On July 14th in Pennsylvania, a guy crossed the finish line of the Palmerton Spartan Sprint in an impressive time of 1 hour and 24 minutes. That time placed him 273rd overall. A quick time indeed given *those* hills and the small detail of the fact that in In Sept of 2001, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and given 6-8 years to live.

Jim Mullane explains, “After 12 months of intensive chemotherapy, I briefly reached full remission only to relapse a short time later. After 4 additional years and 4 different types of treatments I finally reached a sustainable remission and enjoyed living cancer-free for 5 full years. During this time my wife Lori and I expanded our family and added our two beautiful daughters: Amelia and Addyson. In early 2011 I relapsed and reentered treatment, a maintenance therapy which I have been on until recently.”

It was around this time that he decided to make some big changes in his life to get his body and spirit in the best shape possible to assist in the battle of his life. “This fight was no longer about just me; it was also about my wife and our beautiful girls. From a nutritional standpoint, I focused heavily on clean eating and added tons of veggies, fruits and lean proteins to my diet. I also gave up alcohol and caffeine, sticking primarily to water and decaf green tea at night.”

“From a fitness perspective, I teamed up with Rob Reddick and we enlisted the support of Jason Moss and his group, N-Motion Fitness. The purpose of this group is to motivate, inspire, and drive people to take control of their lives in a healthy way. A lot of the group members are Spartan Elite: Jason Moss, Heather Powell, Tina Landis, Justin Worthington, Jon Nicholson, Joey Parente, Harry Turner,Dave Leggitt, Brandon Seale and Keith Genko to name a few. The Group also consists of Several VPX Team Extreme members: Dan Krueger, Gretchen Krueger, John Sales and David Homa. With their motivation and support, I put the July PA Spartan Sprint on my race calendar and began the training process. We would get together every Wednesday morning and run the mountains of Valley Forge. Jason and his fellow trainers also put together N-Motion Fitness Camps which are designed to prepare participants for the challenges of OCR.”

“While preparing for my 1st Spartan Race, I was going through treatment for my NHL. All scans were reporting the disease as stable. The Thursday before the PA Sprint I was scheduled for a routine treatment and check-up. Upon examination, my doctor found there were notable lymph nodes in both my neck and groin and they elected to cancel treatment and scheduled me for an emergency PET scan on Friday. The scan was scheduled for 4pm so my pre-race fueling involved an 18 Hour fast! The scan results while showing cancer progression, thankfully also showed slow growth involvement.”

Working on around 2 hours’ sleep for the race and showing support for all his team members that all finished in the top 50, Jim lined up in the 10.45am heat and laid waste to the course. Those that remember the course will agree that it was arguable the hardest Sprint to date. The relentless incline taking no prisoners. But he powered through and placed 39th in his age group after keeping an average pace of 16.36.

“The feeling when crossing that finish line was amazing. It felt great to conquer the mountain and share the experience with some amazingly motivational people. There are parallels between my cancer battle and a Spartan Race… Both are mentally and physically challenging and require an enormous amount of courage and strength and perseverance to overcome.”

Following on from that remarkable weekend and breaking the seal on his Spartan Race journey, he explains where he is now with his treatment.

“My follow-up Biopsy showed that the Non-Hodgkins had spread and I just started a 5 month cycle of Chemo on 8/19. My thanks to the Spartan Family for providing me with the fitness tools clean eating suggestions and overall Motivation to Fight This Fight!!! AROO!!!”

Jim’s positivity is plain to see, his attitude towards everything in his way highlighted perfectly when asked where he draw his mental toughness from. “That is tough to define. There are so many negative emotions to battle with a cancer diagnosis that it’s easy for people, myself included at times, to spiral into a state of depression. I try to surround myself with motivational and positive influences. I feed off of their emotions when I’m out of sorts. By nature I’m a glass half full person, so I inherently try to find the positive in all situations and focus on that. I also understand that this fight I’m battling is no longer just about me; it’s about fighting for Lori, Amelia and Addyson and for them I WILL NOT and CANNOT quit fighting.”

But Jim is quick to make sure that his message of hope is the last thing he shares. We he agrees that any Spartan Race is tough, there is a greater message at stake than just dragging a few rocks and crawling through mud. “These races are designed to test every aspect of your being. Rest assured though, the feeling of crossing that finish line is life changing. For me the Spartan Experience is much more than the race itself; it’s about a living a healthier lifestyle and providing a strong and positive influence to my family and friends.”

No matter what the fight is, he offers a few final words of encouragement and hope. “No matter how tough things may be or how difficult the challenges are NEVER give up. Dig deep within yourself and find that one thing worth fighting for and focus on that during the tough times… Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage and support you through whatever is thrown your way but more importantly, pay it forward. I draw a lot of personal strength from talking to and helping others who are going through what I’ve been dealing with.”

Jim knows what it means to, “know at the finish line.”  Do you?

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by Jonathan Cooper

My wife is my inspiration and I’ll tell you why.

In December 2011 doctors told me I had a mass growing inside of me. Tests revealed I needed surgery to remove what doctors suspected was cancer.

So, day after the Super Bowl we went to the hospital and I had parts of my stomach and intestines removed along with my gallbladder. This led to nearly two months of hospitalization, ICU stays, ER visits, and about three months of IV nutrition while my rewired insides healed.

During this time my wife – a three-time Spartan Sprint participant – was my motivator, caretaker, inspiration … my rock. She kept me strong mentally so I could again be strong physically.

Today, I’m healthy.

I am not in the shape I desire to be in but at age 39 I know I have a new lease on my life and my journey is beginning again.

Most days I’m at the gym working out. Other days I’m in our backyard flipping tires, working on pullups, burpees, and beating on the heavy bag. My wife competed in last year’s Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint and I was there with her just days after leaving the hospital. I watched her finish in tremendous time and knew that day I was signing up for this year’s race so I could show her I have learned from her.

Today I’m running for her.

Today I’m running for myself.

Today I’m running for our 8-year-old son James.

Today I’m running for our 2-month-old girl Olivia.

Today I’m running because I’m healthy.

Today I’m running because I’m determined to be strong. Strong for myself. Strong for my family.

Today I’m running because I’m Spartan Strong.

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by Carrie Adams

Jim Goeke-Morey was given news that most would consider a death sentence.  In 2009, he was told he had cancer and the tumor that couldn’t completely be removed surgically was going to force him to undergo a series of additional treatments with uncertain results. Not one to take the news lying down, Jim, with his wife Marcie by his side, decided to fight the cancer and he still fights today.  With a new approach to health and a quest for bigger and badder challenges, Goeke-Morey is marking the three year battle with a Spartan Race in Leesburg, VA.  And while he isn’t cured, he’s stable and optimistic about his future.  Here is his story….

The Mid-Atlantic Super Spartan race is coming up this weekend. I am entering this race because it looks like an awesomely fun challenge. More importantly, this race is a gift to my family and me. It will continue to prove that I am not just a brain cancer fighter, but also a brain cancer warrior.

In August 2009, at 39 years old, an MRI revealed that I had a brain tumor that needed to be removed. Following the surgery the news got worse: the tumor was brain cancer. I sat speechless with my wife, Marcie, in the doctor’s office. The surgeon was not able to remove the entire tumor, which meant I would need radiation and chemotherapy. The prognosis was grim. After a few days of shock and soul searching, we gained clarity. We would fight this cancer with a vengeance!

I knew that I needed to be in better physical shape to fight through the radiation and chemo. I was not horribly out of shape, but I was overweight and exercised infrequently. That had to change. As soon as the neurosurgeon gave me the official clearance, I began to exercise slowly. Ironically, I had ruptured my Achilles tendon a week before the brain tumor discovery. I may be the only person to have had Achilles surgery and brain surgery in the space of a week. The Achilles rehab actually became a focus that took my mind off my brain cancer.

Throughout, my incredible wife and wonderful daughters gave me the support and space and patience I needed. I continued working out through the three months of daily radiation and chemotherapy.

As the calendar moved to the summer of 2010, still taking monthly chemotherapy, I was back on my bike again and doing laps in the pool. We decided to mark the first anniversary in a meaningful way. So, my wife and I teamed up to complete a half-iron triathlon. I swam and biked while she did the half-marathon. (Her first!).  It was powerful to have come so far in a year and to have done it together.

I continued exercising and added a new sport in 2011: I raced in several cyclocross races. Despite finishing close to the back in the race, I had a ball in the mud and the cold!

Now this year, I am feeling even stronger and in better shape. I have completed two years of chemotherapy–the maximum the doctors will allow. I still have cancer, but the tumor is stable. This Spartan Race is a fitting way to mark the third anniversary of my battle against brain cancer. I have been a fighter from the start, but now it’s time to be a warrior.  My wife will be right beside me in this race with our girls cheering us before they do their own Spartan Kids Race.

So you may see me on Sunday at the race. I will not be near the front of the race but I will be fighting through until the end. Aroo!

Jim Goeke-Morey
Cheverly, MD
http://golfballinmybrain.blogspot.com/

Want to join Jim and his family in Virginia?  There is still time to register! Get signed up HERE.

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