Faith motivates professor to compete in Spartan Race

Chuck Hewett isn’t your average professor at Azusa Pacific University. When he isn’t teaching his exercise science classes, helping the men’s soccer team with strength and conditioning or mentoring students, he’s training and competing in Spartan Races.

Spartan Races are intense and vigorous obstacle marathons that have grown in popularity since the company was founded in 2007. Hewett has competed in various Spartan Races, which include Spartan Sprints (3-5 miles; 20+ obstacles), Spartan Supers (8-10 miles; 25+ obstacles) and Spartan Beasts (12-15 miles; 30+ obstacles). Though he plans to, he has yet to compete in the Spartan Ultra Beast, which lasts for at least 26 miles with 40 or more obstacles.

Hewett first got into Spartan Racing in 2013, participating in both competitive and elite races. In his first elite race, he finished in 12th place and ended up qualifying for the Spartan World Championships in Lake Tahoe. In that race, he finished 84th out of 300 racers.

“It’s super humbling and so cool competing with the best who are encouraging to each other. They want to beat you and be competitive, but it comes down to us against the course. The way they set these courses up are to destroy [the runners] mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally,” Hewett said.

Hewett graduated from APU in 2013 with a degree in exercise science and got his master’s in kinesiology at Cal Baptist University in 2014. Hewett served as both a personal and sports performance trainer before being offered a teaching position at APU.

“I love being able to teach exercise science and being able to give back to the program that really had an impact on my life,” Hewett said. “The way that the professors were approachable, relatable and were willing to invest [in their students], I wanted to do that for these students and I want to be able to give back plus more.”

Christy Hancock serves as APU’s Clinical Education Coordinator for Natural Science and Athletic Training. She has seen how Hewett works with students in the classroom, serving as a teacher and mentor for their well-being.

“One of his greatest assets to our department is mentoring college men into grown men. He’s really good at connecting with the students in his classes,” Hancock said. “He’s what we want our students to become. Somebody that’s an expert in their field, but also relational and service-oriented. He thrives at building meaningful relationships, and I think the Lord has blessed him with that calling.”

In his return to APU, Hewett got back into sports performance training by coaching strength and conditioning for APU’s men’s soccer team. He works in programming and implementing their exercises and workouts.

Men’s head soccer coach Dave Blomquist has witnessed firsthand how Hewett has coached and mentored his players physically, mentally and spiritually.

“He cares more about the players on the team and their walk with the Lord and how they’re maturing as young men more than he cares about how they’re growing as athletes. He’s taken on a mentor role with the guys, and through that has impacted the players and shown what’s most important in his life,” Blomquist said.

Jacob Singleton, who earned his doctorate of physical therapy from APU in fall 2015, is Hewett’s close friend and training partner. Singleton competes in ultra-marathon running, which usually consist of 50k-100k races. Both Hewett and Singleton hold each other accountable to working out, and train together for at least an hour about four times a week, sometimes as early as 5 a.m.

“The way in which we both push each other is through accountability and consistency,” Singleton said. “When you have somebody out there with you on the trail, it’s easier to push yourself. A good workout turns into a great workout when you have somebody on your heels. It’s good competition and it’s good for pushing one another.”

Although the two compete and train with each other almost every day, Singleton will not be competing with Hewett in a Spartan Race anytime soon.

“I’m not as crazy as Chuck,” Singleton said. “You will most likely not see me do a Spartan Race.”

Hewett loves Spartan Racing, but said it is most important for him to use his races as an expression of his Christianity.

“This is just another platform where I can represent the Lord and build relationships with people. I try to use it as a platform to share my faith, and I relate my physical training with my spiritual training,” Hewett said. “I believe that fitness is a [part of] holistic well-being. Spiritual fitness is the most important type of fitness you can get.”

Hewett competed in the 2016 World Championships on Oct. 1 in Lake Tahoe, finishing in 63rd place. He most recently completed in Spartan Super and Sprint in Sacramento on Nov. 12-13. He plans to compete next in the Spartan Sprint in Castaic Lake, Calif. on Dec. 10-11.

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