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Summit Challenge–Sprinter’s Mentality

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I know I have a sprinter’s mentality, but I wonder if it’s nurture or nature. Is it the product of being a track sprinter (up to 800 meters or less than two minutes) or is it just who I am. I’m trying to stretch myself to those longer, spirit exploring distances, where absolute truths may or may not be revealed and may or may not be comprehended. However, even after two years preparing for Kilimanjaro and an average of nine hours a day over eight days on the mountain, I might be missing the Zen. I don’t mind going. I don’t mind going hard. I don’t mind it hurting. I just want to know that I can stop—that there is a well-defined finish line. That’s the sprinter’s mentality, which I had to fight yesterday as I climbed some pretty mean hills as part of the National Ability Center’s Summit Challenge (One of their big fundraising events, which must have had over 600 participants and was a lot of fun), where I chose the middle option, the 52-mile, as opposed to 18 or 102-mile, bike ride.

The National Ability Center is the adaptive program here in Park City, UT. Their mission is to empower individuals of all abilities by building self-esteem, confidence and lifetime skills through sport, recreation and educational programs. Over the last three years they’ve conducted over 18,000 lessons a year. That’s 18,000 opportunities to change someone’s life. When I had my accident I thought that the only way that I would ever be ‘whole” was to walk again, until I started to ski in a monoski. Learning to ski signaled my recovery more than anything else and made me wonder what other challenges I could conquer. I no longer saw myself as the guy in the wheelchair in need of walking again to be whole, but the guy on a new adventure. If I could ski what else could I do. The National Ability Center gives that gift over 18,000 times a year.

We at One Revolution have partnered with the NAC for our Who’s Your Hero Tour—a bike ride starting September 14th in Seattle and finishing 1,500 miles later in San Diego October 18th. To me, the partnership makes perfect sense. The NAC changes people’s views of themselves every single day just the way that monoskiing had transformed my view of myself. One Revolution attempts to change the public’s view of the graduates of the NAC program. Our mission is turn perception of disability upside down. They change how one sees his or her potential and we attempt to prepare society for people like them and me with new potential.

New potential or not, my sprinter’s mind couldn’t help but look at my trip distance as we climbed Brown’s Canyon, the last hill before plummeting to the finish. My trip distance had us approaching 50 miles, meaning we must be close to the top of the hill. I afforded myself the slight prospect that the point where the road met the sky might be the top. Bob, the president of the One Rev board, said that his GPS had us at only 49 miles. That’s the problem with a sprinter’s mentality—when finish lines turn to false summits they crush the soul. There was no finish line when I started to ski again and there’s no finish line for the people going through the NAC program, just an opening of possibilities. That seems much better than a finish line. I’ll see if I can convince myself of that on my next big hill. Maybe it’s something I can learn.

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