In November of 2014 USATF coach Richard Burke was attempting to set a personal record of 14 ultra mountain trail races in one year. In his 12th ultra of the season, disaster struck.
On a very wet and slippery narrow mountain trail, he jumped over a fallen tree, tripped and stumbled down a steep ravine, severely damaging his already worn out knee.
Richard went on to say, "I am not one to give up. I dragged myself back up to the trail and finished the race."
Prior to his attempt to his 2014 record breaking year, he had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
In this same year, and prior to the ultra marathon that brought disaster to him, Richard had also competed in multiple 1/2 marathon and 10k trail events, capturing many age division awards. These shorter distance races are what he called "my tune-up and training races."
Richard was also training 3 days a week with his USATF youth cross country and track team he coaches. In all total, he had logged about 2500 miles of training and racing miles in 11 months of 2014.
The good news: Six months after full knee replacement surgery he managed to train for and complete a 50k trail event in the Auburn foothills of California. His assistant coach, and team Thunder Hawk parent Carolina Swartz got him ready for the race by running with him on his training days." She was in such great shape from training, she ended up running her first ultra trail event with me."
Fast forward to May 2017 and Richard had to have full knee replacement in his other leg.
Amazingly, in September of 2017 Richard started training once again for a November 50k ultra event.
It is rare for an ultra runner to continue running after full knee replacement surgery, even more so with two replaced knees. As of the date of this video, we know of no other athlete that has continued to train for and run an ultra trail event with both knees replaced.
"I teach this quote to both my youth running club athletes and to the adults I coach. "IF I THINK I CAN, I CAN, IF I THINK I CAN'T, I CAN'T, and I'll be right either way." "We never know what we are capable of doing unless we try."
"Richard continues to inspire all of us."
Kelly Rhoads Poston
Editor North Bay Medical.
"If I didn't see this with my own eyes, I wouldn't have thought it was possible."
Photographer North Bay Medical
VACAVILLE'S TEAM THUNDER HAWKS
Junior Olympic, Regional and National Championship Team
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