On March 10 he got fitted for his prosthesis, but his elation was cut short a few hours later when Janice got a call. Chuck Davenport's body had been found; her father was dead at 56.
Withdrawal from methadone made Tim drowsy, nauseated, forgetful and irritable. It took a month, and Janice was terrified; all she could think of was her dad. But Tim was different. When, at the end of March, he could endure four days without taking any meds, Janice raced to dump the pills down the toilet.
Once Gustafson had his prosthesis, the physical therapists at Reed pushed him to get moving. Organizers from Achilles Track, DS/ USA and the Paralympics had begun recruiting him within weeks of his regaining consciousness. He had wrestled for four years at Lansing ( Kans.) High and had kayaked and hiked with Janice, but running appealed to him the most. He started jogging in May. On June 26 he ran his first race, a five-miler called the Hope & Possibility Run in New York City's Central Park, with Janice. In September, the week before the Army Ten-Miler in D.C., they ran the Tunnel to Towers 5K in Manhattan, and Gustafson's prosthesis folded like a jackknife during the race. He finished anyway, but five minutes later the pain was so intense that he couldn't walk.
He had trouble in the Ten-Miler from the start. First it was nausea; then pain in his right knee began to flare. The Cheetah leg so chafed his skin that in compensating he hyperextended his leg three times. After 61/2 miles he changed to his normal prosthesis and began to walk. But then his other leg began to ache, so once the pain in his stump subsided, he put the Cheetah back on and ran until he couldn't take the pain again. By the eighth mile his left hip and calf were cramping; the word quit entered his mind. Then an old, hefty woman passed him. Walking. Furious, Gustafson tried to catch her. Then came the bomb scare. A suspicious package had been seen under the 14th Street Bridge, so the course had been altered and now stretched to 11.2 miles. Therapists from Reed suggested that Gustafson take a shortcut to the finish. He would still cover 10 miles, they said, just what he'd signed up for. Janice begged him to take the shortcut. "I came here to do the whole race, no matter how long they make it," Gustafson snapped at her. "If you say that again, you can just leave."
He started running, hard. The hefty lady was in his sights. Words from his old wrestling coach flashed through his head, providing a rhythm: Never give up, never give in, finish strong. He passed the woman. He had run for almost three hours now, but down the stretch all pain disappeared. He could feel Janice beside him, attacking to the finish, locked in with him stride for stride.
"I made a promise that whatever he ran, I would be right next to him," she says. "Until he starts outrunning me."
CAPT. (RET.) DAWN HALFAKER
ACCORDING TO FAMILY MEMBERS, STAFF SGT. NERBIE LUIS LARA AND [ANOTHER SOLDIER] WERE INJURED ... AFTER A ROCKET STRUCK THE HUMVEE THEY WERE RIDING IN.
-- VISALIA ( CALIF.) TIMES-DELTA, JUNE 25, 2004