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

Chris Young
Chris Young

September 09, 2021

You are amazing. You go Helgi! Thanks for doing something so meaningful and inspirational!

Jeff Spurlin
Jeff Spurlin

September 09, 2021

Good Luck Helgi!! you are an inspiration to all us mere mortals. Good fortune be with you on your journey, and good luck on your fundraising as well!

Kathy L
Kathy L

September 09, 2021

keep on moving forward!! so inspiring!

Ryan M.
Ryan M.

September 09, 2021

Impressive to say the least…we need more people like you in this world. Keep battling, be safe and Godspeed.

Renee Morgan
Renee Morgan

September 09, 2021

Impressive

Andre Lee
Andre Lee

September 09, 2021

Awesomeness! Go get it, Helgi! You are such an inspiration to us all! Forever Forward! 🤙🏾😎🤙🏾

Donna Pound
Donna Pound

September 09, 2021

You are such an inspiration! Truly amazing!

BRENT CHRISTENSEN
BRENT CHRISTENSEN

September 09, 2021

Awesome stories and awesome adventures!

Tony Ambriz
Tony Ambriz

September 09, 2021

My man, that is awesome! You’re like a modern day running stoic. Your perseverance reminds me of the quote by the ancient stoic philosopher Epictetus: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Nice job. 👏🏽 👏🏽 👏🏽

Jake Kavitski
Jake Kavitski

September 09, 2021

Wow, way to step up to the plate. You definitely bested the guy who said that he would walk 500 miles and he would walk 500 more just to be the guy who walked a thousand miles to be right at your door….!

charles goldman
charles goldman

September 09, 2021

Awesome!!Could not do that in my prime and now not even in my dreams

Leah Phillips-Black
Leah Phillips-Black

September 09, 2021

Awesome! I’m in awe!!

Rusty Smith
Rusty Smith

September 09, 2021

The more time I spend around ultra runners the more I am blown away. So many people overcoming so many obstacles and defining new limits. Helgi, your inspirational and awesome. Best of luck on your journey. I look forward to following it and thank you for reminding us that Motion is, in fact, Lotion.

Sharon Chetwynd
Sharon Chetwynd

September 09, 2021

I cannot for one second imagine the mental strength that you have..let alone the physical.
Just in total awe of you Helping, one incredible human on one incredible journey..

Jacques Tetreault
Jacques Tetreault

September 09, 2021

Just amazing and inspiring, keep going!

John Cleveland
John Cleveland

September 09, 2021

wow – what an inspiration

Tom Ohlman
Tom Ohlman

September 09, 2021

Way to go Helgi! Keep going!

Bonnie Kaplan
Bonnie Kaplan

September 09, 2021

Hey neighbor- what a positive article for South Fl and you are truly an inspiration in 2021! Best of luck- stay safe and God bless!

Rob Schorzman
Rob Schorzman

September 09, 2021

Amazing! Incredible! Impressive! You are proving that anyone can do anything with heart and determination. Way to go!

Rich Fela
Rich Fela

September 09, 2021

Wow. Impressive. Got get it!

Andy
Andy

September 09, 2021

You had me at SPONDY! You inspire the heck out of me, which is exactly what I need right now! A few months ago I found I was running with that spondy monkey on my back. I hope I can be as crafty, dedicated and focused as you to discover the means to cast off the pain and keep moving, moving, moving on my life’s passionate journey down the trails. Wishing you only the best in all your endeavors!

CODY BREWER
CODY BREWER

September 09, 2021

Never forget the “why”

Naresh Kumar
Naresh Kumar

September 09, 2021

Wow, that’s a lot of miles! And truly impressive to grit it out despite the setbacks and hurdles that were unforeseeable and out of Helgi’s control. Sending healing energy and wishing you the best of luck on your detour!

Douglas Spiers
Douglas Spiers

September 09, 2021

I wish you the best of luck on your up coming adventures! Keep be an inspiration for humanity!

Ari Chandler
Ari Chandler

September 09, 2021

Wow..very inspirational.

Roy S
Roy S

September 09, 2021

That’s a funny definition of “vacation”… :)
Seriously, though, I love stories of adapting and overcoming – my daughter has spina bifida, and refuses to let it stop her. I’m definitely going to share this story with her!

Barbara S. Nadel
Barbara S. Nadel

September 09, 2021

Inspiring story! Good luck!

Katrine
Katrine

September 09, 2021

Truly inspirational! I won’t hesitate to go for another block or another mile when I go for a run.

Dana Matthews
Dana Matthews

September 09, 2021

How incredible and selfless. Best of wishes!

Steve Yost
Steve Yost

September 09, 2021

One tough dude!

Christa King
Christa King

September 09, 2021

It makes me feel ashamed of myself for bitching and complaining that I’m tired or don’t feel like a run, when there is nothing wrong with me but lack of motivation. Yet, there is this guy who takes his aches and pains, turns them into a motivational fundraiser while doing something he loves! * applause

Neva
Neva

September 09, 2021

Amazing!

Carolyn K
Carolyn K

September 09, 2021

Wow..this is amazing. I wish you all the best. You are an amazing athlete and you are bringing attention to a disease that you don’t hear much about. God bless you!!

Julie Jensen
Julie Jensen

September 09, 2021

Incredible! I was also a Tahoe 200 entrant. I can’t imagine doing IMTUF twice! Way to go!

Carrie Conte
Carrie Conte

September 09, 2021

Best of luck to you in life, in the race and everything you do!

Colleen Schilinski
Colleen Schilinski

September 09, 2021

Holy Cow – What an amazing man you are, Helgi !!
I’ve never heard of ankylosing spondylitis before. It sounds like a terrible condition, but you seem like the perfect advisor for it.
You are an inspiration to many, me included.

Nadia
Nadia

September 09, 2021

So inspiring!! Thank you for sharing this amazing story.

Jerry Callaway
Jerry Callaway

September 09, 2021

What an incredible story! It is wonderful, as a physician, to see people like Helgi who overcome illnesses!

Dominique
Dominique

September 09, 2021

Good luck son of Olaf.

Barry Urry
Barry Urry

September 09, 2021

You’re an asinine nspiratiom to a lot of people! Your persistence and determination are legendary!!

Christine Crosby
Christine Crosby

September 09, 2021

Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough, to keep you from through…

Mike Warner
Mike Warner

September 09, 2021

Amazing grit and determination!!!

Donna C
Donna C

September 09, 2021

Very interesting story. Best of luck.

Aaron Braunstein
Aaron Braunstein

September 09, 2021

Amazing!

Jimmy Malthaner
Jimmy Malthaner

September 09, 2021

Very Awesome! Wishing you the best…

Jon Rider
Jon Rider

September 09, 2021

sounds like fun. Wish I had the time…….

Edward
Edward

September 09, 2021

wow that is so inspiring

Tina Mercado
Tina Mercado

September 09, 2021

Way to go . great story

Toni
Toni

September 09, 2021

Amazing story! Keep on, keeping on Helgi!!

dale
dale

September 09, 2021

Wow, most can only imagine on how hard of a journey that is!

Dan B Smith
Dan B Smith

September 09, 2021

Fantastic inspiration. Most inspiring is hearing of the plan, seeing that obstacles were laid in the path, and finding adaptations were made to overcome. He found the light to continue no matter what.

Steve Fredrickson
Steve Fredrickson

September 09, 2021

I went back and forth with Helgi a few times during BF 18’ and the man is like this untamed, barbaric brute yet warm hearted to the core. He’s a true Maverick.

Carl
Carl

September 09, 2021

Inspiring! Thanks Helgi for your example of determination, adaptation, and commitment.

Michael Muldoon
Michael Muldoon

September 09, 2021

Well done!!

lisa
lisa

September 09, 2021

very inspiring story. i have no excuse for being lazy!

Amie M Hewett
Amie M Hewett

September 09, 2021

What an inspirational story! Words can’t even begin to describe the grit and determination he has to persevere not only through his own personal battle with this disease, but to try and help others

Ward
Ward

September 09, 2021

Fine. I’ll go run after work today!

ana pattacini
ana pattacini

September 09, 2021

Nice! What incredible endurance.

Lindsay
Lindsay

September 09, 2021

Wow! That’s amazing! Keep up the inspiring work!

Jay Hawks
Jay Hawks

September 09, 2021

You are a beast, physically and mentally. It always amazes me what the body and mind can overcome even when roadblocks pop up constantly. Run well!

Ryan Funkhouser
Ryan Funkhouser

September 09, 2021

Wow. Way to go Helgi for not only setting an example of incredible fortitude and pushing the bounds of human endurance, but also for demonstrating what it looks like to adapt as challenges throw themselves at you. Bravo!

MCB
MCB

September 09, 2021

Wow! What a journey!

Debbie Lech
Debbie Lech

September 09, 2021

Your story is amazing. Your are such a badass! Such a great inspiration to those that suffer from any illness!

Candace Kemp
Candace Kemp

September 09, 2021

Remarkable! Such an inspiration.

Anonymous619
Anonymous619

September 09, 2021

Amazing !

Timothy Bivins
Timothy Bivins

September 09, 2021

Amazing!!

Peter Holter-Andersen
Peter Holter-Andersen

September 09, 2021

I’m inspired reading about people like this. Running with a broken and healing foot is borderline stupid, but not wanting to fail his project he powers on. Impressive! Thanks for the updates!

Stephen G
Stephen G

September 09, 2021

What an inspiration! This needs a book and documentary as I’m sure the 61 days of adventure will have a great story to tell!

Ryan
Ryan

September 08, 2021

Amazing!! Keep it up! Thanks for the inspiration!

Julianne Larsen
Julianne Larsen

September 08, 2021

Thank you for doing this! I’m impressed with your ability to move and motivate others. I also have Ankylosing Spondylitis. It is a challenge and I’m grateful for your message of hope.❤️

Janet H.
Janet H.

September 08, 2021

What an inspiration. I know the pain from Rheumatoid Arthritis can be very debilitating. My mother inlaw has it and I feel so badly when she is in pain. Way to go and what an inspiration for so many of us that don’t even have RA. Good luck on your journey.

John PATRICK KENNEDY
John PATRICK KENNEDY

September 08, 2021

incredible will power – beyond what I can even imagine…

Sandy Tsoi
Sandy Tsoi

September 08, 2021

This is inspiring story.

Brad Edwards
Brad Edwards

September 08, 2021

So impressive and inspirational.

HikerX
HikerX

September 08, 2021

I like how Olafson linked the different events, then adapted when conditions changed and kept the original vision alive.

Alicia Johnson Rider
Alicia Johnson Rider

September 08, 2021

I’ve been FB friends with Helgi for years. I’m a fellow autoimmune warrior (rheumatoid arthritis) and Helgi is the epitome of a warrior, fighter, good human and an incredible advocate. Helgi inspires us all. Reading the article gave me chills. Keep going, Helgi! 👏

Loren Statema
Loren Statema

September 08, 2021

Woohoo!

Michael
Michael

September 08, 2021

Remarkable. Keep pressing forward

Eric Slaughter
Eric Slaughter

September 08, 2021

Amazing! Running that many miles is an incredible feat!

meg cullings
meg cullings

September 08, 2021

💥forever inspiring💥looking forward to following your next adventure💥

Rebecca S
Rebecca S

September 08, 2021

What an inspiring feat! Best of luck on all your journeys!

Worth C.
Worth C.

September 08, 2021

Man! That’s amazing! Go get it!

Kristina Browning
Kristina Browning

September 08, 2021

You are an inspiration! So much of ultra running is fighting to stay strong and doing whatever possible to conquer your goals. Good luck on your adventure! Keep persevering and never give up!

Betsy Sharpe
Betsy Sharpe

September 08, 2021

Wow! What an amazing feat!!

JOHN  KENNEDY
JOHN KENNEDY

September 08, 2021

PUTS THE WORD “AWESOME” TO SHAME

Joshua
Joshua

September 08, 2021

Amazing! Keep overcoming those obstacles and inspiring others!

Wendy Browne
Wendy Browne

September 08, 2021

Such an incredible story! Good luck.

Debbie Bulten
Debbie Bulten

September 08, 2021

My daughter suffers from AS. Thank you for bringing awareness and hope! Safe travels Helgi!

Kate
Kate

September 08, 2021

Inspiring story!!!
Keep kicking ass!!

Linda
Linda

September 08, 2021

You encourage me to keep on going

Paul Smith
Paul Smith

September 08, 2021

Always awesome when someone takes a trial and turns it into a triumph that helps others set BIG goals and strive to conquer them as well. Improvise, Adapt and Overcome!

Kris Grover
Kris Grover

September 08, 2021

Let’s go Helgi! My bro in law also has AS and spends all day on his feet as a dentist. He inspires me and I’m sharing this article with him to hopefully inspire him! Best of luck!

Foss
Foss

September 08, 2021

Inspiring. Thank you for showing us that the human spirit is boundless.

Melanie Baker
Melanie Baker

September 08, 2021

I need to walk more! You inspire me. Keep on keeping on!

Leslie Smith
Leslie Smith

September 08, 2021

To do all of this with your body fighting you is quite the feat. Talk about being mentally tough! Wow!!

Thuy Vu
Thuy Vu

September 08, 2021

Good luck Helgi! You are such an inspiration to others for how much you have accomplished.

Scott Bode
Scott Bode

September 08, 2021

nice!

Paul Felt
Paul Felt

September 08, 2021

Positive, powerful and inspirationall. Good Job.

R.C. Stalbaum
R.C. Stalbaum

September 08, 2021

Great cause- best of luck out there!

Bruce Q Nguyen
Bruce Q Nguyen

September 08, 2021

Great job man! Wow, double IMTUF! You got this and so inspirational. Stay hungry!

Bruce

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