Being Amelia Boone

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The Blue Mountain is home to the highest peak in Pennsylvania, reaching a vertigo-inducing 1,082 feet at its top. For snow-sport enthusiasts, the mountain’s height poses a formidable challenge: Its descent boasts 11 black diamond slopes and four double-black runs. Amelia Boone understands the mountain’s treachery differently than those who ski its face each winter – she started at its base.

On Saturday, July 12th, Amelia Boone finished first among female competitors at the Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint, a grueling obstacle race that features a brutal uphill sprint densely populated by draconian tasks like “the sand bag carry.” Ranking the Palmerton, PA course its second-favorite on the whole Spartan circuit, The Spartan Blog – the sport’s central publication – waxed masochistic-poetic: “The sandbag carry. If you’ve experienced it, then your body will have just sent psychosomatic shivers down your spine,” wrote one blogger. “Ever seen grown men in tears because an obstacle has beaten them down so harshly? I have. It was at Palmerton, PA.”

Yet two days after the race, Boone seemed free of psychosomatic repercussions from her post-victory. Among her talents, resilience is foremost. At 30, Boone races “almost every other week,” somehow reaching the podium in every outing. Her stunning consistency has proved even more impressive as new competitors flock to Spartan Racing and its blunt-trauma appeal.

If you’re assuming the interim period between races consists mostly of ice baths and the zombie-like consumptions of proteins, guess again. Sure, there’s a recovery regimen of necessary rest and supplements manufactured by EPIQ™, a supplement provider that made her one of the first athletes in obstacle racing with an endorsement deal. As for her activity off the course, meet “Amelia Boone, Attorney at Law.”

“I always tell people: You have time, you just have to make it.”

In a world where athletes are increasingly required to pursue excellence full-time, Boone’s professional accomplishments make her a champion outlier. An associate at a prominent Chicago firm specializing in corporate law, Boonesays, “It’s a lot,” when asked by reporters about her packed works schedule.

“The law I practice is cyclical; some weeks it varies given the state of the case,” she noted, explaining the need to remain flexible at times when late-night prep becomes essential. Her training never puts her at odds with the needs of her colleagues and clients, “I always tell people: You have time, you just have to make it. I can’t guarantee when I’ll be done with work at night, but I can guarantee no one will be calling me at five in the morning.” Boone starts most days at 4:30 a.m. to utilize that quiet time, and sometimes adds a second run in the evening before returning to the office to finish her workday.

“I’ve never had a problem with motivation for workouts,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I’m tired and I say, ‘I could sleep in.’ But then later in the day I get frustrated I didn’t do it.”

The key to comprehending her training regimen is to understand it as an “intrinsically enjoyable” experience rather than a means to a competitive end. When people ask how she goes without time “to relax,” she’s surprised to hear exercise presented in such onerous terms. “I know plenty of professionals who unwind with booze,” she noted. “Hey, if it works, more power to you. But I’d rather be running around somewhere.”

Being Amelia Boone

“If something goes wrong, it’s a matter of putting it behind yourself.”

If others perceive a woman with preternatural energy, Boone sees her professional and athletic aspirations as complementary, even mutually beneficial. “What makes me a success as an attorney – discipline and drive – definitely transfers over to obstacle racing,” she says. When she describes the mental work she puts in to maintain her focus on challenges on the course, one hears echoes of boardroom Buddhism: “For me, I try to break down the mental part into manageable chunks. Right here, right now, one foot in front of the other. Do not let your mind jump on to the next thing. Likewise, if something goes wrong, it’s a matter of putting it behind you.”

A similar attitude propelled her rise as a young attorney learning her craft in a high-stakes corporate setting. “There are a lot of times when you’re going to make mistakes. It’s not a great feeling, but you have to think, ‘What can I do to fix this now?’”

Still, the sport continues to attract even more specialists, in no small part because of Boone’s accomplishments. “When I first started out, everybody had a day job,” she recalls. “Now, more and more competitors work in the fitness industry or are trying to make a living out of it.” As the sport’s top prize-money winner, Boone is often asked why she doesn’t go into Spartan racing full-time. Her attachment to law is both practical (“I can be a lawyer when I’m 80.”) and passionate. Once again, where others see obligation, she finds enjoyment.

“There are a lot of times when you’re going to make mistakes. It’s not a great feeling, but you have to think, ‘What can I do to fix this now?’”

“I get a bit worried,” she says in reaction to the sport’s increasing professionalism. “How long until you have to make a living out of this to be competitive? I’m testing those limits, I guess. And I don’t think I’d have it any other way.”

“For me, I try to break down the mental part into manageable chunks. Right here, right now, one foot in front of the other. Do not let your mind jump on to the next thing.”

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