Getting to a start line takes more than just showing up. It takes waking up early to fit in your run before work or staying out past the sunset to get in the miles, it takes icing sore muscles and fitting in stretch breaks throughout the day, and it takes overcoming battles. Team Run Free was brought together because they have two things in common: they run and they have had an amputation. But, each team member has their own story of how they’ve gotten to the start line. These 13 team members will come from all over the U.S. to attempt to be the second all-amputee Ragnar team running for the Amputee Blade Runners (ABR).
ABR is a non-profit committed to helping amputees receive specially designed running blades to keep them active and moving. These are the team members’ stories of getting to the start line of Reebok Ragnar Tennessee.
Clifton Park, NY
Ragnars Run so far: 0
15 months after his amputation, Darryl Partridge became a personal trainer.
“A couple weeks after the amputation I found myself at the gym,” Darryl said. “After starting to go the gym, I became obsessed with being there because I realized I still had incredible physical capability, even though I didn’t have a leg.”
9 years ago, Darryl fractured his talus, the bone in your ankle that transfers weight from your body to your foot. The pain was bothering him but he didn’t think much of it until three or four months later when it became harder and more painful to walk. By that time, the bone and surrounding cartilage was already destroyed. Over 4 years, he went through six surgeries to try and salvage the ankle, but complications led to him losing the function of his foot.
“I basically called a wash,” he said. “I choose to have it amputated and I got my life back. At that point, I wasn’t living an active life. I wasn’t living the life I wanted. Now, my life is so incredibly active. It doesn’t mean I don’t have days where I’m like ‘I have to deal with this leg.’ And any amputee that tells you they don’t, probably isn’t telling you the truth. But, overall with what I do in the gym, I’ve made myself so capable that my wife says I’m the most capable person she knows.”
A couple of months after his amputation, he heard of Ragnar. He made it a goal.
“The opportunity is here and I’m going to do it,” he said. “And I’m going to out there and show the world that it doesn’t matter, you just have to go, I am going to get it done.”
Ragnars Run so far: 1
“It got where I was just tired of being tired,” Chris said. “I got to the point where I just wanted to do stuff that I wanted to do. I wanted to stick around longer for my family.”
Chris lost his legs due to diabetic complications. After his amputation, he was looking through YouTube videos and found ABR. So, he applied for the grant and after going through the grant process of running three 5Ks on his walking legs, he received his running blades in 2015.
“I didn’t know I wanted to do running until I got involved with the Blade Runners,” Chris said. “They got me into running.”
This will be Chris’s second Ragnar with Team Run Free.
Ragnars Run so far: 3
Daryl Farler has been with ABR since the begenning, as a member of the board when it was founded.
“I started thinking, wait a minute, this is a running charity, so maybe I should start looking the part,” he said.
So, he started running. And now, he’s completed several Ragnar Relays, the Boston Marathon and several triathlons.
“You feel a lot of pride knowing that you [finished a race],” he said. “To put prosthetics on, it’s just humbling to think that there are people out there that would provide you a product that would allow you to finish that kind of pride and give you that opportunity to compete again.”
This will be Daryl’s second year running with an all-amputee team and fourth year running Ragnar with ABR.
“To be a part of a team that is physically alike makes it that much sweeter to know that we can go out and compete and be a part of such a really fun, exciting, hilarious, smelly, everything you can think of type of race,” he said. “And to inspire the people who are around us to push through that little bit of pain that they’ve got going on.”
Read more about Daryl’s story here.
Ragnars Run so far: 0
“All these individuals are amputees who are doing something outside of what is ‘normal,’” she said. “It’s not normal for you to be like hey, I want to go out and run 200 miles who wants to join me? No one does that. You have an all-amputee team who says ‘hey, let’s go run 200 miles?’ But here are these individuals who say, ‘Yea, I’ll do it. I’ll totally do it.’ I want to be a part of that. It’s nice to be around other amputees that are all trying to accomplish the same goal and ultimately want to make it to the finish line.”
Sabrina’s main sport is CrossFit, but she found out that in CrossFit, you have to run sometimes. The co-founder of ABR, Aaron Fitzsimmons, was her prosthesis at the time and helped her get connected with a running blade.
“I’ve never had the technology before ABR because insurance doesn’t give you that,” she explained. “They’re not like hey, have a running leg because you might run. They never do that. They say, what are your basic needs? Do you need to walk from point A to point B? Well, here’s a way to walk from Point A to Point B. So you’re like, fine. If that’s all I get, that’s all I get. When you’re given the technology of having a running blade that really acts like a foot would if it was running, then that’s a huge bonus.”
So despite being slightly voluntold to run Ragnar, Sabrina added to her training, is ready to run more miles and is looking forward to learning from her teammates.
“It’s a lot easier to relate to someone who is an amputee than to someone who’s not,” Sabrina said. “I’m really looking forward to that because I think whenever I sit here and am like, I feel like my gait is a little off, the other person can be like ‘I kind of feel the same way too but when I’ve done is blah.’ We’re more like a cheerleading team than we are a support group.”
Read more about Sabrina’s story here.
Ragnars Run so Far: 0
For Sidney Smith, running is something he’s always wanted to do, but never been able to. At the age of 12, he was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a genetic disorder that damaged the nerves in his legs. Throughout his life, he had to wear braces.
“It’s the most badass thing I could think of,” he said. “Running is the most emotional thing, because it is the most difficult. It’s something I could never do before.”
Sidney had his legs amputated a year and a half ago. Six months later he started running.
“Prosthetics are amazing,” he said. “You can do almost anything you want to do with prosthetics. Yet, does it take work? Of course. But, it doesn’t need to change who you are. In fact, it can make you a better person. Some people wake up and put on their contacts, we wake up and put on our legs.”
After his amputation, Sidney Googled “running blades” and found ABR.
“I thought it was going to be very difficult,” he said. “But, I put my application in anyways. During that waiting process, I saw that they did the Ragnar last year and I thought that was amazing. And I thought, how awesome would that be if I was on their blade running team. Eventually, I got a call from them and I got accepted into their program.”
This will be his first Ragnar. Read more about Sidney’s story here.
Other Members on the Team:
Ryan Fann Savannah, GA
Sarah Curlee Nashville, TN
Brent Lambert Jackson, TN
Chris Madison Little Rock, AR
Mike Dimas Dallas, TX
Brett McNinch Dayton, OH
Tim Cheatham Carbondale, IL
Chris Arnold Nashville, TN
“With Ragnar, it’s the chance to be in a smelly van for 36 hours to accomplish something that the vast amount of the country won’t attempt. And to even be in a smaller group that are missing body parts. Everyone who is running is missing a body part. We’re 1% of 1% of 1%. It’s awesome.”-Daryl Farler
Help support the Amputee Blade Runners by donating to their page here.