About Us - ATC Ultra Challenge Atlanta, Ga ATC Ultra Challenge, Ultramarathon Atlanta, Ultra Marathon Atlanta, Ultramarathon Georgia, Ultra Marathon Ga, 50k Ultra Marathon Race, 50k Ultramarathon Race, Ultra Marathon Atlanta Ga, Ultra Marathon Atlanta, Ultramarathon Atlanta
"When everyone else stops; keep going"
- Austin Taylor
The Leadville 100 is one of the world’s hardest ultra-marathons, starting two miles above sea level, and requiring runners to climb over a mountain and back between miles 40 and 60. Professional runners, and the ultra-marathon elite sometimes can’t finish this race, and each year, of the almost 800 runners who start the race, around half DNF (Do-Not-Finish). So, it would seem impossible for a guy who had only run one marathon in his life, and lives at sea-level, to not only think about running, but to actually finish this trail run in the required 30 hours of the race rules. But when I met Austin Taylor at 8 years of age, battling against stage IV neuroblastoma for the second time in his life, I began to understand the difference between hard and impossible.
When I met Austin, it was while he was visiting our offices at Bard Medical Division in Covington, Georgia, with his mom Rhonda Taylor. He would come mostly on days when he had doctors visits, and we became friends. It was hard not to like this kid with the infectious smile, and the spirit of a warrior who loved superheros, the Georgia Bulldogs, and the Atlanta Braves. It was while getting to know Austin that I came up with the crazy idea to run the Leadville 100 for Austin, and to raise money for CURE Childhood Cancer, an Atlanta based organization that funds research to find a cure for childhood cancers.
As crazy as it seemed to others when I told them I was training for this race, I thought it was even crazier when my wife told me the amount of money that she thought we should set as our goal to raise - $10,000. After catching my breath, I agreed to the amount and we began our journey starting with a 5k in September 2013, through a 10k, a half-marathon, two marathons, a 50k in the melting snows of Kentucky, a 50 mile run in Alabama, a 3 day camp in Leadville, and finally the 100 mile trail run in Leadville in August 2014. During each step of each race I learned more about what I needed to do to reach my goal of 100 miles in under 30 hours, we moved closer to and surpassed our $10,000 goal, and at the end of each race I presented Austin with my finishers medal.
I presented Austin with each medal, except one, that is. While in Leadville completing a 3-day training camp, we received a message from Rhonda that after his second round of radiation, Austin was back in the hospital. The next day her update shocked us, when we learned that his tumors were back, and the doctors determined that there was nothing more they could do. Two days later on July 1, our hearts were broken when we learned that Austin’s battle against cancer was over, and that he had joined the other angel warriors in heaven.
When I returned to Atlanta, and got back to the office, I saw my dry-erase board where Austin and I had written down his advice for my race: “When everyone else stops, you keep going”. It was Austin, and those words that carried me through the mountains of Colorado allowing me to finish the race despite a 13cm tear in a muscle in my leg that occurred around mile 62. After recovering in a hospital in Parker, Colorado, we made our way home, and presented the Taylor family with the finishers medal from the race, and thanked them for giving us the chance to know their son.
We knew in our hearts that what we had started was far from done, as there are too many families like the Taylors, and too many children like Austin who face the unthinkable. Austin’s advice kept coming back to us: “When everyone else stops, you keep going”. And so that is what we are doing - we will keep going to raise awareness and money to find a cure.
Austin inspired me to do something that I should never have been able to do. And I hope through The Austin Taylor Challenge that you will join us in accomplishing more for yourself, and for others like Austin.