|Ivan and Fred, Boston Marathon 2010|
Ivan Castro is a captain in the United States Army Special Operations Recruiting Battalion; he has been in the military for 22 years. On September 2nd, 2006, Ivan and his Scout Platoon from the 82nd Airborne Division were in Iraq on a rooftop when two 82-pound mortar rounds hit them. Ivan was knocked out and sustained major injuries, including an open bone fracture, a collapsed lung, and an aneurysm, he also sustained major injuries to his face and had lost one eye in the blast. After six weeks, Ivan was finally brought out of an induced coma only to find out that he had lost an eye and two of his men. He then had surgery and lost his sight completely. During this time, he was confined to a bed and lost 50lbs of muscle mass. Eventually, after many surgeries, he began to learn to walk and live without his vision. He says that even then in the hospital bed, he had a goal to come back stronger than before.
Ivan is a man of faith, someone who always smiles and has a joke. He is a patriot and military man at heart. I met Ivan at the Ellerbe marathon in 2010, I heard him making jokes and cutting up with the others. It wasn’t until he made a joke about being glad no one told him how hilly it was and that he was glad he didn’t see the hills coming, that I realized he was blind. He ran with his Army brother Lt Col Fred Dummar. They use a guide system and do many marathons together. Ivan credits the help and support of Fred, his wife Susan, and others in the military and running community for helping him to continue his pursuit of running.
Ivan says the Lord kept him alive for a reason. He is not only an active duty officer, but a marathon runner (over 19 to date since 2006 including the Boston marathon, a 50 mile ultra marathon, plus 2 triathlons, and a 400-mile trek on his road bike). His life didn’t stop when he lost his sight; he is still a leader, a dad, and a runner. He was recently featured in Runners World Magazine. He helps encourage others through the Wounded Warrior Project and is grateful for everyday he can encourage others to accomplish something. In his own words, “officers lead from the front, by example.”
|Ivan and fred, 5 hour pace group leaders for Tabacco Road Marathon 2011|
You must understand, running is painful for Ivan because of his injuries. He pays a price for every marathon, but he says that makes it sweeter. He says that it isn’t the comfortable times that stand out in our memories or the easy times, it is the painful or hard things that stand out. And at the end of the day getting through those painful things is where we find our greatest sense of accomplishment. He says the pain he feels while he runs just serves to let him know that is still alive. It’s a taste of the fight that is still left in you!
His mission is to give others hope and to move forward one step at a time while helping others. He says when the run gets tough he thinks about the fact that no matter how hard it gets someone has it worse and carries a heavier cross. His encouragement to us is to “keep a smile on your face no matter what and surround yourself with positive and supportive people.”
|Tabacco Road Marathon 2011|