Alec Blenis is one of the best young adventure racers you will come across. In my interview below I touch on his racing and on his well rounded personality outside of racing.
Name: Alec Blenis
Weight: 140 pounds
Hometown: Roswell, GA
Sponsors: Spartan Race
Who do you see as a role model in sports/adventure racing?
Related to obstacle racing, I really admire Hobie Call and Junyong Pak (and many others too!) Often unconventional in their methodology, they work hard, ignore the naysayers, and dominate any race they enter. Both exceptionally humble too. Outside of OCR, I’m a huge fan of Brendan Brazier, Scott Jurek, and Rich Roll. As a vegan myself, I try to emulate their approach to nutrition for endurance sports.
Do you find it hard to maintain a vegan lifestyle while performing at a high level? What vegan supplements do you take?
I’ve been a vegan for about fours years (at 19, that’s a pretty big chunk of my life) and think it really helps my athletic performance, especially my recovery time. Even after my toughest races, I’m ready to go again the next day. Some credit my youth, but I believe my diet plays a big role. The only difficult thing about being vegan is social situations – I pretty much have to take my own food wherever I go; I really don’t mind though. I’m not a big fan of supplements. I have been taking some sublingual b12 lately, but I’m not sure if it does anything. Nutrients in whole, unprocessed foods are far superior to any supplement. As far as sports nutrition, I love Vega Sport for things like gels, electrolyte drinks, and on-the-go energy bars.
Are you currently sponsored? If so who and how has the experience been?
This is the first year of the “Spartan Pro Team” and I’m proud to be part of it. We’re a group of 10 male and 10 female athletes dedicated to the sport of obstacle racing. The sponsorship makes competing around the country doable, so that I am thankful for. I will continue to look for other sponsorship opportunities as well. I choose to only support and promote a brand if I truly believe in it, so I’ve unfortunately I’ve had to turn down some sponsorships that didn’t seem to be a good fit for me.
What has been the highlight of your career?
Watching my 70 year old grandfather finish the Vermont Spartan Beast for the 3rd year in a row. His accomplishments are way more impressive than mine!
Tell me about your most embarrassing moment in racing?
Any man knows that cold water and tight shorts don’t mix well. A few years ago, a podium photo of me highlighting this disastrous combination made its rounds on the internet for all to see. The Facebook comments got so out of hand that the photo was eventually removed. It was actually pretty hilarious.
That’s truly a funny moment, if I ever end up on a podium I’ll make sure to check myself. If you had to do a sport other than adventure racing what would it be? why?
Ultra running. That’s pretty close to adventure racing though. If I had to pick something entirely different, it’d probably be triathlon. I’ve done a few sprint triathlons for fun and would like to do an Ironman soon. I like sports that are multi-faceted.
What is the most difficult obstacle in any race you have run?
Sandbag carry, Vermont 2013. I’m not very good at any heavy object carries, and anyone who did that race can tell you it was the worst one in the history of the sport.
Since you had such a hard time with carrying the heavy objects,and that sand bag was brutal, nearly as bad as the stone bucket, have you done anything to improve in that area since the last race?
The Vermont race is a whole different animal than the rest of the Spartan Race series and any other obstacle race. It’s hard to train for Vermont and the rest of the series at the same time. That said, I will incorporate some object carries into my training, but not too often for now. Once we’re a few months out from the 2014 race I’ll start really adding in some more strength work. My current focus is improving speed and endurance.
What do you love most about adventure racing? And what brought you to the sport?
I love how it combines every aspect of fitness into one event: speed, strength, stamina, agility, balance, etc. Most sports only require one or two of those, but obstacle racing requires a more well-rounded athlete. I think this will become even more true as the sport develops. I first entered OCR in 2011 while looking for a way to stay in shape during my off season from high school cross country. I fell in love with individual competition and never went back to school competition. I’m often asked why I don’t run for college now. The truth is, I enjoy the freedom that comes with running for myself.
What is your current major in college and what do you hope to do upon graduation?
I’m currently enrolled at Georgia Tech, majoring in Applied Physics, and am considering a second major in Mechanical Engineering. I plan to stay in school a while to get a Master’s Degree. I don’t yet have a definite idea of what I’d like to do with my degree; I’m just going to pursue what interests me and hope that leads to something great!
Tell me about some of your other interests outside of racing?
I’m a lifetime musician – piano and drums, mainly, but I dabble with other instruments too. I also love cooking.
Have you ever performed piano or guitar in a band? Do you have aspirations beyond enjoyment for music?
With school and racing at the top of my priority list, I haven’t done much with my music lately. In the past, I’ve regularly played drums for local churches and played a few other concerts too. I think music is a great avenue to develop creativity, work ethic, and other valuable skills; music is something everyone should at least try, and I’d love to help someone get started.
And finally, when is your next race?
I race locally 2-3 times per month. I like to keep things interesting and race a wide range of distances for training and for fun; this weekend I’m running my first ever mile road race. To really answer your question though, my next “big race” is the South Carolina Spartan Beast on November 9th.
–Alec, thanks again for taking the time to answer some questions about yourself. Good luck in your future races! Be sure to check out Alec on his website:
and his Facebook page:
And Don’t forget – Sign up for a Reebok Spartan Race!
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