Corn Fed Spartan Team Member Brian Yensho II Shed 60 Pounds and Ran 2,000 Miles in 2016
ONE TALL SPARTAN
The Corn Fed Spartans team are really onto something in the obstacle course racing world. My first article about this Spartan Race group with nearly 5,000 members was about Josh Saunders, who lost 100 pounds training for Spartan Race then, I had the honor to speak with the Guardian Heat captain Cliff Cunningham. Coincidentally, it’s Cunningham who played a large part in our next Spartan’s decision to go Corn Fed: Brian Yensho II. A NASM-certified personal trainer, PharmD (doctorate in Pharmacy) student at Butler University and Pharmacy Intern, Yensho ran 15 half-marathons, 10 5K races, and seven obstacle races in 2016. All that running resulted in significant weight loss.
“I’ve dropped 60 pounds since my first road race in December 2015, the Santa Hustle Half Marathon in Indianapolis,” says Yensho. “I’ve ran over 2,000 miles between road races and OCRs in 2016.”
A resident of Indianapolis, IN, Yensho was captain of his high school gymnastics team, was a member of the Gymnastics Club Team at Indiana University (where he earned two Bachelor’s Degrees), became a licensed USA Swimming and Diving Coach and was a Lifeguard Instructor for the American Red Cross at IU. Yensho’s entrance into running started at that December 2015 half-marathon, where he met first encountered people wearing Corn Fed Spartans merchandise. Not surprisingly, most people who do OCRs have running backgrounds or start to run more often once they’ve done a few OCRs. In the case of Corn Fed, the members do local running races as a team.
“When I was running, I saw several people wearing ‘Corn Fed Spartans’ jerseys and I thought ‘Oh, that’s weird, I didn’t know Spartan Racers did anything else but the actual Spartan Race, like you hear about or see on TV,’” says Yensho. “I was intrigued by that and as I kept doing more street races, I kept seeing more Spartans and finally one day I went up to the group and that’s how I met Cunningham. He was one of the most amazing people, very positive, uplifting and he didn’t care about what your background was—he just wanted to make sure you were having fun.”
Cunningham ensured Yensho that he could complete a Spartan Race and that he would personally ensure Yensho crossed the finish line. Yensho wound up joining Corn Fed Spartans in July 2016 and started becoming very active within the organization.
“It made races more fun and I learned a bunch of different ways to train that you wouldn’t have gotten by yourself,” Yensho adds.
2016 TRIFECTA: INDIANA, BOSTON AND SOUTH CAROLINA
Yensho’s first-ever OCR was the Indiana Sprint in July at Perfect Slopes in Lawrenceburg, IN and he describes the experience as “brutal,” especially since he did minimal training or preparation for the event.
“I got hooked because I wanted all of the pieces of the Spartan Trifecta medal,” says Yensho. “I had to quickly make a mad dash to see what Supers and Beasts were in the area because the team had already completed their trifecta by doing the Chicago and Ohio races.”
After experiencing the physical demands of a mountainous Spartan Race course, Yensho decided to incorporate more gym training into his routine. He typically runs outdoors 3-5 times per week for cardio. Weather isn’t factor since he loves the cold and would prefer winter races over summer ones. For strength training, Yensho trains upper body twice a week and a legs once a week, doing barbell squats, lunges, thrusters and more. He favors a circuit training style since it’s efficient and allows for a variety of moves to be performed in a short amount of time.
“I got cocky at first because due to my gymnastics past, I thought I could traverse any rig or anything with a bar but I was wrong,” says Yensho. “You’re exhausted by the time you reach the rig, the bars are muddy and slippery, and the bars/apparatuses are not evenly spaced out so that was a new concept to me.”
Although he’s most active in the Corn Fed Spartans team, Yensho also joined other major Spartan Race teams’ Facebook groups, including New England Spahtens and Southern Spartans. This came in handy when he decided to sign up for the Boston Spartan Super in August. Hearing Yensho explain just how easy it was to secure lodging for out-of-state races is encouraging to this race alone, get a hotel room to myself OCR traveler. Yensho says the mere volume of races he did in 2016 led him to seek less expensive ways of traveling.
“I posted on the New England Spahten’s page with a message like, ‘Hey, I’m going to be in town for this race, is there anyone who can let me stay with you guys for a night?’” Yensho says. “The New England Spahtens responded saying ‘Oh, you’re Corn Fed, you can stay with us.’”
The same strategy worked for the Carolina Beast in October, where Yensho earned his first Spartan Trifecta. He’s not aware of Corn Fed ever denying any traveler’s lodging requests. About the Carolina Beast, Yensho says: “The first part of the race seemed to have only a handful of obstacles and then there was just uphill/downhill for over seven miles then the last several miles seemed to have all of the obstacles. It’s mentally challenging because you didn’t know when all of the obstacles were going to start popping up and once you got to a certain point, you knew they’re all packed into a couple of miles.”
Becoming an active member of Corn Fed Spartans has led Yensho to lean heavier on OCR in 2017.
“When I started doing road races, I got into the mindset that I was racing by myself, for myself, but when I joined Corn Fed, it was a whole different experience in a positive way,” Yensho says. “Spartan Races are harder than just running but because you’re encouraged to work as a team [in open heats], which makes it more fun. Next year, my schedule is more OCR-loaded compared to road running races.”
SPARTAN: MORE THAN JUST RACES
After running that first half-marathon in December 2015, Yensho registered for the NASM-CPT exam to learn how to become a better athlete and train properly. And although he has clients, his work and school commitments limit him to 2-3 clients at a time. Even with a packed schedule, Yensho is drawn to completing Spartan Race’s educational material. Specifically, he completed the Spartan X Course in October 2016, a 10-module online course designed to help people achieve success using their minds.
“Spartan X breaks down getting your life skills, time management and goals in line and details the best way to attack and approach them,” Yensho says. “Also, the course teaches you how to deal with adversity that would make the average normal person give up and quit. Instead you say, ‘I know how to handle this because I have a skill set and method that I can apply to overcome anything that comes into my life.’ It helps break things down into smaller pieces to manage aspects of your life more efficiently.”
Yensho is preparing to take the Spartan SGX Course, Spartan Obstacle Specialist Course and the Spartan Edge Course.
“I’m passionate about the whole Spartan program in general and the different programs they have that are not races,” Yensho says. “I look at the Spartan SGX Course as a way to train more efficiently and it’s a great asset to have to help people who are on the fence about doing an OCR. I’m really excited about taking the Spartan Obstacle Specialist Course which breaks down the technique of every obstacle one by one so that when you get there you’re not like ‘Oh, God, I have no idea how to do this.’”
There is undoubtedly that feeling of unknown prior to your first OCR. What if I get gassed too soon? What if I can’t do an obstacle? Once you cross the finish line after a 3-5 mile OCR, it becomes clear that literally the majority of people can complete the course, even if they walk it. Yensho agrees with this sentiment that OCR is for most people.
“I feel like everyone could do a Spartan Race if they tried and I like the fact Spartan gives you the option of doing burpees instead of failing the obstacle, per say,” Yensho says. “At each Spartan Race, I’ve completed more obstacles so there are few left that I don’t know how to do which is cool.”
Yensho’s story is an example of how quickly one Spartan Race can turn into a commitment to living the proverbial Spartan life on and outside of the course. It’s also a testament to the outreach and marketing capability that Corn Fed Spartans has. Last, Yensho represents the “guy who’s just looking for a place to crash on Friday for the Saturday morning race.” And there lies the true appeal of OCR: making friends will lead to traveling the country (and world) for cheaper and with way more fun than if you were to do it alone.
Residence: Indianapolis, IN
Occupation: Pharmacy Intern and PharmD student in Pharmacy at Butler University
Upcoming Races: Winter Night Trail Marathon, Abominable Snow Race
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