in endurance racing into a passion. His racing resume is the stuff of legends - over 50 ultra-events overall and 14 Ironman events in one year alone. Most of his races are 100 miles or more with a few traditional marathons in the mix. (He once said that running a 26.2 marathon distance was "adorable.")
To put it in perspective, he did the Vermont 100, the Lake Placid Ironman and the Badwater Ultra... in one week. The elevation climb for the 135-mile Badwater race, which starts hundreds of feet below sea level in Death Valley, is over 8,500 feet up to Mt. Whitney and temperatures soar into the 120's. Joe also biked cross-country in the Furnace Creek 508 which has been coined "The Toughest 48 Hours in Sport." It's no wonder his favorite quote is, "Death is the price we pay for life, so make it worth it."
Joe's other athletic achievements:
- Raid International Ukatak: Canada, January 2001
- IditaSport: Alaska February, 2001 (1st place)
- Odyssey Adventure Race: Big Island, Va., March 2001
- OAR Beast of the East: Clayton Lakes, Va., April 2001 (1st place)
- Raid The North Extreme: Newfoundland, June 2001 (13th place out of 42)
- Adrenaline Rush: Dublin, Ireland, July 2001
- Discovery World Championships: St. Moritz, Switzerland August, 2001
In 2005, Joe decided that the world needed a new race, something that had never been done. And so, together with Peak Races, he created The Death Race, a 24-hour mental and physical test filled with unknown obstacles (www.youmaydie.com). Racers couldn't and wouldn't know what to expect. The fear of the unknown would either break or motivate, and all they could do was try to survive. The race waiver includes three words: "I may die." It doesn't get any more real than that. No way to train, no way to prepare, just show up and make it to the end. And don't expect any love from Joe or the volunteers. They want to break these people, make them quit. Joe's been quoted as saying, "There's no light at the end of the tunnel. We're basically holding your hand to help you quit. The same way life does, right?"
Joe, and other racers who came to be called the "Founding Few" wanted to create another event, something that captured the extreme spirit of the legendary Death Race, but was modified and accessible to a much wider racing audience. And so the Spartan Race (www.spartanrace.com) was born in 2010.
Spartan Race has grown dramatically in 2013 over just the year before. The number of competitors now stands at approximately 350,000 racers in 60 races in 2013 in the U.S., Canada and the UK. Over 3 million "likes" are on Facebook, a new e-book is available at spartanrace.com, and an NBC Sports TV Special airs on Dec. 7, 2013. Participation in 2014 is expected to grow to 650,000 at events in 22-plus countries.
Spartan intends to wake up the world up and save humanity, one racer at a time if need be. It's a race meant to challenge, to push, to intimidate, to test and even to break those brave enough to try, and it was designed by seven people who know what that feels like. "Fun run" doesn't apply here. It's about being uncomfortable, overcoming obstacles and finding out what's possible when what you expect of yourself is everything. In the words of Joe himself: "The phrase 'I can't' doesn't mean anything to me anymore, not because of my ego but because I know anything is possible."
About Spartan Race
Spartan Race, voted Outside Magazine's Best Obstacle Race in 2012, is the world's leading obstacle racing series and the first of its kind to have global rankings. With 350,000 participants in 2013 at 60 events, Spartan Race is making this one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Spartan Race is a timed event series featuring races at four escalating distances in locations worldwide that culminate in a World Championship Finale with cash and prizes for the champions - with $300,000 in cash and prizes awarded in 2013 alone. While featuring competitive elite heats, Spartan Races are for athletes of all levels and abilities and are geared toward ripping people off their couches and into the outdoors.