“I’m a great believer in finding the things you can do and not worrying about the things you can’t,” smiles Richard Pringle, the impossibly happy Englishman.

Impossibly happy because Richard suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a condition that many people are unfamiliar with. Richard explains, “It’s basically a degenerative spinal condition and attacks the spine and joints. It’s a form of Arthritis and can be very severe – 6 years ago I could barely walk because of it. I even had a disabled permit for my car!”. In 2005 he was taken to hospital and stayed there for 6 months in order to fight it.

“The medication I take is a very rare and new drug called Biological Therapy. It’s called Anti TNF (Anti Tumour Narcosis Factor) and it works by taking away the part of your body that causes the inflammation in the joints. The side effect is that your immune system is extremely depleted and you don’t have ability to fight tumors as effectively.”

Pringle struggles with the condition daily. While the drugs are effective they don’t completely eradicate the symptoms, so he still suffers some pain and discomfort in his back and joints. Yet Pringle persists, carrying on and pushing forward. “You play the cards you’re dealt.”

Pringle also knows that there’s a high probability that the drugs won’t always work and that he will have to stop taking them. This is why he’s always in a rush. He’s in a rush to do as many amazing things as possible and that’s why he desperately wants to do the Spartan Beast to add to his list of things he’s achieved after being diagnosed.”

One huge difference is that the constant training and movement is because he wants to abs or the physique – they happen to be a very huge bonus side effect of what he does. He trains because he wants to live.

“If I didn’t do any exercise I would basically just stop working and my body would shut down. The best thing for my condition is to stay active. In severe cases and a common result of inactivity is that my back will start completely fusing together and not move at all. Whilst most people wouldn’t go to the extremes I have in terms of activity (swimming is the most commonly prescribed form of exercise). It’s so important that you exercise both for physical health and to keep me sane!

Having already conquered the Sprint, Richard is using his training and thirst for life as the fuel for slaying the Spartan Beast in London later this year. Pounding the trails and the dirt is now as much a part of his day as eating and sleeping.

“I’m absolutely buzzing for the Spartan Beast now. In terms of running it’s all about getting the miles in your legs in preparation so we’ve been going on a few longer runs over a fantastic local area called Fairlight Glenn. It’s basically like a ready-made Spartan training ground! It’s all off road with lots of hills there’s streams and tunnels and it’s the ideal training ground.”

Pringle also considers his location lucky, “Where I live in Hastings, is that we have outdoor gym areas on the beach and we have Monkey bars to practice on too so we’ve been doing lots of body weight training so we can get up those ropes and walls. The preparation has seriously started already as I’m looking for a good time and a good place in this. With my personality and regardless of my medical condition I always want to do as well as I can.”

For a man hosting a condition that would see his body literally shut down if he stops moving, he is remarkably upbeat. His positivity shines through in his actions, his attitude and even his work.

“I train over 350 people a week in Hastings through my Combat Conditioning classes I get asked for advice a lot. It normally involves reassurance as the most common thing people have is a lack of confidence and a doubt they can’t do something.”

When asked by those he trains if he thinks they can finish a Spartan he says, “Yes! We had 14 people entered in the Spartan Sprint and none of them had ever done anything like that before and it was the best feeling ever seeing their faces afterwards, knowing what they’d achieved.”

Richard swims, runs, lifts and even regularly wins MMA fights, an astonishing thought, considering the larger fight his carries every day.

“In life I’ve been lucky that I have a second chance, a second window of opportunity to do things I never thought possible and as I always say “never stop chasing your dreams.” If there’s one thing you want to do or one thing you want to achieve then go out and do it! I remember hearing a quote about regret and it said ‘when you’re going in your death bed it won’t be these things you did you’ll regret, it’ll be the things you didn’t do.’  This is so true.”

True to form, the content of his character mirrors so many people that “knew” at the finish line. Waving away questions about himself, his eagerness to help others is none more apparent when he explains,

“If I could give any advice to all those reading this thinking about doing their first Spartan Race, it’s do it! Don’t talk about doing it, don’t think about doing it just get those running trainers on and get out for a run and start training. Start by just running around the block if you have to but you’ll get there. With drive commitment and belief you can do anything you put your mind to. It’s all about your mindset. When I couldn’t walk properly due to my condition I was told I could swim. So that’s what I did. I swam every day and became a very good swimmer.”

What’s your excuse? Find a Spartan finish line HERE.

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