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.