Dave Raczkowski stands for a portrait with his hand-crafted adaptive running crutches at his home. KASSI JACKSON/HARTFORD COURANT/TNS
Photo: Kassi Jackson
Photo: Kassi Jackson

He can’t walk without pain, but he can run a 100-miles — on crutches

But once he straps on his customized forearm crutches, he can run 100 miles.

Raczkowski, tried to finish the Vermont 100-mile Endurance Race for the third time recently but ended up dropping out after 37 miles due to the brutal heat and humidity (as did more than half the field).

He did finish the grueling race — which has 15,000 feet of elevation and a cutoff time of 30 hours — twice with his crutches, in 2016 and 2018. At the peak of his Vermont training, he runs six hours a day out in the woods behind his house in Chaplin.

He is 68, a retired occupational therapist, a trail runner before trail running was cool. He doesn’t like when people say he’s inspiring but he’s come to accept it (sort of.). He wants to get the word out about his crutches and how they’ve extended his running life when so many people give up on running because of bad knees and turn to biking or other forms of exercise. Not that that’s a bad thing — but some people would like to keep running.

“There is a decent population out there who quit running because of pain,” Raczkowski said. “People in their 30s and 40s, some develop an obsession, to say the least. That obsession just doesn’t die when you get to be 60.

He’s trying to put off a knee replacement, although he will have to get one eventually. He figures he will still be able to run with the crutches. He hopes to be able to, anyways, as long as he can.

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