by Michael Mills

On March 9th, I became the first ever paralyzed person to complete a Spartan race. On that day, history was made by Team Pushharder. Without my team, this would have been extremely difficult. I received a lot of feedback from people both positive and negative on the accomplishment. The positive was reassurance that something amazing happened on that day and that it proved that anyone could do anything as long as you put your mind to it. The negative was that people felt that my team carried me the entire way and that I did not put forth real effort. It troubled me to think that people felt I did not do the work to earn the title of being the first paralyzed Spartan athlete. So, I thought to myself, “what more do I need to do to prove myself in OCR?’ Then it hit me.. I would do something most able-bodied people wouldn’t even think of doing in their wildest dreams. I needed to prove myself once again and this time I want to go all out. So, that leads me to today.

I am pleased to announce that I am now officially going to be part of the 2013 Summer Spartan Death Race. I am the first ever paralyzed athlete to enter this event and I am going in it to be the first ever paralyzed person to complete a Death Race. This will be the hardest test of my life, but I will say this, I will leave every inch of my heart and soul out there to prove yet again, I am worthy of this title. Expect nothing less of me!

About Michael Mills:
Michael Mills Adventure/Endurance Athlete.

At the age of 16, I was hit by a drunk driver which left me paralyzed from the waist down. I was 16 and did not know what to expect out of my life. Not long after my injury I realized that this was a gift. It was a gift to be different and make Life worth Living. I am now 36 years old, married with three lovely children, work a fulltime job and an athlete in two sports. I have raced in over 150 road and track races in my career. I have traveled all over the world and have had the opportunity to represent my country in three events.

Competitive Bio Highlights:
Nationally and World Ranked in the 200/400/800 and 1500 meter events
2005 Selected as Most improved Athlete Lakeshore Foundation, Birmingham, AL
2005 Selected to Represent Team USA World Wheelchair Games, Rio Brazil
2007 Selected to Represent Team USA World Wheelchair Games, Taipei, Taiwan
2005 to current Team Captain, Shepherd Rehabilitation Center Wheelchair Racing Team, Atlanta, GA
2010 Selected to Represent Team USA Oita ½ Marathon, Oita Japan
2013 First Paralyzed Athlete to climb Stone Mountain, Stone Mountain, GA
2013 First Paralyzed person in History to compete/ complete a Spartan Sprint Race

Upcoming Events:
2013 First ever Paralyzed person to sign up and compete in a GoRuck Challenge (12 hour navy seal type event on 05/25/2013
2013 first Paralyzed Person to attempt to climb Curahee Hill, Tocca, GA on 06/01/2013
2013 First official ever Paralyzed Person to sign up for a Spartan Death Race to be held on 06/21/2013
2013 First Paralyzed Person to compete in the R3OPS Obstacle Course race on 07/20/2013
2013 First Paralyzed person to compete in the 2013 Mid Atlantic Spartan Beast on 08/24/2013
2013 First paralyzed person to compete in the 2013 Gulf Coast Spartan Beast on 10/19/2013
2013 Marine Corp Marathon while carrying 100lbs for 26.2 miles
2013 First Paralyzed person to compete in the 2013 Spartan Carolina on 11/19/13

Tags: , ,

How it Began

by Michael Mills

I became the first ever paralyzed Spartan in history when I finished the Reebok Spartan Georgia race on March 9, 2013 along with my team.  A head-on collision with a drunk driver in  1993  landed me in a wheelchair.  The devastation from my injuries resulted a T-12 paralysis, but I’ve never let it define or stop me.  I’ve competed in over 160 road and track races in the twelve years since, even representing the United States three separate times.  So, I’m used to competition, but Spartan was a challenge I had not yet experienced.  I had to be a part of it and wasn’t going to let my paralysis keep me from finding that finish line.   It began just a little over eight months ago I made the decision that I was going to compete in the 2013 Georgia Reebok Spartan Sprint. I didn’t know how I would do it, but I knew I was going to give it my all. I built a team with my misfit friends and we all trained in preparation for what we knew would be our toughest challenge ever.

Race Day

On race day, we started off at 9:15 am through the smoke and we began our journey to become Spartans. We hit the first obstacle with an aggressive nature and we didn’t look back. Shortly after the first obstacle we made the trek into the woods where there was the crooked creek about shin deep. Most people saw the creek as just part of the course, I saw it as obstacle number two. I dove right into water that was chest deep and started to crawl. Shortly after reaching the end the creek, I realized I had a flat tire on my wheelchair. Not even a mile into the course we had a problem.

In Spartan form I said “I ain’t got time for this, let’s just go!” So, we pushed on. We attacked each obstacle with extreme prejudice. We were relentless and we conquered each and everyone of them together. We made our first block around to the cargo net and that’s when I realized that people were really yelling and rooting for us. Our team were making a mark in Spartan history.

As we got to the top, my good friend Chris Davis came up behind me and said, “This is what you’ve been waiting for!” He was right, I took a short breath and looked around and just took it all in. We made it through the traverse wall, the tire flips (man those things were heavy), and off to the remainder of the course. As we got closer to the finish we could hear music and people, I knew it was close to being over. I saw my oldest son, my mom, and my dad. They were in awe I had made it this far. I was just three obstacles away from the finish.

Next up, the spear throw. Well, let’s just say, I wasn’t the only one doing a burpee. I had to do a “murpee,” which I call a Mike burpee or a modified burpee. I put my 30 in as fast as possible and we were off to the rope climb. I got up about a 1/4 of the way and went down into the cold water. Needless to say I hit 30 more murpees in the nasty thick mud. Then we went to the mud and barbed wire. We came out fast and muddy. Last obstacle was the gladiators. I looked up and to my surprise was Andi Hardy an Elite female Spartan Athlete. Andi took a spot just for us. We as a team decided that we were going to attack instead of them attacking us. The next thing I knew we were crossing the finish line, as a team just like we had started. Team Pushharder were now all Spartans!

I want to thank Nathan, Kevin, Brandon, Will, Scott, Joel, John and April for everything you guys did to make my dream come true. My team and I did something people said couldn’t be done. We made history together.

For those of you who doubted my abilities and said it couldn’t be done, now is the time I can gladly say, “I told you I could!” Not only am I a Spartan, I am the first ever paralyzed Spartan in history.

What’s your excuse? Sign up TODAY.

Tags: , , , , ,

by Michael Mills

It seems like yesterday I started my journey to Sparta. Last August I made the decision to sign up and compete in my first ever Spartan Race in Conyers, GA on March 9th, 2013. I remember being scared to hit the payment button. I knew if I did it, there would be no turning back. The thought of doing something I have never done before terrified me, but at the same time I was excited to embark on a new adventure for disabled sports. For the last 20 years I have overcome so much and experienced some difficult times and I look at it as what has prepared me for this year.

Last year, I had a long conversation with Tiffany (my wife) about my goals and what I wanted to accomplish for 2013. As my biggest supporter she backed me up and said she would be there every step of the way. I knew right then I did not need any more encouragement.

Since I started training for the Spartan Race, I have found something deep inside of me that I really didn’t know I had. It was an even stronger willpower and determination. It has fueled me to get up and train before work, work an eight hour day, come home, be a husband and a father to my family, and then go back out to train again for another workout session.

I have had a goal in mind and resolve if firm. I will cross the finish line and become a Spartan. Through my training, I realize how much I’ve changed and grown. I started seeing obstacles in my way that before I would have avoided. NOT NOW! I hit every one of them head on. I see something that looks difficult and I want to do it. My fear is leaving me, anxiety is turning to excitement and I know that this is year for me to do amazing things for myself and for the disabled community.

On February 9th I set out to be the first ever paralyzed person to climb Stone Mountain, in Stone Mountain GA. I started the climb with some already amazing Spartan athletes but no one stood out more to me than my friend and Spartan Chris Davis. When I found out Chris was coming, I was ecstatic. I was going to get to finally meet him. The climb didn’t intimidate me but he did.

Chris Davis accomplished some major goals while living in Pittsfield, VT at Spartan HQ. He is known by everyone in the Spartan world for his weight loss success and now he was coming to climb Stone Mountain with me. Chris showed up with a 110lbs strapped to his back and he said he was not going to leave my side. Chris and I were side by side and we climbed the entire mountain together. Once I reached the top, Chris looked at me and told me how proud he was of me. The climb took four hours, me crawling on my hands and knees. I conquered Stone Mountain with some amazing people that day and I will never forget it.

That climb up Stone Mountain prepared me for my first Spartan Sprint on March 9. I am ready. I am ready to tackle the barbed wire, big heavy tractor tires, ropes, walls and even the fire at the end. I have no doubt that with the help from my team, we will be able to overcome every obstacle just like I have in my life for the last 20 years.

Bring it on, Georgia. I am ready for you. My team and I will reach our goal and by the end of that day I will be able to call myself a true Spartan.

[Editor's Note: Michael Mills  is a T12 paraplegic, the victim of a head on collision with a drunk driver in 1993 and though he’s been tackling wheelchair racing since 1996, competing in over 160 road and track races in the twelve years since, even representing the United States three separate times, he saw the Spartan Race series and realized it was the next challenge he wanted.  He'll be doing the Georgia Spartan Sprint on 3/9/13.  Want to stay tuned in to Michael’s journey? He’ll be regularly posting his story and training on our blog in a series we’ll be calling “Chasing Michael Mills.” Follow his Facebook page. Want to support his cause? Check out Spartan Sprint for Berts Big Adventure | Michael Mills’ Fundraiser on CrowdRise]

Tags: , , , ,