While most people were starting their new year’s resolutions, one man was busy surpassing his.
On March 14, 2015, Derek Mitchell made headlines when he joined the Big 12 Run 5k in Kansas City. To those who aren’t familiar with his story, his last place finish could’ve easily been misconstrued as a loss—but to those who are, this event was just the beginning of something much more inspiring.
A few years earlier, Mitchell was diagnosed with prolactinoma, where in a benign tumor on his pituitary gland causes an overproduction of the prolactin hormone, and thus, weight gain. This motivated Mitchell to regain control of his health by transforming his lifestyle into one that’s more active.
And so his journey began at the start of the year, a few months before his first race. On January 1, Mitchell decided to stop eating soda and eat healthier, and go on regular walks, starting with a mile a day. By the time he was ready for the race, he was 570 lbs., already 55 lbs. lighter from his heaviest at 625 lbs.
And so he signed up, not aiming to place, but focused to finish—and that he did, and motivated to keep going. “I decided that, starting in March, I would do at least one 5K each month for the rest of the year,” shared Mitchell in an interview with Runner’s World Newswire. “I’ve already been talked into two in May. I want to try and lose five minutes off of each one, but at this point, I just want to finish.” He continues, “By the end of the year, I’ll have finished 11 5Ks, which, just thinking about (the fact that) I’ll have walked 55 kilometers is a little daunting. But I’m looking forward to it.”
To date, Mitchell has quite a collection of finisher’s medals and bibs from the races and events he has joined: 20 5Ks, two 10Ks, and half of a Tough Mudder, much more than the amount he aimed to achieve. He has also lost 45 lbs. more than he initially did, bringing the total weight loss to 100 lbs. His new goal for this year, he says, is to continue what he’s started and work towards finishing a half-marathon. By the looks of it, his is race is not one that ends at the finish line, but at the achievement of his better self.
Follow his journey at Facebook.com/derekmitchellstory.