Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"The Harder the Goal, the Greater the Glory"

It's the beginning of January, and for runners it means one thing: time for the kickoff to train for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon.

If you're thinking it's too cold or you can't go the distance, the guest speaker for the marathon kick-off party Wednesday night is a living example that there are no excuses.

For Sarah Reinertsen, it's never too cold or too windy or too late.

Not having a leg? That's no excuse for her, either.

"I'm on the course, I think often times people see me come by, see my prosthetic leg, and there's this sort of flash and glimmer and it's like, 'Wow, if she's out there suffering on that thing, I'm going to make it today, too.'"

She explains, "I lost my leg when I was seven years old. I had tissue disease as a child so they amputated above the knee when I was just a kid."

For the first eleven years of her life, Reinertsen didn't run because she thought she couldn't.

Then she met a woman running with a prosthetic leg, and her world changed.

"That really changed for me, having a role model and opening up the possibility," she said.

She went from learning to walk with a wooden foot to running with a carbon fiber leg designed to replicate the fastest animal on land.

"The engineer, designer was looking at videos of the cheetah and looked at the kickback of the hind leg, and that was his inspiration to make a better prosthetic running foot for a human."

It unleashed her inner runner.

At 13, she broke the 100-meter world record for female above-the-knee amputees.

She ran the Great Wall Marathon in China.

And in 2005, she became the first woman with a prosthetic leg to finish the Ironman World Championships. It took her 15 hours to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112, and run another 26.2.

"The harder the goal, the greater the glory," Reinertsen says. "Certainly the feeling of crossing the finish line was a feeling I'll never get back -- unless I do it again."

Those accomplishments now make her a role model for others.

"One of the things that I love is that every weekend in almost every state in this country, you can sign up for a race, you can be a weekend warrior, you can feel like a kid again, get out there and get active."

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