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.


45 Responses

Jennipher Shannon
Jennipher Shannon

September 08, 2021

You are such an inspiration! Keep kicking butt!!

Laura
Laura

September 08, 2021

Fun

Mark Haveman
Mark Haveman

September 08, 2021

Yours is an amazing story!! You are truly an inspiration. Keep up the good work and best of luck on your journey.

John Blanton
John Blanton

September 08, 2021

I wish I had half the stamina that you have!

Philip Westlake
Philip Westlake

September 08, 2021

Best of luck in Idaho !

Troy
Troy

September 08, 2021

Hey Helgi, keep moving forward. I remember assisting you while I volunteered at the Moab 240 Aid Station and you came in with a stick in your mouth. “Stick-man” was born.

One more step (or pedal). You got this.

David Zenger
David Zenger

September 08, 2021

Amazing! Keep the Positive Vibes going!

Alice Seeley
Alice Seeley

September 08, 2021

What an I inspirational story! Keep at it! Best wishes on reaching your goals.

Wendy
Wendy

September 08, 2021

awesome, keep it up

Dean J Murphy
Dean J Murphy

September 08, 2021

Wishing I could pace a few miles. I love adventure.

Sam Carl
Sam Carl

September 08, 2021

So inspiring! We can always go farther than we think we can and Heigi is proving that. Keep going!

Erica Harlow
Erica Harlow

September 08, 2021

Wow. Just wow.
What a role model! I am going to tell our PE teacher about you! (She features a role model athlete each month to the elementary school.)

Brian Wilford
Brian Wilford

September 08, 2021

Helgi, brother no matter what life throws at you, you keep moving forward, proud to call you a friend, see you in Moab!

Leslie Lubaczewski
Leslie Lubaczewski

September 08, 2021

That is so awesome! I hope I can accomplish something even a little bit as cool as what you are doing. You’re an inspiration!!

Gloria Callahan
Gloria Callahan

September 08, 2021

I look forward to following along with your amazing journey. Keep strong…you have a lot of people sending you positive vibes and prayers to carry you along.

Elisheva Thoreen
Elisheva Thoreen

September 08, 2021

מזל טוב ובהצלחה!

מה שאתה עושה מדהים!

kim charlton
kim charlton

September 08, 2021

What a great thing to do for such a worthy cause!! I think it’s wonderful to bring this condition to light, as so many suffer from it, but it tends to take a back burner to other causes. Awesome job, dude!!

Andre
Andre

September 08, 2021

You’re a beast and a motivational human. Keep it moving.

Kimberly McElroy
Kimberly McElroy

September 08, 2021

Amazing! Keep reaching for those goals!

Sam Gilley
Sam Gilley

September 08, 2021

Ultra runners are different humans. Helgi is aiming at hyper-runner. Good luck.

Tony Guzman
Tony Guzman

September 08, 2021

Wow! That’s wicked cool.

Mark Harrington
Mark Harrington

September 08, 2021

Keep at it, man.

Edward
Edward

September 08, 2021

man thats great

Shawn
Shawn

September 08, 2021

Awesome article and for such a great cause! Keep up the good work Olafson!!!

Gideon Olivar
Gideon Olivar

September 08, 2021

Awesome effort! Great determination to complete these events! More power!

Melissa Sheard
Melissa Sheard

September 08, 2021

Amazing story!!

Tim Jordan
Tim Jordan

September 08, 2021

That is Awesome! good luck!

julian Gonzalez Cruz
julian Gonzalez Cruz

September 08, 2021

With all respect Sir, you are a Beast! Awesome! Keep going for those who cant! 🙌🙌🙌

John Wells Jr.
John Wells Jr.

September 08, 2021

This is an amazing challenge. I would love to have 1/10th of his guts and stamina.

Caroline Goles
Caroline Goles

September 08, 2021

Healing by helping others. Amazing story of grit, determination and belief. 👏👏

Frank Carver
Frank Carver

September 08, 2021

Talk about grit and determination

Judith Shaw
Judith Shaw

September 08, 2021

This is so inspiring, and I love how you have adapted the situation with the bone break and fires by biking to Idaho! A journey of a lifetime!

Roger Yeakle
Roger Yeakle

September 08, 2021

great article and prize

Joanne Mckearney
Joanne Mckearney

September 08, 2021

This is awesome! Good luck!

Donna collins
Donna collins

September 08, 2021

Way to go!!!! Such a great accomplishment 🎉🎊🎈🙌💪🏻

Joanie Andersen
Joanie Andersen

September 08, 2021

Way to remember E+R=O! Keep up the incredible feat and being an autoimmune warrior.

Kyle Long
Kyle Long

September 08, 2021

Epic!

Matt
Matt

September 08, 2021

Inspiring to see someone trying to do something positive. Go Helgi!

KETAL VYAS
KETAL VYAS

September 08, 2021

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Gregory
Gregory

September 08, 2021

Tremendous accomplishment

Craig Slocum
Craig Slocum

September 08, 2021

What an inspiration and great cause to support!

Luke Thoreson
Luke Thoreson

September 08, 2021

That’s an amazing accomplishment.

Sherry Russell
Sherry Russell

September 08, 2021

very nice

Mark Gramaglia
Mark Gramaglia

September 08, 2021

Sweet

Bill Gentry
Bill Gentry

September 08, 2021

Oh.
Wow!!!!!

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