Triathlete overcomes Army accident

Published: Thursday, Sept. 22 2011 10:40 p.m. MDT

TreyGarman/Xterra

OGDEN — Life in the Army National Guard took Craig Vogtsberger away from the sport he loved.

Nearly losing his life in an accident helped him find his way back to triathlons, where he has become a living example to other injured veterans about what's possible for them.

Ten years ago, Vogtsberger was just finishing a four-day intensive training exercise when he walked between two Army Humvees. The two vehicles collided, crushing Vogtsberger between them just days before he was to be deployed in the Middle East.

"I have memories of little parts," said Vogtsberger, who will compete in the XTERRA U.S. Championships in the Ogden Valley Saturday along with about 830 others, including seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who is returning to triathlon competition after more than 20 years away from the sport. "The driver was backing up and he hit the gas when he should have hit the brake. I remember looking up and seeing them look at me. He was trying to figure out what happened. … They knew I was there, but it took a few seconds for them to come to terms with what had happened and move the Humvee and get me out of there."

Vogtsberger suffered massive trauma to his entire body. Among his injuries: a traumatic brain injury; spinal trauma (to all three sections); dysautonomia, which is an insufficiency of the nervous system; paralyzed in the left leg and left shoulder; visually impaired; partial hearing loss.

He stops, "And these are just the highlights."

At the time he was cycling and in pretty good shape. Still the damage his body suffered took him years to overcome.

"The accident was in 2001, and I wasn't able to get back to training or exercising until 2006," he said. "It took a long time to diagnose some problems because the symptoms were overlapping."

In fact, doctors are still diagnosing problems for Vogtsberger, who takes the new issues in stride.

"I've been getting worse," he said. "With my left shoulder, I could use it in April, but somewhere between April and July, I just lost the use of it."

Vogtsberger has always worn a brace on his left leg, which is clipped in, but does none of the work required to power him mountains on XTERRA courses. He just started wearing a brace on his left arm in July and said he still has enough strength to grip the handle bar but not withstand a jarring bump. He admits to more than a few wrecks.

Still, he is nothing but grateful that he is still able to compete in the sport he loves.

"Someone asked me earlier this year about when did I think 'Why me?'" he said. "I never did. I sat there and said, 'Okay these are my limitations, what can I do.' And then I go out and do it."

He said he fell in love with duathlons and triathlons in high school and college and never lost his passion for the sport, even when college and his military commitments made it difficult to train or compete.

"I love triathlons," he said, admitting more than a few people have suggested he find a more sedentary hobby. "I think it's just who I am. It's my way of life. I don't see myself stopping."

He does road triathlons, but prefers the off-road XTERRAs.

"I think I like the challenge," he said laughing at the idea of needing more challenges in his life. "I go and talk with wounded veterans and try to help them get into the sport."

He said most veterans have trouble coming up with excuses when he lists the litany of problems he deals with (including swimming with one arm and one leg) to compete.

Like most other XTERRA athletes, Vogtsberger said he's excited to race alongside Armstrong.

"I think it's an honor for me to be on the line with him," he said. "That's the last time I'll see him, of course."

XTERRA is one of the few races where challenged athletes, open division athletes and the 330 pros all line up together and compete at the same time on the same course. Vogtsberger said it makes the races special. The race starts at 9 a.m. at Pineview Reservoir and finishes around 11:15 a.m. at Snowbasin. There is a festival for the public beginning at 10 a.m. at Snowbasin.

"We're all equal at the start," he said. "There's no time difference, no one starting early. We all have to fight to get in the lead. There is no handicapped."

Email: adonaldson@desnews.com

twitter: adonsports

XTERRA SCHEDULE

Saturday's Race Information

9:00am XTERRA USA Championship Start

www.xterraplanet.com/utah/usaChamps.html at Port Ramp Marina (1.5k swim, 30k mtb, 10k trail run)

9:20am XTERRA Utah Start – Long Course

www.xterraplanet.com/utah/utahTri.html at Port Ramp Marina (1.5k swim, 30k mtb, 10k trail run)

9:40am XTERRA Utah Start – Sport Course

www.xterraplanet.com/utah/utahTri.html at Port Ramp Marina (750m swim, 16k mtb, 5k trail run)

10am-2pm Expo area open at Snowbasin – exhibits, live music, food service

10am-3pm Registration and packet pickup for XTERRA Trail Runs – Nationals, 10K and 5K

10:30am-2:30pm Paul Mitchell Cut-a-thon - benefit for the Challenged Athletes Foundation

11am XTERRA Sport winner expected at Snowbasin

11:15

11:45am XTERRA USA Championship Male/Female Winner Expected

12:00pm XTERRA University, presented by Paul Mitchell – Trail Running

1:50pm XTERRA Cut-off at T2

2pm XTERRA USA Championship

XTERRA Utah Awards Ceremony at Snowbasin

After Party at Harvest Moon Festival in downtown Ogden

8am-10pm Harvest Moon Festival on 25th Street

www.historic25.com/component/k2/item/134-harvest-moon-festival-2011.html>

XTERRA TRAIL RUNNING at Snowbasin Resort

7:00-8:00am Late registration at Snowbasin

7:00-8:30am Packet pick up at Snowbasin

8:00am XTERRA Expo open

9:00am XTERRA Trail Running National Championship Half Marathon Start

9:05am XTERRA 5km and 10km Trail Run starts

9:00am-2:00pm Paul Mitchell Cut-a-Thon, a benefit for the Challenged Athletes Foundation

9:20am

9:40am 5km/10km winners expected

10:06

10:19am Men's and Women's National Championship male/female winners expected

11:00am XTERRA Kids Sprint (free)

11:00am XTERRA 5km and 10km awards ceremony

11:45am XTERRA National Championship race awards ceremony

2:00pm XTERRA Expo closes

After Party in downtown Ogden

6:00pm XTERRA After Party (Location TBA)

XTERRA SCHEDULE

Saturday's Race Information

9:00am XTERRA USA Championship Start

www.xterraplanet.com/utah/usaChamps.html at Port Ramp Marina (1.5k swim, 30k mtb, 10k trail run)

9:20am XTERRA Utah Start – Long Course

www.xterraplanet.com/utah/utahTri.html at Port Ramp Marina (1.5k swim, 30k mtb, 10k trail run)

9:40am XTERRA Utah Start – Sport Course

www.xterraplanet.com/utah/utahTri.html at Port Ramp Marina (750m swim, 16k mtb, 5k trail run)

10am-2pm Expo area open at Snowbasin – exhibits, live music, food service

10am-3pm Registration and packet pickup for XTERRA Trail Runs – Nationals, 10K and 5K

10:30am-2:30pm Paul Mitchell Cut-a-thon - benefit for the Challenged Athletes Foundation

11am XTERRA Sport winner expected at Snowbasin

11:15

11:45am XTERRA USA Championship Male/Female Winner Expected

12:00pm XTERRA University, presented by Paul Mitchell – Trail Running

1:50pm XTERRA Cut-off at T2

2pm XTERRA USA Championship

XTERRA Utah Awards Ceremony at Snowbasin

After Party at Harvest Moon Festival in downtown Ogden

8am-10pm Harvest Moon Festival on 25th Street

www.historic25.com/component/k2/item/134-harvest-moon-festival-2011.html>

XTERRA TRAIL RUNNING at Snowbasin Resort

7:00-8:00am Late registration at Snowbasin

7:00-8:30am Packet pick up at Snowbasin

8:00am XTERRA Expo open

9:00am XTERRA Trail Running National Championship Half Marathon Start

9:05am XTERRA 5km and 10km Trail Run starts

9:00am-2:00pm Paul Mitchell Cut-a-Thon, a benefit for the Challenged Athletes Foundation

9:20am

9:40am 5km/10km winners expected

10:06

10:19am Men's and Women's National Championship male/female winners expected

11:00am XTERRA Kids Sprint (free)

11:00am XTERRA 5km and 10km awards ceremony

11:45am XTERRA National Championship race awards ceremony

2:00pm XTERRA Expo closes

After Party in downtown Ogden

6:00pm XTERRA After Party (Location TBA)XTERRA schedule

Saturday's Race Information

9:00am XTERRA USA Championship Start at Port Ramp Marina (1.5k swim, 30k mtb, 10k trail run)

9:20am XTERRA Utah Start – Long Course

at Port Ramp Marina (1.5k swim, 30k mtb, 10k trail run)

9:40am XTERRA Utah Start – Sport Course

www.xterraplanet.com

utah/utahTri.html> at Port Ramp Marina (750m swim, 16k mtb, 5k trail run)

10am-2pm Expo area open at Snowbasin – exhibits, live music, food service

10am-3pm Registration and packet pickup for XTERRA Trail Runs – Nationals, 10K and 5K

10:30am-2:30pm Paul Mitchell Cut-a-thon - benefit for the Challenged Athletes Foundation

11am XTERRA Sport winner expected at Snowbasin

11:15

11:45am XTERRA USA Championship Male

Female Winner Expected

12:00pm XTERRA University, presented by Paul Mitchell – Trail Running

1:50pm XTERRA Cut-off at T2

2pm XTERRA USA Championship

XTERRA Utah Awards Ceremony at Snowbasin

After Party at Harvest Moon Festival in downtown Ogden

8am-10pm Harvest Moon Festival on 25th Street

www.historic25.com

component/k2/item/134-harvest-moon-festival-2011.html>

XTERRA TRAIL RUNNING at Snowbasin Resort

7:00-8:00am Late registration at Snowbasin

7:00-8:30am Packet pick up at Snowbasin

8:00am XTERRA Expo open

9:00am XTERRA Trail Running National Championship Half Marathon Start

9:05am XTERRA 5km and 10km Trail Run starts

9:00am-2:00pm Paul Mitchell Cut-a-Thon, a benefit for the Challenged Athletes Foundation

9:20am

9:40am 5km

10km winners expected

10:06

10:19am Men's and Women's National Championship male

female winners expected

11:00am XTERRA Kids Sprint (free)

11:00am XTERRA 5km and 10km awards ceremony

11:45am XTERRA National Championship race awards ceremony

2:00pm XTERRA Expo closes

After Party in downtown Ogden

6:00pm XTERRA After Party (Location TBA) LEHI — Utah Jazz Bear will once again headline the Eighth Annual Mascot Bowl.

Monday's event is designed to raise money for Bear Hugs for Kids and the Firemen and Friends for Kids charities which combine to provide a Christmas shopping spree for local children in need.

The All-Star Mascot team will consist of celebrity quarterbacks Aaron Boone and Doug Osmond along with celebrity coaches, Jeff Hornacek, Frank Layden and Chris Wingert. The mascots will take on the Lehi eighth grade football team.

The mascot team features Bear of the Utah Jazz, Grizbee of the Utah Grizzlies, Swoop from the University of Utah, BYU's Cosmo; Rocky from the Rocky Mountain Raceway, Weber State University's Waldo, Leonardo from Real Salt Lake, Torch from the Utah Blaze and the Salt Lake Bees' Bumble.

Festivities will begin at 5:30 p.m. with an autograph session with mascots and celebrities and end with fireworks. Tickets cost $3.

—Deseret News

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