Through out history non-fiction and fiction there have been many amazing duos. Batman and Robin, Abbott and Costello, and even Han Solo and Chewbacca! But none is more real and more amazing than Team Hoyt. They inspired a generation of runners and endurance athletes in general. I still remember the first time I turned on the TV and saw Rick Hoyt begin pushed by his father Dick Hoyt in a full Ironman race. I knew how hard it would be to finish an Ironman but to see them doing this together in this manner just left me breathless. Before Team Hoyt made it to the finish of an Ironman there is a much of a story to tell.
Rick was born to Dick and Judy Hoyt in 1962. As a result of a lack of oxygen when he was born Rick developed spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. In his early years even though he couldn't speak his parents realized that Rick was very smart. His parents taught him the alphabet and took him sledding and swimming so he could live a normal life. They even sought out help to find a way to help Rick communicate. A skilled group of technicians from Trufts University setup a computer on Rick's wheelchair that he can use a cursor to point a different letters and speak to his parents.He had to use his head to tap on the letter he wanted to use. His first words to them was not Mom or Dad as you woudl expect it was "Go Bruins!" Rick was a Hockey fan and the Bruins were in the Stanley cup. Already Rick's competitive side was showing. Rick was finally allowed in school i 1975 at the age of 13. He would go on to graduate high school and from Boston University with a degree in Special Education.
In 1977 is when the running entered Rick's life or should I say the running community was blessed to have a new member join us. Rick told his father that he wanted to do a 5 mile race to benefit a Lacrosse Player who had been paralyzed in a car accident and his Dad of course said "Why not!" Keep in mind his dad was not a runner so this was going to be tough but they did it together. Finished next to last but they did it! When it was all over Rick told his dad that when he was running he didn't feel handicapped. So you guessed it, this began a path for both of them for Team Hoyt that now is legend. They began to train and race one race after the other. From 5Ks to half-marathons to even full marathons. They went on to even complete 6 full Ironman races which for those of you that don't know is 2.4 miles swimming in the ocean, 112 miles riding a bike and a full 26.2 marathon running all in the same day! All in all they have now run well over 1000 races as Team Hoyt. They travel the world and race and speak to anyone that wants to be inspired. The doctors were right when they told Rick's parents that he would never live a normal life... Rick's life is far from normal. It is spectacular due to him and his dad and all they have accomplished together. So the next time you need a little motivation think of Rick and his dad, Team Hoyt and know that we all have it easy and limits are just a myth!
This Monday I'm going to share with you my top Running Movies of all time! As far as motivation goes movie really do it for me! And a running movie well lets just say mid way through I'm ready to throw on my shoes and run out the door! But of all the running movies which are the best to get you pumped and eager to hit the road these cold winter mornings? I'll judge them in 3 categories.
1 to 10 scale:
Quality of overall movie (acting, filming basically can this movie win as Oscar!)
Story and Motivation(how good the story how much does it pump you up regardless of quality of film)
Running Accuracy (are the races and workouts close to real life)
With that in mind we will get started with #5 and work our way to #1:
#5 The Long Green Line: A documentary about the most successful cross-country coach of all time, Joe Newton, who recently passed away. The film follows, York High School near Chicago, in the 2005 season as the prep to win their twenty-fifth state championship in 50 years. they struggle to overcome one obstacle after the other including losing top runners for getting in trouble with the law.
Quality: 6 Story: 7 Running Accuracy: 9
#4 Jericho Mile: The movie tells the story of Rain, who is sent to jail for murdering his abusive father. While in prison, a warden discovers his running talent and encourages him to train for the Olympic trials. This movie truly shows how much determination a runner can put together under the most difficult of conditions.
Quality: 7 Story: 8 Running Accuracy: 7
#3 McFarland USA: Disney made this movie so big budget and big actors to go with a big story. Tells the true story of an ex football coach that starts the schools first cross country team with a group of 7 talented runners but little future prospects and guidance. They overcome many challenges and come together to make history in this inspiring story. Running scenes are a bit cheesy but its Disney!
Quality: 9 Story: 9 Running Accuracy: 6
#2 Without Limits: The film tells the life story of famous 1970s runner Steve Prefontaine from his youth days in Oregon to the University of Oregon where he ran for the legendary coach Bill Bowerman, later to Olympics in Munich and his early death at 24 in a car crash. An excellent view of the relationship between a coach and his runner.
Quality: 8 Story: 9 Running Accuracy: 7
#1 Running Brave: The true story of Billy Mills a native american youth raised on the reservation and against all odds and expectations goes on to become one of the best American runners of all times. The story is without question one of the best and proves what a person can accomplish with the right amount of Grit! The final race will leave you in tears if you have a heart at all!
Quality: 8 Story: 10 Running Accuracy: 8
Many of us take a moment to reflect on the previous year around this time of year. This New Years I'd like to take a look back at the last year specifically my time coaching at Cal High. This last year was my 4th track season and 5th XC season at Cal High in Whittier, CA. 3rd and 4th years as the head XC coach and head distance coach. Every day of every year I have spent with this team has been blessing and this last year was no exception. It was a year filled with heartache and headaches but I would have never traded any of it for all the money in the world! As we often say on the team its was a year filled with "Blood Sweat, and Tears!" On both the boys side we came into 2017 knowing that on paper we would end our XC undefeated streak this year if we didn't get it together considering our returning times after our seniors graduated. Around the same time to add insult to injury we lost one of our very top returners due to a move out of state. We knew it was time to dig deep and move forward and our boys did just that with an amazing track season. Not only being able to watch our senior class end their time at Cal High with a very strong season but watching our returners step it up during the season and realizing that hope was still alive for another undefeated league season. My best race memory of that track season was one that left me literally jumping up for joy! At the San Gabriel Valley Champions which is a championship track meet for all the school in the SGV bringing in the top talent from those school we had a chance to repeat as SGV Champs! The previous year the boys had won it with a strong group effort in different events from hurdles to pole vault to distance but this year the head track coach had approached me right before the 3200 to say sorry we won't be much help this year to get points for the win. We were in 12th or 14th place going into the 2nd to last event the 3200 and almost 30 points out of first place. No one and I mean no one including us gave us any chance to win this. As the gun went off for the boys varsity 3200 any hope of a repeat championship rested on our loaded 3200 group. Our boys put in a tremendous effort on a hot afternoon and not only took first in that race but went 1 2 3 4 to score over 30 points in 1 event catapulting us all the way into 1st place! As our boys took that last corner and into the straight away I literally jumped and threw my hands into the air almost hitting another coaching standing next to me with my clip board! On the back of our boys we had clinched another title! The girls entered 2017 coming off of the first league championship in XC in a few years and knowing they were no longer the underdogs in the league or anywhere for that matter! The pressure to perform again and again was something new to them. We knew it will be twice as hard to continue that momentum but our girls were up for the challenge. While there is not one race highlight in my mind the biggest highlight comes in a form of something much more valuable. The girls team made a huge jump during the track season in terms of the level of discipline and organization they rose up to! I would challenge any coach that could honestly say their team had more raw GRIT than our girls and that was a defining moment. I had the coach from Valencia high girls team tell me during on of the invitationals that he uses our girls team as the example when he speaks to his girls team. Saying " We need to be more like Cal High I see them running even on holidays!" I have to admit that made me smile on the outside and in my mind I was throwing my first in the air! Now came the summer and of course the XC season! Our bread and butter! Our everything for this team! Expectations were high not just from us but from everyone around us! Can boys make it to state 3 years in a row? Can girls team arrive to the top level of the state teams! Can we do this without driving each other crazy ! (yes its a real thing!) Once again tragedy struck us on both the boys and girls side. We lost a our #2 boy runner to disciplinary issue and several of our best returning girls as well in the course of 2 months time right before the start of the season. Any other team would have dialed it in, called it a night, and went home for the rest of the year... but not this bunch of kids from Whittier! Like they say when the going gets tough the tough get going! And did this team ever step up! Boys team now being down 2 of teh top 3 returners from last years XC team stepped up big time to not only go undefeated again in league to finish ranked 10th in all of Division 1 in the entire STATE of CA!!! While we just missed making state it was a heck of a run for these boys! The girls facing so many loses of top runners including a couple more during the season it would have been ok to just win league and call it a season but that was not enough for these girls! They not only won league and went undefeated for the second straight year but did so in a dominate fashion. At league finals they went 1 2 4 5 7 to score 19 points in a blowout and put all 5 scorers on the all league team!!! To top that off our girls went out at CIF prelims and qualified for CIF Finals for the first time in school history!!! Along the way they broke every team school and league records in the books. It was an amazing year in 2017 one that I will never forget. I will always even with the added grey hairs I would never trade the time I have spent with these kids and their families for anything in the world! They are truly my family and 2017 would not have been what it was without them! Thank you for the memories!
From all of us at WAR Elite Racing we would like to wish you and your loved ones the happiest of holidays! During this time of year we get to cherish those things we value the most in our lives. From our faith to our families and yes even our favorite meals and lets not forget those presents under the tree we so much look forward to opening! I myself got a projector from my family so I can use in coaching our WAR Elite athletes or to give a power point presentation to potential sponsors or new runners! While we enjoy these gifts there is one present that isn't gift wrapped or in a gift bag. It doesn't have a bow or fancy ribbon. Its isn't in a big or small box. In fact if you fail to look closely enough you might miss it. You may be asking what gift is that. My tree is now empty of filled with empty bags and torn-up wrapping paper. The gift I'm referring to is the one that keeps on giving day after day mile after mile, footstep after footstep. The present that you love and sometimes hate but always come back to! The present that doesn't fit in a box or a bag unless you consider the entire plant a gift bag! Of course the gift I'm speaking of is the wonderful gift of running. Since this is a time to be happy and grateful for all the most special people and things in our lives its only fitting that we take a minute to open the last present under the tree and appreciate what it has given us and will continue to do so in the coming year. Think about so many that don't have this present under the tree and haven't yet experience the joys of running. Even more so think of those that can't enjoy our sport. Feel very fortunate that you are able to run. When my high school athletes ask "What do we HAVE to run today?" I respond with " You GET to run 8 miles today! Smile!" So this week at work wear your new sweater and show off your new running shoes or running shorts on your next club run but don't forget to put on and use that last gift "RUNNING" Use it day after day! It comes with a life time warranty, doesn't require batteries, and is fully water proof ! From all of us at Ware Elite Racing have a very Merry Christmas and Keep Running!!!
Coach Rojas has 11 combined years of coaching experience at various levels including coaching a high school D1 State finalist team and 3 years in a row of a top 10 state ranking. He is passionate of the sport of running and loves to see new runners take up the sport! He wants to share a lifetime of running experience to all