A soldier who lost both legs in an explosion in Afghanistan completed one of the UK’s toughest sporting events today – accompanied on part of the course by his pet dog who is a fellow amputee.
The Spartan Race took place in the grounds of the hospitality venue Winton House, near Pencaitland in East Lothian, and attracted more than 2,500 participants and a massive crowd of spectators. Winton runs a wide range of entertaining and team-building activities.
Private Stevie Richardson, from Tranent, East Lothian, took 4hrs 10mins to finish the 5km, cross-country Spartan obstacle race while his German Shepherd, Sable, ran alongside.
Richardson, 26, was on a routine patrol with his Battalion 1 Scots in 2010 when he was injured by an improvised explosive device.
Today he teamed up with two other amputees, James Simpson, 28, and Jake Bartlett, 23, both from Leeds, who completed the Spartan Race with him at Winton House near Edinburgh in Scotland.
The trio, who met at Headley Court rehabilitation centre in Oxfordshire, used prosthetic feet known as “stubbies” to complete the race, which included obstacles designed to test mental and physical toughness.
The competitors tackled 15-foot rope climbs, traversed monkey bars, climbed over walls, crawled under barbed wire, carried sandbags up steep hills and walked for hundreds of yards up the River Tyne. The finale involved carrying an Atlas ball, hauling a concrete-filled tyre, scaling a slippery seven-foot ramp and a leap through fire over blazing logs.
Reunited at the end of the race with Sable, a neglected dog who lost his front leg and was rescued from Edinburgh Dog and Cat home, Stevie said: “The race was awesome, everything I thought it was going to be and more.
“I trained for seven months for this and nothing was going to stop us. It was very exciting to take part.”
Stevie, who wears a long red beard, drew an ovation from the 3,000-strong crowd when he somersaulted through the fire jump. “It was the only way I could think of to protect my beard from catching fire,” he said afterwards. “I did actually trim it before the race and was hoping I’d get it wet before the fire. In the end, I just winged it and survived.”
Fellow amputee Jake Bartlett, who lost one leg and badly damaged the other when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan in 2009, said: “I raced in order to inspire other people and to prove to them that if amputees can do a Spartan race then they can do it, too.”
James Simpson, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, added: “We took it slowly. My advice to people at home is to give it a go. Challenging yourself is important because it lets you find out what you’re about inside, what you’re like as a person.”
Dan Tuffnell, Director of Spartan Race UK, praised the trio for their “great determination” and “amazing achievement”.
“In view of what they have been through and what they have done for their country, I feel very moved and also thrilled to bits for them individually for their amazing achievement,” he said.
“They have shown great determination. It’s been an honour for Spartan Race to have been able to put on the event for them and the 2,500 others who took part.”
There are more photos on Winton’s Facebook page.
Please credit photos: Epic Action Imagery
Notes for Editors
Winton House is a Scottish Renaissance castle in an inspiring setting just outside Edinburgh. Grand but welcoming and designed for entertaining royalty, Winton House hosts exclusive, bespoke corporate events, gala dinners, conferences, private parties and weddings.
A range of challenging and entertaining activities take place in the gardens and grounds, from clay pigeon shooting, miniature hovercraft and falconry, to Winton Laser Tag, the Winton Highland Games and whisky tasting. The Spartan Race was held at Winton this year after a successful debut in 2013.
More information is available from Christopher Lamotte (firstname.lastname@example.org or 01875 340222 or 07957 870071) or Sir Francis Ogilvy, owner of Winton House, on (email@example.com or 01875 340222).
More information on Spartan Race and the event at Winton can be obtained from Alec Lom on 07802401302.