DUI Victim to Compete in Ironman

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getting to the starting line has been the hardest part.

    Against doctor’s orders and against enormous odds a San Diego mom is leaning on blind faith to reach the finish line of this weekend's Arizona Ironman.

    The full Ironman is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, topped off by a 26.2 mile run. If those numbers aren't impressive enough, consider these numbers: Two and eight.

    Erin Harding will do it with two rods and eight screws holding her spine in place.

    San Diego Mom Leans on Blind Faith

    [DGO] San Diego Mom Leans on Blind Faith
    Getting to the starting line has been the hardest part.

    Rain or shine, her daily workout inside a small Murphy Canyon garage is the kind of discipline you'd expect to find in a military neighborhood, but Harding has never done this before. Still, she's training for a race few people can fathom much less complete.

    "It's all because I have faith in God that he is going to get me through it," she said.

    Harding, a woman of deep faith, the wife of a Marine and mother of two children, is also a victim of drunk driving.

    Stationed in Okinawa, Japan last year, she was riding her bike to swim practice when she was hit from behind, leaving a body shaped dent on the van's hood.

    "I remember getting hit. I remember flying through the air," Harding recalled.

    While the driver initially stopped to help, he later fled the scene.

    "The smell of alcohol was strong. Even when I was laying on the ground I could smell it," Harding said.

    Harding's spine was crushed and her pelvis was broken. Her family is getting an emergency transfer back to San Diego.

    The months that followed the accident were difficult at best, including six surgeries along the way and a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder.

    "I would remember getting hit and I would wake up. I think the impact of the car hitting me is so vivid in my head that that was really the hardest thing to get over," Harding said.

    Today Harding is far from healthy. A surgery to remove the hardware in her back and pelvis is scheduled after the race, yet there's a voice inside telling her to go for it. It’s the same voice that led her to sign up for the Ironman.

    "I remember just walking around the neighborhood and I thought, what would happen if I would run? What would happen if I would jog?"

    While her doctors urge caution, Harding is moving full speed ahead towards that distant finish line, sure of what she hopes for and certain of what she cannot see.

    "Going into something with blind faith. Not knowing the outcome. Not knowing how it's going to work out. Just doing it because you feel that it's right,” she said.

    The Arizona Ironman is scheduled for November 21. Harding says if she can get to the starting line, she'll make it to the finish line.