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Year of the Adaptive Athlete  

Published by Spartan Race on Fri, 2014/12/26 - 01:00

Year of the Adaptive Athlete

Written By: Spartan Adaptive Pro Michael Mills

Michael Mills

Some use crutches, some use wheelchairs and others have to use prosthetic legs but we all have one goal in common. That goal, is to be recognized as athletes. To me, 2014 has been the Year of the Adaptive Athlete. Last year many adaptive athletes busted onto the Spartan scene in their own way and we kind of did our own thing, but this year, we all banded together and worked for that one common goal. We all get into Spartan races for many different reasons. Some, to get into better shape, others, to prove to yourself that you can accomplish the course. Of course, you have the ones that want that coveted TRIFECTA, too. Adaptive athletes are no different. We all love the challenge and we all love the fact that we are doing something that many people with disabilities see as impossible. We are here on the battlefield of Sparta screaming "IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE!"

When I set out to do my first Reebok Spartan Race in Atlanta, Ga in 2013, I was afraid. I was afraid of new things. I was so used to only doing the things that were repetitive to my life that I knew I could do. I was not willing to try new things. I was afraid of failure. I finished my first Spartan Sprint and I had no desire to do another. I had proven to myself that I could do it. I was alive again and that was just what I needed to attack life, once again. Shortly after I completed my Sprint, there were murmurs of me being carried and that I did not complete the whole thing. Well, that lit a fire under me and again I was out to prove myself to the world. Fast forward to today. I have completed all Spartan Races to earn my first ever TRIFECTA. I worked hard along with my teammates, the DIRTBAGS and along with MORE HEART THAN SCARS to achieve a goal, and that was to earn a TRIFECTA medal and to help change the world, one obstacle at a time.

There are many more adaptive athletes that complete Spartan Races as well. Each and every one of them has their own unique story as to why they started and why they keep going SPARTAN STRONG! Let me tell you about a few of the adaptive athletes, that I know, who killed it out there this year.

Misty Diaz

Misty Diaz is an athlete with spina bifida who in spite of having 28 operations, refuses to back down from getting around on her hot pink crutches. Misty started running April 21, 2012 and started with a small 5k, then progressed to 10k’s . She has accomplished over 60 races since including Spartan. Her first one was December 06, 2013, since then she has ran over 14 Spartan races including the Hawaii trifecta weekend where she accomplished all three races in two days. She will earn a total of five trifectas as of Jan. 2015. She also works with kids and encourages others to Never Give Up. She lives by the mantra that anything is possible. In the future Misty will participate in an upcoming 24 hour race this December 13,2014 in Altadena Cali followed by a 30 hour race in 2015. Misty is a true Spartan.

Tim Morris has different circumstances that placed him into the adaptive athlete category. Tim was in a horrible car crash where he flipped his Grand Cherokee in 2007 and was thrown from the moon roof, he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. The Jeep then rolled over his body, breaking his neck, back, shoulder, and all his ribs which punctured both lungs. He was forced to battle near-fatal pneumonia and a (T4) spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the chest down. He was on life-support for three days and in a medically-induced coma for about a month. Prior to his injury, he was a 26 year old P.E. Teacher and personal trainer living life but not really living life. He states, "I was a good dude but didn’t really value precious relationships and opportunities. After waking up from my coma, I woke up; I realized how amazing life is and knew that I was facing an uphill battle, personally and professionally. This perspective extended to every aspect of my life, and I have since become a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, motivational speaker, life coach, and most recently, Spartan SGX Coach."

Tim, Joe, and Tony after doing a wheel barrel climb up the stairs of Fenway Park.

Tim was introduced to Reebok Spartan Race through a good friend and the founder of NextStep Fitness, Janne Kouri. NextStep Fitness is a recovery facility in Los Angeles for people battling mobility complications. In his first race, the World Championship Beast in Killington, VT (go big or go home), Tim fell flat on his face: 4 miles in 9 hours. Most of his crew got turned off from OCR, but a few of them were turned on. “I don’t do losing and neither do my new Team Believe teammates (selfless, amazing crew mainly from New Jersey)". This year is his first full year of Spartan Racing. "Team Believe and I completed a Double Trifecta, which culminated at the Fenway Park Sprint with me wheel barreling the entire course on my hands, including obstacles, without the use of a wheelchair. That was an absolutely wild experience, and I look forward to what’s coming down the pipe for 2015". At the start line, Spartan Founder, Joe De Sena and Hurricane Heat Director, Tony Matesi, joined Tim for the climb up four flights of stairs. Joe was quoted saying, “that wrecks your core” with Tony responding, “I don’t think I could do the whole race like that”. For most of us, OCR represents possibilities. It is an outlet to show people that you can do whatever you put your mind to if you want something bad enough. If you want it, just go get it. AROO!

There have been more and more adaptive athletes coming out and proving they can overcome the impossible. If you ask me, this year has been the Year Of The Adaptive Athlete. We have all worked hard and we have all reached our own specific goals. Each and every single one of us has a unique story. We all have challenges and we all have obstacles to overcome in life. One thing that stands true amongst us all is, WE ARE SPARTANS & WE ARE SPARTAN STRONG!

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