A New Balance

(Originally published in the Missoulian newspaper)

Kalispell, Mont. – Nobody knows for sure how Gary Hanson is still alive.

By all rights, the 60-year-old marathoner from Kalispell should have died during an early spring morning five years ago, on a narrow running path in Washington that slopes down a gentle hill toward the Spokane River.

The accident that should have killed him is old news now to Gary and his wife Gail. They talk about it with the kind of acceptance, wit and dignity reserved for those who have seen the very worst in life and survived it.

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Reach for the Sky

(Originally published in UFC Magazine.)

Stefan Struve is ready to hit the pool.

It’s almost five o’clock on a sweltering July afternoon and the UFC’s annual fighter summit has just ended at the Red Rocks Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. As far as the company’s two hundred-plus employees are concerned, school’s out for summer. All day Struve has been cooped up in a stuffy hotel conference room listening to strangers lecture him about the virtues and perils of being a professional fighter. Before that, he spent roughly half of the previous 24 hours in the air, all six-foot-11 ½ inches of him folded into an airplane seat like a piece of human origami for the marathon trip from Amsterdam to LAX to Vegas.

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Pool Shark

(Originally published in the Missoulian newspaper.)

The mustache took forever to fill in, Mark Spitz says.

He’d never grown one before and so it was slow going at first. Originally, Spitz says the plan was to shave it before the U.S. Olympic trials in Chicago, but once he saw how much of a distraction it was for his competitors and the attention it grabbed from the media, he decided it was a keeper.

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A Leg to Stand On

(Originally published in Montanan Magazine.)

There was a time in early 2006 when Megan Fisher gave up on walking.

It was January, midway through her senior year at the University of Montana and while hiking in the hills outside of Missoula she suddenly found herself in so much pain that she decided she needed a few days off her feet. She says she went home and lay down on the couch to rest, waiting for the agony to subside. When it didn’t, she barely got up again for almost three months.

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