Marty Pomplun walked across the Crazylegs Classic finish line with a huge grin and prosthetic legs emblazoned with John Deere logos.
Pomplun has accepted challenges with life as a double amputee, and he checked one challenge off his list on Saturday by participating in the Crazylegs walk. The 52-year-old began his trek at Capitol Square with the last wave of runners, took a few shortcuts on his way to Camp Randall Stadium, and completed 2 miles in 51 minutes.
“I have to accept this the rest of my life, and what’s the next step in my life?” Pomplun said before Crazylegs. “I’m a huge Badgers fan. I’ll just try to compete the best I can.
“If I start and stop, it’s OK. I’m in it to be there and show and inspire some people, even in Boston.”
Pomplun told Madison-area prosthetist Dave Sisson for several years that one of his goals was to participate in a Crazylegs walk. After many people suffered injuries and lost limbs in bombings after the Boston Marathon, Pomplun knew it was time for Crazylegs. Another contributing factor that fueled Pomplun’s desire was a safety lock device Sisson installed on his prosthetics.
“My inspiration is the people of Boston,” Pomplun said. “I just can’t imagine what took place there. I feel thankful for what I have with my prosthetic legs.”
In winter 2005, Pomplun hitchhiked to find help after his car broke down in inclement weather. Three days later, a farmer found Pomplun on his Town of Ridgeway property.
Pomplun suffered severe frostbite, resulting in the amputation of both his legs four inches below the knees. The Janesville native got a new lease on life when he met Sisson, who designed, fabricated and fitted Pomplun with new legs.
“I knew there were limb makers and it was really a blessing that Dave came along,” Pomplun said. “I hadn’t walked in five months, and then I got my prosthetics. It was awesome.”
Sisson sponsored Pomplun and walked side-by-side with his patient at Crazylegs.
“I’m grateful to facilitate and watch and be part of this experience for Marty,” Sisson said. “He’s got a good heart and his motives are pure.
“I think anything to help support these folks who have been through this horrible tragedy in Boston is good.”
Good day at Camp
New University of Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen took time to chat with Tyler Sigl after the Seymour native won his second Crazylegs Classic title on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
Andersen, who served as the grand marshal for the 32nd running of the 8-kilometer run and two-mile walk, said he’s embracing traditions at UW.
“It’s another learning experience as we go through our first few months in Madison,” said Andersen, who was named the coach in December.
“I got to hear the story of how it’s grown from 1,100 people 30 years ago to about 17,000 to 20,000 every year. It’s just great to see so many people get together.”
Terry Murawski, executive director of the National W Club, said 17,000 people were expected to participate in the event. That figure is down compared to last year’s total of 19,819, the second-highest registration in Crazylegs history.
According to Murawski, sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-50s were a welcome change of pace. The decrease in registration had to do in part with poor weather in weeks leading up to Crazylegs.
“Good weather makes it fantastic for us,” Murawski said. “We’ve been burdened with bad weather the last few years. Everyone is having a good time and you don’t have to finish and run for cover.
“The inclement weather up until this week has really stifled early sign-up, and that’s true of races across the Midwest.”
Murawski wouldn’t elaborate on exact figures, but indicated there was a significant increase in the number of security people working in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
“Most of our efforts this year were to making sure we had a safe event; and that people could enjoy themselves and feel comfortable,” Murawski said.
“If I start and stop, it’s OK. I’m in it to be there and show and inspire some people, even in Boston.” — MARTY POMPLUN