Greetings from Bob

Welcome to the 9th edition of our newsletter. In this issue we celebrate Independence Day and the many ways endurance sports can be used to express feelings of freedom and independence.  Also, in this issue we are excited to debut a new Babbittville feature: interview transcripts. I see these as another way to share some of my favorite interviews with you. We begin with Lionel Sanders, Jens Voigt, and Adrianne Haslet.

23 years ago, we started the Challenged Athletes Foundation with the simple goal of raising enough money to buy an adaptive van for recently-paralyzed Jim MacLaren so that he could regain his independence. Little did we know at the time where this initial goal would take us.

And finally, enjoy a classic editorial I wrote about the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and an unforgettable Fourth of July.



READ the transcript of the
Lionel Sanders interview

LISTEN to the interview on Babbittville Radio

Can’t get enough Lionel?
WATCH our Breakfast with Bob from Kona interview

Lionel Sanders

We begin with Lionel Sanders. Lionel has broken free from some dark days in his past, and is winning just about everything this season, but there remains one big race he has yet to master.

Bob Babbitt: We haven't had a Canadian guy win Kona since Peter Reid, the three-time Ironman world champion from Canada. What would it mean to you to win that race?

Lionel Sanders: I mean it would be amazing. For me this is the pinnacle of triathlon. The Olympics is cool and everything, but I got into this for Ironman and Kona. It is my dream, 100% my dream to win that race. Every day I train and I do just a little bit of something to help me perform my best in that race. I know it's not kind to the young person, it's not kind to the weaker swimmer, but I think those are all just mental limits that don't necessarily exist in the real world. I'd like to find out if I could win it. For me to win it is going to require me to become the best biker and runner in the world. That is my motivation right now. I need to become the best biker and runner in the world. Everyday that's what I'm trying to do.

Jens Voigt

With the Tour de France in full swing, it’s the perfect opportunity to revisit a favorite interview with one of the most entertaining cyclists ever: Jens Voigt. Not fond of sitting in a group, Jens was known for his penchant for breaking free from the peloton. Here, Jens recalls his day on Independence Pass during the 2012 US Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado.

Bob Babbitt: It seems you love the surprise factor, the fact that you'll go when no one else will. Attacking on Independence Pass is probably something most people wouldn't think about.

Jens Voigt: No, no. I don't think anybody would have bet a penny on me that that was going to work. But that was my chance, to be unpredictable. Everybody knows you want to attack in the last kilometer, but then everybody's ready for it. Who's going to be ready when you attack with 60 miles to go? You surprise everybody with that. Once you have the advantage and momentum on your side, the others have to react to your plan. That already gives you a huge mental advantage because you are in control of the situation. The others now have to live with the situation you created. They're on the defense. I've always created more energy when I was on the offense, when I felt, "Okay, I'm in control. I'm the boss of this." That always helped me mentally to suffer through those long days.



READ the transcript of the
Jens Voigt interview

LISTEN to the interview on Babbittville Radio



READ the transcript of the
Adrianne Haslet interview

LISTEN to the interview on Babbittville Radio

WATCH Adrianne’s emotional finish
at the Boston Marathon

Adrianne Haslet

Next up, is the incredible Adrianne Haslet. Adrianne lost her leg in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and triumphantly finished the marathon this year. Adriane embodies a positive, independent spirit, and refuses to think of herself as a victim.

Bob Babbitt: You have been very insistent that people refer to you and others as bombing survivors, not victims. Why was that important to you? It's basically just a word.

Adrianne Haslet: Yeah. It is a word, and at first I'm thinking, "Am I fighting for just a word? Is this something that's silly and minute and just for myself?" Then I started to talk to other people that were in the hospital for a multitude of different reasons, not just the Boston bombings, and I thought "These words matter." I've said it before and I'll say it again, sticks and stones will obliterate my bones, but words will stay with me forever. Being a survivor gives you hope towards the future, and being a victim means you're stuck. I just couldn't take it. I couldn't handle that word. I realized I'm fighting for so much more than just a word. I'm fighting for the stigma that comes with it.

Jim MacLaren and Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

In 2005, Jim MacLaren and Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah were awarded the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPYs, which take place again this year July 13th in Los Angeles. The video profile of Jim and Emmanuel that was shown at the ceremony was directed by Lisa Lax and her twin sister Nancy Stern Winters, aka Lookalike Productions, known for many of the most memorable profiles on the NBC Ironman TV show.



WATCH the ESPYs profile
on Jim and Emmanuel

Fourth of July in River Forest

I am lightheaded. Floating on air somewhere between Squaw Valley and Auburn, California. Vaseline has proven useless. The blisters between my toes are bloody and rubbed Howard Stern raw. The water bottles attached to my waistbelt rattle and gurgle with each and every stride. A leak in one causes a constant spittle that oozes out of the top and drips from calf to ankle to trail.

My field of vision – my vision of life – has narrowed significantly in this, my third consecutive 25-mile running day. Yellow ribbons are my only link to the dusty trail, and they are up high, attached to overhanging tree limbs. Danger is down low, where ankle-snapping rocks and hidden tree roots lurk in the shadows. I try to balance my vision, to look high for ribbons and low for obstacles at the same time so as not to miss a turn. My synapses are at the ready and adrenaline is on call, standing at attention.

The real world simply does not exist in my mind at this point. Life is all too simple. Run a few strides, spot a ribbon, scan for danger, slurp some fluid.


The idea was to give some of the less ambitious in town (namely me) the chance to run the Western States 100 with a touch of sanity thrown in. Instead of doing the deed in 24 hours or less, instead of enrolling in Sleep Deprivation University, we invitees of the American Medical Joggers Association would camp out at night and have all of four days to finish the course.

Even with the luxuries of a tent and sleeping bag, you will have to navigate 100 miles of trails in four days, the only 100-mile training week of my seriously under-trained life. Work and cars and friends are replaced with a new focal point. The trail that stretches out to eternity in front of me is my only concern.

READ Fourth of July in River Forest on

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