Freetime: Spartan Racing With Colleen Koscinski, MAC Janitorial Supply
For fun, Colleen Koscinski climbs over walls, crawls under barbed wire, and plows through mud. Colleen, co-owner of MAC Janitorial Supply in Plattsburgh, New York, is a Spartan racer, which involves both distance (three to 26 miles) and obstacles (20 to 60 challenges) depending on the race.
It all started when Colleen’s sister, Kelly, asked Colleen to hike the 46 Adirondack High Peaks with her.
“I was really out of shape, so I joined a gym,” says Colleen. “When Kelly and I started hiking in 2009, she had to wait for me every single step of the way. It’s not like that any longer, because now I’m running up and down mountains.”
The sisters completed their quest to hike the 46 High Peaks — all of which are over 4,000 feet high — in 2016. For Colleen, hiking evolved to body building.
“I saw an announcement at the gym about joining a body building team, so I did,” she says. “I won three shows, and in the last one I competed in, I was the overall woman winner in every class. And then I met some people who compete in Spartan racing, who encouraged me by saying, ‘You look strong, you’re working out, and you love the mountains.’”
Colleen trained with the group every day for four months. And then won her first Spartan Race.
Obstacles in a race can include carrying a 40-pound sandbag uphill, carrying a bucket filled with 50 pounds of rocks for 300-yards, climbing 20-foot ropes, hopping over logs, scaling nine-foot walls, and throwing spears. Her favorite obstacle is jumping over fire.
“When you see the smoke, you know it’s the fire, and the end of the race,” says Colleen.
If racers fail an obstacle, the penalty is 30 burpees. Then they can move on instead of trying the obstacle again.
Colleen’s “worst race ever,” was the Killington Beast in Vermont (a “Beast” is a 13-mile race up and down the mountain with more than 30 obstacles).
“We had to go through really cold water. It was both shocking and numbing, which made it difficult to do the obstacles,” she says. “We had to swim to the center of a bridge, climb up a ladder, grab a rope and swing across to the other side of the bridge, ring a bell, and swim back to shore. Your hands are wet and you’re freezing and it might even be snowing.”
Giving birth was the only thing harder than the Beast, says Colleen. Speaking of which, Colleen inspired her 27-year old daughter, Chelsea, to do a race with her.
“Chelsea really had fun and loved the experience,” says Colleen.
As tough as Spartan racing can be, Colleen always comes in first in the age 50 to 55 women’s group, and she has qualified for the World Obstacle Course Race competition.
She probably has one more year of competition left in her.
“Now I’m getting older and I think my body is telling me I need to slow down,” says Colleen. “So I’m going to listen. I will still train hard but I won’t have to race.”
Gretchen Roufs, a 25-year janitorial supply industry veteran, owns a marketing and public relations company in San Antonio. To suggest someone you think should be featured in “Freetime,” contact her at Gretchen@GretchenRoufs.com.