Defying the odds: US Army veteran with above-the-knee amputation to run NYC …

Defying the odds: US Army veteran with above-the-knee amputation to run NYC ... #758

United States Army veteran Edward Lychik joined the military because he wanted to be part of something bigger than himself. But on his 21st birthday, while serving in Afghanistan as a combat engineer, he faced a horrific reality of war that prompted him to rethink his life mission entirely.

On Sept. 30, 2011, about a year into his deployment, Lychik was sitting in the gunner’s hatch of a tank when a rocket struck his vehicle. Lychik remembers feeling a dry thirst in his throat as black smoke engulfed the unit, seeing fire in the background, and reaching down to his left leg, which felt mushy on his fingertips.

“My friend immediately pulled it away and said, ‘You don’t want to do that,’” Lychik, now 24, told “They put me on a stretcher and in a vehicle, and that’s when I knew something was wrong.”

Lychik lost most of his left leg in the attack, which doctors later amputated above the knee. Gone were his knee joint, ankle joint and hip joint on that side of his body after undergoing a procedure called hip disarticulation. His medical team said the only way he would be able to walk again was with crutches and assistance.

In the days that followed, Lychik turned away visitors to his hospital room during what he called “a really low point” in his recovery. And although his nights were riddled with nightmares, one daydream kept Lychik’s spirit ignited during his darkest hours: A foggy spring night, a black hooded sweatshirt, and a bladed leg striking the pavement, propelling his body with each stride.

“I didn’t think much of it,” Lychik said. “I didn’t do much with it a whole year after that, but it was something and it made me feel good.”

Today, Lychik has proved his doctors— and even himself in the early hours after his injury— wrong. Today, Lychik doesn’t just walk. He runs.

As if by a dream come true, a custom-designed prosthetic leg with a curved blade and hip socket has enabled Lychik to finish four marathons, including the Boston Marathon in March, since his injury. On Sunday, he’ll run his fifth when he competes in the New York City Marathon.

Ryan Blanck, 41, clinical director of the Hanger Clinic in Gig Harbor, Wash., designed the one-of-a-kind technology. Blanck is a hero in his own right among the military community: His innovative Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis (IDEO) technology has helped more than 600 servicemen and women return to active duty after suffering from leg injuries.

Blanck first met Lychik at the Center for the Intrepid, a U.S. Army medical center in San Antonio, Texas, where he sought treatment and a prosthetic leg for walking after his injury. Around the time Lychik left San Antonio for his hometown of Tacoma, Wash., Blanck was headed in the same direction.

By then, Lychik had a prosthetic leg and could walk, but he began to grow restless.

“I walked for about a whole year in Texas, and I felt that I could still do more and be more— and I felt like something was missing,” Lychik said.

When Lychik approached Blanck and his prosthetist, Bob Kuenzi, with the idea of a running leg, they sat on the idea for a while. In the prosthetics community at the time, hip disarticulation patients hardly walked, much less ran with a prosthetic leg. But Lychik persisted.

“Everyone realized that this guy had a special motivation,” Blanck told “He self-advocated and said, ‘You may think I’m crazy, but you want to take it in a stepwise process.’”

“You can create the most advanced technology possible,” Blanck added, “but the patient then has to take that and use it— otherwise, it can kind of go nowhere.”

Blanck’s team created the technology with a carbon fiber shell socket, which is lined with a custom urethane gel that reduces irritation around Lychik’s waist and torso. The socket attaches to the leg and blade as well as to a shoulder strap that lifts some of his body weight and reduces strain on his hip.

Lychik’s requests were specific: He wanted to run an eight- to nine-minute mile, and be able to tackle any terrain and any obstacle, including water. To meet those requirements, Lychik’s leg would need to bounce back fast enough after hitting the ground to propel his body forward.

“The first time [we tried the leg] was a disaster— because it didn’t work,” Lychik said. “We tried all these different parts. Oh, do I need a hip piece, do I need a strap? We thought about doing a straight-on pile down. He wanted me to go straight because it wasn’t going out and coming back fast enough.”

Lychik signed up for his first race— a Tough Mudder, a military-style running and obstacle course, in Austin, Texas— just a week and a half after putting on his new leg.

From there, his mindset switched.

“I went out there to prove something to myself: That I can get out there, that I can still do things— that I can do anything a normal person can do,” Lychik said. “But at the same time, there were all these people watching me, cheering me on, thanking me. That really switched everything in my mind around. Coming from a mindset of laying on a hospital bed thinking I lost everything— thinking, ‘Who’s going to like me? Who’s going accept me when I can’t even accept myself?’ I learned I can use this prosthetic leg to inspire people.”

Lychick speaks about his experience to veterans groups, elementary schools and in college classrooms, hoping to lift others people’s spirits when they may be facing hardship.

“I thought, ‘I can only run so much and do so many events,’” Lychik said. “I thought I could make a bigger impact. I wanted to inspire people and reach out to people.”

He said he aims to live his life like his role models: Tony Robbins, a renowned American life coach, and Terry Cox, a Canadian marathon runner whose right leg was amputated above the knee due to cancer.

Lychik is also part of Operation Enduring Warrior, a group for military veterans, and ran with them in the Spartan Race, an 11-hour climb up 7,000 feet of elevation. Racers wear gas masks to symbolize overcoming the odds.

Frank Jay Porcaro, 24, who shares a condo with Lychik outside of San Diego, Calif., trains with his roommate regularly. The two work out on their patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean, focusing on upper-body and core-strength exercises with kettle bells, strength bands and weights.

“He’s very organized and structured, and he also holds himself at a high standard,” Porcaro, who is a personal trainer and professional speaker, told “He does everything he talks about, and does those exercises when nobody’s there — and those things have really inspired me to be better.”

Lychik’s determination and inspirational spirit were not lost on the man responsible for helping him beat the odds— one of his prosthetists, Blanck.

“His goal in life is to encourage people to look at their situation differently,” Blanck said. “There’s not a lot of people that think that way, and that’s what motivates him. He wants to be in this race on Sunday and bring a smile to someone’s face, and see someone who woke up and had a crummy day, and says, ‘Look at this guy.’”

“He motivates me to make things faster, lighter, stronger,” Blanck added.

On Sunday, during the New York City Marathon, Lychik is hoping to finish in fewer than four hours. His best time is 4:07, which he hit at the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in June.

“I’m fulfilled right now,” Lychik said. “I don’t think there’s ever a finish line. You run a marathon, you get a medal at the end but, you know, that medal is going to collect dust over the months and through time. All you’re going to remember is the 26 miles and the journey to the marathon. I love where I am now, but I don’t want to skip any parts.”

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The People’s Marathon Army scores double victory hooah at 39th Marine Corps …

The People's Marathon Army scores double victory hooah at 39th Marine Corps ... #31

Runners participate in the 39th Marine Corps Marathon Oct. 26, 2014. Between 1976 and 2013, the MCM has had 492,680 finishers. (Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAO photo by Rachel Larue)

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – The Army ran with the Marines during Oct. 26’s Marine Corps Marathon, but after 26.2 miles, two Soldiers shot past all service members and elite civilian marathoners to stand atop the victory podium.

An Army specialist and captain captured the male and female 2014 MCM male and female titles, respectively. Both Spc. Samuel Kosgei and Capt. Meghan Curran were running in their first-ever “People’s Marathon” as Kosgei, who is stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., clipped along the course in a time of two hours, 22 minutes and 12 seconds while Curran, in her 26.2-mile debut, bettered the ladies’ field in 2:51:47.

Both marathon Soldiers made significant moves during the 18th mile of the race. Kosgei broke away from his All-Army Marathon teammates to hunt down mid-race leader Getachew Asfaw and catch him smack dab in the vicinity of the Smithsonian museums and Curran passed Colleen Little near the National Mall mile markers with around eight miles left to run.

“I think the first guy (Asfaw) went too hard at the beginning,” Kosgei said following his finish. “I couldn’t see him at the 16th mile then I started running him down, but I knew I’d get him because I was still feeling good. After I passed him, I knew I had control of the race. He took off early and we let him go. We knew we’d run him down because we work as a team. I knew my guys (teammates) were getting a little bit heavy, so I said, ‘let me go get him’ because it was getting late to catch up. I pushed myself at 16, 17 and, 18, and I got him. I took control after 18 miles.

Kosgei’s co-conspirator in running down Asfaw, Spc. Laban Sialo, was second in 2:23:48.

Curran was a last-minute addition to the female All-Army Marathon Team. She previously ran cross country and track at West Point, but the 2014 MCM victory is the capper on a stellar running career.

“I got asked to run this two weeks ago for the Army,” Curran admitted to reporters at the finish line. “It was a good effort for a first marathon. I just ran as hard as I could and did not do anything dumb. I didn’t want to go out too fast.”

While Curran ran her race through the streets and highways of Washington, D.C. and Virginia, she had the opportunity to watch the men’s drama unfold. By the time she reached the Arlington, Va. finish line, she had a good idea the Army marathoners were going to sweep the men’s, women’s and MCM Armed Forces Challenge.

“The guys looked strong; at all the switch-backs, I could see the guys and yell at them,” Curran said about her catching glimpses of Kosgei’s reeling in of Asfaw.

As for the 10K portion of the race, Mynor Lopez of Falls Church won in a time of 32:39. Sarah Bishop, 32, of Gilroy, Calif., took the MCM10K women’s crown in 37:58. The 2014 10K field was the largest field of MCM 10K runners ever, totaling 7,636 competitors.

The marathon start line witnessed 19,661 starters including celebrity starter/actor Sean Astin and Medal of Honor recipient retired Marine Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter. Carpenter parachuted as part of an aerial team that delivered a 7,800 square-foot American flag to the MCM start line. Carpenter finished the 26.2 miles in 5:07:45, and Astin completed The People’s Marathon in 4:29:11.

New York City resident Tom Davis, 37, was the first to hand cycle into the finish with a time of 1:11:29.

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Iowa Senate Hopeful Accused of Plagiarism

Iowa Senate Hopeful Accused of Plagiarism #841 TIME Politics 2014 Election State Sen. Joni Ernst waves to supporters at a primary election night rally after winning the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The 43-year-old Ernst won the nomination over five candidates. Charlie Neibergall—ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Republican Senate candidate in Iowa copied-and-pasted large portions of her op-eds in local newspapers from other sources, according to a new report.

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Army runners shine at Marine Corps Marathon

Army runners shine at Marine Corps Marathon #768

It may be called the Marine Corps Marathon, but the Army took the top spots Sunday in the male and female divisions with a trio of relatively inexperienced marathoners.

Competing in just his third 26.2-mile race, Army Spec. Samuel Kosgei took first place in the men’s race in 2 hours 22 minutes 12 seconds, and fellow Army Spec. Laban Sialo wasn’t far behind with a second-place finish of 2:23:48. Sialo was running in his first marathon.

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Swiss Army Knife

Swiss Army Knife #417

This story originally appeared in the September/October issue of BIKE.

THE FOURTH-BIGGEST ROAD STAGE RACE IN THE WORLD, THE Tour de Suisse, is one of two warm-ups for the Tour de France. Its grueling mountain passes prepare the world’s best roadies for the steep stages of the TDF. This year’s start list included 2012 TDF winner Bradley Wiggins, time-trialist Fabian Cancellara, sprinters like Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish and one mountain biker with a sweet tail-whip. In only his second professional road race, Swiss cross-country racer Nino Schurter held his own, launching an attack, sprinting to two Top-10 finishes and earning Stage 3’s most active rider award.

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Army runners shine at Marine Corps Marathon

Army runners shine at Marine Corps Marathon #104

Competing in just his third marathon, Army specialist Samuel Kosgei took first place in the men’s race with a 2:22:12 time, and fellow Army specialist Laban Sialo wasn’t far behind him with a second-place finish of 2:23:48. Sialo was running in his …

Samuel Kosgei crosses the finish line as the first male finisher in Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon. (Alex Brandon/AP)

It may be called the Marine Corps Marathon, but the Army took the top spots on Sunday in the male and female divisions with a trio of relatively inexperienced runners.

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Growing army of marathon runners continue to confound the sceptics

Growing army of marathon runners continue to confound the sceptics #38

Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto crosses the line in Berlin as he completes the fastest marathon in history – his 2:02:57 breaking the 2:03-barrier for the first time. Photo: Tobias Schwarz/Getty

Some people still think of it as a sort of annual mass street demonstration in support of capital running punishment. What, they ask, are those sick people running for? Why would anyone punish themselves so brutally for 26.2 gut-busting miles through the streets of any capital city, especially in a race where hardly of them have the slightest chance of winning?

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