If there’s one thing that Mark Maloney has learned after a lifetime of running races, it’s that every step counts. Half of the battle is simply getting off the couch and putting one foot in front of the other. Now that he’s 87 years old, the Vietnam veteran has run more races than he can recall, but it’s the last kilometer of his most recent race that really matters.
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Three years ago, no one knew if Mark would ever take even one more step, much less participate in another road race. He was 84 when he had an accident while riding his bike near Garden of the Gods, Colorado. A man named Chris Brown found him bloodied and tangled in his bicycle on a trail, then called for help. Thanks to quick medical intervention, Mark survived, but without the use of his arms or legs.
Mark suffered a spinal cord injury that left him a quadriplegic. He’s been working hard every day since then at the VA Medical Center in Aurora, trying to regain the movement in his limbs. He’s also been testing out a revolutionary new invention called Lite Run, a machine that uses space age technology to help quadriplegics walk.
For his big comeback to running, Mark set his sights on finishing the final kilometer of the Bolder Boulder 10K foot race, an event that welcomes over 40,000 competitors to Folsom Field every Memorial Day. The event features a mixture of athletes, from professional runners to families and groups running in full costume. In 2023, the race featured Mark, defying all odds!
With the Lite Run and an army of family and friends wearing bright red “Team Mark” shirts, Mark was able to successfully run the entire kilometer with little assistance, crossing the finish line to a chorus of cheers from the packed stadium. The man who found his broken body on the trail three years ago was there to support Mark, bringing their story full circle.
“I’ll tell you, he never quit,” said Chris. “From the first moment I met him – he was barely moving. He just said, ‘I’m gonna walk again. I’m gonna race again.’ So, it’s never been a doubt in his mind,” he said, adding, “He’s an inspiration, something we can all hope to follow.”
Being an inspiration is a big part of the “why” behind Mark’s efforts. He hopes that seeing a quadriplegic in his 80s cross the finish line of a 10K race will remind people that anything is possible with hard work. Mark simply refused to give up, and he doesn’t want anyone else to throw in the towel, either.
“I want to be able to finish my life strong, thinking I helped others,” he explained.
Mission accomplished, Mark! The octogenarian says finishing the race is a “dream come true,” but he’s not finished yet. Not even close! Instead, you’ll see him back on the course next year, and this time he aims to finish 2 kilometers of the race. Our money is on Mark making good on that promise!
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