Ebright is on the fast track again | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Ebright is on the fast track again

Running is second nature to most children. Playing tag with friends or pick-up basketball, hide-and-seek, or just running for exercise are all things they do.

But, for Mary Ebright, it was something that was lost to her after only 13 years.

Now with the help of technology, Ebright is running her way into history this Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Sacramento.

She will take part in the first-ever exhibition run for female amputees. The 100-meter sprint will feature runners from across the nation.

“It’s mind-boggling that I’m doing this,” said Ebright, a South Lake Tahoe resident for most of her life. “It’s really neat because it’s right in my back yard.”

Ebright has been involved with athletics for most of her adult life as a skier. But running was something she thought was lost forever.

Let alone, competitively.

“Running was not an option anymore,” Ebright said. “As an amputee for 30 years, this is a gift and a blessing. I’ve been able to recapture my own dreams in running.”

With newly advanced technology, Ebright, along with the seven other competitors, are up and running. Ebright uses a running leg known as a Flex-Foot Vari-Flex.

The L-shaped leg is a vast improvement over the older equipment available to runners and athletes. According to Ebright, Flex-Foot and numerous organizations across the country have made great progress in advancing athletics for amputees and disabled athletes.

Organizations like Challenged Athletes Foundation have helped many of the competitors in Saturday’s race.

“The CAF buys equipment for both world-class athletes and regular people who just want to be able to run up the hill with their grandchildren,” she said.

On Saturday, Ebright will compete against some of her close friends and disabled athletes. Ebright’s was invited to the exhibition by Disabled Sports USA. Shea Cowart and Lindsey Nelson are both Ebright contemporaries and inspirations to her.

Cowart is a 20-year-old double-amputee who burst onto the running scene with stunning success.

“She’s a little Southern peach,” Ebright said. “She’s really come out of nowhere.”

On the other end of the spectrum is Nelson, who is a veteran runner and a pioneer in the field.

“Lindsey’s a mentor to me,” Ebright said. “She is a real pioneer. I’m looking to forward to competing with her.”

While the women who Ebright will compete against are dedicated runners, Ebright is also a competitive skier. She has just started running in October of 1999 and her first event was the Lake Tahoe Marathon. During which she ran a 5K, but she hasn’t given up skiing altogether.

“A lot of the runners are giving me a hard time,” Ebright said. “When I was training in San Diego with the other Para-Olympic athletes, my coach Richie Roberts saw me running with my arms in the skiing position. He jumped out in front of me and yelled, ‘What? Do you thinking it’s snowing?’

“Everyone thinks I’m defecting from skiing and trying to be a summer athlete, but I’m not.”

Ebright trains at the National Sports Center for Disabled Athletes in Winter Park, Colo., with Paul Di Bello’s downhill racing ski camp and expects to take up her poles and skis again in the winter.

But right now she is focusing on the task at hand and is ready to for the starter’s gun on Saturday.

“I’m lucky to get this opportunity,” Ebright said. “It will be an eye-opening event for this weekend.”

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