The Triple Crown of 200’s is the pinnacle of all ultrarunning events, and one man is about to add another tier to that crown by linking the three courses in a 2,850-mile journey.
You can't always determine what happens but you can determine your response. Endurance events often require adaptation, improvisation and always determination.
A broken foot just prior to Bigfoot made it a very difficult race and required Helgi to scrap running between races. Not to give up, he improvised determining to cycle to the Tahoe 200 to see if his foot would heal enough to continue.
On the way to Tahoe, wildfires caused the cancellation of the Race. True to form, Helgi adapted and charted a course for McCall Idaho where he will run two laps of the 100-mile, 22,000-vertical-feet IMTUF100 to replace the Tahoe 200 segment of his trek. This race begins Saturday morning September 11.
We wish Helgi the best on his journey! You can cheer him on @helgiolafson on Instagram.
That’s right. On August 13, Helgi Olafson of Pompano Beach, Florida, will not only attempt to complete the 650-mile Triple Crown of 200’s, but he has the goal of connecting each of the three races by foot over a span of 61 days, totaling 2,850 miles. According to Olafson, this journey will serve many purposes: one being to bring attention to ankylosing spondylitis, which is something he has battled for the past 20 years.
When Olafson was just 19 years old, he was experiencing some debilitating back pain so severe that he couldn’t even roll over in bed. His journey to a diagnosis for his pain, led him to a rheumatologist who diagnosed him with ankylosing spondylitis, which is an autoimmune arthritis that fuses joints together through calcification resulting from inflammation. If left alone to progress, this condition could lead to total calcification of joints and the inability to move freely.
The diagnosis, while hard to come to grips with, didn’t stop Olafson from moving forward in a positive and healing direction. With not only the OK of his physician, but the utmost of encouragement, Olafson decided that he was going to enter a fight against his body that was fighting against him. He was going to combat immobility with mobility.
Olafson began running, swimming, and biking, and entered many triathlons. And while racing was a way to help his own body heal, he began looking for ways to help others who might also be struggling with autoimmune arthritis. He began “Racing for a Cure” for the Arthritis National Research Foundation, helping to raise awareness and funds for arthritis research.
One thing led to another, and Olafson found himself running ultra-distance races, and eventually the Triple Crown of 200's in 2018 — completing the 650-mile feat. It was during the final race of this event when Olafson had the idea to connect the three races by foot.
“I had the idea to do a continuous supported run from each of the races in 2020, but with the pandemic, it wasn’t able to happen,” Olafson said. “The route I planned is to complete the Bigfoot 200 in Mt. St. Helen’s WA, and running from the finish through White Pass all the way down to Lake Tahoe to the start of the Tahoe 200. After finishing the Tahoe 200, I will hop onto the American Discovery Trail all the way to Moab, Utah where I will run the Moab 240. It’s my version of a 61-day vacation!”
And while 61 days on a rugged mountain trail is going to be a self-serving endeavor, Olafson is again using his journey as a way to help others by raising money and awareness for autoimmune arthritis.
“I’m hoping that this run will raise money and awareness to this cause,” Olafson said. “My goal is to raise $28,500, which is $10 per mile. If anything, I want people who suffer from similar pain to know that there is help and hope.”
And while Olafson understands that running far distances may not be something that people in general (let alone those with conditions like his) will be able to do, he hopes that what he is doing will at least give people hope in their time of pain.
“I’ve never said go out there and be an ultrarunner and run hundreds of miles,” Olafson said. “I just think being active is very helpful for battling conditions like ankylosing spondylitis. Doing this run is about finding where the other side of my limits are, and inspiring people to go into the outdoors and experience mother nature the way it was supposed to be experienced.”
Going into his run, Olafson has raised several thousand dollars toward his $28,500 goal. To support him in his efforts, go to https://spondylitis.org/helgi-olafsons-triple-crown-of-200s.
Follow Helgi on Instagram @helgiolafson.
September 21, 2021
What a great example of determination and the human spirit