RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — This weekend, about 19,000 people will hit the streets for the Anthem Richmond Marathon, American Family Half Marathon or HCA 8K.
Josh Smith will be among them, and he is using the experience to show the world and himself what he can do.
“I’m definitely competing against myself, and I want to prove to myself that I can do this,” Smith says before a training session at Bryan Park.
This will be his first big race of any kind, and he’s participating only fourteen months after the accident in Virginia Beach that changed his life.
“I dove into a wave and broke my neck on a sandbar,” Smith recalls. “But luckily my friends were a able to realize something was wrong and pull me out of the water.”
The L.C. Byrd High School and Virginia Tech graduate is a quadriplegic now, but he refuses to be defined by what his body cannot do. He is determined to conquer life with what it can.
“I’m very, very proud of Josh,” says Marielle Rando, the Director of Programs for Sportable. “He’s come a long way since the very first day.”
Sportable is a Richmond nonprofit providing adaptive sport and recreation opportunities. Rando has been helping Smith train for the past ten weeks. They started slow at first but soon built up to the five miles he will complete on Saturday.
“It’s a big challenge for me to push myself to do something that I’d never really done before,” Smith says.
He knows he can do it, and that Saturday’s event is just the beginning. “I definitely plan on continuing to push myself and do greater distance, maybe triathlon in the far future. Who knows?”
A total of eight Sportable athletes will participate in Saturday’s events. Click here to find a complete event schedule and road closures.