by Chris Davis, re-printed from Project Chris Davis
With the Georgia Sprint fast approaching March 9, T-12 paraplegic Michael Mills is putting in a lot of work to get prepared to take on the course on his hands and knees. This past weekend, he took on Stone Mountain to prove he was Spartan Tough for his upcoming challenge.
Saturday I watched Michael Mills from Chasing Spartan Michael Mills fight though the pain and climb Stone Mountain on his hands and knees. He asked each of us that joined him to challenge our self in our own way. So I chose to carry 100lbs of 1 inch think steel plates.The plan was to start our adventure at 7:30 am, in the parking lot at the head of the walk up trail. It was very cold almost freezing, and I started to have flashbacks to my experience during the Vermont Beast. I had the same scared but excited feeling in my stomach as I had on that cold morning in Vermont. It got so bad that I started to second guess my ability to complete this challenge, and that is when I saw on Facebook that Michael had like my comment about bringing the 100lbs and I knew, that there was no way for me to lower the weight to something more do able like 60lbs. So I took in a deep breath and decided at that moment, no mater what I was going find a way to get to the top with all 100lbs.
When Michael arrived, I knew that I had made the right choice in not going to the Arizona for the Spartan Race. It was a strange feeling, but I just knew I was at the right place at the right time. I knew that today was going to be one of though days that changes the way you look at the world. Everyone gathered in the parking lot and we headed out a little before 8 am. Michael, started out the adventure in his wheel chair, but it was not long when he decided to get out of it and continued the long journey on his hands and knees. I have climbed Stone Mountain and have seen what it can do to people that are in relative good shape, but I could not imagine trying to climb the hole thing in your hands and knees. It was a slow, but steady climb, Michael, was like the energizer bunny, he just keep going and going. By 11:30 we had made it over half way up and we were facing the most difficult part of the climb. This part of the climb is so steep that they have to put in two hand rails to help people climb up this part of the trail. For me this is a very scary part of the trail. The first time I climbed Stone Mountain, back in 2011, I fell twice trying to climb up this part of the trail. I know a lot has changed since then, but I keep having visions of me falling, and getting crushed by my backpack. Let be honest, steel plates to not have a lot of give in them. But the sight of this part did phase him, he just took it in stride, and keep on going. Before I knew it were we half way up. You could tell that his arms were killing him, but he never gave up and a few minutes later we were at the top of the steepest segment of the climb. But the climb is not over in fact this is where you have to dig deep, because you are not at the top, not even close. We took a few minutes to recover and take in the incredible of Downtown Atlanta before counting up to the top. We arrived at the top around 12:40 pm, four hours after we started, to put this in perspective, the first time I climbed stone mountain, it took me three an half hours, and I was walking. The fact that Michael made it up in just four hours to me is incredible! You could tell that he was exhausted, but it did not stop him from celebrating and taking some time to reflect on what he had just done. He was on the top of Stone Mountain, and he had climbed up there on his hands and knees. I think that is when he relied that if he could do this, there is nothing that he couldn’t do! After taking photo with everyone we sat around and relaxed for a few. After everyone relaxed, and started to regroup, we all realized that we were only half way done. So we started are way back down. This went a lot faster, especially once we got past the steep part, and Michael, climbed back into his wheelchair. I can not tell you how cool it was to see him doing jumps over rocks, and having a great time taking his new wheelchair though it’s paces. We were about 3/4 of the way down, and I was taking a break, when I saw a father reach over to his young daughter.
He then keeled down and said, look over there as he pointed to Michael, and said “Never say you can’t do anything, there is proof that anything is possible!” When I heard that, it made me think, we came to the mountain to challenge ourselves and in doing this we may have inspired others on the mountain to do something they thought was impossible. I know that I will remember this day for the rest of my life. Thank you Michael Mills for sharing this great adventure with me!
Michel’s next adventure will be at our Reebok Spartan Georgia Sprint Match 9, 2013. To join him, register HERE.
[Editor's Note: Michael Mills is a T12 paraplegic, the victim of a head on collision with a drunk driver in 1993 and though he’s been tackling wheelchair racing since 1996, competing in over 160 road and track races in the twelve years since, even representing the United States three separate times, he saw the Spartan Race series and realized it was the next challenge he wanted. He'll be doing the Georgia Spartan Sprint on 3/9/13. Want to stay tuned in to Michael’s journey? He’ll be regularly posting his story and training on our blog in a series we’ll be calling “Chasing Michael Mills.” Follow his Facebook page. Want to support his cause? Check out Spartan Sprint for Berts Big Adventure | Michael Mills’ Fundraiser on CrowdRise]