December 1 2017
As runners, we think of our feet, back, hamstrings, knees and plenty of other body parts before we get around to thinking about our calves.
Mike Atherton only had one goal on his mind: to run and finish the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas 5K. He’s been a lifelong athlete and runner—but unlike his fellow competitors, he is also a triple amputee.
Mike lost both of his legs as well as his left arm in a tragic boating accident in 2009. After slowly regaining the ability to walk (with the help of prosthetic legs), Mike set his sights on running again.
For six months, Mike trained tirelessly for the race, building up his endurance and strength while learning to run on his new prosthetics. Without a doubt, training for the 5K was one of the greatest challenges Mike has ever faced: “It really pushed me to my limits,” he recalled, “It really got me to do things I never thought I could do.”
On the day of the race, Mike was hopeful but nervous. Understandably, he feared he might stumble and fall during the race—or worse, fail to finish, letting himself and his family down. But his daughter, Maddie, never had any doubts. “Seeing him come this far, he’ll pull through… he’ll find a way to do it,” she said.
Mike would have motivation and encouragement every step of the way: Maddie ran alongside him, and Mike’s loved ones would be cheering him on.
Even with months of training, the race proved a challenge. Mike and Maddie started the race at a strong pace, but Mike soon grew tired, slowing to a walk; it seemed as though he may have pushed himself to his capacity. Then, suddenly, determination overcame fatigue. Mike retook his pace, with Maddie in step, pushing through his pain in the sweltering heat.
He pushed himself all the way to the finish line.
Mike and Maddie crossed the finish line together, his wife and son waiting to adorn them with medals. Even better than a trophy, though, were his feelings of elation and pride. Mike’s main goal had been to finish the race, and he had, inspiring countless people in the process.
Reflecting on his incredible accomplishment, Mike noted that none of it would have been possible without the mobility afforded to him by his special prosthetics—and, of course, without the support of his family and friends.
To read more about Mike’s journey, click here.