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Palmer Lake runner with cerebral palsy embraces second Pikes Peak Ascent

Gazette - 8/21/2018

Aug. 20--Wesley Trimble might be the only person toeing the line of Saturday's 63rd Pikes Peak Ascent who prefers the almost exclusively uphill 13.32-mile trek to the summit to the downhill addition offered by Sunday's Marathon.

The 30-year-old Palmer Lake resident is also expected to be the only participant with cerebral palsy, a birth disorder that impacts movement and muscle tone.

"It's a little easier on my body going uphill," Trimble said.

The severity of cerebral palsy symptoms vary. Some spend their lives in wheelchairs, needing regular assistance.

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Others like Trimble, a communications and program manager for American Hiking Society -- a nonprofit that works to protect hiking trails and public lands -- face less obvious challenges.

Only the right side of Trimble's body is impacted. He wears a quarter-inch heel lift in his right shoe to even the length of his legs, which presents its own challenges.

"It also makes it somewhat difficult in the sense I'm adding more weight to that foot, which is the weaker leg to begin with. It can definitely cause some issues over longer distances," Trimble said.

"That additional couple ounces will typically make me stumble a little bit more after a while."

When he's moving, the differences are hardly noticeable. He likened his stride to that of someone who is running with or recovering from a slight injury.

"I definitely have a different cadence than most people," he said of his gait.

"I feel a little out of place at times, but at the same time when I do these things I just have to be in a good mind-set that I don't need to worry about other people."

Growing up in Woodland Park, he said he was able to do the same activities as most of his friends. Things like learning to ride a bike or tie his shoes just took longer to master.

He tried T-ball and basketball, but organized sports didn't last long.

"I tried some of that but just got super frustrated because my coordination just wasn't there," he said.

A breakthrough came when his "outdoorsy" family brought him on a trip to Mount Princeton where he would summit his first 14er at age 9.

"There was definitely tears and my parents had to motivate me on the downhill. Again, the downhill is always the worst," Trimble said.

"But in that experience of pushing through and kind of suffering some, getting to the top and having that achievement and that kind of euphoric experience, is pretty incredible."

The mountaineering bug fully sunk its teeth into Trimble after he graduated college and took a job that while not totally desirable, allowed him more time on the trails. That's when he took it "to the next level," but he acknowledged his parents as the source of his passion.

"I think I do owe so much of this to them encouraging me to get outside," he said. "They could've been much more willing to let me do more things inside."

It was 2012 when he first started running as a way to train for rigorous summit attempts of Colorado's 14ers. In 2016, he completed the state's 54th and final 14er. He also has a pair of ultramarathons under his belt.

A month spent at altitude on the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango prepared Trimble for his first Ascent in 2013, which he finished in 3 hours, 27 minutes and 16 seconds, putting him in the top 150 finishers.

"Wow, that's phenomenal," said Sage Canaday, the winner of the 2014 Ascent who's running in Sunday's Marathon, after hearing of Trimble's 2013 time. "That's really inspiring and just an amazing accomplishment. I couldn't even imagine. That's a really good time."

While Trimble's preparation won't be as thorough as 2013, thanks in part to the arrival of his first child, he's hoping to be within 10 minutes of personal best on the mountain.

To celebrate a successful Ascent, he hopes to be joined by family to take in the views from the summit.

"Hopefully my parents, my wife and my 11-month-old daughter will be waiting at the top," Trimble said.

Maybe they can help with the troublesome trip down the mountain.

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(c)2018 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

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