Monday, January 16, 2012

Tales From the Chicked: Ella Anne Kociuba

by Carrie Adams

Originally posted in the Spartan Race Blog.

At Spartan Race HQ we are lucky enough to receive inspiring stories from all over the world of athletes who have faced adversity only to come back stronger and more determined than ever.  I recently received this story about eighteen-year-old Ella Anne Kociuba and I knew her story would inspire.  After a horrific injury she has battled back and her story of triumph and success is one you won’t soon forget.  Here is her story in her own words. 

ella2My names Ella Anne Kociuba, I am eighteen years old and currently attending a community college in Austin, Texas. I have big plans for the future (I hope to one day be the image of Spartan Racing and become a professional athlete/writer).  I would like to explain my story to you so that those who are struggling can see the light in even the darkest of times.


Throughout my young life I have been faced with chronic pain that caused me to have a new outlook on everything.  It quickly challenged me with the worst, but slowly developed me into my best. For years doctors could not tell me what was wrong with me or why my body was failing me. I can not stress to you in a few words the pain I felt, the nights I did not rest, and the moments I missed out on due to an injury that nearly ended my athletic pursuits.

I've been a competitive horse-back rider since a little one, and when I was thirteenella1 years old I was seriously involved with endurance riding (25-50 Mile cross country horse races).  I trained hard but one day I suffered a horrible accident.  My horse spooked and threw me off its back and Ianded hard on the sharp rocks below knocking me unconscious.   I was broken and crippled.  Doctor’s informed me that I had broken the L4 and L5 vertebrae.  I was monumentally depressed at the bleak outlook.

It became an endless cycle of doctors, treatments, back braces, and medications.  Everything seemed hopeless. Nothing was helping and I knew I was progressively getting worse.  The pain was unbearable.  I couldn’t function.  But, finally, after six doctor’s a specialist informed me that it was possible I’d never walk again.  Performing an experimental surgery and nine hours later, six rods and four screws aligned in my spine I awoke a new person.

The journey from that wasn’t an easy one.  It took me a year to recover the precious strength I’d lost and be ready to think about competing in sports again; something I was told I’d never do.  This was a mere five years ago. 

Since that day, I’ve pushed hard always keeping my head forward, eyes up, and overcoming any challenge in front of me. Because I truly believe that you can do anything if you give it your everything.

ellaI recently did my first Super Spartan race in Glenn Rose, Texas.  I performed well and managed to come out as first female in my heat.  It was one of the happiest moments ever for me.  Not only had I completed the Super Spartan obstacle race, and won my heat, but I had fallen in love with the sport and proved myself worthy. I welcome all challenges and I will perform to the best of my ability to each and everyone of them.

The Spartan Race series has brought such happiness to my life, it's such a demanding sport that I have become so passionate about spreading the joy it gives you at the finish line. I hope to one day have a sponsorship and compete state to state in obstacle racing and help inspire others to never give up. If I had given up, I wouldn't be walking. If I had given up, I wouldn't be the person I am today. If I had given up, I wouldn't of found what I truly love to do. And that is, Spartan Races! AROO!