by Steffen “Cookie” Cook

On March 23rd, Christopher Mitchell was in Carolina to take part in the Spartan Race. So what? So were thousands of others. Well, Christopher’s journey there was a little different than some.

On July 3rd, 2012, he underwent reconstructive ACL surgery on his right knee. It was a mess. He explains, “A few months before, I completely tore my ACL while sparring in tae kwon do. I can’t really explain exactly what happened, but it felt like the top half of my right leg and the bottom half went in opposite directions when I planted my leg. Initially, I thought it was a bad sprain and treated the swelling and pain for a couple of weeks.”

There wasn’t the improvement he expected and on further inspection, an MRI scan determined that the ACL was “not there anymore.”

What happened next was like the script from the Six Million Dollar Man. Dr. William Garrett at Duke Sports Medicine in Durham, NC took a piece of Christopher’s hamstring and together with some new hardware, basically “built” him a new ACL.
“After my surgery, I spent the next week on my back with my leg in a brace and a cooler circulating ice water around my knee 24/7.”

Rehab was hard as he expected it to be. “Physical therapy began on July 11th and continued twice a week until just before Christmas. PT, it was slow and painful. The protocol for my rehab was provided by my doctor, and my physical therapist and I spent a lot of time working to get my knee to bend normally and to put weight on it. Over time, I progressed from my brace and crutches, to just my brace, and finally, no brace. My goal at that time was to walk with a normal gait, and eventually to build some strength in that leg. The loss of strength and muscle tone in my leg was amazing, and took some time to regain.”

Towards the end of the rehab, when treadmills and ellipticals were strengthening his leg, he noticed that it wasn’t doing anything to remove the extra pounds that he had acquired during the rest and rehab.

“I knew I wanted to get my leg, and body back in shape. It was about that time I came across the Spartan Race website. I was immediately hooked. I read every word on the website, and watched the videos. I felt connected with the Spartan Mission and the Spartan Code. I knew that I wanted to be a Spartan.”

With time pressing, Christopher explain how he tunes his body to be ready for the event.

“I’ve never been one to “just finish” any athletic activity. I want to be fully prepared and ready to give 100% to be as successful as possible. With so far to go to be ready and with so little time, I joined a program at my local gym designed to transform your body in 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week, with very intense, circuit-based workouts. We do burpees, push-ups, planks, pull-ups, jump rope, curls, shoulder presses, box jumps, and various workouts with kettle bells, just to name a few….oh, and did I mention burpees? I felt like this program would get me Spartan tough as fast as possible. And with some extra cardio/running added in, it has.”

A miraculously quick turn around, but one that shows how the focus of an individual can yield the rewards. The extra weight has gone and after some recruiting, he is now prepared to attack the course with his sons and a co-worker by his side.

“I am already planning to race in the Mid-Atlantic Spartan Super in August, and the Carolinas Beast in November. And who knows, maybe someday, even the Death Race?”

Yet another example of the triumph of the human spirit.

See you at the finish line.  What’s keeping you from finding the Spartan finish line?  Register TODAY.

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