“I lost my whole life. My military career, my family. I was homeless on the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina.”
The journey to a Spartan race podium—much less, a Spartan race start line—has been anything but easy for Scott Giltner of Castle Rock, Colorado. Now 29, Giltner enlisted in the Army at age 18. After returning from Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom 07–08) as a combat war veteran, alcohol got the best of him. “I lost my whole life,” Giltner says. “My military career, my family. I was homeless on the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina. I created a huge mess of my life, being in and out of jail on drinking-related charges.”
Athletics—and some help from above—literally saved his life, says Giltner. “I’ve been active my whole life, but I didn’t start running races until 2014. I did my first race for fun, and I started attending church and found Christ at the same time, and little by little I started to quit drinking. That first race started a fire under me and helped me aim for a goal, and now I am completely sober. And from there, my life has spiraled into so many great things.”
Those great things include becoming a sponsored athlete, being on the NBC Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge show, and landing a job with CadiraMD, an organization focused on the health and well being of U.S. armed forces, and society as a whole, especially through suicide prevention.Giltner—who says he uses fitness as a way to keep his life straight—recently added a few more great things to his list: two new PRs, an overall Spartan Sprint victory, and a 68th-place finish at the World Championship Spartan Beast in Lake Tahoe. (“Next year, though, will be a different story,” says Giltner, who is determined to move even higher up in the world rankings, as well as make the Spartan Racing Pro Team.)
In early September, Giltner tackled his first back-to-back race weekend, competing in Washington DC Spartan Sprint events on both Saturday, September 9th (where he finished in 47:33) and Sunday, September 10th (where he clocked 43:07). Not only was the Sunday race a new PR, it was a hard-earned fifth-place overall finish.
“That was my first time running races that close together. I had trained hard and started a new training regimen, and the difference from just two weeks prior [when he competed in the Colorado Rockies Spartan Beast] was extremely noticeable,” says Giltner. “It was very exciting to see the hard work paying off. I felt amazing and was able to push just as hard as I usually do, but this time I was able to pass people and finish fifth. I felt extremely accomplished, and seeing how close I was to finishing in first, I was more motivated than ever to train harder!”
Turns out, Giltner’s PR only held for two weeks—until he bettered it with a time of 42:21 at the Nashville Spartan Sprint – Fort Campbell, finally claiming that overall victory. The World Championship experience one week later was icing on the cake.
Throughout his quick rise through the Spartan ranks, Giltner has used Athlinks to keep track of his trifectas and gauge his progress against others. “It’s a cool tool to use to keep track of how I stand with other athletes. Also, having the ‘Top %’ ranking is really cool to see,” he says. And although his endurance sports experience is relatively new, he relies on this information in his determined quest to reach the top.
“Everything is moving forward in the right direction,” says Giltner. “Getting on the Spartan pro team would allow me to reach more people, to inspire and help more people achieve their goals. Through these races, I’m able to inspire others in a broader spectrum than I could just by talking to them. What drives me is seeing someone else overcome their struggle in life, no matter what it is—alcohol, obesity, drugs, self-esteem—and knowing that they’ve used the help I’ve been able to give them. And then, they’re able to do the same for someone else. That’s what this is all about. That’s my motivation.”
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