ATOs had a hard time with ‘Hard Walk’

19 July

The motto of Dean Karnazes, the “Ultramarathon Man,” is “Go out hard and finish harder.”

Three Troy University students adopted his motto and set out on a “hard walk” that finished “much harder.”

Kyle Crabtree said every mile of the “hard walk” that he, Jacob Laan and Austin Bivins took from Troy to Panama City Beach seemed to get harder and harder.

“We finished real hard,” he said, laughing but with a hint of pride in what has been accomplished.

Now that the soreness has gone from his feet and he has finally cooled to room temperature, Crabtree said he’s ready for another “hard walk” but not until next summer.

Crabtree said the six-day “hard walk” was an incredible experience but he often thought he might have to walk away from it.

“There were quite a few times when I thought about giving up,” he said. “The first day was easy because we had gotten a good night’s sleep. The second day our feet started to hurt. That night we slept on gravel under a bridge near Hartford and bees were everywhere and alligators were in the river. It rained hard and the wind blew. It was miserable, and I was about ready to call it quits.”

But the weary traveler continued to put one foot in front of the other and he and his friends were rejuvenated by an unexpected surge of media attention.

“We had our cell phones off at the beginning of the walk and, when we turned them on, we started getting calls from news media here in Alabama and in Georgia, Mississippi and Florida. And, USA Today called so that was very exciting.”

Crabtree said the best part of the journey was meeting people along the way.

“Everywhere we went, people stopped and talked to us,” he said. “They would give us food and water and donations for our platform, which was children with diabetes.”

And it was the people who supported the young men with words of appreciation and encouragement that kept them going, mile after mile and day after day.

The hardest time of the day to be afoot was 2 p.m. “That’s the hottest part of the day and every day at 2 o’clock we would be in a deserted area,” he said. “If you looked to the left, there was a corn field. If you looked to the right, there was a cornfield. It was a lonely place to be.”

After three days, the friends found they had little more to talk about and started to get aggravated with each other.

“But that didn’t last long,” Crabtree said.

“We felt good about what we had accomplished, especially because we had done something to help kids with diabetes.” And, if things go as hoped, the PC Challenge will gain the support of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and become an annual event and do even more to help young people with diabetes attend Camp Seale Harris, an outdoor camp for kids with diabetes.

Crabtree, Laan and Bivins were inspired to do something challenging and something that would also be beneficial to others after reading about Karnazes’50/50/50 marathon – 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days.

When they decided on the PC Challenge, a friend wanted to join them but had to get clearance from his doctor. He had Type I diabetes.

The friends decided to use the “hard walk” as a platform to help those with diabetes.

They solicited sponsors for their walk and pledged all of the funds collected to Camp Seale Harris, a camp for children with diabetes, at Jackson’s Gap.

The final total is in and tops $2,800 – an amount that makes the long, hard walk “all worthwhile.”

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