GOOD

How This Special Olympics Athlete Races Past Expectations

When the group reached the turnaround point, he said he wanted to keep going.

Andy Bryant was only supposed to run for 90 minutes.

After all, he was in Albuquerque, running at elevation alongside some of the top middle distance runners in the country. Plus, it was snowing and cold.


But when the group reached the turnaround point, he said he wanted to keep going.

The 36-year-old from Woodinville, Washington, has autism spectrum disorder and has heard a chorus of “no’s” and “he can’t” throughout his life. But, thanks to running, he’s racked up an impressive list of accomplishments, finishing 30 marathons — including nine Boston Marathons.

He ended up running for two hours in Albuquerque with the Brooks Beasts Track Club as part of their training camp earlier this year.

“He’s very disciplined in his approach to training. He has intention behind what he does and structure to what he does,” says Danny Mackey, head coach of the Beasts. “If you ask him to do something, he just does it. The guy can work hard for a long time.”

It’s this head-down, grind-it-out work ethic and up-for-anything attitude that Mackey believes has made Bryant a successful athlete and will help him excel at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in July.

Bryant is one of Brooks’ newest additions to their roster and one of two Special Olympic athletes sponsored by the running footwear and apparel company. He first started running with his mother, Colleen, and late stepfather and later joined the high school track team despite the coach’s initial reservations that he might not keep up.

[new_image position="standard large" id="578607"]Andy Bryant. Photo courtesy of Brooks.

Not only did he run well, thanks to his natural gift for endurance, but everything about running seemed to lift him up spiritually — the workouts, competition, and community of runners. Running was his ticket to being able to communicate, to feel accepted and to be part of a group, Colleen says.

“One of the major issues with Andy’s disability is the ability to connect and make friendships,” Colleen says, adding that it can be hard at times to have a conversation or make eye contact.

“With running, he was able to find a way to communicate,” she says. “Even though he couldn’t function well intellectually in the classroom and had literacy issues, he could run and talk about running.”

Plus, there’s something about the way sport breaks down barriers and creates connections. Under normal circumstances, gathering Bryant together with 12 professional runners might feel forced and awkward, but the shared interest and talent for the sport has provided a common bond between Bryant and the other members of the Brooks Beasts team.

“As soon as you bring sport into it, all of a sudden you have this guy who’s just training with them and they’re playing games on a Friday night. It’s normal, natural, and authentically fun,” Mackey says. “How else do you get that sort of community except through running?”

Bryant works hard at his craft, too. He says his favorite distance is the marathon because it’s challenging and “you do a lot of training.” He plans on running his 10th Boston Marathon in 2019. And he’s also thinking of testing his endurance and signing up for an ultra.

Mackey said that his elite athletes have been inspired by how tough Bryant is and his passion for running.

He’s slated to run the 3,000-meter and 10,000-meter races for Team Washington at the USA Games.

As for his chances for medaling?

“He’s at least going to medal,” says Mackey. “I would be surprised if he doesn’t win.”

Sports
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health