Spartan challenge taken up by Stuart family

Good, not-so-clean family fun: Roxanne, Andrew and Jim.

Good, not-so-clean family fun: Roxanne, Andrew and Jim.

How did you spend Fathers Day weekend? Gathering the family together to share a leisurely meal or some other easygoing pastime?

How about some family bonding by dragging each other up mud banks, crossing a river by jumping on floating pontoons, rope-climbing or that all-time classic, commando-crawling under barbed wire?

Ninja warrior-type television shows are encouraging people to challenge themselves to (very) physical obstacle courses. The Stuart family took up that challenge, taking on the Spartan course at Numinbah Valley (in the Gold Coast hinterland) over the weekend thanks to the inspiration provided by eldest son Michael.

Family Stuart was made up of Jim and Roxanne, son Andrew and seven-year-old grandaughter Bailee. Bailee undertook the fun-but-messy two kilometre kids race (twice!) while the oldies tackled 22 obstacles over 7.5 kilometres, and lived to tell the tale.

Andrew earned his finishing line shirt and beer.

Andrew earned his finishing line shirt and beer.

“It was challenging but fun,” Roxanne said.

She’d never done anything like this before but around two months ago they all decided to do it as a family.

“I’m 66 and Jim’s 63. We wondered if we could do it at all.”

Andrew – a truck driver by profession – had some training sessions with his brother Michael, a movement coach. Roxanne’s preparation consisted of her normal running around town.

“I didn’t have as much training as I would have liked,” she said.

“But as I crawled 100 metres through mud under barbed wire I got the giggles, wondering what my mother would think if she saw me doing this.”

She and Jim completed the course in just over two hours. Andrew took an hour and fourteen minutes.

Michael competed in the elite race on the Sunday.

Roxanne wasn’t even sore, although Jim had a niggling issue with his Achilles. They finished 1253 and 1254 out of a field of 1700 in their event, and couldn’t believe the size of the crowd that gathered for the weekend.

Family of Spartans: Andrew, Jim, Roxanne and Bailee Stuart.

Family of Spartans: Andrew, Jim, Roxanne and Bailee Stuart.

“There were more than 5000 people there, including 700 kids,” Roxanne said.

They’ve now caught the bug and have the next Spartan event in their sights, aiming to improve their ranking. They’ll be heading to Bright in Victoria to race in mid-November, along with Andrew and Michael. 

Although it’s so far outside her comfort zone, Roxanne sees benefits as a family and as an individual.

“I’m afraid of heights, and one of the obstacles was a cargo net stretched over four shipping containers. I froze a few times and by the time I got over it I was shaking and crying, but so thrilled that I did it and conquered a fear.”

Dynamic duo Andrew and Bailee Stuart.

Dynamic duo Andrew and Bailee Stuart.

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