Up for the Challenge!


Alumnae Andrea Douglas ’13 MBA and Laurel Shearer ’03 are up for the challenge in the emerging sport of Spartan Racing. They combine their talents and knowledge-base of finance and fitness in their new business, Strive Fitness, rooted in their mutual passion for this sport that involves endurance, agility and internal drive. Their joint venture serves the needs of athletes in the field using Douglas’ business management acumen and Shearer’s skills as a personal trainer and amateur Spartan Racer.

Douglas’ experience getting her MBA at Redlands developed her love of finance, a field she works in professionally as a financial advisor. While their business is based in the Redlands area, they currently see their clients at their residences and at various outdoor locations.

Spartan Racing is a type of obstacle course race, similar to others like Tough Mudder or BattleFrog. It harkens back to the ancient Greek society of Sparta and emphasizes rigorous physical fitness training and competition. Races are a challenging combination of endurance activities like lifting, running, scaling walls and crawling under barriers that require mental strength and determination to finish. Scoring is governed by the time it takes an athlete to complete a course. Assisting other racers if they need help is also a part of the Spartan approach.

Shearer sees a correlation between her education at Redlands in English literature and Spartan Racing. As she notes, athletes and writers grapple with similar classic themes: man versus man, man versus self, man versus nature. Spartan Racing, she says, offers a chance to test one’s strength and overcome obstacles in one’s own life. She is working toward becoming a professional Spartan athlete and trains at local gyms and on trails in the San Bernardino Mountains. At her most recent race, the Spartan Race LA at Castaic Lake, held last December, she won the women’s elite heats on both days. Each race was approximately 5 miles long and featured 20-plus obstacles. A highlight of the weekend was Shearer’s win on Sunday, where she had a seven-minute lead over the runner up.

Douglas thinks the popularity of movies like the 2007 epic 300 based upon the Battle of Thermopylae during the Persian Wars, and television programming like “American Gladiator” has a lot to do with the increasing popularity of Spartan Racing. Currently, many professional level Spartan Racers maintain other careers, training and competing at the same time. Since professional Spartan Racers will have a short career due to the rigorous nature of the sport, many of them will need help managing their winnings to maximize return, an important part of the business she and Shearer have created.

To learn more and follow their progress, visit www.laurelthelightening.com.



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