I’m honored and happy to announce that the 2014 ‘Hope Shull Inspirational Runner Award‘ goes to RIF #353 Charlie Taylor from Gallatin, Tennessee.
Last year’s winner RIF #5 Lisa Gonzales beautifully captures why Charlie Taylor is this year’s winner of the ‘Hope Shull Inspirational Runner Award':
Last year, I was honored to be named the 2013 Hope Shull Inspirational Runner Award. When RIF #1 Joshua Holmes asked me who I felt was deserving of the 2014 award, quite a few RIFers came to mind but one runner stood out – RIF #353 Charlie Taylor.
Charlie is an ultra runner and a survivor of cancer. Having survived cancer myself, he was inspiring to me because he not only battled it with determination and humor but he also didn’t let it stop him from living life the way he wanted to.
Many of my friends in Run It Fast are friends with him and I would see his posts or posts about him and I got to follow his story. Charlie is a survivor of colon & liver cancer. He went through surgeries to remove first the colon cancer and then the liver cancer last January. Once he was recovered from that, he then had to do 12 rounds of chemo but as soon as he was given the all clear post-surgery, he was back to running. He was a running machine!
If you have never gone through chemo, let me tell you what it’s like: Chemo is like having your life ripped out from under you. Everything, and I mean everything, changes. It makes you feel like you’ve aged 50 years in a day. Every detail of your life is focused on not getting sick from the treatment, surviving the treatment, and then recovering from it. You feel like your life has been hijacked. You are exhausted and food tastes like crap and things don’t work the way they used to. You have to worry about white blood cell counts and not getting a cold because your immune system is shot. And then there’s chemo brain – forgetfulness and not being able to focus. Honestly, if given a choice, I’m not sure I would do it again. That’s how bad it is.
I had to stop running for a while because of my tumor and the surgery to remove it but I ran a little through chemo. Mostly though, I was happy that I could continue to work and function on my own. I was so excited when my 6 rounds of chemo were done because I thought I would immediately bounce back and start running long again. But that didn’t happen and I was tired for months after my last chemo treatment. I was trying to get back into running but was this close to giving up. I was just too tired and frustrated.
But then last July, I saw that Charlie was going to run the Vol State 500K (314 miles across Tennessee) as part of 3 person relay team. I remember thinking how can he do that? How can he run that much? I was barely running 5Ks and I’d been done with chemo for months. But he did it and he and his team set a course record! Then Charlie ran a 50K in August…the same month he finished his last chemo session. Charlie was running ultras in the midst of 12 sessions of chemo! How could he do that? Where did he find the energy? Or even the desire to do it?
In the year since Charlie had his surgery last January, he ran 12 races including 8 ultras (one of them being the Pistol 100 Miler!). As I started back running , posts about him would periodically pop up and I would tell myself to “Suck it up buttercup!”. Surely, if he can do all that, I could run a half marathon, right? And if he could do ultras during chemo, I could run a marathon a year after I was done with chemo, right?
Seriously, I still don’t know how he did it. He is made up of some strong stuff! He inspired me to be that strong too and to push myself.
The great thing about Charlie is that he is always smiling or cracking a joke in his photos. The cancer that he is dealing with is scary and has daunting odds but Charlie is positive and squeezing all he can out of this life. I think where I had seen myself as a victim of cancer, Charlie didn’t even give cancer the power to affect him at all. That was what was most inspiring to me. He battled it on his own terms and in his own way and inspired me to do the same.
This year, Charlie will be running the Barkley Marathons (one of the toughest, most insane 100 milers in the world). I look forward to seeing what he does there! If you want to be inspired, you should follow him too!
Thank you Lisa for those powerful words that summarize why Charlie is the winner of the Hope Shull Award for 2014.
The other Run It Fast members that were finalists for the award this year included Mark Hellenthal, Nathan Bass, Amber Goetz, and Marj Mitchell. They all inspired us in 2014 and continue to with their drive and indomitable will to be stronger than any obstacle they might face.
What is the Hope Shull Inspirational Runner Award?
In January 2012, we presented Hope Shull with a membership to Run It Fast – The Club at the Race for Hope 5K in Henderson, Tennessee.
The 5K was held to honor Hope as she had terminal cancer with just a few weeks to live. She died shortly after the race was held.
Hope was a personal friend to myself and many other of the early members of Run It Fast. I ran several of my very first 5K races with Hope and her good friend Marj Mitchell in West Tennessee.
I wrote Hope a letter to be presented to her at the Race for Hope 5K last January that Marj read to her at the race. The letter included a permanent membership to Run It Fast along with a few other words that included the creation of an award in her honor – ‘The Hope Award.’
January 12, 2012
I’m amiss that I can’t be at the race today. I’m in Los Angeles, but you are on my mind as you often are.
I asked Marj if it would be ok ,and she thought it would be, so I want to proudly announce you as the newest member of Run It Fast – The Club.
You will always be RIF #225, a special number to me as 25 has always been one of my two most favorite numbers. You will always be a part of the club no matter what transpires from this day forward between any of us.
I’ve always wanted you to be a part of the club because you embody EVERYTHING that Run It Fast was created to become. Run It Fast is a club full of members that have this deep down desire to overcome obstacles in life and limitations that most others let hold them back or down. Run It Fast members don’t let their situation or hardship in life dictate their life for them.
Instead they go out and conquer life by digging deep to train hard, run races, and forge friendships along the way that inspire others to do things that perhaps they didn’t think were possible either.
Also, I want to announce that starting this year, at the end of the year, the Run It Fast – Club will annually give one member the honor of being named the Hope Shull Inspirational Runner of the Year!
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the example you’ve set for me not only with running but with life. I’ll never forget sharing the car ride back to the start of the Labor Day 5 Miler with you a couple of years ago. That was a beautiful day and a lot of fun.
With my utmost love, respect and admiration,
Run It Fast ® (RIF #1)
Congrats to Charlie on joining Lisa as the winners of this prestigious award. Thank you for the inspirational you have and continue to provide for Run It Fast members and runners all over the globe.