By: Matt Hamilton, Sports Editor
Caitlin Adams, a member of Towson’s cross country team, is preparing to run 305 miles across the state of Maryland. She’s running to raise money for Limbs for Life, an organization that provides prosthetics to those in need. She is fundraising for the run via her website, www.runacrossmaryland.com. This is the first installment of a series on Caitlin’s preparation for the run, which begins May 23.
The Weather Channel said 42 degrees, but it felt much colder with the wind chill. And the mid-March piles of snow gave a sense of early February.
But there was Caitlin Adams, walking out of Towson University’s Tower B in grey-and-pink Under Armour shorts as students in jeans and sweatpants walked past. Adams smiled despite the near-freezing conditions.
It was 8 a.m. on a Thursday when a photographer met her outside the residence and began to take pictures. The photographer asked Adams to do a few practice jogs in a parking lot to make sure she didn’t get hit by a car, and that the photo was credible.
“My grandma would be yelling at me, telling me I’m going to catch pneumonia,” Adams said, laughing.
Adams was ready to run after the 10-minute photoshoot finished. Her neon pink shoes hit the cement pavement and she was off.
She started climbing York Road and began thinking about the hills in Cumberland. Then, she turned onto Allegany Avenue, her favorite street in Towson.
“It’s such a cute place. That’s why I love running up here,” she said.
Adams continued through a few side streets until she got back to campus. After racing up another hill on Osler Drive, she finished where she started, 2.5 miles and an hour later.
“That was super easy,” she said later.
Adams, a member of Towson’s cross country team, was used to running long distances, from 10-12 miles a day. In fact, she ran again that day.
However, the media attention as part of her day is fairly new.
Adams will repeat this routine daily in preparation for her 305-mile run across Maryland. She’ll begin in Cumberland on May 23 and finish in Ocean City four weeks later. She’s trying to raise as much money as possible for Limbs for Life, an organization created to give prosthetics to those that can’t afford them.
She ran with ease, but this will be a different test.
“I think it’s going to be the most mentally and physically challenging thing I’ve done in my entire life,” Adams said. “I think there’s going to be definitely times where I’ll want to quit … But I know myself enough that I’m going to be able to say ‘I’m doing this for these people. I’ve already started and I’m going to finish it.’”
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She swore there was no rhyme or reason to it. She thinks it was an act of God.
“I have no idea what it meant,” she said. “I’m not like shove-down-your-throat religious, but I’d like to think God put it in my head because it was something I was meant to do. … People have purpose and God gives you that purpose. And this is what he has sent me to do.”
The word “prosthetics” filled Adams’ mind in her junior year at Colonel Richardson High School in 2012. She couldn’t shake the thought, so she downloaded the Dictionary.com app on her iPod Touch to find out what “prosthetics” meant.
It read something like this:
“The branch of medicine or surgery that deals with the production and application of artificial body parts.”
She wasn’t sure what to do with this information until the spring of 2013. After quitting the softball team (Adams said they picked favorites), she decided to try out for the track team.
Running wasn’t her specialty just a few years back, when she ran a 14-minute mile in middle school. She decided she didn’t want to be last anymore and cut that time in half in high school.
That’s when “prosthetics” came back to her.
“I started running track and that’s when I realized, if you didn’t have a leg … how huge of an impact that would have on your life,” Adams said. “All the things we take for granted, like walking somewhere, that’s something we should be grateful to do.”
As early as 2013, Adams began mapping the route for a hypothetical cross-Maryland run. However, track forced her to invest more time in improving, and the run took a mental backseat.
That year, she transferred from Colonel Richardson to North Caroline to help improve her times. She broke five school records and emerged as a leader, a role she loved.
It wasn’t until she came to Towson in the fall of 2014 to join the cross country team that “the run” surfaced again.
“My senior year [of high school], I was captain. I was the person that people relied on,” Adams said. “When I came to college, I was kind of a smaller fish in a big pond, because everyone on the team was one of those people. I kind of felt like I lost purpose. I felt like I needed to run with a purpose again.”
Caitlin sat on her dorm room floor on the second floor of Tower B soon after, and wrote down a bucket list in her journal. On it was the run across Maryland.
“That was the day I was like, ‘That’s it. I’m going to do this,’” she said.
Adams reached out to Limbs for Life just before Thanksgiving. She had found her purpose again.