Way to Go Stephen! Good Luck and Thank you!!!June 22, 2010 by Victoria Strong
Tomorrow Stephen Taylor will fly from New Bedford, Massachusetts to Squaw Valley, California in the countdown to the Western States 100 Ultramarathon. That is 100 miles over rough terrain in a 24 hour period. It is insanity and incredible! And Stephen's motivation, selflessness, and perspective about what he is doing continually amazes us.
For the next few days Stephen will have to go through physicals and workshops to prepare. And then at 5 am on Saturday, June 26th, Stephen will begin the biggest endurance challenge of his life. Just to visualize what Stephen is actually doing, think about this -- 100 miles is just under FOUR marathons. The terrain he is running is not paved nor level. And he is doing this through the Sierra Nevada mountains, enduring both extreme heat and snow. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4 miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn. Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory, accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters.
Pure insanity...and it gives us goosebumps that not only is Stephen preparing both physically and mentally for the extreme challenge, he is continually thinking about how he can increase awareness and funds for spinal muscular atrophy, maintaining, "I think of what these kids with SMA have endured and it puts it all in perspective." In the last few months, Stephen has relentlessly fundraised for the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation in memory of Owen Simmons. He has a group of wonderful friends who have rallied around him and the SMA cause, posting on facebook and supporting his events with passion. And he has inspired the New Bedford community to learn about SMA and teach others about it as well. He hosted a clam dinner, organized a raffle, got a band to perform, got the police and fire departments involved, had a news article published, and inspired New Bedford High School students to host a car wash. And those awesome students are continuing to raise awareness of SMA with their newest "Sneak Up on SMA" event -- and today they are all dressing up in their running finest to show their support for Officer Taylor!
That people are rallying around him is no surprise. What Stephen is doing is remarkable and something few will ever do, but it is the way he is doing it that is truly inspiring!!! As his lovely girlfriend said about Stephen, "He is running 100 miles in 24 hours, all in someone else's name and all for a noble and amazing cause."
We are so honored to know Stephen and to be part of his incredible journey. Thank you Stephen for being such a shining example of selflessness and what can be accomplished with determination and a positive attitude!
Please send Stephen a note of encouragement by leaving a comment for him here, on his blog, or on his facebook fan page. He deserves high fives and lots of good vibes directed his way. On Saturday, you can track his progress online by going to the live blog -- he is number 427 or simply look up his name.
Good luck Stephen! We are cheering you on!!! You are incredible!!!