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?