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Double amputee completes gruelling endurance challenge
A SOLDIER who lost both his legs in an explosion, crawled through mud and leapt over a fire as he completed a punishing endurance challenge today.
Thousands of onlookers gave Lance Bombardier James Simpson a standing ovation as he crossed the finish line of the gruelling Spartan Race, held at Ellington Banks, just outside Ripon, North Yorkshire today (Sunday, Sept 8).
He had been returning from a foot patrol in Helmand when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. The blast meant both his legs had to be amputated above the knee and also damaged both his arms.
But today he made sporting history by being the first double amputee to complete the punishing course.
It involved four miles and 25 challenges, including crawling under barbed wire through thick mud, a 25ft rope climb, running with sandbags and a fire leap.
He completed the course in four hours and as he wearily crossed the finish line his family rushed to hug him and spectators rose to their feet.
“It was just something I wanted to prove to myself to see if I could do it, to see if I could finish it – in that respect I did it for the same reason as everyone else,” he said.
“The mud and the hills were quite intense. The mud was really draining. Perhaps the hardest part was carrying sandbags uphill.
“I didn’t even notice people were waiting for me at the finish. I was so focused on getting up that last slope and down that ramp I didn’t realise there was such a welcome for me at the end.”
He used a combination of his running blades – shortened versions of those used by Paralympic track athletes and what he calls his “stubbies” small pads that fit on the bottom of his thighs.
Like all the other competitors, he had no indication of what obstacles he would meet and had to devise a method for overcoming each one as he went round the course.
The military-style Spartan Race was devised by former Royal Marine Commando, Richard Lee, 31 and is designed to test mental toughness as well as physical stamina.
Mr Lee chose the North Yorkshire location for his race after visiting the area whilst on exercise with the Royal Marines. After starting up the venture in 2010, he now runs Spartan races in 15 countries worldwide.
He said: “Our mission statement is “overcoming obstacles”; I think what he has done really represents what we stand for. All the staff were cheering him on.”
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