Ultra-runner sacrifices success to help competitor

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

Kindness can be found in unusual places.

Steven Palmer of Evergreen, an ultra-runner, decided to stop while in the 96th mile of the 104-mile Run Rabbit Run ultra-marathon in Steamboat Springs in September to help another runner who had shin splints so bad that he couldn’t walk.

Steven knew he probably wouldn’t make the next checkpoint to continue the race anyway — a requirement for ultra-marathons — but he decided to ensure that result by stopping to help, making sure the other racer got the medical attention he needed.

Steven’s mom, Gretchen, is proud of her son’s decision to take care of a fellow racer.

“Had he not stopped, had he not cared,” Gretchen said, “I told my son, ‘That was the greatest accomplishment you could have done. You served Jesus.’ To me, it’s important for him to stop to help the man who was hurt.”

Steven doesn’t see his effort to help another runner as anything special.

“There are strict cutoffs for the racers,” Steven explained, “and I just missed (that cutoff) by 30 minutes. But that’s OK. It was a great race. In cases like this, the community takes (precedence) over the individual. My crew and I, we did the best we could.”

He explained that the ultra-marathoning community is very small. The top 1 percent of ultra-runners are very competitive, and the rest are more of a community, helping each other and providing support along the grueling 36-hour runs.

“At various points in the race, you run across people who are in a really low spot,” Steven said. “My philosophy is you help them along no matter where you are on the course.”

Steven has been running since he was in college, and since he travels a lot for his job, running is a great form of exercise that he can do anywhere. He’s been ultra-running for the past four years.

“Ultra-running shows you that you can do more than you think you can once you set your mind to it,” Steven said.

He is setting his sights on the For Rangers Ultra next year in Kenya, a 143-mile, six-day race with proceeds benefiting the rangers who protect endangered animals in Africa such as rhinos.

Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1041.