Daryl Howe is a runner. He has completed a number of marathons around the world – London, New York, ‘Two Oceans’ in South Africa and many more. He usually makes the 42.2km long course in just over five hours (elite athletes do it in just over two, majority around four hours).
But he is a star, a legend, a great fundraiser and an inspiration to many of us. Why ? What do you think ? Just pause for a second …
Thinking along the lines of “is he a kid or something…” or “is there’s something wrong with him? Disability of some kind? Age?” Probably, I guess.
Yes, Daryl has a cerebral palsy. He is the first person in history with classification C6 Cerebral Palsy to ever run and complete a full marathon. He has been tirelessly fundraising for Cambodian charity Rideaid, had a documentary made about him, has an appreciation society of Facebook, he is a legend in the local running circles here in Perth and well beyond. Daryl is an incredibly kind and a funny bloke (anecdote from a running messageboard …)
“I think Darryl ran in a relay team for this years Perth marathon.
He came slapping past me at about the 39k mark and told me I had a ‘great gait’
There was something delightfully precious about that moment”
We see him as an inspiration because he has himself altered the ‘transactional space’ (an eloquent, must-read primer on that concept by Ira Socol) of what a medically and socially constructed ‘(ab)normal’ person would do. He may not have the prettiest running style (it is indeed awfully awkward [see the video clip below] and Daz doesn’t need anyone to tell him that – he even cracks jokes about it) but he is not ‘impaired’ to run a marathon faster than many ‘able bodied’ (is that still the awful going nomenclature?) marathoners.
Often, he may not be able, to borrow Ira’s words “negotiate the world, or a specific corner of the world, the way others have set it up” and for it, he has probably seen more than his fair share of eyes of insidious pity. But he kicks butt of many over the 42.2 kilometres! Running is his special ‘space’. It’s not some kind of ticket to normality but a place where his capabilities meet the world we share, each of us differently.
And why does this matter?
For my 2 cents, Daryl reminds me/us of the immanence of ‘normality’, the normality within us. And the more we are able to accept, as opposed to tolerate, normality as something infinitely malleable and made ‘shareable’ a lot easier by either devices, people or combination of these, the richer our individual and collective lives will be.
PS I did finish this year’s Rottnest Marathon, my very first 42.2 km over a hilly, windy but a beautiful course. Thanks to many for your congrats over Twitter & other ways. I got over the line just over an hour faster than Daryl, with whom I shared a beer and a chat at the pub later that day.