Greenwood woman overcomes obstacles to compete at national level

Brooke Van Paris represented the United States at the world championships in obstacle course racing in her first year competing. (Photo courtesy: Brooke Van Paris)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Greenwood native will represent Indiana at the United States Obstacle Course Racing Championships this weekend.

Brooke Van Paris has become a world-renowned athlete after competing in obstacle courses internationally and staring on John Cena’s reality TV show American Grit. She’s beautiful, motivated and fit, but says it wasn’t too long ago that she was considered a disabled dependent after a life-altering accident.

“I never thought and I don’t think my parents thought at 27 years old, their daughter would be playing in the mud every weekend,”

Van Paris takes on obstacle course races with a fiery motivation. She’s even been dubbed ‘Beast Mode Barbie’ in the mud runner circuit.

“I was embarassed of it at first, but I’ve embraced it since,” Van Paris said.

It’s a sport where grit and grip close the gap between you and the finish line, but six years ago, Brooke couldn’t even hold a pencil.

“I was involved in a head-on car accident,” Van Paris said. “The airbag shattered both my hands… It was never supposed to be a two-year journey.”

From 2009 to 2011, Brooke had to be fed, bathed, even taken to the bathroom by her father as the two worked together to finish her degree at Indiana University.

“I felt like everything had been taken away from me at that moment,”

The fire once inside this top-notch athlete dimmed, but it wasn’t extinguished. That’s when a friend talked her into her first obtacle course race.

“I loved it. It was probably one of the hardest things I had ever done at the time,” Van Paris said. “Over the next nine months, I completed 48 obstacle course races. I lost 40 pounds and I represented the United States in my first year, ranking in the top 20 percent in the world.”

Now she’s taking on the best of the best in the obstacle course world and helping others reach their fitness goals at Indy’s Hoffacker Health and Fitness.

“At these world championship level races, you don’t know what the obstacles are until you get there. until you run up on the obstacle. So you don’t know what to do, you kind of have that pivot point,” Van Paris said. “I want to keep evolving and pushing myself. I think the body is an amazing machine. It’s adaptable to any stimulus that we put it through.”

Brooke Van Paris will compete Sunday, Sept. 3 in the United States Obstacle Course Racing Championships in Texas.