Alpha Stories

Published on Friday, August 23, 2013

In 100-mile race, Matt Dulin inspired by memory of dad’s strength and endurance

In 100-mile race, Matt Dulin inspired by memory of dad’s strength and endurance

“I’ll be challenging myself this year, running the Leadville 100,” Matt Dulin wrote on his fundraising page.

On Aug. 17, Dulin, 25, a runner who has done marathons, set out on the two-day, 100-mile “Race Across The Sky” in the Colorado mountains that started in Leadville, CO. He ran it in memory of his father, Rick Dulin, an Alpha who suffered from emphysema and died in December 2012 of complications after receiving a lung transplant.

Matt wrote that in raising awareness and money for Alpha-1 research programs, he ran to “give hope to those who battle with Alpha-1. …To remember those who we’ve lost, to protect those who’ve yet to come.”

“I believe that [my father will] be with me on my journey. His strength, endurance, will remain with me forever,” he wrote. Read Dulin’s story and donate here.

Here is Dulin’s first-person account of the run.

The Leadville 100 was an amazing experience. I was able to camp for the week leading up to it near Turquoise Lake, just a few miles from town. My family, friends, and girlfriend came to support me.

The race started at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning in downtown Leadville. I was able to get a few hours of sleep the night before, but the 2 a.m. wake-up call arrived very quickly. I was dropped off near the starting line and made arrangements to meet my crew at about 20 miles into the race.

I was feeling great, running strong as the sun was coming up. I was running around 5 mph pace throughout the day.

After a short run through a grassy meadow and a river crossing, I was starting the hike to the top of Hope Pass, trying not to think about the 3,000 feet of elevation. Soon I was nearing the top, feeling good and still strong.

As I reached the summit, I stepped off to the side for a few moments to remember my father. I said a few things, to him and to myself, and then I sent his ashes to the skies overlooking the mountains. I was remembering that he had taught me everything I needed to know about endurance. His consistent strength throughout life continues to inspire me to do the same.

From there I began the run down towards the 50-mile mark, where I would do a medical check-in, refuel, and also be gifted a pacer to help me back over the mountain to mile 60. My pacer’s name was Andrew, and his positive attitude helped me get back to Twin Lakes in good time.

At about mile 70 I was having trouble moving. The next few miles were the slowest of the race and I decided to call it at that point.

At mile 75 I met with my crew, waiting patiently in the dark for my arrival. My girlfriend Nikki was wearing a jacket, and she was ready to be my next pacer. My crew was going to jump in and pace me to the finish if they needed to. It was an awesome feeling, but I told them my race was over. It was time to go back to camp and get some sleep.

My race stopped around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday. I had run for about 22 hours. I accomplished the longest run of my life and had the opportunity to see some amazing things, all while connecting with my friends and family.

I didn’t finish the race, but my race continues for life. I will continue to step forward into the unknowns, grateful for all that comes my way.