As Zach prepares for his first ultramarathon, he sometimes finds himself 20 miles into a training run deep in the Redwood Forest with tears streaming down his blond-bearded face.
It’s not pain from the grueling run or sadness from a sometimes difficult past that brings them. They are tears of appreciation that he, born without part of his right leg in 1984, is able to do what he’s doing now.
And as he runs – mile after mile, day after day, in preparation for the April 10 ultramarathon in Utah’s Zion National Park – his mind flies away from his current home in Mendocino, California, more than 2,100 miles east, to Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis. As he drips sweat despite the cool shade provided by trees so large their tops seem to funnel to a point against the pale-blue sky, as his specially made blade-style prosthetic leg pounds on the uneven rock-strewn trails, he thinks of the place that changed the course of his life and the people who treated him for 18 years, crafting and fitting him with prosthetic leg after prosthetic leg.