January 24, 2016

Day 24: Inspiring Stories from 5 Runners

As a follow-up to yesterday's post about doing hard things, I came across 5 very inspiring stories of marathon runners (1 from Arizona and 4 from Utah). Having always dreamed about running marathons myself, I was so impressed with each of their stories and I wanted to share them. Read below and draw motivation from their willingness to overcome challenges.

Mark Dangerfield at the Antarctica Marathon

Tests of Manhood

When Mark Dangerfield was in his 20s, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis—a chronic disease with no cure. As his condition worsened over the years, a colonoscopy revealed precancerous growths, and doctors recommended the entire colon be surgically removed. Following two complex operations in 1997, Mark made a gradual but full recovery that motivated him to remain physically active. “When I could finally get up and move again, oh, how wonderful that felt!” he recalls. “The experience planted in my heart a new appreciation for the simple joy of movement.” Not wanting to feel “over the hill,” Mark decided that to commemorate his 50th birthday, he would ride his bike 50 miles. Each year after that, he conducted a new “test of manhood” to prove to himself that he still had it. It led him at age 54 to his first marathon. And then another. And then the resolution to run a marathon in all 50 states and on every continent of the world. Read his story at LDSLiving.com


Linda and Phil Ambard family picture
Fighting Terrorists with Faith
 
It wasn’t her first marathon. And it wasn’t just a race. Linda Ambard, a native of Boise, who now lives in Acton, Mass., had been invited to run the Boston Marathon in memory of her husband, Phil, who died as a soldier in a mass shooting in Afghanistan in 2011. They had been married for 23 years. In 2013, Linda was just a quarter mile from the finish line when she felt the street beneath her start to shake. The scene in front of her transformed from celebration to chaos and clouds of smoke. She could see people sprinting away from an explosion. Terrorists had struck in her life for the second time.

Hours after the bombings at the Boston Marathon, Ambard began inspiring thousands of others with her story. Her post has been shared more than 40,000 times. “I have grabbed my life back by running… It cannot end this way…I will find the strength that I fall into with my faith. The terrorist will never EVER maim my heart, my spirit, or my drive to live life out loud. Got that?” 

Ambard said that even though she lost her future with her husband, she is not defeated. The events surrounding her most recent marathon have not defeated her, either. “I have to find a way to conquer this race and come back and do it again," she said. She has begun that journey by taking it one day at a time. Read the rest of her story at DeseretNews.com


Becky Andrews runs with her two friends in Bountiful, Utah

Woman who is blind runs the Boston Marathon

Imagine you are 18 years old again. Young, free, the world of opportunities at your finger tips. And then a trip to the eye doctor reveals that you have retinitis pigmentosa, a rare disorder that involves the breakdown and loss of the cells in the retina. That has been the story of Becky Andrews of Bountiful, Utah. She began to experience “tunnel vision,” until the tunnel got gradually smaller. Now all she can see is a small, fuzzy peephole in one eye.

Becky didn’t take up running until about 13 years ago after she’d broken both arms. Already restricted with her vision and adding in the inability to move made her feel jittery and hemmed in. “I started going crazy. My husband suggested that maybe we could run together.” So they created a tether — an 8- to 10-inch cord that wrapped around her husband’s arm that she could hold on to. Suddenly, her world seemed bigger and less restricted. Seven years ago, two ladies in the ward stepped up and agreed to take turns running with her each day.

That course eventually led to earning a spot at the world-famous Boston Marathon. Running 26.2 miles is a daunting task for both professional and amateur runners and offers ample opportunity for roadblocks, rough terrain, injury, inclement weather and fatigue. Now imagine running it blind. Read about her experience here on DeseretNews.com 


Wendy Garrett, Partially paralyzed runnerPartially-paralyzed Runner Competes in Boston Marathon

Wendy Garrett lives by one mantra: “Life is tough, but I am tougher.” And if anyone knows how to be tough, it’s Garrett. After competing in gymnastics for 17 years, she took up running at age 23. “Running gave me a goal…it was my therapy.” Garrett started small, but eventually worked up to running marathons. Eventually she relocated to Bermuda to coach gymnastics coach for 3 years.

One day, on her way to work, her life shifted 180 degrees. She was in a scooter accident that left her unable to move her lower left leg and a lot of back and neck pain. 2 ½ years, 25 specialists, and 0 marathons later, Garrett still didn’t have any answers for her health ailments. “I went from doctor to doctor and everyone seemed to have a different opinion,” Garrett said. “I tried neurologists, the top research hospital in Portland, massage therapy, chiropractors, acupuncture and a little of everything. My whole life was on hold.”

“I said I’d find one more doctor and then I’d be done and try to figure a way to adapt to (the circumstance),” Garrett said. “I finally found the doctor I needed in Provo, Utah.” Her new doctor performed the same tests the other doctors had but was the first to discover an injury to her spinal cord caused from whiplash.

“He was the first person who told me I could be fitted for an orthotic so I could wear shoes and be active again,” Garrett said. “No doctor had mentioned that.” On March 28, 2013, Garrett ran her first steps in more than three years. Read about her road to recovery on DeseretNews.com


http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865624562/Returned-missionary-is-US-marathon-champ.html

American National Champion Marathon Runner

In March 2015, Jared Ward, a native of Kaysville, Utah was the first American to cross the finish line at the U.S. marathon championship in Los Angeles in 2 hours 12 min, making him the American National Champion. The surprising part is that Jared is just 27 years old and finishing a statistics degree at BYU.  

Many of the skills that serve him well on the marathon course — resiliency, patience and determination — he learned as an LDS missionary from 2007-2009. He returned home and became a four-time All-American at BYU. He is now a first-class, professional marathoner — but he defines himself as a husband and a father first. He and his wife, Erica (a former BYU track athlete herself), are parents to 3-year-old Paul and 11-month Ellie. Jared runs about 110 miles each week for his marathon training. [That sounds like a lot of time, but amounts to just 2 hours a day, and the average American watches twice that much television per day.] Jared is careful to make plenty of time for his family and faith. “Balancing everything is easier when the priorities are set." Read his story at DeseretNews.com

Scott

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