Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Adversity Advantage

When I taught in Pheonix in the 1990's one of my colleagues was Erik Weihenmayer. In addition to being a good friend and fellow adventurer Erik was also a true inspiration. As you might imagine, teaching Middle School kids is never easy but teaching them when you are blind is even more difficult. In his four years as a teacher Erik never once had a major discipline issue with a kid.

Of course, as most of you know, Erik left teaching to pursue his dream of climbing the Seven Summits and on May 25, 2001 became the first blind person to stand atop Mt. Everest. Erik has since spread his message of dreaming big and using adversity to your advantage to millions of people around the globe. To me, as an ultrarunner, Erik has emboldened me to take the atttitude that I should never, ever give up. Now I know that running 100 miles is much easier than scaling Everest but the inspiration to use hardship and pain as a springboard to success is universal. So, the next time I'm puking in the ditch at Green Gate 20 miles from the finish of Western States I will figure out a way to harness the energy spent on feeling sorry for myself and use it for fuel to get me to the finish.

This past week Erik visited me at my school. He gave an inspiring address to the community, an amazing talk with the kids, and ran a clinic with Sun Valley Adaptive Sports. In addition, we did an interview with a local TV station. The link to that interview is here:

I hope everybody's training is going well. It's build up time!



Theresa said...


That was a really great thing for the kids at your school experience. Is Erik still in Idaho? Could I talk to him into coming to our school in Boise?
I'm going to try to find a copy of his book. Thanks for sharing that on your blog.


willgotthardt said...

Wow Andy...thanks for that (video link). Blind or not, Erik seems like an amazing guy...very cool.

Will G.

Anonymous said...