No quit in Death Race com­peti­tor

The Covington News - - SPORTS - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­news.com

Michael Mills wanted a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, so he de­cided to en­ter the Spar­tan Death Race.

The race held in Pitts­field, Vt., on June 21 tests both phys­i­cal and men­tal stamina in a se­ries of ob­sta­cle and timed events, tests Mills was able to face.

Mills was the first par­a­lyzed par­tic­i­pant of the Spar­tan Death Race, and al­though he didn’t fin­ish, he didn’t quit, ei­ther.

The Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent lasted more than 24 hours (the event has no timed fin­ish; it is over when a per­cent­age of rac­ers are left stand­ing) and was cut when he didn’t make a time qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

Mills was the 20th per­son to get cut out of 194 rac­ers who started at 5 a.m. the morn­ing of June 21.

“I said from the be­gin­ning that I wasn’t go­ing to quit and I didn’t,” said Mills to the Spar­tan Blog on blog.spar­tan­race.com. “I showed ev­ery­one out on that course that I was not go­ing to go down with­out a fight and that they had to ei­ther carry me out or cut me.”

Mills was left par­a­lyzed from the waist down af­ter a car ac­ci­dent with a drunk driver 20 years ago. Since then, he has lived his life, push­ing the lim­its and con­stantly chal­leng­ing him­self, en­ter­ing 5Ks, 10Ks, ob­sta­cle cour­ses and Spar­tan chal­lenges. The Spar­tan Death Race was the ul­ti­mate test for him to con­tinue to chal­lenge him­self.

While per­form­ing the chal­lenge, he learned he had even more de­ter­mi­na­tion than has car­ried him through life with­out the use of his legs, and in re­cov­ery from the near-fa­tal wreck that changed his life.

“I learned that I had more fight in me than I thought I did,” Mills said on the Spar­tan blog. “I found my­self even more of a man than I thought I was out there on the moun­tains of Ver­mont. I found a deeper soul there as well.”

Mills pre­pared for the Spar­tan Death Race by climb­ing Stone Moun­tain, train­ing al­most around the clock, crawl­ing into the woods, chop­ping wood and car­ry­ing it around a 3-mile course on his wheel­chair.

All the train­ing didn’t amount to a cov­eted Spar­tan hel­met, but it did keep him from quit­ting, some­thing that will carry him to his next race and chal­lenge.

Marion Abrams, Peak Races, sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Michael Mills was the 20th per­son out of the Spar­tan Death Race, started by 194 peo­ple on June 21, but did not quit. Mills was forced out of the race by a time qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

Marion Abrams, Peak Races sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Michael Mills was left par­a­lyzed from the waist down af­ter a car ac­ci­dent 20 years ago.

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