This week’s AdventureBlog is written by Nicole Ginley-Hidinger with Ragnar Relay, and spotlights a very inspiring group of runners who have every excuse in the world not to run, yet do. Hopefully their stories will provide some inspiration in your own life to get active, and run!
There are a million different paths to becoming a runner. Some people start as soon as they can walk and never look back, some get dragged out the door and pushed onto a trail or treadmill, some find a spark of hidden inspiration, some were tricked into it with the promise of ice cream at the end, and some were asked to fill a spot on a Ragnar team. On Team Run Free, many of the athletes were made into runners when they received their first prosthetic running leg from Amputee Blade Runners. And at Reebok Ragnar Relay Tennessee, they’re about to put their legs to the test.
Amputee Blade Runners (ABR) is a non-profit out of Nashville, Tennessee that fits amputees with prosthetic running legs that help them be active. Thirteen of the Fourteen runners on Team Run Free received their prosthetic legs through the Amputee Blade Runner grant program. The team hopes to raise awareness and $10,000 to fit four more runners with new blades. Learn more on their fundraising page.
In a community where only 7% of amputees are active, the members of Team Run Free have truly beat the odds. In addition to running a Ragnar, several of the athletes have Paralympic dreams, one is a three-sport high school athlete, one is running Boston in April, one trains for biking-running duathlons; and Ryan Fann, the co-founder, has already won a Paralympic gold medal and holds a world record in track.
Ragnar creates the opportunity for the group to come together from different parts of the country, share their experiences, and then truly bond by spending two days (and all night in between) in a van smelling of sweat and glory.
“I think it’s going to be really incredible to have 14 amputees in one location running together. You’re not going to see that very often unless it’s a Paralympic event,” says Fann. “It’s about raising awareness. The more people you see with prosthetics out being active compared to the number of people you see with prosthetics in wheelchairs being disabled, I think it’s going to change the view people have of wearing a prosthesis.”
The group is composed of 13 men plus Mollyanne Rhodes, the one woman; the teammates range in age from DJ Vanderwerf (18) to Brent Lambert (60). The group includes two double amputees, some runners who have had a prosthetic leg since they were eleven months old, and runners who received their running leg last year.
Lambert is one of the team’s seasoned Ragnar veterans. Five years ago he decided to amputate his leg after having over twenty surgeries in a little more than four years of trying and save it. He had battled with a long term bone disease and could never be active for more than one or two years at a time. After his amputation, he stumbled upon ABR, by accident, which began his journey into running.
“Really, in some ways, I thought they’re not going to give one of these running legs to a 54-55 year-old guy,” he says. “I’m the oldest of the ABR team and I thought they’re really not going to do this, but they did. So I’ve been running for the last 5 years.”
Before he found ABR, Lambert had gotten into cycling. ABR created him a cycling leg for him as well and he now competes in duathlons. At the Endeavor games, a competition hosted by Central Oklahoma University for athletes with physical disabilities, Lambert took home three golds and three silvers. As a Ragnar veteran, the opportunity to run with a team entirely made up of amputees brought him back to tackle the event again.
“I’m just excited to do it again this year and excited to do it to support the Amputee Blade Runners team because not only have they helped me so much but they do such good work in helping a lot of younger amputees,” he says. “It really makes a difference in their lives. I’m excited to do anything to help younger amputees.”
Watch Team Run Free at the Tennessee Ragnar or run alongside them with your own team.
–Nicole Ginley-Hidinger (Social Media Content Specialist at Ragnar Events)
The deadline to register is April 15th. If you don’t know 11 other runners to form a team with, perhaps you know 5 other runners and can sign up as a 6-Pack Team to fill one van, and be paired up with another 6-Pack Team. Learn more here.
You can also get to know the Lightning FLASH Ragnar Team, made up of Team Green members, Lightning 100 listeners, local artists, and other individuals in the Nashville music industry. We run each Monday at 7pm along Shelby Bottoms or Stones Rivers Greenways for our Greenway Fun Runs. We hope you’ll join us!