August 12, 2021 245 Comments

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.

Article Update

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.

Trail runner Helgi Olafson running on trail above the treeline at Bigfoot 200 ultra-marathon.
Running above the tree line in the cascades near Mount St. Helens. - P.C. Howie Stern

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.

Trail runner Helgi Olafson after finish of Bigfoot 200 ultra-marathon.
Just finished 205 miles - the outward appearance of an inward determination. - P.C. Howie Stern

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.

Class of 2018 at Triple Crown of 200's ultra-marathon award ceremony. Fourteen smiling trail runners holding trophies.
Helgi among the 14 comprising the 2018 graduating class of the Triple Crown of 200's. - P.C. Scott Rokis

“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.

Trail runner Helgi Olafson on Moab 240 ultra-marathon trail.
Just another (240-mile) walk in the park - Moab Utah. - P.C. Scott Rokis

“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.”

Trail runner Helgi Olafson at Moab 240 ultra-marathon finish line.
The last step of a 650 journey. The birth of a 2850-mile idea. - P.C. Scott Rokis

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.


100 Responses

jill wilkins
jill wilkins

September 21, 2021

What a great example of determination and the human spirit

Valarie
Valarie

September 19, 2021

Awesome!!

Jeff R
Jeff R

September 16, 2021

Very impressive. Such dedication.
Keep goin

Jules R
Jules R

September 15, 2021

Way to go Helgi! You are awesome!

John Householder
John Householder

September 15, 2021

Absolutely incredible!

Vesko Gavrilov
Vesko Gavrilov

September 14, 2021

Good luck Heigi! Never give up!

Jody
Jody

September 13, 2021

What an inspiration! Way to face adversity with grit, determination and grace. I applaud your drive to push your own boundaries to provide hope to others.

Ramon Rivera
Ramon Rivera

September 13, 2021

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. Inspirational!

Vino Guarnieri
Vino Guarnieri

September 12, 2021

HOLY COW!!!!

Jennifer George
Jennifer George

September 12, 2021

Incredible story & awesome adventure!

carolyn Navarro
carolyn Navarro

September 12, 2021

inspirational cause and feat!

Sam
Sam

September 11, 2021

Definitely an inspirational story, way to go.

Jodi Wresh
Jodi Wresh

September 11, 2021

That is awesome!!

Chris Laird
Chris Laird

September 11, 2021

Good luck!
I hope the foot heals up.
However it ends up it will still be an amazing journey!

Ann Shearing
Ann Shearing

September 11, 2021

Amazing and an inspiration to all to keep moving no matter the pace

Harold Kennedy
Harold Kennedy

September 11, 2021

This story combined with the recent Paralympics just highlights what a person can do if they have determination! Super inspiring to this 70 year old!

Brittany Gilley
Brittany Gilley

September 11, 2021

wow! what an inspiration!

David Bickford
David Bickford

September 11, 2021

As a someday through hiker I find article to be inspirational. I battle nerve pain and arthritis caused by my time in the USMC. I have traveled a long road to find a Regimen that has enabled me to get back out on the trail. To my surprise it was movement. A focus on Functional fitness and flexibility has helped me a ton. I just finished a 50 mile backpacking trip. It was hard but I learned a ton and will keep working towards my goal of hiking the AT.

Brian Patrick Cousineau
Brian Patrick Cousineau

September 11, 2021

so inspirational!

Michael Schreiber
Michael Schreiber

September 11, 2021

Absolutely amazing and inspirational! Thank you for showing everyone what is possible.

Cindy B
Cindy B

September 10, 2021

Helgi, you are an inspiration. Go Helgi!

stacie
stacie

September 10, 2021

What an inspiration – good luck to Helgi!

Stacy
Stacy

September 10, 2021

Wow, Helga, you are such an inspiration. As someone who deals with chronic pain, it is so encouraging to hear of I dividulas who push their limits to bring hope, education and awareness for others. Great work!

Beth Walters
Beth Walters

September 10, 2021

All the best Helgi! Truly inspiring!

Jen
Jen

September 10, 2021

Determination at its best!

Sharon
Sharon

September 10, 2021

Cheers for your indomitable spirit!

ROGER THEISEN
ROGER THEISEN

September 10, 2021

Inspiring

SARA GALLO
SARA GALLO

September 10, 2021

Amazing.

ROGER THEISEN
ROGER THEISEN

September 10, 2021

Amazing.

Edwin ‘The Jester’ Ettinghausen
Edwin ‘The Jester’ Ettinghausen

September 10, 2021

Incredible adventure Helgi! A true inspiration.

“It’s always imPossible until it’s done.”
Nelson Mandela

Ever UPward & ONward my friend . . .

Nick S
Nick S

September 10, 2021

What an incredible story – I love the perseverance and attitude. The fires have upended everything around Tahoe and the California mountains. Best of luck with the revised itinerary. Relentless forward progress is the mantra.

Ray Waldrop
Ray Waldrop

September 10, 2021

truly inspiring

Allyssa Jones
Allyssa Jones

September 10, 2021

Wow, this is simply amazing!! Wishing you the best, Helgi!

Mike Horner
Mike Horner

September 10, 2021

Beyond inspiring. Could somebody please post the link to be able to donate?

Morgan Parker
Morgan Parker

September 10, 2021

ANY autoimmune disease is hard, but working through it to do the triple crown is just amazing.

Sherry Dowdy
Sherry Dowdy

September 10, 2021

Amazing. Just absolutely amazing.

Barbara Riffe
Barbara Riffe

September 10, 2021

Wonderful , I think its awesome that you are document your journey. Others need inspiration to not give up.

Billy Minga
Billy Minga

September 10, 2021

A truly inspirational story and I truly hope you are able to keep on putting up the good fight for all that is good.

Patrick Bussey
Patrick Bussey

September 10, 2021

Absolutely huge that you can get a diagnosis like that, and still truck on and accomplish so much. Much respect from a fellow (short distance) ultra runner!

Dan Speicher
Dan Speicher

September 10, 2021

Seriously an inspiring journey Helgi. And with broken bones no less! Keep crushing it and inspiring others.

Cesare
Cesare

September 10, 2021

If you know Helgi you also know how unassuming he is, he’s not here to win races, he works harder than anyone yet he has the incredible mental strength to never give up. A strength that comes from his character, and from the firm belief in his cause, fighting spondylitis. Thank you Helgi for fighting while always keeping a smile on your face. Even when you sleep on tree trunks in the middle of a race :-)

William Gould
William Gould

September 10, 2021

Anything is possible with strength of mind. You got this

William Gould
William Gould

September 10, 2021

You got this! With strength of mind….anything is possible

Todd Helmkamp
Todd Helmkamp

September 10, 2021

Good for you! Keep up the good work!

PH
PH

September 10, 2021

Don’t give up, brother! Anything is possible!

Thomas
Thomas

September 10, 2021

Amazing, awesome, and inspiring.

Dennis G
Dennis G

September 10, 2021

Use it or lose it. Congratulations to all who have endured life’s adventure. Admission was free. The finale is guaranteed. Enjoy it while you can.

Zachary Russell
Zachary Russell

September 10, 2021

Incredible journey and determination to keep moving forward. Inspiring story and an incredible person!! Keep on pushing Helgi!!

Sara Winkler
Sara Winkler

September 10, 2021

It’s always a great option yo keep on going, even when you think you don’t have it in you. Your story is incredible and what you’ve accomplished is pretty awesome!

Jonathan A. Smith
Jonathan A. Smith

September 10, 2021

Helgi your story is incredible! I am even more amazed by your decisions to alter, and I would say enhance, the original challenge due to all of these difficulties that have cropped up. Keep moving forward and make a way. Stay faithful!

Emily
Emily

September 10, 2021

Blown away by his perseverance and determination! Absolutely a true inspiration to all, not just runners! I’m sure I’ll reflect on this when doing my first trail 100 at Rim to River this fall! Sending good vibes from afar!

David Granatstein
David Granatstein

September 10, 2021

This is an amazing show of determination. To decide to continue on and chat a new course, not once, but twice in the face of medical issues and environmental issues. All the best!

Laura
Laura

September 10, 2021

Stay strong, keep moving! Wish I had that kind of determination, heck, I wish I could walk up my folks drive way without having to huff and puff and stop to rub my aching knees, lol, they do, however, have a heck of a steep, long, ankle-twisting-gravelly road! I should make it my training ground! Good luck in all your endeavors!

Audrey Stewart
Audrey Stewart

September 10, 2021

I am so proud of you! I walk everyday at my advanced age. I hope the people you meet on the way are kind. I’d offer you rest, a shower and a nice meal if I encountered you on your awesome adventure. You can do this. Keep us posted on your progress. Sending prayers and best of luck!

Richard Fohrenbach
Richard Fohrenbach

September 10, 2021

Inspiring story.

Kimberly Huntley
Kimberly Huntley

September 10, 2021

So amazingly awesome & so incredibly inspiring! Prayers for continued good health & great success & joy in your journey :)

Kevin Gibbs
Kevin Gibbs

September 10, 2021

Way to go!!

Nicole
Nicole

September 10, 2021

This was such an inspiring story. My mom has rheumatoid arthritis and I know she get discouraged some days as it slows her down or completely limits her movement. She is trying to so hard to stay active even though it hurts so she loves these type of stories. I made sure to forward it to her via email.

Rich
Rich

September 10, 2021

Determination, grit and commitment. Love it! Best of Luck.

Joy Marish
Joy Marish

September 10, 2021

Such determination in the face of adversity. Such an inspiring story.

Lee Beall
Lee Beall

September 10, 2021

Good luck to you out there Helgi!

Lawrence Derrig
Lawrence Derrig

September 10, 2021

Perseverance !

Andrew Garcia
Andrew Garcia

September 10, 2021

Inspiring journey. Makes me think maybe I can also attempt the triple crown. I have people bon my family with rheumatoid arthritis. This article is a must share!!! Thanks Helgi

Gilbert D. Ramirez
Gilbert D. Ramirez

September 10, 2021

What a awesome adventure

Jennifer
Jennifer

September 10, 2021

Inspirational! Thank you for bringing awareness while on your own personal journey. Just keep moving forward!

Leela
Leela

September 10, 2021

That is pretty amazing!

Alyssa Mago
Alyssa Mago

September 10, 2021

The willpower. Amazing. I love this. Keep it up!

Karen Hoover
Karen Hoover

September 10, 2021

Incredible

Pete Yore
Pete Yore

September 09, 2021

HELGI!!! Keep up the strong work amigo!! We are all rooting for you.

Paul Swayne
Paul Swayne

September 09, 2021

What an inspiration. I hope to one day be the beacon of light that Helgi is. Thanks for sharing!

Russ L
Russ L

September 09, 2021

An inspiring story! Keep up the good work!

Jonathan Levy
Jonathan Levy

September 09, 2021

A real plucky fellow

aelizabeth Minx
aelizabeth Minx

September 09, 2021

Wow! That is impressive! It encourages me to get off my lazy butt and stop making excuses.

Russell Rosenberg
Russell Rosenberg

September 09, 2021

You are an amazing person. Keep up the good work and good luck

Wendy Wallach
Wendy Wallach

September 09, 2021

What a great way to give back!

robert howe
robert howe

September 09, 2021

wow, all i can say is wow; inspires me to go further and be stronger.

Kim Salmi
Kim Salmi

September 09, 2021

The power of willpower is truly amazing ! Mind over matter in spades !

Antoinette Fuentes
Antoinette Fuentes

September 09, 2021

Such an amazing effort. Inspires me to push further !!

sarah woods
sarah woods

September 09, 2021

A tribute to self determination and a no quit attitude for ALL HUMANITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for Sharing SW

Conroy Dang
Conroy Dang

September 09, 2021

It is amazing how people can overcome obstacles and push their bodies and minds to the max. Keep it up and best wishes to Olafson.

Craig Rymer
Craig Rymer

September 09, 2021

Keep on keepin’ on!

Alexander Koops
Alexander Koops

September 09, 2021

super inspiring! keep at it Helgi!

Shayna Barnhill
Shayna Barnhill

September 09, 2021

That is grit right there! Such an inspiration in so many ways!

Leif E
Leif E

September 09, 2021

Very inspiring! Go, go, go!

Vergie Weems
Vergie Weems

September 09, 2021

Do what you believe in.

Mark B.
Mark B.

September 09, 2021

Wow. Just Wow.

Jen Ernst
Jen Ernst

September 09, 2021

Such an inspiration! Go, go, go!

Joseph Sanders
Joseph Sanders

September 09, 2021

Groundbreaking journey! Outstanding!

Billy Oliver
Billy Oliver

September 09, 2021

Incredible in so many ways!

timothy j mcphillips
timothy j mcphillips

September 09, 2021

Helgi, I suffer from arthritis and yes I try to keep active too. I wish you the best and I hope they find a cure soon. keep on trucking my friend and God bless you.

Christina Hamill
Christina Hamill

September 09, 2021

Way to go!!

Mike Hadder
Mike Hadder

September 09, 2021

Truly inspiring! It’s amazing what one can accomplish when you set your mind to it & he’s a true leader of that for us all to see.

Julie Adams
Julie Adams

September 09, 2021

What an AMAZING journey & inspiration!! To see your perseverance, determination & passion for health is such a great example! I hope your story continues to be shared!

Maria Chevalier
Maria Chevalier

September 09, 2021

Incredible! Love that you shared your why…we all have something that drives us, and it’s inspiring when that drive can be combined with supporting a cause. And even more impressive is your ability to adapt to what curveballs this adventure has thrown…can’t wait to see you accomplish your goal!!!

lloyd w clements
lloyd w clements

September 09, 2021

His story of perseverance in the face of his problems make my little aches and pains seem like nothing

Ben Weule
Ben Weule

September 09, 2021

It is hard for even an endurance runner to comprehend however it does show me that the journey of life is a challenge to be met with determination, resilience, and passion. Lovely mission.

Steve
Steve

September 09, 2021

You’re helping and inspiring a lot of people to get motivated

Dan
Dan

September 09, 2021

Dang that’s a long ways!!! And a long time to stay motivated!!! I can’t even imagine. Simply amazing!!!

Alex Schwarzkopf
Alex Schwarzkopf

September 09, 2021

Dude, Helgi…your journey sounds friggin’ awesome and completely psychotic. I love it and I wish you the best brother. I hope you find what you love out there…epic miles, mountains and trails. Boom!!💥👊⛰

Kellie Jones
Kellie Jones

September 09, 2021

Simply Incredible

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