June 19 2017
On July 31, 2011, the starting gun fired at an obstacle course race in Michigan, setting off the cheers of more than 40,000 racers. One of
After not running for nearly eight years, Mike Atherton decided he wanted to try running again. Like most runners who take time off, he knew getting back his stride wouldn’t be easy. This would be especially challenging for Mike, though: he hadn’t tried running since the amputation of his legs and left arm in 2009.
Mike had always been active, but that all changed when a horrific boating accident on May 9, 2009 resulted in the loss of both legs and left arm. Mike’s life had changed in an instant, and lying in his hospital bed, he felt uncertain about his future: What would become of him? Would he even ever walk again?
But Mike turned his doubts into rugged determination: he decided he would walk again and was soon fitted with prosthetic limbs. After forging through countless hours of physical therapy, Mike finally took his first steps.
But that was just the beginning. Mike wanted to see how far he could push himself, to see what he could accomplish. He decided he wanted to run again, and in true runner’s fashion, that meant running in a race. Mike set his sights on the 2017 Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas 5K.
As a triple amputee, running this race meant more than just proving his athletic prowess—it was a testament to the strength of Mike’s mind, as well as his body, and proof that he could do anything he set his mind to. It was about getting his life back.
Mike knew running again as a triple amputee wouldn’t be easy—it would require training, patience, and resilience, but Mike would also have to learn how to run on his prosthetic legs. This would be especially tricky for Mike, whose uneven leg amputations complicated the biomechanics of his stride; his balance was disrupted further by the amputation of his left arm.
Before the race, Mike was understandably nervous; once again, his future was uncertain. What if he tripped and fell, or failed to finish the race? He was terrified of letting himself and his family down.
But when Mike is faced with self-doubt and unbelievable odds, he only becomes more determined, leaning on his inner strength and his family’s support. And, in turn, his family had great faith in him. “He’s going to struggle,” his daughter Maddie said, bluntly, “But he’ll pull through.”
To read more about Mike’s journey, click here.