Just when you think you're tough enough

Obstacle Race

Man sues Spartan Race after becoming quadripelagic

James Chapman became a quadripelagic after Spartan Race. (Monterey County Weekly)
James Chapman became a quadripelagic after Spartan Race. (Monterey County Weekly)

Most people sign up for an obstacle race like Spartan Race but never expect to get killed, severely injured or become quadripelagic.

James Chapman had newly graduated and was actively into CrossFit and wrestling, but little did he expect to face the challenge of his life in a Spartan Race. Chapman was competing in a Spartan Race in California, USA consisting of an 8-mile (13km) dash full of mud, water and obstacles.

Less than halfway, the 25-year-old came to the top of a 10-foot (3 meters) hill with a muddy pool of water at the bottom. It might have been the heat of the moment and the cheering of spectators when Chapman dove in head first.

However, Chapman didn’t realise that the pool was shallow, broke two vertebrae and leaving him permanently paralyzed from the neck down.

spartan race malaysia-Hair

Indeed, all participants must sign a waiver releasing liability from Spartan Race and its sponsors. However, there should be signs on how to tackle the obstacle or a warning for non-swimmers where relevant.

“These injuries happen quite often at these events and there is a responsibility for event coordinators to safeguard people from harm. I don’t think people are signing up for these races to get killed or injured,” says Mohammad “Mike” Kazerouni, Chapman’s attorney.

Kazerouni filed a lawsuit on Feb. 1 against Spartan Race; its sponsors, Reebok and NBC Universal; and Monterey County for the injuries Chapman sustained. Complaints include gross negligence, negligent hiring and dangerous condition of public property.

The suit, filed in Monterey County Superior Court, claims there was nothing identifying the hazards presented by many of the obstacles, specifically signs warning contestants not to dive into the shallow pool.


spartan race malaysia - obstacle

Another participant mentioned, “There’s no instruction on how to tackle obstacles. I can see why someone approaching a body of water would think they could just dive into it.”

A spokesperson for Spartan Race refused to comment on the Chapman case or, more generally, the dangers presented in their races.

Read more on Monterey County Weekly.