Corey Raymo of Greencastle stands 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 126 pounds. He’s a Little Giant and part of a team with the same name that’s been selected for the “Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge” that will air this summer at 10 p.m. Mondays beginning June 12 on NBC.
The 39-year-old spent a week just before Easter filming in Atlanta, Georgia. He is signed to secrecy about how his group fares as 24 teams are winnowed down to three for the finals as they lift logs, raft, throw spears, crawl under barbed wire, scale walls and face other challenges on obstacle courses between half and three-quarters of a mile long. The grand prize is $250,000.
Spartan is usually an individual sport, but the challenge involves a team effort and communication every step of the way.
To stand out among the more than 400 teams that applied, members of the Little Giants capitalized on their size. In addition to Raymo, they are Jodie Fleming of North Carolina, 5 feet, 90 pounds; Kevin Donoghue of New York, captain and Spartan pro team member, 5 feet 4 inches, 143 pounds; Dustin Livengood of Pennsylvania, 5 feet 5 inches, 146 pounds; and Liz Schlagel of Pennsylvania, 4 feet, 11 inches, 96 pounds.
Their chant is “Can’t stop, won’t stop, Little Giants, finish line.”
Raymo said it was surreal to learn the team had been chosen for the show, which has the same producers as “American Ninja Warrior” and will be hosted by Olympian Apolo Ohno, ESPN’s Kelvin Washington, former MLB all-star Nick Swisher and sports journalist M.J. Acosta.
The week of filming was intense and exhausting. Raymo called the whole experience incredible, from the bond with his team to interacting with the other competitors.
“Outside of the results, the whole experience was incredible … any team is going to walk away changed,” he said.
He hopes the whole town will get excited about his appearance on “Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge” and sees the message that “everyone has shortcomings and they can be overcome.”
*** Becoming a Spartan ***
Raymo has been involved in fitness his whole life and played high school sports. He was good, but not great due to his size.
After college, he got a full-time job and settled in to weight training and 5Ks, but that “wasn’t satisfying my appetite for competition.”
It was Malinda, his wife, high school sweetheart and fellow Penn State graduate, who heard about obstacle races and said, “Let’s try it.”
“She got me into it and created a monster,” Raymo said. Malinda now does fewer Spartan events and is more into figure competition, which is like body building but with less intensity and bulk.
Raymo works out six days a week and he is a common sight at Antrim Township Community Park running up a hill carrying a bucket of rocks or throwing a spear.
“I get strange looks, but it’s all worth it,” he said. The basement of their Moonlight Drive home is filled with exercise equipment, as well as a series of rings, ropes and pipes.
He admits Spartan athletes are a special breed.
“You have to have it inside you, I’ve had drive my whole life,” he said. “Spartans all have mental toughness, they stay focused and are used to competing in pain and agony.”
Raymo is now in his fifth Spartan season. Since 2012, he’s done more than 25 Spartan events and has 13 scheduled this year. The courses are different lengths: Sprints, 3 to 5 miles; Super, 8 to 10 miles; and Beast, 13-plus miles.
Spartan is the fastest growing sport in the world and it’s not unusual to see 10,000 to 15,000 people at an event over the course of a day, Raymo said.
In his third year, he was among the top 50 males in the United States. Last year, he was 28th in the nation and sixth in his age group.
He won his first race last year and had made the medal podium as a top 3 finisher several times.
Raymo notes that every time he has been in the top 3, his family has been on hand to cheer him on.
“There’s an extra spark knowing my family is at the finish line,” Raymo said.
The Raymo children, Maicey, 8, and Cayde, 6, compete in Spartan races for kids. The idea is the same, but the equipment is tailored to their age — the spears have rubber tips and they crawl under bungee cords instead of barbed wire.
Raymo said there are lessons for his kids in the Spartan world. Whether it is in competition or in life, they are going to face obstacles and those obstacles can be overcome.
The Raymos faced an obstacle when he lost his job in global marketing at JLG in November 2016. After much soul-searching about whether he should return to the corporate world, they made the “scary decision” to start No Time To Lose Fitness. As a fitness solutions provider, Raymo wants to make fitness easy and convenient for people whether in their home or at a gym.
“Malinda is my boss and board of directors of one,” said Raymo.