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How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories-Part 1

How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories-Part 1

If you’re like a lot of people I talk to, you’re probably always on the lookout for how to be inspired by great running stories. You are looking for good information that can help motivate you to become a better runner or just reinforce the reason why you run.

I’m the same way. In fact, my computer bookmarks are just loaded with interesting sites about stories that not only give unique takes on running but also empowering, sweet,  surprising , and amazing depictions of our humanity.

Some weeks back I was telling someone about my bookmarks, and he said I should share them with other runners. It sounded like a good idea in theory.

However, I have literally dozens of resources bookmarked. And the truth is, not all of them are worth sharing.

So here’s what I did – I just spent the last week pouring through these bookmarks.

I kicked out the irrelevant ones, the ones that didn’t really speak specifically  as to why someone runs. I set aside the ones that illustrated the spirit of running. And when I was all done, I had 6 of my favorite stories that answered the question  why do runners run.  Today I am covering 2 of them.

These are the best, the cream of the crop, so I know you’ll enjoy them too. Read on…

Story 1: Proposal at The finish Line. Wales. What I really like about this story  is that it shows that love and running not only can coexist but also thrive. In short, sharing the love of running with the love of your life can be an inspirational  way to show the world that you are emotionally and physically committed to each other.

Here is the scoop.

A man ran the entire Cardiff Half Marathon course hiding a box containing an engagement ring in his hand while his girlfriend ran beside him.[1]

Tips on Running and Love
Running and Love

Think of the rush, no pun intended. Some people can have an opportunity to pursue a physical feat  like completing a life time goal of finishing a marathon run, but that is rarely combined with  the psychological triumph of sharing in real time that victory with someone you love and desire. You feel your feet pounding the ground, and your heart maybe skips a beat.

You understand that it’s not entirely the running that is making your heart beat faster. It’s her.

And it’s freaking awesome.

Mark Harris kept the engagement so well hidden he was able to shock Sarah Dowson with a proposal as they crossed the finish line. As the story goes, “oblivious to what was about to happen, Sarah then became distracted trying to turn off her running app when she realized Mark was calling her name.” [2]

“He was calling me and I didn’t hear him, then he grabbed me and turned me around. It was a big shock,” she said. [3]

He proposed and of course she said yes, or I wouldn’t be writing about  the happy couple. Sharing the love of running with the love of your life makes this story one of my favorites when it comes to the question: Why I run.

Another Great mention: Track and field marriage proposal. Decathlete proposes to Heptathlete teammate  after finishing a race…with the help of the trainer.

Story 2: Defying The Odds. Croatia. Former drug addict who had suffered from cerebral palsy from early childhood becomes a super marathon runner.[4]

Imagine having a twin brother who grows up normally, but you then suffer from cerebral palsy at age 6. You do what brothers always do, race every where. However, you don’t understand why your legs don’t move with the same ease as your brother. In fact, you wonder why it’s so hard to do all the things you used  to do with your brother—like playing tag or jumping over things.

In time your frustration turns into despair and that leads to drug addiction. How in the hell would you get out of that state of  utter hopelessness —of feeling less? How would you heal and become more than your circumstance—become a super athlete.

This is why I love the story of Tadija Opacak. It answers the question in a very powerful way.

Here is The Gist.

Tadija was born as a healthy twin in 1960 in Derventa, Bosnia and Herzegovina. While his twin brother grew up normally, Tadija became ill with cerebral palsy when he was 6 months old. In an interview with Matija Prka for the British Medical Association [BMJ], Tadija tells his story and states:

“I learned to walk without assistance at the age of 4 and even then it was with a heavy dragging of the left leg and the left arm was good for nothing,” he grinned. There were seven more children in his family and they were poor. In 1962 they moved to Slavonski Brod, hoping for a better life. “I started school and was a pretty good pupil in the first four grades. The problems started when my father went abroad looking for employment.” At that time, many fathers, who were usually the breadwinners in their families, had no other choice but to look for a better paid job in other countries.

“I was more and more aware of my physical handicap, of my family’s poverty…I was unhappy and I withdrew.” [5]

Taking Comfort in Drugs

Tadija’ frustration soon turned to despair and drugs became his refuge. As you can imagine, that only made things worse. He lost his job because of his addiction, dope racketing, and conflicts with the police. He also adds, “My friends avoided and despised me. It hurt, so I tried to quit. I tried many medical programs to get clean but none worked. I couldn’t stay clean.” [6]

A Devine Intervention

An inspiration quote
How we inspire others

An Accidental Encounter With an Adventist Priest Changed Tadija’s Life

“This encounter changed my life,” Tadija said. “Before that, I was completely incapable of establishing any normal social contact. The man showed me a way into a decent life. The members of the Christian community offered me help when I decided to give up drugs. In only three months I gained 20 kg and gave up cigarettes, coffee, and alcohol. The last time that I took dope was on 5 November 1984. I remember the date. Nothing since then. Nothing, not even cigarettes, let alone alcohol or coffee.” Quitting the addiction was his greatest victory. [7]

A quote about how we persevere
A quote about perseverance

Winning the battle over drugs is one thing, but how do you then heal, strengthen your body, and shape it to become a super runner? This is the topic of the next post. I’ll see you then. Meanwhile, leave a comment and I’ll be glad to answer any question you have.

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.





2 Ibid


4 Prka, Matija. “Defying the odds.” Student BMJ, 2001, P. 156. health




8 thoughts on “How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories-Part 1

  1. These stories are fantastic and so inspirational. I don’t run anymore because of my knees but I still find these stories very touching. They will motivate me to get out and move more because I can. The encouragement can definitely be transferred to other aspects of life too – especially for people dealing with addiction.
    Which of these stories motivates you most?
    Thanks for posting.

    1. Hi Amy,

      I’m a bit of a romantic so the story of the  marriage  proposal at the track touched  me. However, my favorite story is about Tadija Opack–a man who suffered from cerebral palsy and drug addiction to become a super ultra runner. I think this is an amazing story of how we human beings, with the help of others, can become more than our despair and circumstance. I think Tadija’s courage in overcoming tough obstacles definitely  motivates me  the most. Thanks for asking. You can follow Tadija’s story in part 2 of the series. Let me know what you think.

  2. I had injured my back awhile back and it has left me sidelined. This lead me to become a couch potato, which lead to sever depression.
    Recently I have battling my way back into life. Some days it is such a struggle!
    I just wanted to thank you for a few amazing stories. It is finding these types of stories that help me on my dark days!
    I will be back to your site, you can count on that!
    Thanks you so much,

    1. Hi Brendon,

      As a caregiver for a back pain sufferer, I understand your struggle living with daily pain. One of the things I have learned is that one has to constantly renew their  belief  that they are more than their  pain. Sometimes that’s  really hard, right? Yeah, it’s difficult when you can’t explain to people that just because you felt good an hour ago doesn’t mean that you feel good now. Just because you look”fine” doesn’t mean you are fine. 

      That said, I think there’s a lot of value in having a positive  outlook.  I came up with this series because I know just how difficult it can be at times to find inspiration when you are in pain. I’m glad to hear that the stories have helped you. I wish you the best. 

  3. It’s nice to read something on the internet that’s inspiring. So many times I feel let down by all the negative stuff out there. These stories are a real nice find. I especially love the one about Tadija Opacak. Very touching.

    1. Hi Rose,
      Yes, I agree with you about Tadija Opacak. I think his story is a great lesson on how people can rise above their despair circumstance, go on to live fulfilling lives, and serve as real inspiration to others.

  4. The story of tadija is really touching, inspirational and mind blowing. I learnt not to stop believing and not to believe in resilience. The spirit to thrive and focus is all I need.

    1. Hi Ashley,

      I think that indeed Tadija’s story is inspirational. His life story and achivement is a wonderful lesson that we need not be trapped by our circumstances. We can rise to meet our challenges and manage to live a fulfilling life.

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