Amputee ex-soldier prepares for gruelling race

Steven Richardson, from Tranent. Picture: Epic Action Imagery
Steven Richardson, from Tranent. Picture: Epic Action Imagery
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A SOLDIER who lost both legs in an explosion in Afghanistan is part of the first team of ­injured servicemen set to leap over flaming logs as part of a gruelling race.

Private Steven Richardson, from Tranent, was on a routine patrol with his Battalion 1 Scots in 2010, when he was injured by an explosion.

When he woke up four days later in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, he was missing both legs and some of his fingers.

After an arduous recovery, the 26-year-old is now taking on a 5km Spartan Race at Winton House in Pencaitland tomorrow, alongside fellow amputees James Simpson, 28, and Jake Bartlett, 23, both from Leeds.

The trio, who met at Headley Court rehabilitation centre in Surrey, will use prosthetic feet known as ‘stubbies’, which 
are better for the race as they are shorter than regular false limbs.

Steven signed up last year after his friend James became the first double amputee to win a medal for completing three tough Spartan Race events.

He said: “It’s quite interesting being at Headley Court for a few weeks and seeing someone come in in a wheelchair, then later doing something like this with them. You never ­imagine that would be possible at the time.”

The tough race will involve a series of challenges, such as crawling through mud and barbed wire, tackling 15-foot rope climbs and carrying sandbags up steep hills.

Steven said: “A lot of it is stuff I had done before in my army days and it is great putting that sort of thing into practice. I ­definitely miss the army. It was the one thing I knew I wanted to do from a young age.”

But Steven has been determined to get on with his life, and has thrown himself into voluntary work as well as qualifying as a personal trainer.

He said: “Obviously you have good and bad days, but things like this Spartan Race are a great way for me to get back to the things I love, like being outside and working as a team.”

The highlight of the race is the fire obstacle, where participants have to throw themselves through a three-foot high pile of flaming logs.

He said: “I’m mainly worried about protecting my beard. I hope we will be sodden by the time we get there so we won’t catch fire.”

The team are the first amputees to take part in the UK, said Richard Pringle, Spartan Race UK operations director.

He said: “Steven is such a modest guy and he is incredible in the way he tackles the obstacles. Even with his disability and the things he deals with, mentally and physically he is completely equal to it.”

“What they are doing is amazing as they are going to be pushing each other on and helping each other over obstacles.

“That’s really special and that’s what we try to promote.”

Steven is no stranger to adventure as in 2012, he cycled 3051 miles across America in aid of Help for Heroes.