I could run like I used to. I’d almost forgotten how. —Tim Hurst
SALT LAKE CITY — Tim Hurst spent several days in his basement perfecting what he called the “skip-shuffle-hop” before he took to the streets for his first run after losing his leg in a motorcycle accident.
“I went to the basement because I didn’t want anybody to see me,” said the 58-year-old South Jordan man, explaining that he got the idea from a television show about Canadian cancer survivor and amputee Terry Fox. “I did (it) until I got pretty good at it, and then I started running in the mornings. I got up to about three miles. That was as far as I could possibly go because it hurt so bad.”
He spent years running that way — and that exact distance — because that’s all his prosthetic would allow.
“I really wanted to do a marathon,” he said. “I just thought it would prove, once and for all, that I wasn’t handicapped. But there was no way I could conceive of doing it. So I kept running my three miles.”
He was driving to work one day when he saw a picture of a prosthetic leg called a blade, like the one South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius made famous.
“I almost drove my car right off the freeway,” he said. “I was so excited.”
He called his prosthetist immediately and was invited to look through a catalog that contained more than 3,000 products. It took two months to build Hurst a blade, but his patience paid off.
“I could run like I used to,” he said. “I’d almost forgotten how.”
He immediately increased his mileage, and eventually revived that goal of running a marathon. He ran his first 26.2-mile race in the 2010 Salt Lake Marathon.
At a marathon shortly after that, he decided to join the 50 State Marathon Club, which requires members to run a marathon in each of the 50 states. He ran his 50th in Florida in January, and decided to take a break from running.
“I took two weeks off,” he said. “It was the longest I’d ever not run. It was terrible. I got depressed, gained 15 pounds. I told my wife, ‘I’ve gotta start running again.’”
Because he had support from Achilles of Utah and Challenged Athlete Foundation, he decided that he’d run marathons closer to home and to raise money for those organizations. He held a fundraiser last week and was surprised and grateful at how many people turned out to support the groups and his effort.
For his first post-50-states marathon race, Hurst decided to revisit the race where the madness all started — Salt Lake Marathon.
He will join about 7,000 people for Saturday’s event, which includes a full and half marathon, Bike Tour, 10K skate, 5K run and children’s marathon.
This marks the Salt Lake Marathon’s 14th year. The event starts with the Bike Tour at 6 a.m., and will be followed by the wheelchair and hand cycle start at 6:20 a.m.
There will be a Marathon and Half Marathon start ceremony at 6:50, with the races beginning together at 7 a.m.
Hurst realizes that some may not understand his seeming obsession with distance running.
“I just love running,” he said. “It’s hard to explain. I hate to say the word ‘addicted’ but I love the pain. When you’re in a marathon, and you hit that halfway point, you’re dying, and you’ve still got the same distance to go, you think, ‘What am I doing out here?’ And then somewhere around mile 20, you’re baked. You feel like ‘This is it.’ That’s when I really start to enjoy it. I just love to push myself beyond normal limits.”
The Salt Lake Marathon’s Quality of Life Expo will be part of FitCon this year. It runs from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Hall 3.
The 5K will start at 7:10 a.m., with the 10K skate starting at 7:25 a.m.
The start of the Bike Tour, Marathon, Half Marathon and wheelchair and hand cycle races will be at the Olympic Legacy Bridge, while the finish is at Library Square.
There will be free activities for children at Library Square starting at 8 a.m. The Kids Marathon starts at 10:45 a.m., and the finish line closes at 1:30 p.m.