The person circled in the middle of the picture above is my grandfather. He was born on this day in 1906 and even though he passed in 1995 he still lives in my heart today. He inspires me to face challenges head on and to overcome adversity not only in running but in every day life as well.
I carry this very same picture with me to every race and take the time prior to the start to stare into his eyes and promise I will do my best. This picture was onboard one of our crew vehicles at Badwater in July of 2006 as I was forced to walk most of the last 117 miles of the race. When we left Darwin at mile 90 I asked myself if I thought my grandfather would he be proud of me. Would he be proud that I had succumbed to the pain of an aching knee? My answer was no and because of that I made myself run. The more I thought the more I ran and the more I ran the faster I went. The thoughts I had of him not only generated strength but also tears that rolled down my cheeks.
After about ½ mile of running I asked one of my crew people to retrieve the picture I had of my grandfather that was in my suitcase. Now with the picture in hand I found the energy to sprint down the highway crying like a baby. Momentarily my grandfather came down from above and watched as I ran as fast as I could for two miles. It was a hard two miles and the only miles I would run the rest of the race but I did it just to make him proud of me to show him that I am tough and I can run with pain. It was a special moment I shared with my grandfather and once done I dropped my head for a split second to promise him that no matter what happened I would make it to the finish line. His spirit followed me throughout the rest of the course and up Mt. Whitney to the finish and when done I could feel him smiling upon me.
He is gone from this world but he will live forever in my heart.