Scrolling through your Instagram feed, you've seen it countless times: BEFORE and AFTER photos of fitness transformations. Men and women working out, meal prepping, shedding pounds. You can call it a 'fitness transformation,' but for Victor Carrillo, founder of Machete Madness, it was a life transformation.
About seven years ago, Carrillo separated from the mother of his children and was struggling with depression. He soon turned to alcohol and food to remedy his hopelessness.
"I found myself at 230 LBS, depressed and lost, I felt like I had lost direction in my life," Carrillo told me. "I decided that I didn’t want to feel that pain anymore, so I grabbed my 9mm gun; I was ready to put an end to my misery; it was then that I saw a picture of my youngest son; Ritchie Bear, almost as if he was there, smiling at me. I snapped out of it, put my gun away and realized I was being a coward. I almost left my kids without their daddy," he added.
The following day, Carrillo was sitting on the couch with his beer belly out when his son asked him if he was pregnant. In that moment, he was ready to turn his life around and make a change.
"I joined a bootcamp put together by Herbalife, I found a group of people that made me feel like family, many people with similar struggles. In 6 months I lost 60 LBS and found myself in the best shape of my life. They invited me to do the Spartan Sprint in Temecula; that’s where Machete Beast was born, the pain that those obstacles made me feel replaced the emotional pain I had. I discovered that I was capable of doing some pretty amazing things. In the next few months I completed my first trifecta, then my second and third. I even went to Ohio in October 2014 to do the Trifecta in one day; Beast, Super, and Sprint in horrible cold conditions, around 30 degrees to be exact. That day my friend Cody Ayala and I were among only 160 people out of a few thousand that accomplished that very rare Trifecta in one day. Over the next few years I completed over 100 Spartan Races, including the 60 Hour Spartan AGOGE in Vermont."
Machete Madness was born from Carrillo's struggle and, ultimately, from his new life path. I had the pain and pleasure of running an MM 10k Trail Race earlier this month in Lake Perris, CA. The moment you arrive at the start line there is a great sense of camaraderie among all of the racers. No matter what your level of athleticism is, each runner is there to cheer the other on. Even Carrillo is there with his camera, running and sweating alongside his racers. It's not easy, but you get through it together. And it's all worth it when you reach the finish line. For Machete Madness, this is just the beginning...
When did you start Machete Madness?
Machete Madness was born in November 2014, after 11 months of people witnessing my fitness and life changing journey on social media. I finally made an open invitation to all of those who would always tell me in the comments (On social media) how they wanted to train with me. I literally posted on my Social Media the following caption and a picture of me at the trails in Palos Verdes Cliffs; I said “Alright f^$%ers, time to put up or shut up, meet me at Beach at 5:30 AM this Saturday, no excuses.” I believe people are attracted to my personality, my no BS 100 percent honesty. About 50 people showed up, and after 7 hours of getting slammed by the Pacific Ocean waves, crawling in the sand and as a team carrying heavy sand bags up the trails, someone said, "This is Madness," to which I replied; "Yes it is; Machete Madness!"
Where can people join the Machete Madness workouts and trail races?
We have taken our events up and down California, Seattle and Vegas; from our 4 hour Machete Madness, which is a team challenge where people are pushed outside their comfort zone... to our Machete Madness RECON XII; 12 hours overnight. Since then, I believe that we have changed many lives; our own journey and ability to bring people together has been amazing.
Victor Carrillo and his father, Victor competing
What sets you apart from other fitness communities?
We say "Welcome to the Machete Madness" after each event. What separate us from any other fitness community is the level of support among each other, the attitude that we have towards challenges in life. Our motto is “Inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit.” One of our medals and tshirts say that. The good shit you inhale are the vibes from all of us at our events, the bullshit you exhale are the life challenges we all face. We do not accept negativity at all. We are all about being real; some people may take offense to the things I say, but people know I say things and do things from the heart and never to offend anyone. I tell them if I ever hear any of them say anything negative to someone at a race instead of a word of encouragement while wearing one of our t-shirts, I will politely ask them to give me back my shirt. Our events, the way I talk, the crazy things we do are not for everyone.
It certainly takes a lot to produce a race, from the entries to the course; what are the challenges you’ve faced?
Everything that goes into the production of a race or one of our endurance events is beyond what most people imagine. Most people have no clue how hard it is. I can share some of the challenges we faced for our June 2nd Machete Trail Madness at Lake Perris, when I say WE by the way, it means just me most of the time, but I say 'we' because I have amazing support from many people, including my parents. Too many people to mention but they know who they are. If you get into the events business to be a millionaire you are in the wrong business. Many of the events result in a financial loss. If you want to do a legit event, the venue will ask you for insurance which will cost you about $300 per day; also a percentage of the money you make will go to them, additional expenses which include marketing, equipment for your race, t-shirts, medals, and to simple things as tables and EZ’ups increase your expenses. The setup for this particular race was completed at 5AM in the day of the race. The finances and man hours that go into production of a race are pretty crazy to say the least. But I believe in our movement and we will continue to push forward. Despite a group of volunteers not showing up for the last race, we are grateful for those who did help us. My friend and Machete Madness family member from many years Buster Brown saved the day, doing so much for us and overall I believe the race was a success. Each event I learn more. Soon we will have a core of volunteers and we take care of those who help us.
Pamela Price crossing the Machete Madness 10k finish line
How do you choose your trails?
My vision with Machete Trail Madness is not to be just about the race. I want it to become an experience, a weekend event. Something people plan ahead of time. Meaning I choose places where you can camp, wake up in the morning to the fresh feel and sunrise of the outdoors, get out of your tent and walk into our race. Not to be a race you show up to late, and storm out of there to do something else. So, my hope is that people come, and have the time to spend it with their fellow Machete Madness members, do what real families are supposed to do. When it comes to the actual trails I chose, I pick the one’s that I've run multiple times, that I feel will be challenging for most but still doable for anyone. You will always be doing a good amount of climbing but nothing crazy that becomes a hike and not a race. My format will always be with the climbing done in the beginning, because, if you want to quit, that is when it will happen. But if you don’t give up you will be rewarded with beautiful views and a fast 2nd half of the race. That is the way life is, full of up’s and downs, so my hope is that people use what they learn at my events in life.
What’s next for Machete Madness? Where would you like the race brand to be in 5 years?
I see Machete Madness in the next 5 years as a place where families and individuals plan their calendars around, a must not miss event in people’s fitness event calendar. I see us in other states and countries; offers for that already in place but I refuse to rush to that so fast. A possible franchise business model in the works. No matter where our journey takes us we will never lose our values and beliefs.
Learn more about Machete Madness' event and keep up with the community at: https://www.machetemadness.com