51: Joe DeSena: Spartan Up! Overcoming Obstacles in Life


Joe De Sena, 44, has been an entrepreneur since his pre-teens. From selling fireworks at age eight, to starting a t-shirt business in high school, to building a multimillion-dollar pool business in college, to creating a Wall Street trading firm, De Sena is a living definition of the word “entrepreneur.” Currently he is a managing director for ICAP, a brokerage agency.

It’s also well documented that Joe turned an interest in endurance racing into a passion. His racing resume is the stuff of legends – over 50 ultra-events overall and 14 Ironman events in one year alone. Most of his races are 100 miles or more with a few traditional marathons in the mix. (He once said that running a 26.2 marathon distance was “adorable.”

To put it in perspective, he did the Vermont 100, the Lake Placid Ironman and the Badwater Ultra… in one week. The elevation climb for the 135-mile Badwater race, which starts hundreds of feet below sea level in Death Valley, is over 8,500 feet up to Mt. Whitney and temperatures soar into the 120’s. Joe also biked cross-country in the Furnace Creek 508 which has been coined “The Toughest 48 Hours in Sport.” It’s no wonder his favorite quote is, “Death is the price we pay for life, so make it worth it.”

Joe, and other racers who came to be called the “Founding Few” wanted to create another event, something that captured the extreme spirit of the legendary Death Race, but was modified and accessible to a much wider racing audience. And so the Spartan Race was born in 2010.

Spartan Race has grown dramatically in 2013 over just the year before. The number of competitors now stands at approximately 350,000 racers in 60 races in 2013 in the U.S., Canada and the UK. Over 3 million “likes” are on Facebook, a new e-book is available at spartanrace.com, and an NBC Sports TV Special airs on Dec. 7, 2013. Participation in 2014 is expected to grow to 650,000 at events in 22-plus countries.

Favorite Succes Quote

“When you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

How to Stay Motivated?

Commit to your goal publicly and keep saying it over and over again. It’s not so much about the other people but it’s about the commitment you make to yourself.  

What Would You Tell Your 20 Year Old Self?

Put all the time in now. Save money and everything you think you need at 20 is a complete waste. Listen, you don’t want to be working hard in your 50s and so on. Get the job done now.

Connect with Joe DeSena


Spartan Up!

Action Item

Run 5 miles today. If you’ve never done it then today is the day you do and if you’re an avid runner then make it 5 miles today. Get out, put some good music on or a podcast and hit the track. Mentally challenge yourself to keep going and make it through the run. I know it’s nothing compared to the endurance races above but if you rarely do cardio then this will be a great mental and physical workout for you. Get started now.

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