Early on during the half-marathon of the Army Run yesterday, Rick Ball — a single-leg amputee gunning for a world record — passed Master Cpl. Jody Mitic, a double-leg amputee attempting the longest run of his entire life.
“It gave me goosebumps. He gave me so much inspiration. I actually had to tone it down or I would have probably burned myself out,” said Ball. “That guy is amazing.”
Ball, 43, lost his leg in a motorcycle accident in 1986. He was 21 years old at the time, but he didn’t start running distance until two years ago. Since then, he’s already broken two world records for single-leg amputees — the marathon record in Boston last April and 10 kilometres at the Ottawa Race Weekend in May.
The boost he got from seeing Mitic, a soldier who had both legs amputated below the knee after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan, helped him lower the half-marathon mark by more than a minute to 1:20:44 from the previous mark of 1:21:46.
Mitic, 32, would finish with a time nearly two hours later, among the last runners off the course — not that he was concerned with the time.
“I was getting a little worried about some pain and I kept losing suction in one of the sockets, but we just kept going with enough power gel. It feels good. This is awesome.”
Mitic said he hopes other soldiers with injuries will attempt the run next year.
“There is no reason not to try,” he said. “Hopefully next year we can all do it together.”
According to John Halvorsen, president of event organizers Run Ottawa, the event had slightly fewer than 11,000 participants, making it the fastest-growing run in Canada.
“As an organizer and a runner, I’ve never seen anything grow like this. We all understand why we’re here so I think that helps a lot,” he said.