At the 2014 O2X Northeast Summit Series, O2X started a tradition and debuted the Rise Higher Award. The idea behind the award was to look at a Summit Challenge as a metaphor for the real life hardships and pain that we are inevitably faced with and to recognize and honor individuals who have risen above that adversity and inspired others with their resilience and strength. After receiving and reviewing numerous submissions from friends and family, O2X nominated a Rise Higher Award recipient for each event and presented their award on race day. At the Sugarbush Mountain Summit Challenge on September 14, Jane Coffey was the recipient of the Rise Higher Award.
Jane’s battle began nearly a decade ago, when she was 35 years old and 9 months pregnant with her first child. After a normal pregnancy, Jane checked into the hospital within days of her due date. When her water broke, it released meconium, which can be lethal to a fetus. Jane recalls the event in her blog: “I remember going to bed, she had been a bit quiet in my belly. I remember waking up to my water breaking at 2am, but it was full of meconium. Rush to hospital. Listened to her heartbeat get weaker. Listened to her heartbeat stop as I am being rushed on a gurney to the Operating Room. Listening to doctors and nurses talking loudly, urgently. Then, I am out. I wake up to a crying physician over me asking me if they should stop working on my daughter…trying to maintain what little heartbeat she had. In my drugged, anesthetized stupor, my mothering instincts said stop now. Leave her be. Seth joined me, crying, we held our beautiful daughter. We said goodbye.”
The months following the death of her daughter were the hardest in her life. Jane suffered from depression and ‘phantom limb’ pain in her hands, which is the effect experienced when a mother, who is hormonally charged to be holding a newborn, knows she isn’t holding the child. She had another miscarriage 8 months later. But Jane is a fighter, and she resolved to mourn and then move forward. Jane reflects by saying, “I look at those first couple weeks and wonder HOW did I get through that? The answer: You just do. And you never forget”.
Years later, after the successful birth of her daughter Aida, she decided to start running. She signed up for a 10k to set a goal and her love of racing soon led to ultramarathons, obstacle course racing, and other extreme endurance feats. In 2012, at one of the most challenging physical and mental events in the country, Jane made it 76 hours before having to be wrestled to the ground by a race official after missing the 2nd time cut off. In 2014, Jane completed the O2X Summit Challenge at Sugarbush, where she ran the first ever Summit Challenge and won the Rise Higher Award. Today, Jane is signed up for the Loon Mountain Summit Challenge in October, and continues to update her blog with stories of training and life, found here.
Jane – thank you for sharing your story and in doing so, helping others who are navigating through the peaks and valleys of life. We are honored to know you and can’t wait to see you in October. #risehigher
*We are accepting submissions for the 2015 Rise Higher Award – email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Rise Higher” in the subject line if you have an O2X racer in mind who has displayed extreme perse
verence and strength in the face of life’s challenges. We would love to hear their story and are continually inspired by instances of extreme resilience and Human Performance.