HEYBURN — A car crash 11 years ago left Terry Lamb’s face smashed and his body broken.
Lamb, now of Heyburn, spent 21 days on life support with numerous injuries that included internal bleeding, a head injury, massive facial fractures, a broken neck and lower back vertebra, cracked ribs and a compressed lung. Bones all over his body had hairline fractures, and he lost sight in his left eye.
“The doctors told me I’d likely be in a wheelchair by the time I was 26,” Lamb said. He’s now 29 years old, still wheelchair-free.
Instead, he’s competing in some of the most grueling obstacle course races around, and Spartan Races Inc. has hired him to build their courses and serve as the company’s field crew lead.
The job means he gets to travel the country and possibly overseas in the future.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Lamb said. “There are days where I have a lot of pain. But some people are paralyzed, and they don’t get the luxury of feeling anything, not even pain.”
Instead of letting his physical discomfort overwhelm him, it amplifies his desire to move past it and spread a message of hope.
“I try to give 110 percent with everything I do, because tomorrow is never guaranteed,” Lamb said.
Life turns on a dime
Fresh out of high school, Lamb, who lived in California at the time, was broadsided by a pickup truck going 70 mph. His car caught fire, and he was trapped.
Lying unresponsive in the crumpled vehicle, passerby covered him with a sheet until first responders could untangle the wreckage.
The sheet saved him from the ensuing inferno that would have added seared flesh to his long injury list.
He awoke as emergency crews were working to cut the car away from his body.
“I realized how bad it was and tried to stay calm,” he said. “There was blood everywhere, but I was the only one in the car.”
Over the next two years, he underwent 11 facial surgeries and four full facial reconstructions.
After his accident, people would sometimes belittle his appearance and make fun of his lack of depth perception, which caused him to occasionally knock over objects.
Rheumatoid arthritis started to settle into his joints in the years following. Horrendous migraine headaches lingered, and the multiple healed bones began to ache.
Lamb continued to drink alcohol and struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
His turning point came when he decided to clean up his life. Now 22 months sober, he uses yoga to maintain flexibility and found that a healthy diet did wonders for helping his body function smoothly.
“The accident gave me more confidence and a reason to be here,” he said. “It made me want to do things bigger and better.”
On June 17, Lamb competed in his first Spartan Race, and has raced in a total of nine competitions this year. He was awarded the coveted Spartan Trifecta award for completing all three races, the Sprint, Super and Beast, in one year. The Sprint includes a distance of at least three miles and up to 23 obstacles, while the Beast lives up to its name with 30 or more obstacles on a course of 12 miles or more. The Super includes a distance of at least eight miles and 25 or more obstacles. He missed earning his second Trifecta by one race.
One of the races was the world championship at Lake Tahoe, a 17-mile course with 38 obstacles. Lamb took 34th place out of 4,700 competitors.
Lamb also spearheaded a Spartan training group of 15 athletes called The Outlaws, which crosses all socio-economic, ethnic and age boundaries.
“You are never too old. It’s never too late, you can always make better choices,” Lamb said.
The group has performed myriad acts of kindness, including donating turkeys and painting people’s houses.
Outlaw member Manuel Morales of Burley has been competing in Spartan Races for five years.
“I take the time every day to encourage people,” he said. “I have it in my heart to be like that.”
His connection with Lamb was instantaneous.
Morales first noticed Lamb while he was training at Budge Field in Burley, and he was inspired by Lamb’s work ethic.
Lamb said their goal is to be a positive influence in the community.
“You never know who needs what you’re going to say today,” Lamb said. “You can change a life.”
Lamb’s dream one day is to open an obstacle gym in Mini-Cassia and encourage people to challenge themselves.
“I try to carry a strong message for anyone who is struggling,” he said.