Monday, October 5, 2009

Help From Above

No, not That Guy, this guy: Rick Ball, 43, Canadian amputee runner. Rick has the single leg amputee marathon world leading time at 3:01:50, which works out to 6:56 mile pace. He did this on the grand course not noted for PRs, Boston. This tells me on a flat course with favorable conditions he will knock off huge chunks of time from that historic mark in the near future. Look for many more records and a possible Olympic - not Paralympic - berth for Rick.

What is amazing is Rick has only been running for a little over 2 years. I love this quote from Rick: “Someone said to me, ‘Can you imagine how fast you would run if you had your real leg?’ And I said, ‘I probably wouldn’t even be running.’”


It took a little time - he isn't one to sit on his laurels - but I finally exchanged some messages with Rick on Facebook. Rick told me he had exactly the same blister problem at the same location as me with his heavy temporary prosthesis; things improved greatly when he got his definitive prosthesis with a lightweight running foot. He doesn't have a magic bullet for stopping sweat; it causes him the same problems as other amputee runners.

There are probably tens of thousands of resources for able-bodied runners; our amputation circle is a bit more abbreviated. Time and time again I have gone looking for answers and found them coming from the best in the sport. I'd think "so-and-so is probably very busy and won't have time to respond" and then I get a long email or phone call from that athlete. Imagine having a problem with your jump shot and Michael Jordan picks up the phone and explains in depth how to release from the wrist and fingertips, or Tiger Woods gives you a tip on a troublesome backswing (slow down!)...this is how I feel when someone like Rick takes time to help me. He has been where I am now.

As a matter of coincidence, while I was looking for some facts on Rick I came across this page on the Runner's World website. Down in the comments you will see where my wife Jen made a post less than two weeks after my amputation:

"Inspirational! Due to various failed attempts to reconstruct his damaged ankle, my husband just had an amputation and is getting fit with this new prosthetic foot in 6 weeks. His goal - to live and active life and to run again! After much research we've learned that he can indeed live an active life again. From a 'you'll never run again' prognosis to a hopeful and exciting future."

Small world, huh?


It's not every day you get to chat with one of the world's best athletes. I've had the pleasure of emailing and talking to several others who have done amazing things despite a disability or two. There is no telling what Rick might have done with two anatomical feet, but the truth is he has done miraculous things with two good feet with more to come. Much more.

Keep your eye on Rick but don't blink.


  1. Very cool post! I read an article about Rick recently and was completely inspired!

  2. Thank you! Rick is a great guy, I hope I can meet him someday.