Tag Archives: Devon Lowman

Jackson And Devon Survive The Super Spartan

For Westport teenagers, life is a series of obstacles: SATs. Driving curfews. Spotty cell service.

Last weekend, Jackson Yang and Devon Lowman faced obstacles of a different sort: Mud. Barbed wire. A fire pit.

The Staples seniors overcame them all.

They joined 2,000 other men and women (and a few teenagers) at a “Super Spartan Race” at Vernon Valley/Great Gorge, New Jersey.

The website says the obstacle course tests competitors’ “resilience, strength, stamina, quick decision making skills, and ability to laugh in the face of adversity.” It demands “every ounce of … strength, ingenuity, and animal instinct.”

In a world filled with video games and theme parks, the Super Spartan Race is a harsh dose of reality. A wet, muddy and very rocky dose.

Jackson Yang (left) and Devon Lowman — after the Super Spartan event.

Jackson and Devon trained hard all summer. They ran, did pushups and used gymnastic rings. They began in good shape, and got a lot better.

But nothing could prepare them for race day. In fact, nothing could prepare them for the night before, when they learned that organizers had lengthened the course from 8.5 miles to 11, and doubled the number of obstacles to 30.

Whatever.

After a motivational speech (by a guy dressed up as a Spartan), 300 competitors took off, every 30 minutes. Flares at the starting line produced the 1st obstacle: choking smoke.

The course rose immediately uphill – as in 3 double black diamond hills. (In the winter, Vernon Valley is a ski resort.)

But that was just the start.

Pits of water “really woke us up,” Jackson says.

Jackson attacks the climbing wall. Devon offers encouragement.

Awakened, they then flipped monster truck tires. Cliff-jumped into a giant pool. Went down a slip-and-slide. Conquered several ropes courses. Swam across a lake (and underneath boats).

For every failure, they did 30 burpees — dropping down, kicking out their feet, jumping up.

Though it’s a competition, participants helped each other out. Devon and Jackson shared their water with a woman who felt dizzy climbing rocks on her hands and feet. Jackson went back down later, to help her up a hill.

“We were all in the same hell together,” he explains.

(It should be no surprise that — in addition to being a 2-year rugby captain,  running indoor track and serving as an EMR — Jackson is co-president of Staples’ Kool 2B Kind Club. Devon is on the golf team, works on Staples Players’ tech crew, plays drums in the great Wayside band, and is a member of the school’s Service League of Boys club.)

Finally — after all the running was done — came the last obstacles.

All that stood between Jackson and Devon and the finish line was a spear throw. Plus a wooden wall, to be scaled sideways. A rope climb.

And barbed wire.

The coup de grace.

“We sort of scraped uphill on our stomachs, and barrel rolled underneath it” Jackson says, referring to the barbed wire. “It was really long. And there were rocks.”

When they looked up, they saw scraps of clothing attached to the barbed wire.

(Other people’s clothes, fortunately.)

All the while, hoses sprayed water on them. There was more mud than ever.

The final obstacle was a fire pit. Jackson and Devon leaped over it, then raced to the finish.

Jackson calls all the obstacles “really fun.” Devon smiles broadly just thinking about them.

“We both like to work out,” Jackson says. “This was the kind of challenge we were looking for.”

“It was a tangible goal,” Devon adds.

Only 1/3 of the starters finished. Jackson and Devon did, clocking the 11-mile, 30-obstacle course in a highly respectable 4 hours. Along the way, they passed people who started before them.

For their Spartan efforts, they earned medals. And t-shirts.

“It seems surreal now,” Jackson says, proud but very sore 3 days later.

“I can’t believe we did it. It was so much fun!”

“It wouldn’t have been fun if we did it alone,” Devon notes. “A lot of it was brutal. But we’re kind of playfully competitive.”

“We started together,” Jackson says. “And we wanted to finish together.”

So what’s next?

“I’d love to do one again,” says Jackson (whose shoes ripped during the event).

“I’d like to do the next level up — the Beast,” Devon says. “It’s longer. And it’s got more obstacles.”

Jackson and Devon look at each other, and laugh.

Together, they start making plans for a run.

The Wayside: You Heard Them Here First

Back in his “Highway 61” days, Bob Dylan could have written “Searching for My Twin.”

But he didn’t. Dustin Lowman did.

The lyrics, voice, intonation, guitar, harmonica, rhythm — all evoke Dylan, when he played Greenwich Village coffeehouses in the early 1960s.

In 2012 Dustin does Main Street, right here in Westport.

But he’s not alone.

The Wayside (from left): Dustin Lowman, Danny Fishman, Devin Lowman, Sam Weiser. (Photo/Eric Essagof)

Longtime friend and fellow guitarist Danny Fishman, drummer/brother Devon Lowman and violinist/bassist/musical genius Sam Weiser join him, forming The Wayside.

Remember the name.

The folk-rock — really, folk-to-rock — group is tearing up the area.

They’re all over Facebook and YouTube, too.

It took more than 40 years for Dylan to do that.

Dustin Lowman (Photo/Gabe Schindler)

The Wayside goes way back. Dustin and Danny were friends at age 7. They played on the same Little League team (the Huskies), but gave up baseball for music.

By 8th grade at Coleytown Middle School, Dustin was writing poetic lyrics — a nod to his musical hero, Dylan.

Dustin and Danny — he’s more of a John Mayer fan — went to the National Guitar Workshop together. Their playing and songwriting attracted attention from the likes of Livingston Taylor.

But the Wayside didn’t come together until a couple of years ago, when Devon and Sam joined. Sam’s crazy-good fiddle-style violin playing adds a special twist on folk-y, introspective-type numbers; he switches to bass for more rock-y stuff. Danny and Dustin write most of the material. The other 2 guys grab it, and make each song their own.

Danny Fishman (Photo/Gabe Schindler)

Their 1st gig was the 2010 EcoFest. Their tight, crisp, mature-beyond-their-years sound and clever lyrics drew immediate attention (and comparisons to not only Dylan and John Mayer, but the Avett Brothers and The Tallest Man on Earth).

In Dylan’s early days, the Wayside would have played local clubs, attracted attention from promoters, signed with a label, cut a 45, been heard on radio stations, hit the big time, gathered groupies and gone on from there.

But the music industry has changed. There are fewer venues, no 45s or radio stations. Groupies are looking for the next Mark Zuckerberg.

So the Wayside does things the new way. They play for free on places like Main Street. They make EPs. Their music is on ReverbNation. Their Facebook fan page draws plenty of attention. They’ve got a YouTube channel.

They’ve also got a manager — Staples grad Michael Mugrage (who toured with Orleans and Ronnie Spector, and worked with James Brown and Bruce Hornsby).

The Wayside not only plays smart; they are smart. Dustin is a rising sophomore at Middlebury College. After a year at Vassar, Danny is transferring to Tufts. Sam is entering his first year at the New England Conservatory, while Devon has one more year at Staples.

They’re not sure what’s ahead after college. But they love what they do; they love playing with each other. They’re heartened by their very enthusiastic fans (including Tommy Byrne, who made guitars for Steely Dan).

Keep your eyes — and especially your ears — open for The Wayside. Catch their raw videos on YouTube, and like them on Facebook.

And check them out on a Main Street near you. It may not be Bleecker Street, but everyone starts somewhere.

(Click below for 3 Wayside YouTube videos.)