From sofa to Spartan, how one Wake County man is competing for his life

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The goal of a Spartan race is to rip people off the couch. That's exactly what happened to one Wake County man who now ranks 17th overall in the worldwide open competition and second in his age group.

For 44-year-old Rob Brooks, competition has always been a driving force.

"I was real active," Brooks said. "I played basketball my whole life, baseball, football, soccer, tennis. I was big into tennis, I loved all sports. loved watching them, loved playing them."

Somewhere between tours in the Persian Gulf and a job as a linesman for Duke Energy, Brooks lost his way.

"I ate everything," he said. "I ate all kinds of fast food ."

That all changed in January 2018 when he was diagnosed with diabetes.

"One of the biggest parts that hit me was I wasn't worried about myself, I was worried about my wife," he said. "She means everything to me and I want to be there with her in the long run, and we got a lot of plans for the future and I want to make sure we get to them."

In 2018, what started out as a 5K, where he finished nearly in last place, turned into mud runs, which led to 30 Spartan races in 2019 and counting.

Brooks and his wife are a team -- she's figured out the spreadsheet of where and when the next race is. It's all a part of the competition to save his life.

"There are two things that drives me is that fear that I keep running, I keep doing these races because I'm scared that if I ever stop doing them I may slip back into how I used to be," he said. "I'm always looking for that next thing as long as I've got a race coming up, I'm prepared for it and it's keeping me going "

Now, 40 pounds lighter, Brooks' next goal is to complete 10 trifectas, which include a half-marathon, an 8-miler and a 3-miler. If all goes as planned by the end of 2019, Rob will have completed 34 Spartan races.

"I'm proud of myself," he said. "I wish I had done this a long time ago. I wish I had never slipped into that behavior that I did but from the point when I was diagnosed to today, I'm a completely different person."
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