“I came over that last hill and saw the clock, and it read 2 hours and 15 minutes,” said David Ogata about the final stretch of this year’s Long Beach Marathon.
“I thought it was a mistake, but I gave it all I had to get to the finish.”
Ogata, 59, was competing in the handcycle competition of the marathon, held Oct. 12 through the streets of Long Beach. As a teenaged wrestling star, he suffered a devastating diving injury at the Kern River, one that set his life on a path he never imagined.
“I was paralyzed from the neck down for more than two years,” he explained. “But the doctors and therapists worked so well with me that I was able to regain some function. It was like a miracle, really.”
Far more remarkable than Ogata’s finish in 20th place at the marathon, with a time of 2:24:51, is the fact that he did it by hand-cranking his cycle with only the use of his left arm. The right side remains paralyzed.
By finishing with such a strong time, Ogata qualified for the Boston and New York City marathons, and will enter the L.A. Marathon next March.
The founder of the Hope On Wheels Ministry, Ogata posted a thankful message on his Facebook page with the following excerpts:
I reached my goal: Most all of you know that I entered the Long Beach Marathon in the Handcycling division. On the behest of my friend and trainer, Chuck Cook, I accepted his invitation. For my new friends who don’t know, I only have “one arm.”
The Marathon was held yesterday morning. I wanted to let all of you know that I reached my goal and finished the 26.2 mile race! I received a beautiful medal. I learned a lot from this race physically, mentally and spiritually.
Since my accident I have never attempted to do an event this challenging. It took all the perseverance and determination I had. I made a lot of mistakes going through this arduous, physical course. Going up hills practically killed me. At one point, I wanted to quit (about halfway). Then I asked God to help me finish. I took a deep breath then dug really deep and pushed with all I had with my one arm. The very depth of my soul was screaming, “Don’t quit!”
There was a lot of miles and racing to go. God’s hands pushed me through the course. About 3 miles from the finish line, I was so elated, I yelled, “Thank you, Lord!”
People were yelling, “Great job! You did it!,” even shaking cow bells! When I crossed the finish line I felt calmness and peace, the kind that only can come from my true Father. I was glad that it was over. God had allowed me to finish my first marathon. I may not have won the race, but in God’s book I’m a winner and that’s the most important thing to me.
This was God’s way of making me feel like an athlete again. He answered my prayers. Thanks, esp. to my wife and all of my family and friends for your prayers, support and encouragement for without it, this wouldn’t have been possible. May God bless you all.