Star News Publication: 9/22/18

Legendary distance runner and survivor to talk about moving on in the face of a catastrophe

By Jim Boyle Editor, Sep 22, 2018

The fifth annual Thumbs Up High 5K and 10K on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Lake Orono will start with a keynote speech during the 9 o’clock hour from legendary long-distance runner Dick Beardsley.

He won’t be talking about running marathons or taking part in 5Ks as much as he will be talking about being a survivor.

“I’m hoping to bring folks hope and some joy to a devastating loss of a loved one from suicide,” he told the Star News this week. “I will try and encourage them to move forward and to try and enjoy their lives the best they can and to let them know their loved ones will never be forgotten.”

Registration on Sept. 28 and 29

The Thumbs Up High organization raises money for initiatives to prevent suicide and make people aware of mental illness. The event and the group’s work has given a voice to the issues of depression and suicide in Elk River.

An early registration and packet pickup and chalk party will be held from 4-7 p.m. at Orono Park on Friday, Sept. 28, as well as a fun run with Beardsley. Same-day registration and check-in will be from 7:30-9 a.m.

Opening ceremonies will start at 9 a.m. Sept. 29 culminated with Beardsley’s talk and the national anthem. Races will begin at 10 a.m. for runners followed by bikers, rollerbladers, and walkers. There will also be Azitala Recovery Yoga on the beach, a kids obstacle course at 11:30 a.m. and a post-race festivities from 12:30-2 p.m.

Beardsley’s a survivor

After retiring from running, Beardsley had a series of near fatal accidents that left him addicted to pain killers. His story of overcoming extreme obstacles speaks to anyone who loves competition, who has survived catastrophe, or who has pursued a seemingly impossible goal.

He thought he had conquered the highest of tall mountains when he kicked his drug addiction, but later learned that was just a rolling hill he cleared when in October 2015, his 31-year-old son Andrew, a veteran of the war in Iraq, died by suicide, another heart-wrenching blow that challenged Beardsley in a deeply personal way. This tragic loss once again forced him to call on his inner strength and faith and continue his positive path through his life. Of all the difficulties in life, Beardsley admits this loss has, by far, been the most difficult to overcome.

Beardsley will share with Thumbs Up High 5K participants and the general public what he has been through on his journey.

He hopes to people will leave knowing, with perseverance and courage, they can take the next step when they don’t think they can. He also hopes they leave believing in themselves and help.

Beardsley is a motivational and inspirational speaker who became famous for his part in the 1982 Boston Marathon and as a record-breaking marathon runner.

He is also a Minnesota native, author, fishing guide, innkeeper, husband, father and subject of a feature film.

He penned an international bestselling autobiography called “Staying the Course: A Runner’s Toughest Race” and the subject of the bestselling book “Duel in the Sun: The Story of Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America’s Greatest Marathon.” He is also the subject of the feature “Against the Wind.”

He has been the keynote speaker at Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit organizations, conferences, conventions, corporate events, fundraisers, galas, sporting events, prisons, schools and drug treatment centers, to name a few. He will add on Sept. 29 a 5K and 10K event to raise money and awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.

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