Cedric King no carp the die as much as bugger juice, like an orange, for every last drop of sunshine.
Thursday, Chicago. Friday, Atlanta. Saturday and Sunday, Denver. It takes a special soul to spin the legless hamster wheel.
“It’s crazy for you to say that. I’ve been thinking about that same feeling for the past two months,” King, a retired US Army Ranger, said via Zoom from his car, between two races in Georgia.
“I was living a great life before. But if I had said to myself, 10 years ago, ‘Hey, you’re going to lose a pair of legs, but you’re going to have the best 10 years of your life’, I wouldn’t wouldn’t have believed it, man. I wouldn’t have believed it.
At least 11,000 runners are expected to take part in the Colfax Marathon on Sunday, returning to its spring slot for the first time since the pandemic. Each bib has a story. King has about 50.
On July 25, 2012, during a second tour of Afghanistan, he stepped on an IED. The resulting explosion took both of King’s legs, as well as a piece of his right hand and right arm.
Seven months later, he was fitted to run prostheses. In April 2013, he started running with them.
Nine years later, he has logged 17 marathons and another handful of half marathons. He wrote a book. He rubbed shoulders with the likes of Cam Newton, Floyd Mayweather and Chris Berman. He met presidents and CEOs.
“If I had the choice, I probably would have been too scared to lose a pair of legs to win all of this,” said King, who is scheduled to compete in the Colfax Sunday morning relay events in partnership with the goal association. non-profit Achilles International, guided by Cigna Regional Vice President John Roble.
“I would have been terrified. I would have been, ‘No, I’m fine.’ Because I wouldn’t have understood that I would have become a better person…because losing your legs required you to be such a better human being. You couldn’t have figured it out.
He understands now. These days, King is a fixture on the speaking circuit, a walking testament to the tireless human spirit.
The inspiration is the full-time concert. Running is her secondary activity. Emphasis on the hustle part.
The man has completed the Boston Marathon five times. He conquered the Disney Marathon series – 48.6 miles in all – three times.
He’s a regular on the Front Range, joking that he left one of his favorite coffee mugs in Lakewood during a company engagement about five weeks ago. King even prepared for New York City 2019 by first running 10Ks in blades here.
“I had my best marathon time in this event doing 10,000 laps in Colorado,” said Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient King. “It was crazy.”
But the craziest and happiest stages are those like this weekend where his two passions, people and racing, intersect. The chance to run and touch lives through Achilles, an organization that empowers athletes with different abilities around the world; and his Freedom Team, which helps veterans who have suffered trauma compete in endurance events.
King knew fate was right, that his path was right, after an appearance in California about five years ago. It was then that a woman and her daughter, the last in line to meet after hearing one of the veteran’s presentations, approached him with the same timorous gaze.
“I’m sorry,” King asked at the time. “Is everything alright?”
“You don’t understand,” replied the woman. “We wanted to be on the phone to talk to you because I didn’t want anyone to hear me say that. But I have been physically abused for the past 20 years by my husband, his father. And I was totally afraid to defend myself.
“But today I know it’s not about getting beat up and bullied. It’s about the fact that I have to message myself first and then message her. Sending me a message I’m worth defending for…that it’s OK for me to defend me.”
King chokes on that one again.
“And when she said that,” he whispered, “man, I was just blown away. “Like, how did she get that?”
“When I give speeches, I don’t even try to tell people what to do. I talk because I’m trying to open up to myself and I’m on stage, literally, talking to myself. I tell myself what I need to hear.
“I was just like, ‘Man, my pain was somebody else’s medicine.'”
The king’s mantra? Keep moving. Love. Laugh. Weep. But whether you’re in a race on Colfax or on the hamster wheel of life, don’t stop. Do not look back. This old Lakewood mug is long gone.
“I gave up,” King said with a laugh. “You lose a leg, you lose a cup of coffee, you keep going. Dungeon. Train.”