Just two of 20,000 Boston Marathoners, Nebraska Amramp franchise owners Todd and Bridgette Torring of Omaha aim to complete the world’s oldest annual 26.2-mile race. The prestigious time-qualified marathon marks Todd’s seventh marathon and Bridgette’s sixth.
Installing wheelchair ramps and helping Nebraskans retain their independence even when their bodies present mobility challenges “does remind me during these long runs that we often take for granted what our bodies are capable of doing,” Todd said.
Todd and Bridgette, are flying from Omaha, Nebraska to Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday, April 16, ready for the 2011 running on Monday, April 18. To even enter the Boston Marathon, runners must qualify, previously running a long-distance race under age- and gender-specific time limits.
Long before marathons, Todd and Bridgette shared a love for running: Running cross-country at Ralston High School in Ralston, Nebraska, they became high school sweethearts. The Torrings attended Kearney State College in Nebraska, where Bridgette continued cross-country and Todd wrestled. Bridgette became a teacher, and Todd worked in the pharmaceutical industry.
Over the years, their early athleticism did not share quite the same success as their relationship did:
“I had just turned 40 and was feeling out-of-shape after eating too many lunches out,” Todd recalled. “I returned from a trip to Mexico with my family, and after seeing the photos of myself and how I looked on the beach, let’s say it gave me all the inspiration I needed to make a change!”
While many might have simply started jogging casually a few times a week, Todd set a higher definite goal. He mentioned to Bridgette one night that he was thinking of signing up for a marathon. When he actually went ahead and registered, Bridgette said: “You’re crazy.”
“You can train too and run it with me,” Todd replied.
Todd printed out a training program and started running, building up mileage over the weeks and months that followed. Both he and Bridgette ran the Chicago marathon in 2005.
“I did better than most people expected me to, time-wise,” Todd says. Encouraged, he began to train for another race.
Todd has completed six marathons – including the Boston Marathon in 2008. Bridgette missed her qualifying time for that race by only a minute and 23 seconds, but has qualified for 2011’s race.
Rather than push himself for a certain time, Todd plans to enjoy this race and run it alongside his wife. The Torrings will begin the race together, pace together, and finish together.
“This is going to be a great marathon for the simple fact that we’re running it for fun, to take in the entire experience,” Todd says. “There is a difference when you’re training for a very specific time – you don’t remember a lot of what’s going on. This time, it will be great to share my wife’s first Boston Marathon, but also to be able to really enjoy the one of the greatest road races on Earth.”
Todd’s recent training has also been less intense due to the time and energy involved in running his Amramp franchise, which he purchased several years ago. Prior to Amramp, Todd had lost his 10-year pharmaceuticals job during the U.S. economic downturn. His father, who also lives in Omaha, has Parkinson’s disease and has used a wheelchair for many years.
And Todd’s mother suffered from a neurological disease that took away her ability to ambulate. She passed away at about the same time Todd was seeking an unemployment solution and landing on Amramp. He credits his parents’ health concerns as a major factor in deciding to own Omaha-based Amramp.
“My parents played a big role in my being attracted to Amramp. They helped me to personally understand the difficulties people can have with ambulation and mobility,” Torring said. “It became very appealing for me to want to help others find mobility solutions. It does remind me – when we’re out running 26.2 miles in these long runs – that we often take for granted what our bodies are capable of doing.”
“There are many people out there who don’t have that freedom to run. I think about that, but I also think about the many wheelchair-division competitors and what they are able to accomplish when they set their minds to it as well.”
The Boston Marathon includes a push rim wheelchair division of racers, started in 1975 after the first wheelchair marathoner successfully completed the distance. The wheelchair division has its own set of qualifying times, making it extremely competitive.
Check Amramp’s Facebook page for updates and photos of Todd and Bridgette’s 2011 Boston Marathon.
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