Elite Spartan Athlete Hunter McIntyre On How Obstacle Course Racing Saved His Life

“You’ll never know the highest highs until you’ve experienced the lowest lows. I’ve been there.”

Hunter McIntyre

At odds with the world seemingly since birth, the future wasn’t looking so bright for Hunter McIntyre.

A misfit kid with uncontrollable attention deficit disorder, Hunter realized early and often he functioned on one mode no sedative or bipolar medication could possibly curb: full blast.

Discovering drugs and alcohol at 14 give his ill-at-ease nature comfort, but trouble soon follows. A downward spiral that invites increased school suspensions; escalating run-ins with Johnny Law; and even a short-lived, unsuccessful stint at military school in West Virginia.

Facing jail time or rehab for a drug-fueled senior year prank gone terribly awry, Hunter’s despairing parents ultimately ship him off to outpatient care in Montana, hoping clean air and big skies will bring grounding and perspective to young Hunter’s errant ways. But dirty drug tests follow, leading to incarceration-type rehab stays in Nevada and New Mexico.

Ultimately Hunter’s sobriety officer intervenes, hooking him up with a logging job back in Montana.

Hunter bulks up. Sober up? Not so much.

The next chapter finds Hunter in Los Angeles, failing upward with lucrative modeling gigs for companies like J. Crew and Abercrombie and Fitch while setting his sights on becoming a celebrity personal trainer. But life goals are eclipsed by an ever-escalation in partying. Living the sun-drenched frat boy lifestyle in a Malibu bro-house, days and nights revolve around girls, ecstasy, mushrooms, acid, more girls and even more alcohol.

A spontaneous booze-fueled, chest-pumping whim leads to Hunter and his Malibros challenging each other to sign up for a local Spartan Race — unchartered terrain for all involved. But come race day, only Hunter is able to drag his hung over body out of bed. Despite several beers enjoyed that morning, he nonetheless finishes ninth overall, just eight minutes behind world champion and 2:16 marathoner Hobie Call.

And just like that, the lights turn on. It’s the wake up call Hunter needed. The rest is history.

Immediately parting ways with his partying ways, purpose and focus take center stage. Almost overnight, Hunter morphs into the man they call The Sheriff, transforming himself into one of the world’s best obstacle course racers. A rare talent with the body and size of a cross fitter who not only excels at strength, speed and agility but also boasts the endurance of a Kenyan.

Sponsorship offers soon follow. Magazine cover stories abound. And notoriety ensues, outpaced only by The Sheriff’s now famous, quickly growing ego.

Full blast finally found a life.

If you know anything about Hunter, you know he has a huge, at times controversial personality. But there is a thoughtful, far more contemplative side to this brash, outspoken athlete than meets the eye. I think you will be surprised by our conversation. I know I was.

Specific topics explored include:

  • Hunter’s colorful past
  • what is OCR?
  • replacing superficiality with performance
  • Hunter’s typical training day
  • ego rightsizing
  • the importance of meditation
  • exploring the vegan lifestyle 
  • Hunter’s Achilles heel
  • Hunter’s daily routine
  • the SEAL dream
  • advice to the younger self
  • Joe DeSena & the Death Race
  • the importance of surrounding yourself with selfless people 

I sincerely hope you enjoy our exchange. I really enjoyed my time with Hunter and I think you will too.

Peace + Plants,


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Check out Hunter’s upcoming television series Boundless on the Esquire Network with co-host Simon Donato, as they travel the globe chronicling 10 extreme races (air date TBA).

Background, Context & Reference:

Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:

Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:

Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.

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