Guest Blogger Michael Mills celebrates life with Spartan Race
This year, 2013, marked 20 years that I have been paralyzed and I wanted to make it the best year of my life. When you hit the 20-year mark in anything, it is always important, as it marks a large passing of time. Twenty years is a long time, it’s celebrated in a marriage, in a career, and it is essentially a lifetime. That 20-year milestone is always honored. Well for me it was no different. I wanted to celebrate my life by doing things that were a challenge and doing something that no other paralyzed person has done.
It all started with the Spartan Sprint in Conyers, GA. I decided I would do a Spartan Race. I was not sure how I was going to do it, but I was determined to compete in it. Not long after I made the decision publicly to do the Spartan Sprint several of my friends decided to do it with me. The entire team was new to Spartan Race except for one athlete, John Hate Sales. John was our veteran and he knew all about the race and the rest of us knew nothing.
We didn’t care; we just wanted to do it so we jumped right in it. We took off and within the first mile I had a blowout. I had no way of repairing the wheelchair but I was not going to quit after just starting. I made the decision to carry on with a flat tire. In true Spartan Fashion I was going to carry on. I was to finish or be carried out on my shield. We started as a team and finished as a team and we were all proud. It’s because of the team and their help that I became the first-ever paralyzed person to earn a Spartan Sprint Medal.
Next was the Spartan Death Race in Pittsfield, VT. Someone on Facebook challenged me with the comment “He really did not do anything, he was simply carried by his team! He really did not earn that medal!” That really upset me because I know what I did and I know the work that we did as a team. This is where my next challenge came about.
Steve-Opie Reid contacted me and said, let’s do the Death Race. I told Steve-O, “YOU HAVE LOST YOUR MIND! There is no way I am going to do the Death Race!” Then I thought to myself, this would prove to everyone that doubted me in the beginning that I am a true Spartan Athlete. So, I agreed to enter the Spartan Death Race. From the start, I knew I was in for an adventure. From cutting grass and small limbs with scissors to building an amazing rock trail with a group of amazing people, the Spartan Death Race was an adventure. I lasted a little over 24 hours before I was cut due to a time hack. I was the 20th person to go out of the Spartan Death Race but 19 before me quit and my goal was to go as long as I possibly could, and I did it. I never quit and I feel I beat many odds within that 24-hour period.
Last event of the year was my most recent, The South Carolina Spartan Beast. This event truly lived up to its name. “THE BEAST” was by far the hardest event of the year. I joined a new group of OCR crazy’s called “THE DIRTBAGS!” This group of men and women took me in and allowed me to be part of the team and I am sure glad they did. These guys and girls worked hard to help me the entire day. We all worked together as a unit. We had Zackary Paben, Steve-O and countless other volunteers along the way that helped and for those, I am forever thankful. Halfway through the day, my left contact came out and was put in a Ziploc bag so we could carry on. We knew we were on a time limit so we did not slow down. With three hours left in our day, my right contact rolled behind my right eye. I am completely blind by now. I am paralyzed and can’t see. I had to trust my team and the ones around me. We still had obstacles to get over and still finish the course. As we come to the finish, I could see a blurry finish line and I could see a blurry figure holding the Beast medal. I leaned over and was given the hard-earned medal by Chris Davis. As Chris leaned over and hugged me, he said, “I told you I would wait on you!” To know that I had all the help I did on the course and to know that the rest of my fellow teammates earned their Trifecta that day, I was proud to have fought for 10 hours straight on what I would say, was one of the hardest things I have done to date.
For me this year was the year I wanted to prove to anyone who has ever doubted me and that has said that people with disabilities could not be athletes much less Spartans. I am here to tell you, that you are dead wrong. I am a Spartan. I am a Spartan three times over and to be the first to have done each of these in a wheelchair is a dream come true. I will tell anyone if you are disabled or just wanting to live a better and healthier life, DO A SPARTAN RACE. It changed how I see things and how I tackle life now. It will truly do the same for you!!!!!
See you in 2014 Trifecta!