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Lt. Col. Christopher Hoover, staff judge advocate, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, notoriously pushes himself past obstacles, physical pain and mental toughness to compete in obstacle course races all around the country.

Photo by Pamela Jackson

Marine pushes himself past obstacles to achieve unbreakable endurance

21 Jan 2022 | Pamela Jackson Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

This article is the first profile story in the 2022 series:  Corps and Country

Lt. Col. Christopher Hoover, staff judge advocate, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, notoriously pushes himself past obstacles, physical pain and mental toughness to compete in obstacle course races all around the country.

“In the race community that I am a part of, I can be considered old, but there’s a strong showing for the age 40 and up crowd,” he said. “They call us masters because many people who run these races are in their 20’s and 30’s.”

“I get excited when I find someone that is also interested in these type of races,” Hoover noted.  “People see me running them and want to try it. I run about every other weekend and it is definitely a challenge.”

A Marine since 1996, Hoover was prior enlisted before receiving a Navy Reserved Officer Training Corps scholarship to go back to school, choosing the Marine Corps option. He was commissioned in 2001 after graduating from Norwich University in Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in business, minoring in finance and economics.  He became an adjutant after completing the Basic School. 

“I didn’t (really) like being an adjutant, so I was going to get out of the Marine Corps, and figured I needed as much education as I could get,” he said.  Through the tuition assistance program offered, I earned a Master’s in Business Administration, also from Norwich.”

Hoover later decided to apply for the funded law program which paid for him to go to law school at the University of Arkansas.  He graduated in 2008. 

Hoover continued, “Later, I attended the Army Judge Advocate General School and received an advanced law degree. Since 2008 I’ve been a judge advocate and it’s been amazing.  The mentally challenging aspect and diversity of jobs and units I’ve had since joining the Marine Corps is exactly what I was looking for.

“For this reason, I tell people all the time that I’m the luckiest lance corporal in the Marine Corps thanks to everything the Marine Corps has given me.  I’m nothing special – I just worked hard,” he said.

His passion for competitive sports began in middle school where he ran cross-country and wrestled in high school.  A self-described late bloomer, he didn’t really grow in size until after graduation. 

Hoover said he enjoyed competing and was always good at physical training, but liked doing his own thing separately, so he ran marathons for about 15 years or so.

Hoover said he stopped marathon running in 2012 because it was no longer exciting and he wanted more of a challenge. 

“I transitioned into CrossFit for a few years, then I came across a few instructors when I was in Newport, RI, and they had run a Spartan race in Vermont in September 2017,” he said.  “It appeared very physically challenging for them, but intrigued, I signed up immediately to run the next one the following year.

“Consequently, I tried getting others to join me, but after hearing about how horrible it was, no one did.  I ran by myself in September 2018.”

Hoover was 41 at the time.

“I thought since I had been competing all my life, was in great shape, used to running and doing pull-ups regularly, I was going to crush this.  Let’s just say I was very humbled,” he added.

He learned afterward this particular race in Vermont is called the Killington Beast and is widely known as one of the toughest races that Spartan has.

“Evidently, I didn’t know this when I signed up,” Hoover explained.  There’s also a part of it called the Death March – a mile up the Double Black Diamond Ski Hill.  I didn’t know what I was getting in to.  It’s the first race I ever cramped in, including marathons.  I signed up for two more races that year because I didn’t want to give up, rather get better at it.”

The next one was even more miserable, so he decided to have fun and embrace it, but he wasn’t prepared for the rain and cold temperatures. 

Hoover said he caught the bug and in 2019 ran about 40 races.  He has run 91 obstacle races to date. 

When asked about the different type of races he’s participated in, he explained there really isn’t much difference between a Spartan Race or Mud Run, each has their own spin on it. 

“I actually ran the Marine Corps marathon five times and (several) other smaller ones.  I haven’t run a road marathon in a while but have run six obstacle course races that exceed marathon distances and several 12-hour races (30-35 miles with trails, hills and obstacles) including two in 2019; two in 2020 and one in November 2021. 

Hoover, a father of three, races in different parts of the country every other weekend and visits his children in Florida, who occasionally run with him, on non-race weekends.  He has dozens of races scheduled for 2022 and said he is looking forward to running with co-workers at a Spartan race at the end of February.

Hoover said his longest race was a virtual one in December 2020.

“We ran on our own using a GPS tracking app and covered 212 miles,” he explained.  “The goal was to finish in three months. On Dec. 6, I had only logged 16 miles and was falling way behind.  For the next nine days, I covered 191 miles here on base, averaging about 22 miles a day by running three to four times a day,” he said.  “I finished on Dec. 15. 

“It wasn’t bad because I was able to complete it, but finished in third place, he said.  Hoover said he could see where others were on the app, and they were all within reach of each other.  “It was fun because you don’t know who these people are, but you build camaraderie and support each other along the way.”

Hoover has encouraged others to join him in an upcoming race in Florida.

One of the Marines who plans to join him on a race next month is 2nd Lt. Nathalie Camacho, base adjutant, MCLB Albany.

“I enjoy Spartan races because having obstacles throughout the race breaks up the mundanity that running long distances can have. But, the true reward is pushing through fatigue and actually completing the obstacles,” Camacho said.  “That push, that discipline, and that challenge is so rewarding as you cross the finish line; especially when you are doing so with your best friend beside you.”  

“My wife and I competed in our first Spartan race in October 2020 and we were instantly hooked,” Camacho added.  “Since then we have run a few other Obstacle/Mud runs, but most excitingly we signed up for the 2022 Spartan Trifecta and a Super in Jacksonville, Fla.,” she said.  “The Trifecta is essentially three different races; a Sprint (5K with 20 Obstacles), a Super (10K with 25 obstacles), and a Beast (Half-Marathon with 30 Obstacles). Completing each one successfully awards you 1/3 of a medal that creates one big award once all three races are complete.”

Capt. Louis Josephs, base supply officer, MCLB Albany, said he enjoys competing in Spartan races because it supplements the training conducted in the Marine Corps.  “Running and overcoming obstacles over an endurance course is one of the staples of Marine Corps training and being able to do this only makes us better,” he said.

Steve Dancer, operations director, MCLB Albany, said he bit the bug in 2012 when he ran his first Spartan Race with a few other leaders from his church as a way to encourage each other.  “We wanted to participate in an event that included encouragement of one another, pushing people outside of their comfort zone and bonding with a little bit of pain and suffering,” Dancer continued. “For the next few years, the numbers doubled.  As a retired marine, I continued to run as a way of maintaining my warrior spirit through training and testing myself.  To date, I have completed 22 Spartan Races and two other obstacle course races.”

Hoover is scheduled to retire in December.

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