Bryce Amdur served the Army for almost 5 years. Sadly, in February 2013, he was medically discharged at 30% disability. A year before he was released, he was battling pain and, in his own words, “inabilities to be a soldier”. A depression hit him hard because he thought he wasn’t a worthy soldier any more.

“I loved being a soldier and I loved serving my country”, explains Bryce. “I went to Iraq in 2010 where I was a 15 Romeo which is an Apache attack helicopter mechanic. I was also the DART – downed aircraft mechanic – team leader while detached from my unit in southern Iraq. After Iraq I had started dealing with back, neck and left shoulder pain. I had come to find out that my spine had deteriorated disks in C2-C5, which was causing my left trapezes to not sit right. I also was dealing with PTSD. I did pain therapy, PT, while also receiving 2 spinal taps and steroids put directly into my spine. Some days it would get as bad as not being able to walk.”

As he was preparing to become medically discharged from the military his wife was having difficulty dealing with the depression and the PTSD that Bryce was suffering from. She had just started working for the police department as a dispatcher.

One fateful night, Bryce reached arguably the darkest moment in his life. “I had my pistol against my head with the safety off and ready to go. The only thing that kept me from my own death was my son Ryan. I knew I couldn’t let him live without a father. I called my wife at work.”

Bryce’s wife came home with a police escort and took their son. Next day he was served with restraining order as well as an order to exit his house he had bought only 3 months earlier within 24 hours.

“I served the last months of my Army carrier homeless. As soon as I was released, I had nowhere to go but back to California. I drove like a bat out of hell from Kansas to California. I arrived at my parent’s house 27 hours after I was released in Kansas. We finalized the divorce where she would receive everything, including the custody of my son and our home with me having visitation, as well as receiving all the debt from the marriage. Needless to say I filed for bankruptcy at the early age of 25. As I am still considered homeless by the VA, I am back living at my parents.”

Bryce continued along the path of taking care of himself because of the burning passion in his veins for his son Ryan. He pulled himself out of depression by surfing for 4 straight months.

“Every week I have to see a chiropractor in order to function somewhat normal. After 2 years had passed of pain and depression, I am finally able to prove to myself…that I won’t allow the war or any other life altering event effect my emotions and my outlook on life.”

Now free of the depression that haunted him, he has set a goal in coming back from injury and defeating the demons that plagued him.

“My goal of the Trifecta this year is my finish line in coming back from my injury. Crossing that finish line at Temecula meant more to me than anyone could believe. The tears I shed are for all the soldiers who have been injured or killed. It was all I could think about that after all the hell I’ve been through. I beat all the odds stacked up against me and crossed that finish line. I dropped to the ground in tears not just from the pain in my neck and back, but from the feeling that I would live again.  I completed the Spartan Sprint this January and am signed up for the beast in Monterey.”

It was along the way that Bryce found an outlet. A channel through which he could direct the pain and misery away that was hanging over him like a malevolent blanket of misery. Comedy turned out to be his savior.

“I ended up picking up comedy as a release and now I’m an up and coming comedian. I feel that laughter is the last true happiness left on earth.”

“For my entire life, everyone said I should be a comedian because I was funny and had good characteristics to do so. After I had lost everything I began writing comedy to kind of cheer myself up. It wasn’t till this year that I took off with my comedy and began performing at open mike nights. It’s all still new to me, but I have been writing for over a year and now it’s time to put it all out there for the world. It just makes me feel so good to bring so much joy to the audience.”

Even under impossible odds, Bryce knew what it meant to fight back and truly understand what it means when we say that you’ll know at the finish line.

Will you? Sign up today at spartanrace.com for your next Spartan race.

If you feel like you could use some help in your life when it comes to the issues that Bryce experienced, here are some links that may be of some help to you.

http://www.adaa.org/
http://www.samaritansusa.org/
http://www.afsp.org/local-chapters

Tags: , ,

by Leslie St. Louis, Elite Spartan Athlete

The Colorado Military Sprint is coming to Fort Carson Army Base May 4th and 5th and expect a race like no other! It has a unique finisher medal and shirt, as well as its own rules and rankings. If last year’s nearly five-mile-length inaugural event is any indication, it will be longer than an average Sprint and obstacle-heavy, including Spartan favorites, such as the spear throw, rope climb, monkey bars and traverse wall, as well as military-themed obstacles, such as The Weaver, barbed wire crawl with training guns and heavy rock carry with backpacks. Of course, expect the unexpected too, as there are sure to be plenty of new surprises from a collaboration of efforts from Spartan organizers and 4th Infantry and Specials Forces units!

All the top three women from last year’s Saturday Military Sprint are coming back again, including:

* 1st place finisher and Spartan Athlete April Luu, who has been on a winning streak this season and is currently second in Spartan Points overall right now, only six points behind Hobie Call

* 2nd place finisher Taryn Haas, who just raced in the Las Vegas Super, coming in 15th, but completing the loop THREE times for “training.”

* 3rd place finisher and Spartan Athlete Leslie St. Louis (that’s me). I came in second for 2012 Spartan Points and in the 2013 SoCal Super and will be racing for the first time after recovering from a foot injury.

Not to mention, two of the top three women from last year’s Sunday race will be returning, including Spartan Athlete Corinne Kohlen, who took 1st last year and has already raced eight events this season, and Spartan veteran Sue Luck, who took 3rd last year and comes to Colorado having raced nine events this 2013 season.

Other women to watch are Spartan Athlete Andi Hardy, who made a strong showing in her first event post injury at the Indiana Sprint last weekend and Tonya Graham Stogsdill, who took 3rd in Indiana.

Look forward to an exciting match-up on the men’s side, too. Some of the Spartan veterans making a return appearance to Colorado include Joseph Kauder, Chris Obertlik, Chase Stewart and Spartan Athlete Shawn Feiock, who took 7th for 2012 points and has already made the podium twice in 2013.

Although these men will have familiarity of the location, each event is different and they will have tough competition from Spartan-sponsored racers Miguel Guillermo Medina and Elliott Megquier, who has made the podium eight out of 15 races this 2013 season, as well as Brian Hoover, LeEarl Rugland, Rob Michaud, Eric Hansen, Evan Williams, Joey Patrolia and Brad Fredricks.

Just like the obstacles though, there is always the possibility of a surprise. Ultra Racer Tyler Tomasello and Professional Xterra Triathlete Cody Waite are just two of the athletes racing Saturday who may fare well in their first ever obstacle event.

Finally, amid the army base setting there will be awesome stories of personal and group triumph, including the Project Sanctuary Team that will be racing at 10:30 on Saturday and include a combination of active military members and veterans as well.

There are more than 7000 participants expected at this unique and sure-to-be epic event. Are you one of them? If not, sign up or start planning now to head west next year!

Connect with Colorado racers and read more about what to expect at the Military Sprint as well profiles on many of these athletes on the website and facebook page, Colorado Obstacle Racers. https://www.facebook.com/ColoradoObstacleRacersPage#!/ColoradoObstacleRacersPage

Or http://www.coloradoobstacleracers.com/

Tags: , , , , , , ,