A soldier from Leeds who lost both legs in an explosion in Afghanistan made sporting history by finishing a gruelling event dubbed the ‘obstacle race from hell.’
Lance Bombardier James Simpson, 27, of Rawdon, became the first British double amputee to run a Spartan Race obstacle course when he completed the challenge in Ripon yesterday. (Sept 8)
He ran four miles in his short prosthetic legs – which he calls ‘stubbies’ – to tackle 25 obstacles including leaping over flaming logs, scaling 30ft high cargo nets, wading through muddy ditches and tunnel crawls.
After finishing the Spartan York Sprint course in just over four hours, Lce Bdr Simpson said: “It could have taken more than 10 hours, it was not the thing I was interested in. I just wanted to get to the end. I am exhausted.”
Thousands of spectators gave him a standing ovation as he crossed the finishing line at the Spartan Race – named after the fearless ancient Greek warriors.
Many able-bodied athletes did not manage to finish the open-country run, which also included ice-pit plunges and cargo-net climbs.
Lce Bdr Simpson said: “I did it because I wanted the challenge. I have never done anything like this before. I knew there would be a sense of achievement and if you train for something, it gives you something to focus on.
“I did not do it to break a record. I did it because I wanted to and hopefully it will encourage more people to do it and more amputees to try it in the future.”
Spartan Race organisers have described the course as ‘an event of pure, primitive craziness’ and the ‘obstacle race from hell.’ Lce Bdr Simpson trained for four months in woods near his home in Rawdon to preopare for the event.
He was serving with 5th Regiment, Royal Artillery when he stepped on an improvised explosive device as he returned from a foot patrol in Helmand. He lost both his legs above the knee and damaged both his arms in the blast in November 2009.