Liam Crushes His First Half Marathon

The big weekend finally came. As I wrote about in "Make Mine a Double," the incredible journey that started out with posting a sweaty selfie once a week on Facebook for my IRun4 buddy Liam snowballed into creating a race relationship with a special kid that's hard to put into words, or as I've said, "every time I put in a nickle I get out a dollar."

Liam has hydrocephalus, scoliosis, cerebral palsy and is blind and confined to a wheelchair. He has never walked. Having worked with Adidas recently on a #GiftedByAdidas social media campaign, I reached out to them and asked if they would perhaps send Liam a swag bag or shoes for the big race--the Denver Rock n' Roll Half Marathon. I continue to learn more about Liam. As I was trying to pull off getting something for Liam, I asked his mom (Joan) what his shoe size was. "Size six youth," was her response explaining that since he's never walked, his feet never really developed. Adidas delivered with some kick-ass Ultraboost white-on-white kicks (thank you!) along with some other swag.

That really stuck in my head. He has NEVER walked but this last weekend, he became a medal-wearing half marathoner!

We weren't planning on running a half, but Liam's family had planned a Colorado vacation which happened to coincide with the Colorado State University (my alma mater) Homecoming weekend. Given that Liam will likely never get to go to college, Liam's mom Joan and father Fabian thought, let's give him a college weekend and soak in the college experience starting out with the annual Homecoming 5k in his brand new "Team Hoyt" running chair (complete with graphics I created that make his chair a real "head turner.")

Like a moth drawn to a flame, I realized there was a major race the following day in Denver; the Denver Rock n' Roll Half Marathon. WE HAD TO DO BOTH.

It was a bit of a lunatic move as I'd never raced twice in a weekend, and my knees were barking just thinking about it, but we had no choice. Part of the lunacy was the centerpiece of homecoming weekend was the football game against Nevada. Due to T.V. considerations, they moved the game to 8:15 PM. Oy vey. I was doing the "clock math" and realized I'll be lucky to get 3-4 hours of sleep (also factoring in the hour drive from Ft. Collins to Denver,) but rationalized that's normally the amount of sleep I get (tossing and turning) before a major race.

Photo credit: Runner's Edge of the Rockies
Words can't fully describe the rewarding experience Liam, his parents, and I had racing twice this last weekend, but the smiles in the video help tell the story. Please take two minutes and watch Liam as he "CRUSHED" his first half marathon. Around mile twelve and a half, Liam just started laughing. I cried when I crossed the finish line overwhelmed with the joy and emotion of what we just accomplished. I "completely lost it" when Joan crashed the corral to wrap Liam with his first post-race space blanket and give me a hug that made this the best half marathon I've ever raced.

As a footnote, pouring the results page the following day, Liam came in first in the wheelchair division. I don't know if this is accurate as it's a bit confusing on self-propelled wheelchair athletes vs. assisted athletes, but there's never an asterisk on an age group or overall podium. Liam is number one in my book either way.

Special thanks to all those that contributed to the fund raise to get Liam his own blade especially Maggie Seymour from who's now in Virginia on her San Diego to Virginia Beach fund raise run. To learn more about IRun4, see this month's issue of Runner's World Magazine to meet Michael who was the inspiration for I Run 4 Michael.


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