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