Scott Ruby’s dedication to physical fitness is about to meet its sternest test.
Ruby, who weighed more than 300 pounds a decade ago, is priming to compete in the North American championships of the Spartan Race on 24 Aug. If he shows well there, he will have a chance to compete in a world championship for the gruelling obstacle race on 29 Sept.
His success in endurance events should come as no surprise, because Ruby has been a fixture of marathons and triathlons for much of the last decade. But Ruby is a Spartan Race newbie who has only competed twice on the obstacle courses, once last September and again in April.
“I’ve had real good luck,” said Ruby, who qualified for the national championship by finishing eighth in his age group in his very first race. “I’m way over my head in Spartan racing. When I look at the field and see the people I’m competing against, everybody is fit and after the same thing.
“They’re all so much more experienced than I am.”
There are three varieties of Spartan Race – Sprint, Super and Beast. The shortest version, Sprint, is 3-to-5 miles and 20 obstacles, while Super is 8 miles and 25 obstacles.
The final edition, Beast, means 13-to-15 miles and 30 obstacles in one exhausting day.
Ruby competed in the Super race in Atlanta last September, and then he did the Sprint and the Super on back-to-back days in Charlotte in April. Now, he’s competing in the Beast for the first time, and if he finishes in the top 30 of his age group, he will have an opportunity to compete in September’s world championships.
Ruby said that he missed just two obstacles in the Sprint and the Super, and those involved a barrier that required him to squat down and make use of rock-climbing handholds. Missing an obstacle, said Ruby, results in a penalty of 30 burpees, and he’s been working hard to make sure he hits every mark in August.
“Some of these guys in the Spartan Race are in a class by themselves,” he said. “I’ve been training really hard. And if I missed something in training, I don’t know what I did.”
Ruby will be competing in the 50-to-55 age group, which he described as “geezerly and slow”.
But the amazing part is the distance he has already travelled. When he lines up in Bethel, West Virginia, for the North American championships in August, he will be thinking about his ultimate journey.
Ruby said he weighed 326 pounds in 2009 and that he was pre-diabetic. Sometimes, he smoked as much as two packs of cigarettes a day and it took a health scare for him to change his life.
“I was a walking time bomb,” he said of the person he was before his fitness fixation. “I was a heavy drinker and I took pills to make me feel better, pills to make me feel nothing.”
He first competed in the Pirates Week 5K race in 2010 and finished 93rd. A year later, as he continued to round himself into shape, he finished fifth. Ruby has gone on to race marathons and duo races with Nikki Christian, who suffers from cerebral palsy, necessitating him to push a racing wheelchair.
Helping Christian through many races has become the source of Ruby’s greatest passion and joy, but now he’s on his own at the Spartan Race and hoping to bring a title back to Cayman. Even if he does not, he will find satisfaction and accomplishment from competing among dozens of worthy challengers.
“Everybody knows what’s good for you and what’s bad for you. You don’t need a doctor to tell you,” said Ruby. “When I started feeling better, I became a better me. I became a better husband, a better father and a better employee. I take care of myself to take care of others.”