Barbed wire crawls, fire jumps, and muddy rope climbs are just some of the grueling obstacles runners come across along a Spartan course. The tough as nails obstacle race isn’t for the faint of heart and probably the last place to find a beauty queen, but Miss France 2011 Laury Thilleman is redefining what it means to be a pageant girl.

Laury ran her first Spartan race in June 2015 in Paris and she fell in love. Fast forward a little over a year and Laury competed in the elite wave of the Spartan World Championships Beast Course.

Laury is defying stereotypes and proving that she’s much more than just a pretty face. I had an opportunity to chat with Laury about her Spartan experience and how she owns being fierce and feminine.

What does strong mean to you?

You come from a world that focuses on aesthetics. What have you done to try to change the stereotype of “just a pretty face”?

Before I entered the world of beauty pageants, I was actually a bit of a tomboy. Becoming Miss France and being associated with aesthetics only reinforced my tomboy side. I’m so much more than just my looks, and pageant life inspired me to get more and more involved in cross-country races or mud races.

woman climbing wall spartan race laury thilleman
Laury worried about conquering the course in advance of the race...
woman spartan racer and miss france laury thilleman
...but her obstacle training and hard work paid off.
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How have you been able to find empowerment through fitness?

Accomplishing goals inspires and empowers me. I love challenges. As soon as I have an objective, I focus on it. For the Spartan World Championships, I trained a lot, doing obstacle course racing and outdoor sessions.

What made you tackle the Spartan World Championships? What was your experience?

I wanted to do it because it was the culmination of all the tough races I did. I was a bit stressed because of the length of the race. The Spartan Beast course is 13 miles with more than 30 obstacles. In the end I did it and all went well. All of my concerns were just in my head; once I was on the course my nerves went away and I was in the zone.

There’s a trend of women accepting their badass side through fitness. Can you touch on how you feel about women being able to be fierce and feminine?

I’ve never seen sport and femininity as being at odds with each other. In my opinion, a woman is never as feminine as she is after a sport session. Sport gives women their best look. I’m happy that this trend is catching fire, but I’ve had this belief for many years.

woman stretching sportswear spartan racer Laury Thilleman
Laury’s far from done with competing in Spartan Races. Her next goal is to take part in the French legs of the Spartan race in 2017 while keeping her eyes on next year’s Spartan World Championships.


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