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Spartan Up!: A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life Hardcover – May 13, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 596 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Joe DeSena is the real deal. His stories are believable, because his achievements and accomplishments are genuine. In Spartan Up! Joe delivers his message with the insight and candor that only an individual who has lived through such experiences can. A must read for anyone looking to take his performance to the next level, be it in athletics or in life." – Dean Karnazes, ultramarathoner and New York Times bestselling author of Ultra Marathon Man

"Have you ever wanted to be more, been stuck in a funk or simply wanted make life poignant? Look no further because Spartan Up! is your catalyst. Loaded with real life inspiration and lessons, Joe De Sena uses his supercharged success in life, business and sports to deliver the nuggets. This is an easy and juicy read; succinct, powerful and relevant." – Ian Adamson, world champion adventure racer and author of The Runner’s World Guide to Adventure Racing

"If there's anyone out there who has taken extreme to a new level, its Joe De Sena – in adventure racing, in business, and ultimately in the business of adventure!  Spartan Up! is must-read."  –Robyn Benincasa, world champion adventure racer and New York Times bestselling author of How Winning Works

"Joe De Sena is the real deal in endurance sports and Obstacle Racing. Spartan Up! will guide you to train your body and mind for the arduous Spartan Race - while also giving you very practical insights to perform at your peak in all areas of your life." – Mark Divine, founder, SEALFIT and author of The Way of the SEAL and Unbeatable Mind

"Two words describe Joe De Sena and Spartan Up!.... Game Changer! Read this book and you will dramatically transform the way you think, lead, work, and live. This is the ultimate resource for personal and professional transformation. Spartan Up gives you an actionable blueprint to go beyond just adapting and surviving to excelling and thriving. If success is your goal, whether you're a Navy SEAL, Wall Street Exec, homemaker, teacher or doctor, you need this book." -- John Brubaker, world renowned performance consultant and author of The Coach Approach: Success Strategies From The Locker Room To The Board Room

 

About the Author

JOE DE SENA is owner of the Spartan Race, as well as a legend in endurance and adventure racing circles—he completed the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon, raced the 140.6 miles of Lake Placid Ironman, and finished a 100-mile trail run in Vermont, all within one week. He lives in Vermont.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (May 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544286170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544286177
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (596 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book wasn't quite what I expected, but I learned a lot from it. Life can be like that - and I think it is fair to say that this is one theme in the book. Funny how that happened.

Oddly enough, as I write this, my wife is watching the New York Housewives on TV, and two of them are running a Spartan Race. Quite a coincidence, given that these races are the backdrop for the book. One of the women did not enjoy the experience. Her husband tried to explain the point of what they did, but she didn't get it.

I had never heard of Spartan races before reading this book. Think a race through an obstacle course from hell, and you'll get the picture. Big, unexpected challenges.

The point of these races seems to be to push the runners hard and teach them something about life in the process - in a word, how to overcome. Or maybe, it's better to say that they teach people something about how life really is/should be, as opposed to the "fake" one that today's society has created/imposed upon us (or most of us). Doing the seeming impossible is possible if one applies the Spartan "way".

The book is critical of how children are coddled today, even to the point of being given prizes for showing up to a competition, whether they win of lose. I'm in my 50's, and this is certainly not how it was when I was a kid - what happened? Is there any wonder why kids grow up so "entitled" now? A rude awakening is the result. Bad all around.

There is also criticism of many aspects of modern life. Too much electronics, too much bad food, not enough exercise, etc. No argument here. I made some changes in my life regarding all this recently and am happy with the results.
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I'm truly disappointed in this book. I had it on pre-order and was under the impression that Joe De Sena, who is admittedly an absolute bad ass, would share his wisdom and secrets to success. Instead, 80% of the book is describing the Spartan Races he runs and testimonials/stories from people who have done one of his races. The actual useful content is minimal and to suggest its 20% useful content is too generous.

Other than the book being an obvious marketing ploy to sell his events, the editing is shocking. There is no flow to the book nor substance.

If the title is something that interests you I would suggest just going on his Spartan events and saving the time and financial investment on this book. I'm sure that people who've ran his races would enjoy this book more but personally, I'm thoroughly disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Spartan races are those events made famous with titles such as "This race might kill you" and "This race likely will kill you". Their blanket waivers, signed by all race participants, go to graphic lengths to point out the many creative ways in which you may be permanently injured - or die. From the mind that brought young (mostly) men to this sport comes a book that seems partly a justification for the existence of these races, partly an advertisement and finally a mantra for a more adventurous way to live our lives.

Despite the constant sense of urgency, the blatant self-aggrandizement and behavior attributed to the author, by his own hand, that borders in the masochistic, I found this book to be enjoyable. The races are described in gory detail and, despite the reason centers in my brain threatening to quit in protest, I found myself actually considering one of the easier races offered by Joe De Sena.

This book will be appreciated by the usual cast of characters - Cross Fit junkies, triathloners looking for something edgier, fraternity brothers, college athletes and the more fit among desk jockeys. It gives a fairly coherent and complete explanation of why some people choose this lifestyle, how it adds to their lives, and the price they sometimes pay for their devotion. Moreover Mr. De Sena draws connections between Spartan athletes behavior on and off the battlefield. Some may find these stretched but it's not unreasonable to conclude grit is something that applies to many of life's arenas.
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At age 60, I'm definitely old school with most my values. I was raised on a Ranch, served time in the NAVY, retired out of the DoD. Now I substitute teach pre-K through 12th grade in two school districts for a hobby. I love working with kids or even adults to help them do better in life. What I have found though is that the value system these days is broken and too many are totally lost out there. They have no moral compass or and thoughts of what they plan to do when they grow up. The entitlement generation is growing older but not growing up. That's what this book is all about and I loved it. It's NOT a feel good book or a pat on the back for doing a good job(when in fact you only did what anyone else can do). It's trying to tell people that it takes GRIT to do well in life and that material goods will never fill the empty void within our souls.

I did my first Spartan Sprint last January and while I did NOT break any records, I found that I still have it in me to reach deep and get it done. I plan on doing more events and may even move up to the longer ones as I get healthier and more fit. This book will help me whenever I start to lag and I need a kick in the butt. On most any page I can find something to keep the fire burning and know that so many others are out there that have done much more with much less than I have. So it's time to Spartan Up. See you soon on the hill or the mud...........all tuckered out.............but with a big smile on my face. AROO
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