Gotta Run: Mark Summers climbs a big hill every day

Published 12:05 am Saturday, July 23, 2022

When most of us go running, we see a hill ahead and know that eventually we’ll get to the top and things will get easier. Mark Summers has a huge hill ahead that he likely will climb for the rest of his life. After serious complications from a blood clot, Mark now has aphasia, a condition that robs him of the ability to communicate, specifically his speech, writing and understanding our language, both verbal and written. Aphasia affects Mark’s cognitive abilities.

Mark started running and lifting weights in college, then gave them up while he started his career as a CPA. He wrote, “I realized over the years that I had gained weight and was now overweight. I made a bet with friends and ran a 10K in 1985, finishing in last place. Then came serious running workouts in the early 2000s and I ran the Kiawah Marathon in 2004.”

After graduating college at the University of Texas at Austin, Mark has lived in Houston, Raleigh, Charlotte and then Concord. He remodeled his historic home there. Mark’s dad, a former professor at Texas A&M, is 83 and a rancher who lives in Mesa, Colorado. His mom is also 83 and lives in Ohio.

After a scuba trip in June 2019 and the plane ride home, Mark experienced trouble breathing after about three weeks. At the ER, he was found to have a blood clot, a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Following the worst case scenario, the clot moved to the lungs, the heart and lodged in the brain. Mark had a stroke. He wrote, “I was clinically dead, couldn’t speak or hear and had slight left side paralysis and some numbing to the touch. I was so grateful to survive.”

Mark works at communicating with others while being deaf and mute. He can hear a few sounds but not voices or music. Mark is mute except for a few words and many of his memories are lost. He struggles with written communication but enjoys reading a good book slowly, preferably science fiction.

Still with goals ahead in running and almost 64 years of age, Mark’s short-term list includes a half marathon this fall under 2 hours and a 5K under 26 minutes. His long-term goal is running to a long and healthy life while eventually beating Brenny Thompson, another regular competitor in local races.

No doubt, Mark will keep climbing the hill and making a lot of friends along the way.

In an update from an article I wrote on May 14, the Japanese cyclists who slept in a tent at the Hurley YMCA have made it across America’s southern border. They finished the ride in Santa Monica, California, and spent some time in L.A. Other than some bike trouble and the incredible heat, both men survived the challenge and returned to Japan on July, 22. I plan to have a video call with them early this coming week and share some experiences.

Speaking of a bicycle ride, it looks like it is time for me to go riding again. Eric and Scott at Skinny Wheels checked out my bike last week and pronounced it ready to go. A plan seems to be coming together for an interesting ride along the Mississippi River. Having seen the start of the river in Minnesota on a previous ride, I plan to pick up the Mississippi in Iowa and ride south through notable towns and cities such as Hannibal, Missouri, Vicksburg and Natchez, Mississippi, and into New Orleans. The ride will take most of August and at present I plan to return to Salisbury by train. An update on the ride will come later this week!

Meanwhile, the only local running event just ahead is the Aug. 13 Prediction Run 5K at City Park at 8:30 a.m. Look for it and a busy fall schedule of events and Beginning Runners Class at