By Janet Clark - XTERRA President
In Beaver Creek last weekend, I had the privilege of meeting John Davis, XTERRA Warrior extraordinaire. That meeting reinforced why I love my job. With his permission, I am sharing his inspiring story.
In July of last year, John was recovering from spinal surgery and was in Beaver Creek the same weekend as the XTERRA Mountain Championship. Walking the trails, he noticed a lot of XTERRA arrows and met one of Beaver Creek’s fabulous volunteers who told him all about the event.
What that volunteer did not know, is that a year earlier, John had been diagnosed with motor neuron disease. The doctors had told him “move or die”. An All American swimmer and former member of the U.S. swim team. He had trained and tried out for the 1988 and 1992 Olympic teams. Given this ultimatum, and despite the pain, John got back in the pool and started walking.
The pain he was experiencing was from compressed discs, stenosis, synovial cysts and arthritis in his lower spine, and in May, 2015, when he was healthy enough, he had spinal fusion surgery to help alleviate the pain. The surgery left him with difficulty bending over – and everyday things such as taking off and putting on shoes, became more difficult. And that is how I met John – he had asked for a chair in transition… which we were happy to provide.
Since the surgery, John has hiked, walked, biked, swam and run 6,700 miles – and he decided to use participation in this year's XTERRA as motivation in his recovery. In June of this year, he took a group and climbed one of the tallest mountains in South America at 21,122 feet, and the day before XTERRA Beaver Creek, he warmed up for the race with a fund raiser that climbed one of Colorado’s famed 14,000 foot peaks.
This year’s XTERRA Beaver Creek event was his first triathlon. He was joined by his partner Leslie, who was also doing her first ever athletic competition, not to mention first triathlon.
John’s primary athletic motivation is sustaining his neuromuscular strength. “I have lost the power aspect in my athletics due to the motor neuron disease”, He said. “But I am sustaining a strong cardio endurance level of fitness. The cross training fuels my emotional stability as I am in the dark as to what my future physically looks like. As a collegiate athlete I had total control and power over my body. Now my body has a mind of its own.”
“XTERRA meets so many desires in keeping people healthy. It provides a community of excited people who see your strength or struggle and are encouraging. I had folks saying “c’mon 473! Looking good” - despite the fact I wiped out four times on my bike! It provides adventure and accomplishment. It really is a fun day to work out in a beautiful location with a large group of new friends who are all about the same goal...being the best they can be at that one moment.”
John is a psychologist, founder and president of 2Xtreme, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1999 which serves families and young men in the Colorado area. “I exist on this planet to give to people. To foster change through connected relationships and I am blessed to impact young men, teens and families in this way. My personal fuel is no longer about winning. It's about living one's best life and XTERRA offers that through an attainable extreme challenge.” More power to you John in all aspects of your life and we look forward to seeing you at your next XTERRA!