You always read stories about athletes who have done incredible things, things you never even thought possible. Michael Phelps bringing home 22 medals from 2 Olympics, Felix Hernandez pitching a perfect game, Usain Bolt becoming the fastest man alive way ahead of his time running 100m in 9.58, all of these feats, though incredible, all have one thing in common: they were done by able bodied athletes, athletes who most likely never had doctors or anyone tell them they couldn’t do it, had childhoods full of support and coaching, and although the circumstances for all are certainly different, generally they follow a similar path.
Jason Lester breaks this mold.
He was hit by a car at the age of twelve, breaking 21 bones and suffering a collapsed lung and, as if that wasn’t enough, his right arm was permanently and completely paralyzed.His single dad died a couple of years later at the young age of 39, leaving Jason to be raised by his grandparents. Although he continued to play sports in his childhood, and even excelled in most, after he entered the real world he became depressed with his corporate life and began abusing substances and living a life he wasn’t happy with.
He eventually found his way out of that lifestyle through his relationship with God and sports, during a trip to Kona to watch the Ironman world championships, everything changed. He knew he was meant for the sport of Ironman.
With one arm, and everyone – doctors, friends, strangers – telling him it was physically impossible, Jason proved them all wrong. Not only did he successfully complete a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike (in which he couldn’t stand because his paralyzed arm was strapped to the handle bars) and a marathon, but after he was done, he decided that it hadn’t been a big enough of a challenge for him; so he became the first every challenged athlete to ever complete the Ultra man world championships (6.2 mile swim, 261.4 mile bike, 52.4 mile run). After Ultraman when everyone thought “that’s it, he’s done it all,” he proved them wrong once again. He created Epic5, a series of 5 Ironmans on 5 Hawaii islands (originally supposed to be in only 5 days, but it took him a week with travel and mechanical difficulties, he has sense done it in 5 days). What makes Epic5 even more incredibly is that he only had one other person racing with him (Rich Roll-who also has another incredible story) and he created the entire race by himself.
Jason Lester is one of those rare people who is never done. Every completed race, every challenge surmounted lends itself to another challenge. He’s still creating new challenges for himself and has yet to stop or even slow down. Whenever I think something is too hard, or just simply impossible, I remember Jason, and realize that very few things are actually out of the human limits as long as we’re willing to give everything we have to get there.
Here are some of his most recent accomplishments:
Nike Journey for a Better World — Ran & Biked 5,000 miles in 102 days across the United States (2012) www.NikeBetterWorld.com/journey
26X26 — Ran 26 Marathons in 26 Consecutive Days (2012) www.26X26.info
3PICMAN Challenge® — 7.2-mile swim, 336-mile bike and 78.6-mile run in 51hrs (2012) www.3PICMAN.com
EPIC100® — Ran 100 miles non-stop from Kailua-Kona to the Top of Mauna Kea Mountain 15,000ft (2012) www.EPICinc.com
RUNMAN® — Ran 230 miles around the Big Island of Hawaii – 5 1/2 Days— 6 Days Non-Stop (2012)
H2OPE Badwater for Clean water — Ran 316 miles from Las Vegas to Mt. Whitney, 2011 ( 1st male athlete in the world to complete ) (2011) www.H2OPE2011.com
EPIC5 Challenge® — 5 Iron Distance Triathlons – 5 Hawaiian Islands in 5 Days, 2010, 2011, 2012 ( 1st athlete to complete 3x ) www.EPIC5.com
Here’s a video of him telling his story: