About six months ago a good friend of mine, Chuck McGinnis a former US Marine, asked me to join him and several other men in the Tough Mudder cross-fit event in Amherst, MI on April 14th, 2012. When I first checked out the website, I thought to myself, “Cool, but I’m not much of a runner.” However, after realizing this was a 12-mile obstacle course, it drew me in like 10-year boy wanting to play in the mud. With still being an avid hockey player and a former bodybuilder, even at 47 I thought it would be great fun. However, after a deeper dive of the videos the course did have several claustrophobic tunnel and water obstacles that I thought might be an issue.
Team H20 – Tough Mudder
Now the interesting part of this story is that Chuck and the other men were a part of a Christian organization called H20 Adventure Ministries ran by Mike Tison, and NO not the Boxer. So being a follower of Christ really solidified my decision to do it for a better reason other than just self- gratitude. Even though the event was for a good cause “Wounded Warrior Project”, our goal was to be a light and approach the event as a Christian team with shirts that read Phil 4:13 “I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me.”
So right now, you might be thinking this sounds really warm and cuddly doesn’t it, a bunch of Goody-Two-Shoes Christians trying to be the light. Well anyone that knows me knows I’m not the Goody Two Shoes type and with God nothing ever goes as planned.
Actually what happened was definitely not in my plans, so please keep reading!
Tough Mudder: Saturday April 14th, 2012 10:00AM start. – Weather: Brutal 50F
If your not familiar with Tough Mudder, it is a 12-Mile Obstacle course designed by British Special Forces, so at the starting line they were flying both British and American Flags. This quickly caught my attention, and in less than a second I thought about being born in England, moving to Canada at 10, then the USA at 30, and finally standing there at that spot at 47. It was like God was showing me how far he had already brought me. That thought combined with the energy of the other Mudders was so incredible that I was pumped to go.
The first 6 miles were fairly grueling, cold but tolerable. We had jumped off a 25-30ft platform into a freezing cold dirty gravel pit, waded through swamps, climbed walls, ran through fire, got shocked by 10,000 volts while in water, among many other things. I still felt strong and confident because I knew the upper body obstacles were coming up and I believed that was my strength. I remember coming up to the monkey bars at the 6-mile half point and thinking, “finally I going to be able to use my upper body strength.” After watching pretty much everyone go a couple rungs and slip into the water, I saw a young guy grab a hold of the wood frame on the outside where it was not slippery. In a split second I decided that would be the plan. So grabbed the wood and starting moving forward thinking to myself, “this is easy.” Then at that exact second I felt and heard a cracking noise from what I thought was the wood above. Puzzled I moved forward and then I heard a large snap and realized it wasn’t the wood making the noise it was my left arm. Knowing that something bad had happened I dropped into the water below and waded / swam to other side.
Being the first of my team to go over this obstacle I had time to analyze the damage to my arm while waiting for others to come across. I remember looking at Chuck and the others saying, “I ripped my bicep off the bone.” They wanted me to got directly to First Aid and I even remember looking over at the First Aid vehicle. Then right at that moment I started shivering, going cold and obviously into shock because of the pain combined with being soaking wet.
Stephen Sadler’s Bicep Tear
Somehow I was reminded why I was doing the event, Phil 4:13, ”I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me,” and I started to pray. Within seconds the chills seemed to subside and heard God telling me that he would carry me. With being bent over I looked up and told the guy’s “I want to finish.” I don’t really remember much of the last 6 miles but what I do know is that God did carry me over the remaining upper body obstacles even though I could only use one arm. He also carried two of my other teammates who experienced serious knee and hip problems. We actually crossed the finish line together in the true meaning of Phil 4:13.
In retrospect, if I would have completed Tough Mudder under my own strength it would of been a shallow victory, and would have been all about me and my physical strength and conditioning. But when the creator of the Universe carries you, the victory is deep and life changing.
But the story doesn’t even end here…
After being seen in ER the following Sunday, I had an MRI which confirmed the obvious, that I needed surgery to reattach the bicep or I would never have any torsional strength in my left arm, by the way I’m left handed. So obviously, I needed a surgeon and Dr. Kyle Anderson of Michigan Orthopaedic Institute popped into my head from many years ago. Herman Moore, a good friend who played for the Detroit Lions introduced me to Dr. Anderson so I knew he was a good surgeon. However, I had no idea what type of injurys he practiced on, or even if they could get me in fast enough, for I only had a 2 week window.
Steve Sadler after Surgery at Beaumont
Through the grace of God my wife Laurie called and got an appointment the next day. While in the appointment and being examined by Dr. Anderson his office received a cancelation for a surgery spot the very next day. On April 26, 2012, Dr. Kyle Anderson performed successful surgery on my arm and I am already typing
By the way, did I say the people at Michigan Orthopaedic Institute are awesome, well they are, caring and professional I don’t want to forget Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital either, also awesome.
My experiences at Tough Mudder combined with my injury are still NOTHING compared to what our troops past and present endure for our freedom. This entire experience was definitely an affirmation of my faith and I can confidently say God is always there to carry you.
The question is will you let him!