“I like a challenge,” says Mike Simons matter-of-factly. The Army Airborne Ranger veteran, with deployments of Iraq and Afghanistan behind him, talks about his Ranger School in the middle of winter up in the Appalachian Mountains and other “top secret stuff,” like it’s really no big deal. He’s a man that is given a problem and deals with it head on. No frills, just problem solving and getting the job done.
But for a man of action as he was, he was used to pushing that little bit harder than usual. “I was lucky enough, despite a few close calls, to leave the military without a scratch. Normal life outside of the military was too easy so I signed up for my first Spartan, the one at Blue Mountain. It was just the type of thing I was looking for.”
Sadly, six months after the race, Mike suffered quite a large setback, one that really would be a test of his mettle.
“I got into a motorcycle accident and had my right leg removed just above the knee. You want to talk about a challenge, this was it. I was coaching a high school crew team at the time and had mentioned to one of the rowers that was complaining of an injury the week before that a straw would help him to recover faster so he could “suck it up”.
“After the accident the team all made cards with straws in them to help motivate me. I had a broken femur, and an amputated right leg, and I was back at practice in 2 weeks. I had no doubt that with the help of my team, friends, and family, I was going to not only embrace this challenge, I was going to conquer it.”
Mike may have had military training, existing fitness, and core strength already, but as is always the case,it was the mental challenge he had to face. The hunger and drive to push, to reach further. The actual wanting to reach out and grab those few extra miles, weights, whatever the case may be to progress and improve. That’s the difference. That’s what he points out that was important.
“If there’s anything I learned from my first Spartan race it’s this: It doesn’t matter how fast you go, or how strong you think you are. You just need to keep pushing yourself until the end, and if you run into an obstacle that’s causing you problems, your friends will be there to help you over it. Never quit, and you’ll know at the finish line! AROOOO!”