We read a lot of great stories about our XTERRA Warriors racing in Maui this year. Here is one of our favorites, from Deanna McCurdy from Littleton, Colorado:
"Everyone has a story. Over the years I have learned that usually the most successful people are those who overcame insurmountable odds and pressed onward to accomplish a dream. Our family has a dream, one that some believe is just a fantasy in our heads. You see, we have a daughter with a rare genetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome. She cannot speak, has balance and coordination issues which makes simple skills like walking up and down stairs or even standing on uneven surfaces challenging. She suffers a seizure disorder, a sleep disorder, and has global developmental and cognitive delays. This sweet 7-year-old, however, has a smile that will light up a room, has never met a stranger, and has the most joyous spirit of any child I have ever met. We truly believe that one day, our daughter will have the ability to talk with her own voice, play with her sister and friends like other children, and run her own race in life.
After her birth and diagnosis at 16-months-old, I spent hours and hours running on the trails, trying to process what her condition would mean to us, how much our hopes and dreams for the future would change, and even if we would ever be able to do things we always wished to do as a family like hiking, camping, and taking trips to explore new places. Never did I imagine that those hours of running on the trails, learning how to keep going after sleepless nights, hospitalizations and doctor visits, and meeting others in this new-to-me special needs world would take us on the most incredibly amazing adventure of our lives.
We discovered XTERRA two years ago when I entered a Dirty Spokes Productions XTERRA Trail race in Georgia, our home state. It was the last race of the series, but served as the introduction to the most encouraging, positive, passionate group of people I have ever met. After doing well at that race, Dayton Morinaga, writer for XTERRA trail run news, encouraged me to sign up and come out to Utah for the National Trail Race. Dayton shared with the XTERRA community our story. When we arrived in Utah, we were embraced as part of the XTERRA family. How can you not have a great race when you are loved and encouraged by people you have just met? I remember standing along the shore the day before our race, watching the US Off-road Triathlon Championship race take off, thinking to myself, there is no way I could ever do that! Fast forward 2 years, a move from Georgia to Colorado, entering my first XTERRA mountain triathlon here in Colorado this past summer, then another and another, only to find myself standing on that same shoreline, my Georgia-raised blood chilled to the bone and tingling with anticipation, ready to attempt the Championship race with my husband alongside.
While not the perfect race from “rookie” mistakes like misplacing my bike in transition, breaking a chain during the climb up to Sardine Peak which made me lose precious minutes of time, I was able to pull from the deeper level of strength –something that my daughter taught me I had, to come back in the race. As Josiah Middaugh says, “You swim with your arms, you bike with your legs, and you run with your heart.” My legs and heart worked extra hard that day, and maybe my daughter will never understand how I did at that race, but that is okay with me. Her unconditional love and ability to find joy in the smallest of things, such as a tiny leaf or puddle on the ground, reminds me that what we do truly is a gift. Both of my daughters and my husband will be waiting for me at the finish line in Maui and no matter how I do, their smiles and hugs will be the best finisher award this mom could ever receive.
Through our adventures with running and triathlon over the past few years, we have watched so many other parents and family members of special needs children get out the door, defy the limitations of the life they have been given, and cross their own finish lines. I never realized we could make an impact on others through our own struggles and victories. I don’t know what our future holds, how many more years we can travel and race with our daughter, but I do know one thing… dreams do come true if you believe passionately and work hard for them. This is why I love XTERRA - it is so much more than a race. It is a philosophy that each athlete, staff member and volunteer embodies on how to embrace life and truly LIVE MORE!
Read more stories from XTERRA Warriors here: