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Buena Park : ‘Footless Marathoner’ to Run for RIO in 10K

For many runners, a 5K race is challenge enough, a 10K even more and a marathon incomprehensible. But Peter Strudwick of Buena Park isn’t like most runners.

He began running at age 39, and now, at age 55, has competed in about 250 10K runs and 50 marathons. Strudwick was born with virtually no hands or feet, but, “I’ve participated in so many (races) I’ve lost track of the number,” he said.

Strudwick’s disability was the result of German measles his mother contracted during pregnancy. Known to many as the “footless marathoner,” Strudwick is also an author, public speaker and film maker. Strudwick’s latest race mirrors his determination to overcome his own disability. On Saturday, he’ll participate in the Run for RIO 10K race at Anaheim Stadium, sponsored by the Rehabilitation Institute of Southern California.

“One of the great things of running the RIO race is the togetherness and social aspect of the whole affair. By helping people, all kinds--whole or handicapped --you’re helping yourself as well as them.”

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RIO, based in Orange, along with its affiliate, the Crippled Childrens Society of Orange County, are hosting the races to raise money for their programs and services offered to individuals with physical or functional limitations.

“RIO is one of the best places in the world for the treatment of multiple physical disabilities. Some of the clients here have tremendous challenges to overcome and the RIO people have the spirit to really help them,” Strudwick said.

Richard Sullivan, 19, a developmentally delayed student in RIO’s vocational workshop, will compete against Strudwick in the 10K. Sullivan has been training every afternoon along the Santa Ana river bed, running about 10 miles a day.

“I really like to run, " Sullivan said. “I started running in junior high school and joined the track team. I broke a cartilage in my leg from not stretching out before a workout and couldn’t run for a long time.”

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But now Sullivan is ready to give the race his best shot.


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