Eric Richards leads a Spartan existence. But not in the traditional sense of living a minimalist lifestyle marked by discipline and self-denial. Rather, the fifth generation Coloradan and board-certified acupuncturist for Associates in Family Medicine embraces a life characterized by training, endurance, overcoming obstacles, and a goodly portion of mud…at least on the weekends. Eric Richards is a Spartan racer.
“You’ve heard of something called ‘Tough Mudder’? It’s kind of like that…only tougher.”
Essentially, Spartan racing is a rigorous obstacle course race of varying levels of difficulty ranging from the deceptively named “Sprint” (3- to 5-mile course with 20 to 23 obstacles) to the seemingly upbeat “Super” (8 to 10 miles with 24 to 29 obstacles), culminating in the more accurate and aptly named “Beast” (12 to 14 miles with 30 to 35 obstacles). Obstacles include things like wall climbs, ropes courses, monkey bars, mud pits, fire walls, toting buckets of gravel, and many other challenging activities. Failing an obstacle results in having to perform a set of burpees before attempting to complete the obstacle again. After 30 burpees, you can run off to the next obstacle.
“Spartan racing is both mentally challenging and very physically demanding,” says Richards. “Like five miles of a mini ‘American Ninja Warrior’ with more mud and a lot more running. I really enjoy the 30-foot rope climbs and the multi-rig, which is kind of like monkey bars but with rings and ropes added to the mix. The running is my least favorite part. Honestly, I would just as soon be carried from obstacle to obstacle. But running with friends and newfound friends makes it tolerable. You definitely get sore. Of course, as an acupuncturist, I have an advantage in that I can treat a lot of those aches and pains myself,” he says with a smile, “which is nice.”
Richards knows a thing or two about relieving the kinds of aches and pains that an active outdoor lifestyle can produce. Working out of AFM’s Horsetooth office, he offers specialized acupuncture services to relieve a variety of maladies, including hypertension, musculoskeletal issues, neurological conditions, menopausal issues, migraines, and many more.
“I mostly see older patients because they tend to have the most aches and pains,” he says. “I provide services for all ages, but I like really like helping kids. I think that’s due in part to the fact that I am a big kid.”
“Camping, rock climbing, bow hunting, bird hunting, martial arts, lacrosse, football, aviation, astronomy, kayaking with my wife, and working on vehicles. Oh, and ice fishing and snowshoeing in the winter.”
When he’s not practicing the pain-relieving power of the pin, Richards enjoys a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities. Like, a really wide range. “Let’s see,” he says, quickly mulling the list over in his head. “Camping, rock climbing, bow hunting, bird hunting, martial arts, lacrosse, football, aviation, astronomy, kayaking with my wife, and working on vehicles. Oh, and ice fishing and snowshoeing in the winter.”
Richards says it’s easy to have a lot of interests in a community like Fort Collins. “I like that everything is so accessible and easy to get to,” he explains. “It’s nice to be able to be on a trail or in the mountains literally in 20 minutes.”
When he’s not making the rest of us look positively sloth-like, Richards enjoys other less rigorous activities like spending time in Moab with his wife, Jill, or traveling to Washington to see their granddaughter. The couple also likes to partake of the area’s excellent restaurants or check out a food truck rally or two. “I’m a big foodie,” Richards remarks. “I love going to the rallies at City Park in the summer. I worked at a catering company in high school, so I have a great appreciation of the food truck scene.”
Considering Richards’ many interests and aptitudes, one has to wonder if there is anything left on his bucket list. “That’s a good question,” ponders Richards. “Right now, I’m focused on participating in my first ‘Beast’ in August, which will complete the trifecta (all three races in one year). Beyond that, I haven’t really given it much thought. I guess one thing I’ve always had an appreciation for is hand-crafted whiskeys and other distilled spirits. Who knows? Maybe someday I could create my own reward for a race well run—the prize at the end of the Spartan rainbow.”