Stephen “Bow tie” Crawford[/caption]
I first met Stephen “Bow tie” Crawford in-person at The Ugly Sweater Run in December 2013. This fun run was a far cry from his many other races including his Spartan Elite ones. This month he attempts his biggest goal yet – a Death Race. Many know him as the athlete who wears the Speedo and bowtie and practically nothing else. Now you’ll learn more about what’s behind the Speedo and bowtie.
Were you physically active in high school and college or more sedentary?
Growing up I was not a very active kid. I was very overweight at 325 pounds and the notion of running just exhausted me. I was that kid that faked being sick to get out of the gym one-mile run. Although in high school I played football as a center and was on the kick-return team during my sophomore and junior years. I was also a member of the weightlifting club as well as the rowing team my junior year. After high school I didn’t start running or doing any serious exercising until 2010. I finally got started with 5K runs and other timed runs in 2012.
What got you interested in obstacle course racing?
My cousin showed me a video of a Spartan Race and the Death Race one holiday. He told me how he and his 60-year old father were running the Spartan Race in Tuxedo, NY and how I should join them. After watching many videos about obstacle courses I signed up for the NY Sprint, NJ Super, and VT Ultra Beast without any hesitation or without any knowledge of what I was getting myself into. Yes, you heard that right, for some reason I was young and dumb and signed up for the Ultra Beast before even running the Beast.
Are you happy with your Spartan Elite ranking and what are your goals for Spartan Elite in 2014?
Right now I am extremely happy with where I rank in Spartan points. I could never imagine that I could be where I am today. With never being a gifted or good athlete to have placed top 10 or top 20 at any race is really a dream come true for me. Hopefully, I can keep this momentum going and continue my progress to potentially higher goals.
Can you offer some tips on Spartan Elite training from a training point and a nutritional standpoint?
To be honest I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to training and nutrition. All the training comes from asking a lot of questions from a lot of different people. I also don’t have a lot of money and work two jobs so even finding time to go out and do CrossFit or some of these crazy things people do just doesn’t work for me. Luckily, I l live close to my job so I will either run or bike to work and home to get in cardio as well as workout in the gym, where I work. As for nutrition, I love food — a lot. I eat anything and everything. I do try to portion my meals and eat healthy. Hopefully, I can discipline myself more to get on a better track.
How do you plan to enhance your training and nutrition to handle the larger physical demands of Death Race?
Training for Death Race I have focused less on my speed training than strength training. I have very little strength so reading some of the things people have done at Death Races I’m worried. I also have
chopped a lot of wood. I’ve never chopped wood let alone held an ax until a few months ago. As for nutrition I have been testing out different foods during ultramarathons that I can eat, continue to run, and not hallucinate as much — or starve. Although no matter how much you train or plan you are never ready for when Death Race day comes from what I’ve been told from veteran Death Racers.
Is your goal for your first Death Race to just complete it or are you looking for a particular time for the Finish Line?
So far I have already accomplished my goal for Death Race; I signed up. I’m still willing to pack my bags and head up to Vermont at the end of June. Although, when it comes to June 27, 2014 I am in very high spirits on completing it. I don’t care if I am dead last; I just want to finish.
Will you be competing in Death Race alone or do you plan to have a pit crew with you?
Sadly, I must admit I am going up to Death Race solo. I am not very good, well, horrible at asking for help so asking for someone to crew for me is tough. I’m also very stubborn and want to be able to do this on my own and not have any help. It’s to give myself a sense of pride. Although I am lucky enough to have amazing friends I have made through Spartan Race that told me while they are crewing for other people attending the Death Race they will check up on me and see if I need anything.
Can you offer some unique insights into your personal life outside of OCR that you feel would be of interest to the readership?
Outside of OCR and my Speedo/Bowtie outfit I am completely opposite of how I am at races. It’s pretty much Clark Kent and Superman with me. I am very antisocial, actually. I live in an area that if I do want to see anyone from races I have to travel at least 45 minutes to get to them. For me a day-to-day routine is wakeup at 3:00AM, work, workout, and spend the rest of the day at home or out running if I do not have to go to my second job. I have no support from my family for my obstacle course or ultramarathon races. Other than that I am pretty Plain Jane; nothing exciting or interesting worth talking about in my mind. I am running OCR to prove something to myself and to others because so many people think I am a joke and sometimes I believe them because it’s something I’ve heard about myself my whole life.
I’d like to wish Stephen great success with his Death Race. After seeing him run in 27-degree weather while snowing in just a Speedo and bowtie I’m sure he has the physical and mental skills to complete a Death Race. Good luck, Stephen!