2020 Spartan Race World Championship Venue Revealed as Abu Dhabi. Some thoughts on it.

My apologies for the mess that this blog has become. I’m not sure what it even is anymore, and I’m just too busy these days to do any real writing. Also, it’s been years since I competed, so that plays a part in it as well.

Anyway, I’m really excited to hear the championship is leaving North America. I’ve raced in the Arab Emirates a couple times, and those events were some of the most difficult and rewarding experiences I’ve had. I’m sure the American racers won’t be happy with the Venue, but such is life. If you’re on the fence I would recommend you suck it up and make the trip out. Remember, the Europeans have been in your position every year since Spartan’s inception ūüėČ .

The last race I ever competed in was actually the Middle East Championships. During the race (which you can read about below) I felt something tear near my groin. I put off getting a real diagnosis for nearly two years, but eventually was diagnosed with and underwent laparoscopic surgery for an inguinal hernia. Rather than doing it state-side I opted to have it done in Hungary. (Hungary is the medical tourism capital of Europe)

These days I second-guess the soundness of that decision. The ensuing recovery –and the myriad of issues that have lingered– have effectively rendered me immobile. Racing is out of the question these days, let alone sneezing without pain.

Regardless, I don’t regret anything and remain grateful for the opportunity I had with Spartan Race, It was a good run and a wonderful experience while it lasted.

For those of you wondering what to expect from this race, you can see a few of my previous Middle East racing and travel recaps linked below. Also attached are some FAQs for the championships, courtesy of @AllthingsOCR.

Dubai, 2014, pt 1.

Dubai, 2014, pt 2 I admittedly sucked at writing back then, but the second half of this article is (surprisingly) about as good as anything I’ve written in the years since.

Podcast covering the 2014 Dubai race with Matt B. Davis.

My experience prior to and during the 2017 Middle Easter Championships. This one is probably the most entertaining of the articles linked. Part 2 should be out this week, I actually just realized it’s been sitting as a draft over at Obstacle Racing Media for the last year or two.

Barcelona was crazy

Viewed from above, Barcelona presents a stunning grid of asymmetry. At street-level the city seems far less uniform, with hidden treats to be found for any traveler: ocean access to a warm Mediterranean, successful sports teams, all night clubs, and stunning architecture consisting of Gothic and roman ruins, ultra modern builds, and considerably more chic than one can handle.  

Our co-contributor, Darrin, documents his travels around the world. This week he visits the beautiful, cultured city of Barcelona.

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By the time we touched down in El Prat on Sunday night I’d already been going hard for 6 hours. The flight attendant must have taken a liking to me, as he had slipped me two plastic shot bottles to go alongside the canned Modelo I had ordered shortly after take-off. Add that to the Jack I had managed to sneak on in my sports drink bottle (my own version of the infamous Tucker Maxx ‘Death Mix’ and I was lit in no time at all. I didn’t remember much of the taxiing or shuttle to the hostel, and while it was only 8pm when they dropped me off, I crashed immediately. Jet lag’s a bitch! Continue reading “Barcelona was crazy”

Three days in Tokyo blew my mind

Tokyo is the ultimate juxtaposition of old and new, a place where ancient temples squat in the shadows of neon-lit, contempo skyscrapers and riced-out, glowing Lamborghinis scream past ambling tuk-tuks. It might sound jarring, but when viewed at night, somehow it all meshes in a stunning fever-dream of lights and activity. Our resident travel guru, Darrin, is spending his gap year from Uni hitting as many countries possible. This week he documents his three-day visit to the extraordinary city. 

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Have you ever seen Lost in Translation? I touched down at Narita airport and I kid you not, I felt just like the guy in that movie. Floating through the city jet lagged as hell, neon lights everywhere, I could’ve been in that ASAP Rocky video with the Asian chick.

This was a work trip, and in Tokyo that can only mean one thing: Heavy drinking. I met my father’s business associates at the super sick hotel bar and of course we started drinking right away, as is custom at these meetings. By the time talk turned to business I was honestly in no state to negotiate, but I tried my hardest to keep my wits about me. They were pretty cool guys. Shortly after midnight I finally peaced out of there and went to my room. I’ve always been the guy with the iron stomach, but the whiskey had done me in, and this meant spending most of the night huddled near the toilet. Continue reading “Three days in Tokyo blew my mind”

This digital nomad lived out of a single bag for 3 years

May 5th of 2009 is a day that Jim Wilmer will never forget. A systems engineer by trade, Jim had spent the previous 3 years working night and day on a touch-to-pay payment system for a well-known Silicon Valley tech company.¬† A pre-cursor to Paypass, ‘Swyp-it’ had a strong buzz in tech circles and was supposed to disrupt the credit card industry in coming years.

Like so many others, Jim had lost his nest egg during the housing crisis, but he remained optimistic. Jim did have equity in the rising company, and he daydreamed of the day a 7-figure payout would allow him to leave the cramped office behind for an early retirement spent traveling the world. So when the app was abruptly shelved and Jim found himself without a job, he decided to forge ahead and chase his original travel dreams, finances be damned. Jim bought a cherry red Jansport backpack from Target, filled it with just the bare essentials necessary to make it through a weekend trip, and hit the road.  

Over the next 3 years Jim embraced the nomad life. He taught English in Vietnam, labored in Japanese rice fields, and eventually started a successful export company based out of Singapore. But never did he allow his possessions to outgrow his tattered backpack. 


In May bluehighways met up with Jim at an expat conference in Malaysia, and there he shared with us his tips for traveling (and living) light. 

BH: Why just a backpack? Surely that’s a bit extreme, no?

JW:¬† Extreme, yes. And I guess it was the whole point, you know- to show people more is not always more, I guess. Your possessions will grow to fit the space. This never changes. Backpack or mansion, this is true, and I’ve certainly felt that while living on the ‘other side of the tracks’ during my tech days.¬†

BH: Do you miss the corporate world?

JW: Well I did. I tried to run from it, but try as I might, I still found myself in a similar role (with NeXports) that utilizes my skillset. 

BH: Could you give us a list of your essentials?

JW: Certainly. Like I said, I don’t need much….¬†

Continue reading “This digital nomad lived out of a single bag for 3 years”

Lubricating the brain: Nootropics, pt 1

Sometimes you just need an extra “kick” to get things moving. Here are my results with various “nootropics” or cognitive enhancers.

Caffeine

I didn’t try coffee until I was 22 and didn’t drink it regularly until a year ago.

At the time I was having problems with a recurring, rather annoying spasm in my right eye-lid and nose. I had read that low doses of caffeine was could treat this and began to use it.

I’m not 100% sure if it did the job, but the other effects I read about during research intrigued me. In particular among them were caffeine’s ability to help the body recover post-workout when taken with carbs/protein, its anti-aging effects, and finally, as a jump-starter.

I’ve since experimented with coffee naps and caffeine-aided workouts, among other things.

My experience: 

Caffeine kicks¬†in within 3-5 minutes of my first sips of coffee, usually signaled by a rather intense wave of what I can best describe as ‘positivity’ flooding over me.

I had¬†caffeine’s effects explained to me as ‘taking the breaks off’ one’s brain, where now dopamine and glutamite run free. Which in a way makes¬†sense, given that my energy levels don’t change during caffeine consumption.

I think its important to note that I definitely don’t¬†achieve or do more when ingesting caffeine; rather, my thoughts seem more focused and optimistic, leading me to believe that progress is occurring, despite normally not acting on said thoughts. I still have much more success brainstorming and writing when ingesting alcohol than caffeine.

Lion’s Mane (+ caffeine & chaga)

A favorite of Buddhist Monks, this mental-growth promoting “bearded mushroom” has experienced a huge surge in popularity recently thanks in part to Tim Ferriss and his glowing praise of affiliate Four Sigmatic’s mushroom coffee, which according to Ferriss, “…lit [him] up like a Christmas tree.” Continue reading “Lubricating the brain: Nootropics, pt 1”

30 days of Burpees

Pertinent background info

Not too long ago I came across an article entitled something along the lines of “Top 10 Worst Fitness Exercises”. Burpees were at the top of the list. The article’s author referred to the move as “ineffective” and even “masochistic”. I let Google auto-fill a search for me and the results spoke likewise.

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I don’t know about the “masochistic” labeling of the¬†burpee. There is absolutely a difference between masochism and stoicism. In the mind of the do-er, at least. More on that later…

But there is some truth to these health concerns. Burpees, like any other repetition-based exercise, can cause problems over time, especially with beginners. To avoid problems I planned on not locking out at any portion of the movement, and keeping my weight square over my shoulders and away from my knees and ankles during the kick-back portion of the move.

That and a proper warm-up should in theory keep the do-er healthy while attempting them. Joe De Sena, the god-father of the burpee, practices as much, and from what I’ve seen also lays on his belly at the bottom of the movement. He once did 4,000 burpees continuously, so if the movement works for him¬†physically, well, you and I should be okay in moderation.

Continue reading “30 days of Burpees”

30 Days of Videogames

I’m still a week out from finishing my first challenges of the year, so in the meantime I thought I’d give you a glimpse at some of the tasks I took on last year. I recorded each of them throughout, but for various reasons (very un-scientific and crap writing being two of them) didn’t publish them.¬†The following is the first of them.


I grew up in a conservative household. How conservative, you ask?  In our living room, where most families had couches and various love-seats for sitting and watching TV, we had a CHURCH PEW. A wooden, straight-backed, mahogany-lined church pew with room for at most 2, maybe 2.5 people at a time.

Needless to say, my brother and I were a few years late to the video-game train.

Continue reading “30 Days of Videogames”