Nathan Connolly was born with Spina Bifida and doctors predicted he would never even walk. By the age of 10 he had summited Half Dome and other peaks. Now Nathan is competing to be the first adaptive athlete to make the Spartan Pro Team.

As recently as a year ago, Nathan thought that completing a Spartan race was beyond his capability and then found inspiration in Misty Diaz. Misty is an athlete who was born prematurely with the most serious form of Spina Bifida, but since 2012 has successfully completed more than 200 races and half marathons and holds 4 adaptive athlete records in Spartan racing.

In just his first year of Spartan obstacle course racing, Nathan is on track to complete more than 20 races – including the 13-mile Beast at Lake Tahoe where winter conditions knocked many pros out of the race and left Nathan hypothermic. To round out the 2019 race season, Nathan has ambitious goals remaining such as the 3-race weekend format at the Spartan Trifecta World Championship in Sparta, Greece and both the able-bodied and adaptive athlete races in Laughlin, Nevada.

“I have Spina Bifida, but it will never have me”

– Nathan Connolly

For all of the personal drive and ambition, Nathan is driven by a much bigger mission. He races to inspire others and to raise awareness of the opportunity for adaptive athletes in the sport of Spartan racing. At the same time that he is lobbying Spartan Race to expand the adaptive race category across the US and globally, Nathan works directly with individual athletes as a full-time Adaptive OCR Coach.

Our meeting Nathan and recording this episode were made possible by way of the Spartan Media Fest and its sponsor ATP science. Thank you Spartan Up podcast, ATP science, the Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe, and Joe DeSena for creating this environment to bring people together to learn and grow.


  • Going from 1st race to Pro Team ambition
  • Adaptive OCR coaching & awareness
  • Working with combat vets
  • Burpee world record attempt


Coach Nathan works with local adaptive and able-bodied athletes in the Los Angeles area, specializing in adaptive OCR athletes – ranging in skill and experience from beginner to expert – and includes training in both fitness and nutrition.

Nathan also has training programs available to distance clients, working remotely through virtual sessions and traveling as needed. He’s currently expanding a coaching presence through a new YouTube channel and you can keep up with Nathan’s race schedule and coaching tips via the Instagram link below.

In addition to his own coaching and racing, Nathan is actively involved with Merging Vets & Players – matching combat veterans with professional athletes to assist in veteran transition.


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