Meet the Real Hero of the Calgary Spartan Race: Josh Taylor

by Katie Idle

On August 18th, Josh proved, without a doubt that he is tough enough!  In true Spartan style, he has overcome difficulty, pushed himself to unbelievable limits and crossed the finish line as a hero.

Crawling through the mud you wouldn’t know that Josh is any different from any of the other 150 warriors in the Hurricane Heat and you would have no idea of how far Josh has come to be able to cross that finish line, or what a huge achievement this is for him.  Eight years ago when Josh suffered from a stroke, not knowing whether he would make it, let alone be able to walk or speak again, completing a Spartan race would have been unthinkable.

“The hills were a killer – I had to drag myself up the steep slope using my good arm and chest, as my bad leg had no traction,” says Josh, but still he pushed on to complete the 5 km run and 15 or so obstacles.

Fitness, the outdoors and adventure were a big part of Josh’s upbringing.  His father, Peter Taylor, was a known mountaineer with a couple of Himalayan first ascents to his name and author of a book, From Cooper’s Creek to Langtang II.  With adventure in his genes, Josh spent years working as a hunting guide, and even did rodeo for a while.

This all changed at the age of 32, when Josh’s stroke derailed his life and left him temporarily without speech, in a wheelchair and with very limited movement in his upper body.   It took six months of determination and teeth clenching to get out of the wheelchair and to regain his speech.  “I was determined to prove them wrong .  If they told me I couldn’t do something, I would think, just watch me!”  Josh spent a year in a stroke rehabilitation centre, and actually met his wife, Jane, online while he was there (Jane was his cheerleader for this year’s Spartan but has promised to sign up to race in Calgary next year).

Josh has been a Street Team Member since the beginning of the year, and completing the race was a huge goal for him.  His training included practising Mixed Martial Arts a couple of times a week, lifting weights and walking with a weighted vest to improve his limp.  “The Spartan Race was a huge achievement.  There was a great atmosphere and everyone was incredibly positive and supportive.  They kept telling me ‘keep going, you’re a hero’.  I didn’t want to let them down – they made me feel very proud of myself.’”

Always striving to improve, Josh aims to jog the Hurricane Heat in 2013, or to compete in a regular heat, and we look forward to seeing him back.




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