Saturday, May 28, 2022

New Ossur National Leg AmputeeHalf Marathon Champion

Tabi King

Hi –
It is this time of year when we all get a bit retrospective and look to the
past year to remind ourselves what we are most thankful for. Could be simple
things like a new career, a new marriage, appreciating all that you have or
looking to rebuild what you had. Whatever it is, you give thanks.
For Paul Martin – it’s always the same. He gives thanks for yet another
stellar year where he set new PR’s, excelled in one of his four sports,
triathlon, cycling, hockey – and for a while, skiing. You see, he is a below
knee amputee and has competed on four different national teams in four
different sports. Jim MacLaren was his carrot. The guy who set an Ironman
record of 10:42 as an amputee in 1988. Because of Jim – Paul had a goal when
he lost his leg below the knee in 1992. Beat the carrot.
This year was a bit more stellar than usual. Last year at this time, Paul
was thinking about hanging his hat and going to Law School. Afterall, he is
37. His book, One Man’s Leg was published and selling like hot cakes. He met
a girl – proposed. Marriage is on the horizon… timing seems right to
relish in his accomplishments, settle down, sell his book, go to law school
and do some speaking engagements.
But then – without really thinking about it, he finished the Lake Placid
Ironman in 10:38. Then, he went to the 2004 Paralympic Games in cycling and
snagged a silver and bronze medal. His book is flying off web sites and from
the back seat of his car.
Then – it came time the the Open Air MRI Silver Strand Half Marathon and the
Ossur National Half Marathon leg Champships. Usually the site where Paul
strides in, runs 13.1 miles and takes home some cash. As the only running
event in the US that offers a $5,000 prize purse to amputees, Paul cleans
up.
Not this year.
This year a bloke from Whales came in to town with a mission. Beat Paul
Martin. Andrew Palmer travelled over 6,000 miles to run down a flat course
of 13.1 miles and rob Paul of his fourth straight national championship and
of course a pay day.
There was also CJ Howard. A non assuming, 22 year old below knee amputee who
had that look in his eye when he met Paul Martin. It’s that look that every
carrot wants to see. That one that says “I will beat you,”.
In December 2002 CJ was diagnosed with bone cancer. Doctors said that within
a couple months they would have to take his leg below the knee. A little
research and the discovery of Paul Martin lit a spark. “Take it now – I’m
going after Paul,”. And with that, CJ Howard asked that his cancerous leg be
removed. He had something to do.
His local Kiwanis club raised funds to buy him one of those state of the art
Ossur running feet that Paul wears. He spent all year training. Running.
Focusing. And on Nov 14th, 2004 at the start of the Ossur National Amputee
Half Marathon Leg Championships, CJ, Andrew, Paul, Gilberto Alavez, Clint
Mabry and the womens field of all below knee amputees, National champion Amy
Dodson, Brenda Canup, Amy Winters and Reinhild Mueller lined up to see who
was the best.
CJ, Andrew and Paul came out hopping. Paul knew they were there to beat him.
He would not make it easy. He was a pro – he would settle into his pace and
let the rookies blow up. It took six miles for Andrew. But it wasn’t easy.
CJ was another story. As usual – I’m on the sidelines watching the action go
down. I see CJ and Andrew explode out of the start. I see Paul casually
running behind fully aware of his strategy. But I can see CJ. He had a
collective calm about him. The kind of calm that comes over a young man who
has just survived cancer. Lost his leg. Spent a year and a half training for
this moment. A moment that only his family can appreciate. A moment that any
parent would appreciate.
At mile six, I see Paul pick off Andrew – not easily, Andrew put up a
fight – but hey, this is Paul Martin. Got to be ready to be picked off. I
drive ahead – I see CJ. He has a big smile on his face. He is strong and
running like nothing will break his stride.
I say, “CJ, you look great,”
“I feel great,” he said with a smile right back at me.
It was then that I knew the impact of that moment. The impact that Paul’s
story and that of so many others has on a young man who must face life
altering desicions like removing your leg to save your life.
That smile. The stride. That bold attitude that took down the Silver Strand
and claimed a new owner. A young man who knew that in the same moment – life
would be ok. Life would be good. He had a lot to be thankful for.
In the end, CJ broke the national record set by Paul by alomost five
minutes! He zoomed to the finish in 1:23:59. Paul set his own PR of 1:28:04.
At the finish line his whole family had tears in their eyes. It had been a
long two years. Watching their son survive cancer. Train for a half marathon
and now – their son was a National Champion and took home a check in the
amount of $1,250.
Four time National Champion Amy Dodson was also there to be chased. From out
of the shadows came Amy Winter from Meadville, PA. She lost her leg below
the knee in a motorcycle accident six years ago but only started running a
few months ago. She showed up never having run more than six miles, 5 months
pregnant with her second child and wearing her walking leg. She came in
second behind Dodson with a time of 2:01:54. Mind you, Amy Dodson is one of
the world’s fastest distance runners and set a new national record with a
time of 1:55:31. Dodson, with her usual beauty, grace and style, welcomed
the competition and relished in her opportunity to give Winters and new
comer Brenda Canup from Florida the opportunity to race against the best.
Dodson knows she needs to keep working – but because of her, she now has
competition.
The 5k also saw a field of rabbits and carrots. All the way from North
Carolina came Andrew Lester. He is the phenom below knee amputee who owns
his high school’s record in the One mile and is currently being recruited to
run cross country by some reputible colleges. Out of a field of about 150
runners, Andrew came in third – overall. He came in first in his age group.
He is one of those guys missing a leg that you kind of wonder, “what is his
disability again?”. You quickly realize there isn’t one. That’s why the CAF
flew eight year old Ryan Meikle out to Southern California from Hawaii so he
could get a new advanced prosthetic from SCOPE and meet Andrew. Like him,
Ryan was born with a club foot that resulted in amputation at the age of
one. Ryan had not met many other amputees who were that active. Between the
San Diego Triathlon Challenge and the Ossur National Leg Amputee
Championships, Ryan now knew what he could do.
On Nov 14th – Ryan ran his first 5k. After ANdrew finished – he went back to
run with Ryan.
Sarah Reinertsen ran the 5k with 11 year old Natalia from Loma Linda O & P.
All in all, it’s a day of reckoning. Where champions come head to head with
those prepared to beat them. And kids come to see what may lie in store for
them.
After the event, Paul and I did our usual gig – we drove to McP’s Irish Pub
for post event grub. We talked about what happened. He told me about the
run. His strategy. He told me about CJ. CJ’s mom thanked Paul for writing
the book. It had been a bible for CJ and his family going through an
unimaginable period in their lives.
CJ told Paul that it was him he was going after. It was him that provided
the motivation to remove his leg and get down to the business of running and
living. Just as Jim MacLaren had done for Paul over ten years ago, Paul was
the carrot.
With those steally blue eyes and cocky smile that took the heart of his
fiance, Paul looked at me and said, “It’s good to be the carrot,”.
Here are the complete results –
National Champion – Male Below knee
CJ Howard , Irvine, CA- 1:23:59 NEW COURSE RECORD! $1,250
2nd Paul Martin, Boulder, CO – 1:28:04 $750
3rd Andrew Palmer , Pernarth, Whales- 1:34:33 $500
4th Gilberto Alavez, Venice, CA – 1:50:24
5th Clint Mabry – San Diego, CA 2:33:29
National Champion – Female Below Knee
Amy Dodson (4th consecutive Champion!) 1:55:31 NEW COURSE RECORD! $1,250

2nd Amy Winter, Meadville, PA 2:01:54 $750
3rd Reinheld Moeller, Incline Village, CA 2:03:47 $500
4th Brenda Canup, Coca, FL 3:00:22
Thanks to Ossur for putting up the $5,000 prize pursue and to all of our
sponsors of our Catch A Rising Star Program – Hanger Orthotics &
Prosthetice, SCOPE, the ACA and MultiSports.com.
Get the word out – start training. The Open Air MRI Silver Strand Half
Marathon is home to the OSSUR National Leg Amputee Half Marathon
Championships and $5,000 prize pursue. The 5K makes it easy to get out and
try. The Half marathon provides the opportunity to race against and become,
a champion. Mark your calendars for Nov 13th, 2005! Get your patients
involved!
For more on Paul Martin visit www.onemansleg.com
Tabi King

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