GLADIATOR ROCK N’ RUN HITS SAN DIEGO: Talking with Nitro Dan Clark

Get ready adrenaline junkies, on August 2nd right here in San Diego comes the GLADIATOR ROCK N’ RUN. Take a minute to visit to find out more about the events and receive a $25 off entry with the code MILITARY25.

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Founded by former American Gladiator Dan ‘Nitro’ Clark, he created obstacles that will test participants to the maximum. Some of the obstacles might seem familiar to our military men and women and there’s a reason for that. His father was a Marine!

Taking that knowledge he created this one day event in San Diego that includes extreme obstacles and harsh terrain with a celebration at the finish line that includes music, beer and food for all.

Clark not only does this to allow everyone to challenge themselves, but he does it for charity. Their partner for the event is Talk About Curing Autism (TACA), a cause that Clark believes in whole heartedly that help families in need.

So you can imagine my thrill at getting a chance to speak with Dan Clark, or Nitro if you prefer, about what inspired him to create the event and people who make it even more special.

Hi Dan, thanks for talking with us about GLADIATOR ROCK N’ RUN.

No problem, my pleasure.

Tell me about GLADIATOR ROCK N’ RUN?

I use to do a show called AMERICAN GLADIATORS and I was a professional football player so I’ve always had athletics mixed with entertainment in my blood. In 2010 I finally worked my way up to run a half marathon so now I’m a bigger guy and started doing 5K and 10K’s. I felt this great sense of accomplishment. Then I thought there has got to be something better than just running and pounding your feet into the pavement for two hours. What kind of experience would I want to do that would be more fun. What would be Disneyland for adults, for weekend warriors and for athletes. Something that’s accessible to everybody. That’s when I started planning and coming up with the Gladiator Rock N’ Run. It was born out of the idea of wanting something more and want more entertainment and to want more variety for the weekend warrior.

Knowing that it’s not only for weekend warriors, a lot of military men and women will want to participate in this? How does it feel to inspire them?

I think they inspire me actually. My brother was born in Camp Pendleton and I lived there as a kid. I was born on a military base in Japan and my Dad was in the Marines. I have got military roots with my father so I always understood what that life is. I have such deep appreciate for the men and women that go out there and keep our country safe. If you can’t do an obstacle, there is a ten burpee penalty and you put it on your bucket list and come back and do it. The reason I chose burpees was because at a really young age and my Dad being in the Marine Corps, he started having me do burpees when I was five or six years old. He told me ‘son, this is what we do in the Corps and it’s the best exercise that you can do to help you get into shape without weights’. So I have done burpees all my life and the joke from my Dad was that if you keep doing burpees, someday when you get older you’ll be on t.v. in spandex.

That’s very cool.

At the events I announce that we are going to do burpees but I also announce that we are doing them in honor of my late father who was a Marine and also in homage of all the great military men and women who help keep our country save. They do them for respect for the military. I say if you cheat on doing the burpees, you are not cheating Nitro, you are not cheating yourself – you are cheating America so don’t do it!

Wow, if that doesn’t motivate!

There is a big shout out at the event for the military because we are appreciative of their service. Some of the obstacles are based upon the boot camp obstacles. We have something similar called the ‘Confidence Ladder’ which is a wood ladder that goes into the sky but it’s permanent in the ground. We are putting up a couple of telephone poles and slapping wood on them. There is the Cargo Climb that’s inspired by the military. There is also ‘Storm the Castle’ which is you approach this big wooden castle which is used for paint ball with thirty windows in it where people hide. So the runners come up and we have paint ball snipers hiding out behind barricades. A lot of people don’t read what the obstacles are and all of a sudden they hear that ‘pop-pop-pop-pop’ and the only way they can get through the obstacle is to jump through the windows.

So you set them up. Did you create each of these scenarios and obstacles.

Yes I did. I had a lot of time on my hands one day.

It only took one day?

I tried to do things that were different and that I thought were fun. We put our spin on it but things that are a challenge and reflect my personality. Like Super Gladiator has a 150 foot water slide and I named it ‘Skid Marks’ because mud will go places that it shouldn’t. It was important to me that it wasn’t just go, go, go – I wanted to make this a complete experience and not just an obstacle course. I want to see people smile. I want people to hang out at the expo and listen to the bands and Sierra Nevada is going to be there. Everything is thought out and cared for.

I know too that this is for charity.

Yes, part of the proceeds go to Talk About Curing Autism. They are Orange County based and we’ve been working for them for a few years. We have raised $250,000 for them. Being a smaller non-profit it helps them with families. It allows them to keep chapters that are struggling open. I’m very proud of that.

You should be.

I never thought that through my efforts and all the gracious people that we would be able to raise $250,000 for a non-profit. I always thought that it was in my cards to do well at something whether it’s wearing spandex or playing football, whatever it was. I had that belief in myself and the confidence but I never thought I would raise funds for a charity. We are not done raising money for them either.

It’s awesome that you’ve taken that part of your life and turned it into something amazing. You’ve created this 25 obstacle course that allows people to feel like not only are they contributing but have fun too. Did you know think it would get this big?

I knew that if I created something I wanted to do and that my friends would want to do both male and female that other people would want to do it. I think you create what you are passionate about and I love being physical and using my body in different ways. I love conquering challenges and there is not a better feeling than being baptized by the fire and adrenaline that only conquering a challenge can bring.

When you were an AMERICAN GLADIATOR, did you know then there would be such a following?

AMERICAN GLADIATOR was different back then. When I first tried out for it, it was at a park in Southern California. There was no big sound stage yet. It was a germ of an idea by a guy named Johnny Ferraro from Ohio. We tried out at a park doing football drills and then had us go on camera and pick a name for our character. I picked the one that was loud, obnoxious and arrogant {laughing} Then they asked us questions like what did you eat for dinner and I said ‘raw meat!’ It was really crazy and then it morphed into what it became. I think it was something very iconic of the 90’s and it was a thrill to be part of it.

It’s amazing to me looking and reading over what is going to be happening August 2nd at the GLADIATOR ROCK N’ RUN. There are different challenges for different levels.

We have a Super Gladiator and just a Gladiator. The Super Gladiator is the five miles with 25 obstacles and it a lot longer with much more difficulty. There are medals and shirts that have Super Gladiator to show that accomplishment. That is the toughest we have to offer. For people in San Diego who just want to get their foot wet and test the waters of an adventure face without going Super then we offer our regular Gladiator which is a 5K and 17 obstacles. There are two events but one is just a lot harder. It’s the first time we have ever a had a Super. It’s pretty evenly divided with a couple of thousand doing the Super and a couple of thousand doing a regular.

Isn’t it amazing to you that so many people do this?

I’m not amazed at all. I think when you consistently deliver on a promise to put on a great event and you do it year after year you get a loyal following. I’m grateful and humbled but I’m not surprised. At the Super Gladiator we have a Badass Grandma just to let you know. She is 70 year old Bev Market from San Jose. She ran the Gladiator there with her kids and she had such a great time that they will be participating in the Super Gladiator in San Diego. One of our favorite runners is Mitzy Dias, she has spina bifida and she finishes these things with arm crutches and is so inspiring. That’s what we are about, inspiring and helping people reach their goals and even their lives. I believe in that.

It was so amazing to listen to Dan Clark talk about his experiences and the history of GLADIATOR ROCK N’ RUN. On the site you can view the different obstacles and everything you need to know to prepare – it’s all there. So take a moment, check it all out and then sign up! Remember to use MILITARY25 to get your $25.00 off and have the time of your life!

In the end – it’s the most insane day of your life!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.