An inspirational person is someone who’s made an impact on many lives. The world of runners has many such inspirations that have completed extreme athletic feats through perseverance by overcoming personal loss or disability. Their achievements, attitudes and values have affected those who encounter them, whether personally or by media coverage and encourage us to better ourselves.
Everyone can use a little inspiration now and then. Check our slideshow to learn more about 15 inspiring individuals, listed in no particular order that should serve as inspiration for all.
1. Amy Palmiero-Winters
Amy competed in many distance and track events until in 1997 her life changed. She lost her left leg. Amy not only regained her running abilities; she was able to become a marathon world record holder for fastest female amputee. Amy's experiences have inspired her to help others with disabilities do their best.
2. Fauja Singh
Fauja was born in India in 1911. He began running after the loss of his wife, daughter and son. At the age of 101, Fauja holds the record for being the oldest marathon runner. Some of the events he entered had no previous record holders because no one over the age of 100 had ever entered. He retired as a career marathoner five weeks before turning 102.
3. Angela Coulombe
Angela moved to England when she was 17. She contracted Lyme disease in 2007, and was no longer able to walk properly, go upstairs or dress herself. Angela was determined to learn all she could about Lyme disease and to help others who contracted it. Her determination led her back down the running path known as the “Lyme Runner.”
4. Michele King Gonzalez
Michele served in the U.S. Army where she deployed to Iraq three times. While deployed, she was lonely, homesick, stressed and her only release was running. Back in civilian life, Michele continued to run. While pregnant, she ran the entire time and completed a five-mile run the day before delivering her baby. She inspires many runners as a Sparkly Soul Ambassador.
5. Team Hoyt
This father and son team competes in athletic competitions. Dick Hoyt, father of Rick who was born with cerebral palsy; pulls him in a special boat, carries him in a special seat on the bike and pushes his wheelchair as together they complete triathlons. The team was formed when in Rick asked his father to help him run a race as a benefit for a lacrosse player who became paralyzed.
6. Michael Laforgia
Michael survived bacterial meningitis and double amputation of his legs to become a New York City Marathoner. His goal in competing is to show others there’s no "normal,” and anyone can achieve greatness. Regardless of physical disabilities, he believed he could do it and that others can too.
7. Lara Kruiskamp
Lara is a marathon runner from South Africa with a goal to complete a marathon on each continent. She runs to raise money for charity and bring a meaningful difference to the next generation of South Africans. Lara isn’t afraid to make hard choices as her dreams become reality.
8. Jonathan Brunot
Jonathan is a young man with severe autism. After years of trying to find an activity Jonathan could do with enjoyment, his mother signed him up for running. He’s an inspiration each time he laces up his shoes with a smile to run a marathon at his own pace, in his own time.
9. Abby Sweitzer Bales
Abby refuses to give up running even after having her colon removed. She continues to run to raise money in support of others who suffer from ulcerative colitis and to raise money for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation.
10. Keelan Glass
At six years old, Keelan is the youngest runner to finish a half marathon. She holds the world's record and is too young to understand what that means. Keelan ran the race to raise money, not break records.
11. Elizabeth Maiuolo
Elizabeth was born and raised in Buenos Aires and at the early age of 24, suffered a heart attack. She didn’t want pills or surgeries for her recovery; instead, she decided to start running. She has completed several NYC marathons and others, where she raises money for autism awareness.
12. Sarah Reinersten
Sarah made sports history by completing one of the world's hardest endurance events, the Hawaii Ironman as the first woman with a prosthetic leg. Sarah lost her leg at the age of seven due to a birth disorder known as femoral focal deficiency.
13. Ben Baltz
Ben grew up in a family of runners and when he lost his lower right leg; he thought his running days were over. One day at the age of 12 and just five months after getting his prosthetic leg, Ben and his mom started out on a walk that turned into running. He’s been running ever since in mile races and triathlons.
14. Derek Rae
Derek lost the use of his right arm after a motorcycle accident. Losing his arm and his job, he gained determination to make the best recovery ever. This determination has taken Derek from an average runner into a Scottish international medal contender.
15. Amelia Dickerson
Amelia lost her vision when she was a teenager. She no longer sees the world the same way we do; but she still has a vision. She runs to support others with disabilities through the Lending Sight. Amelia says she’s not afraid of what she cannot see.