Two ex-Army amputees from Leeds will show “awe-inspiring” courage in the face of adversity when they tackle a gruelling obstacle race next month.
James Simpson, 28, from Rawdon, and Jake Bartlett, 23, from Pudsey, are both competing in an event called the Spartan Sprint in Edinburgh on September 21.
They will be joined by another ex-Army amputee, 26-year-old Stevie Richardson, from Scotland, in a race over 15 obstacles across five kilometres of rolling countryside.
All three men lost legs in Afghanistan, with James and Stevie wearing ‘stubbie’ prosthetic feet for next month’s event.
James completed three Spartan races last year with the help of able-bodied friends but knows taking part in a team with other amputees will mean a whole new set of challenges.
He said: “The monkey bars – we can’t reach them because we are so small on our stubbies – so the challenge is going to be quite interesting, but I have been through them all before so hopefully I will be able to get all that into practice.
“It’s pretty tricky, it takes a big toll on the body even without the obstacles because if the ground’s undulating you are on all fours climbing because you don’t have the knees to move you around.
“It’s quite psychological because you might not have an obstacle for a mile and you are trudging along, not running.
“But if you’re with decent people, you can talk away, have a laugh and give each other some stick.”
Jake said: “It’s going to be tough, but if we can’t get around it we will find a way to get over it together. We are putting a lot of hard work in.”
Jake is raising money for Pilgrim Bandits, a charity where ex-Special Forces personnel accompany injured servicemen on challenges.
He also hopes to inspire others to push themselves to the limit, saying: “If we can do it – three amputees – there’s no excuse.”
One of the team’s latest training sessions was held at the CrossFit gym in Leeds under the watchful eye of Spartan Racing UK director Dan Tuffnell.
He said: “These guys are an absolute inspiration to us all. They have dedicated their lives to this country and it is an honour to put on this event. It’s awe-inspiring for me.”
Spartan races, named after the fearless Ancient Greek fighters, are designed to help athletes find their “inner warrior”.