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.

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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]

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by Chris Davis, re-printed from Project Chris Davis

With the Georgia Sprint fast approaching March 9, T-12 paraplegic Michael Mills is putting in a lot of work to get prepared to take on the course on his hands and knees.  This past weekend, he took on Stone Mountain to prove he was Spartan Tough for his upcoming challenge.


Saturday I watched Michael Mills from Chasing Spartan Michael Mills fight though the pain and climb Stone Mountain on his hands and knees.  He asked each of us that joined him to challenge our self in our own way.  So I chose to carry 100lbs of 1 inch think steel plates.The plan was to start our adventure at 7:30 am, in the parking lot at the head of the walk up trail.  It was very cold almost freezing, and I started to have flashbacks to my experience during the Vermont Beast.  I had the same scared but excited feeling in my stomach as I had on that cold morning in Vermont.  It got so bad that I started to second guess my ability to complete this challenge, and that is when I saw on Facebook that Michael had like my comment about bringing the 100lbs and I knew, that there was no way for me to lower the weight to something more do able like 60lbs.  So I took in a deep breath and decided at that moment, no mater what I was going find a way to get to the top with all 100lbs.

When Michael arrived, I knew that I had made the right choice in not going to the Arizona  for the Spartan Race.  It was a strange feeling, but I just knew I was at the right place at the right time.  I knew that today was going to be one of though days that changes the way you look at the world.   Everyone gathered in the parking lot and we headed out a little before 8 am.  Michael, started out the adventure in his wheel chair, but it was notStart long when he decided to get out of it and continued the long journey on his hands and knees.  I have climbed Stone Mountain and have seen what it can do to people that are in relative good shape, but I could not imagine trying to climb the hole thing in your hands and knees.  It was a slow, but steady climb, Michael, was like the energizer bunny, he just keep going and going. By 11:30 we had made it over half way up and we were facing the most difficult part of the climb.  This part of the climb is so steep that they have to put in two hand rails to help people climb up this part of the trail.   For me this is a very scary part of the trail.   The first time I climbed Stone Mountain, back in 2011, I fell twice trying to climb up this part of the trail.   I know a lot has changed since then, but I keep having visions of me falling, and getting crushed by my backpack.  Let be honest, steel plates to not have a lot of give in them.  Half_Way_Up_The_RailsBut the sight of this part did phase him, he just took it in stride, and keep on going. Before I knew it were we half way up.  You could tell that his arms were killing him, but he never gave up and a few minutes later we were at the top of the steepest segment of the climb.  But the climb is not over in fact this is where you have to dig deep, because you are not at the top, not even closeTop_of_the_Rails.  We took a few minutes to recover and take in the incredible of Downtown Atlanta before counting up to the top.  We arrived at the top around 12:40 pm,  four hours after we started, to put this in perspective, the first time I climbed stone mountain, it took me three an half hours, and I was The_Finish_Linewalking.  The fact that Michael made it up in just four hours to me is incredible!   You could tell that he was exhausted, but it did not stop him from celebrating and taking some time to reflect on what he had just done.   He was on the top of Stone Mountain, and he had climbed up there on his hands and knees.  I think that is when he relied that if he could do this, there is nothing that he couldn’t do!   After taking photo with everyone we sat around and relaxed for a few.  After everyone relaxed, and started to regroup, we all realized that we were only half way done.   Chasing_Michae_Mills_vs_Stone MountainSo we started are way back down.  This went a lot faster, especially once we got past the steep part, and Michael, climbed back into his wheelchair.  I can not tell you how cool it was to see him doing jumps over rocks, and having a great time taking his new wheelchair though it’s paces. We were about 3/4 of the way down, and I was taking a break, when I saw a father reach over to his young daughter.

He then keeled down and said, look over there as he pointed to Michael, and said “Never say you can’t do anything, there is proof that anything is possible!”   When I heard that, it made me think, we came to the mountain to challenge ourselves and in doing this we may have inspired others on the mountain to do something they thought was impossible. I know that I will remember this day for the rest of my life.  Thank you Michael Mills for sharing this great adventure with me!

Michel’s next adventure will be at our Reebok Spartan Georgia Sprint Match 9, 2013.  To join him, register HERE.

[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]

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