A spartan training schedule is nothing new for Scott Ruby.
Ruby, one of Cayman’s most prominent endurance athletes, stepped up in class last week with a standout performance at the North American Championships of the Spartan Race.
Ruby, a newcomer to the spectacle of obstacle course racing, competed in the longest of the Spartan Race circuits. The race, aptly named the Beast, required Ruby to run 13 to 15 miles and conquer 30 obstacles, and he had to do it while competing against a field of like-minded individuals.
Thanks to the support of his family and coaches, Ruby was a massive success. He finished 33rd in his age group, which was good enough to book a spot in next month’s World Championships.
“I thought I would be more intimidated by the athletes there, but looking around, we all had the same look in our eye,” he said Tuesday. “We knew we belonged there and we knew we were going to go at each other. For anybody to be in that shape over the age of 50 is a great accomplishment. It takes a lot to maintain that conditioning. These are exceptional people. To be there was humbling.”
Ruby had previously run the Sprint and Super distances of the Spartan Race, but his Beast mode run at the North American Championships was a way to test his limits. That was not even the hardest part; the course in Bethel, West Virginia, required him to climb about 4,000 feet in elevation during the race.
For Ruby, who trains on Cayman’s flat landscape, it was a challenge on top of a challenge.
“After listening to some of the pros go through their race strategy, I decided to adapt one of theirs,” he said. “It’s not really my forte, but I decided to be patient and to be more tactical in my racing. This was my first attempt at patience and it worked. There’s a really tall climb about mile 9 where we were going to go to 3,200 feet. I was content to just stay in the top 50 out of the 200 we started with. But I made the whole climb without stopping and got into the top 30, and I stayed there for the rest of it.”
The endurance athlete has primed his body with countless marathons and triathlons over the last decade, but he said the course at the Spartan Race was beyond anything he’d ever done.
There are points of the Spartan Race where if you do not complete an obstacle in your path, you have to do 20 burpees as punishment. Ruby, relentlessly trucking towards the finish line, made the executive decision to just do the punishment rather than wait in line to attempt the obstacle a couple times.
And then, after cresting that difficult climb, he leaned on his loved ones for inspiration. Ruby’s wife Miles and daughter Grace were on hand to bring him all the morale he would ever need.
“We had just gotten done with a climb that I had never seen anything like,” he said of his Beast-level ascent. “I kind of laughed a little bit while we were going up. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. They’re making us do this.’ As we came through, a woman was giving us times and said, ‘You’re out of the woods.’ I thought, ‘Yeah, right.’ All of a sudden, I heard, ‘Scott Ruby!’ I looked way down this hill and there was my daughter. I thought, ‘Oh boy.’ That was the last little puff of wind in my sails.”
Ruby finished his race in three hours and 58 minutes, which was two minutes ahead of his target goal. He said Tuesday he was about 40 minutes out of first place and that there were 20 people within minutes of his final time. In other words, his margin of qualification was quite thin.
Now that he’s made it, he’s excited to compete in the World Championships, which will be held in Lake Tahoe next month. Knowing what he knows now, he said, he may have run a totally different race.
“I don’t know what’s worse: Knowing what’s coming or not knowing,” he said. “If I had known what was out there and how it would affect my body, I might have pushed myself a little earlier. But don’t ever second-guess success. Take it. Go with it. I would’ve done cartwheels for the 40th spot.”
Ruby was overwhelmingly thankful for the support of his family and coaches, and he said it brought a feeling of calm and relaxation that he had never experienced before. Now, as he goes about his daily business, he said he’s been really excited to share his success with anyone who asks about it.
“The support coming back today, people have been giving me high-fives and saying, ‘I wish I could do something like that,’” he said. “The easy response is, ‘You can.’ If this gives me a platform to let other people know they can do whatever they want to work for, that’s what it’s all about.”