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

By January 25, 2016May 23rd, 20193 Comments

“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,


Listen & Subscribe on  iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher

Check out Julie’s new podcast divine throughline


Connect With Hunter: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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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  • Jason says:

    Hey Rich,

    Love the podcast. The recent talks with microbiome doctors have been hugely beneficial to me personally as I try to continue being an endurance athlete while working through chronic diseases.

    You wanted feedback for content for email subscribers, so here you go:

    1. Behind the scenes stuff – your workouts, what the family is up to, off-mike conversations with podcast guests, etc…

    2. Past guest updates – kinda like a where are they now thing

    3. Teasers – who is coming up on the podcast, who are you trying to track down, what new ideas are you working on, etc…

    Hope that helps. Keep up the great work!

  • Jeff Warrington says:

    One nit: Comes up all the time that being vegan on the road is tricky. It’s not, sorry, RRP guests. Modify a salad. Pick-up a banana or three (might not be organic, but that’s how it goes sometimes). Have a juice or a couple (might have to be a Naked or Odwalla). In fairness, maybe it’s the protein mentality, but once that’s gone, minimized, or temporarily compartmentalized, veganism and travel shouldn’t require any excuses.

    Re: Newsletter

    Agree with Jason, love the podcast, good comments.

    1. Behind the Scenes: Lifestyle stuff, podcast process. Occasionally, I catch glimpses of stuff on social media like Matthew Kinney interview on Instagram, it’s kind of hard to track the social media, not that it’s necessary, but it is nice to see sometimes.
    2. Nutrition News/Tips
    3. Cross-pollination of spiritual content between you and Julie.There’s a good balance that you achieve together.

    All the best, Rich. Much appreciation.

  • Tommy F says:

    Hunter sounds to have found quite a balance in life, after living as a reckless youth. Not an easy transformation.. as you must unfortunately ditch several dysfunctional friendships to liberate yourself from the mindless patterns of behavior which keep you stuck in misery. Very inspiring!

    Interesting to hear Hunter’s testimony on a very brief attempt into a Vegan diet. But as everyone who has eventually failed on the initial intention of transforming into a compassionate herbivore.. unless you take a deep inventory of your habits, beliefs and reconcile what you discover against the awareness of your implicitly contributing to the suffering endured by countless creatures, just so that you can uphold the status-quo’s antiquated notion of “protein” intake needs, you are destined for failure. This is why people who don’t put their heart into the effort, will leverage it only as a temporary cleanse and feel positive effects, but ultimately they are too weak to overcome the ravenous addictive hunger that the gut-micro biome demands we satiate.

    You would think, a guy like Hunter who has overcome so many obstacles in life, a transformed mindful self-aware being that understands the power of deep immersion into meditation, would be able to develop the divine strength necessary to overcome latent deep addictive forces that killed-food evokes. But it sounds as if he has way too many Paleo role models that have gotten into his head, convincing him he’s doomed for frail-failure if he gives up animal products. But as the truly strong (inside and out) among us have proven; like Scott Jurek, Patrick Baboumian, Mac Danzig and of course Rich Roll.. you don’t need to “steel” the manufacture of protein from other sentient beings’ bodies. Go directly to the source.. the essential amino acids found in plants.

    Hunter.. like any quest of strength.. you need to persevere through the initial stages of discomfort. I sincerely hope you consider giving the compassionate Vegan diet a second go!


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