SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Speaking on the phone with ABC4 while training on his stationary bike in his Salt Lake City home, Dusty Campbell is preparing to make an incredible endurance achievement over the weekend.
However, at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, Campbell, who works as physical therapist, is far from the typical mold of an endurance athlete.
To be completely honest, he says he “hates running more than anything on earth.”
Fortunately for Campbell, he won’t be making the 270-plus mile journey from Jackson Hole Wyo. back to Salt Lake City by running, although the physical motion will be somewhat similar. Campbell, a former college hockey player at the University of West Virginia, will be rollerblading the long distance this weekend.
Starting from Jackson Hole on Friday morning and hoping to arrive back in SLC sometime on Sunday, Campbell is making the trip to raise awareness and support for the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that gives physical mental, emotional, and physical aid to returned servicemembers.
Although Campbell himself never served in the military, he has always considered himself to be a patriot, and has seen the trauma and struggles many of his friends have had after their service. One of his friends, described as a “solid” 6-foot-3, 260 pound giant, had a particularly tough breakdown in front of him one evening.
“He was in complete tears one night, and angry at the world that he’s in college instead of serving with his brothers,” Campbell recalls of his friend. “PTSD was just eating him up.”
After that and other experiences, including seeing how divisive certain political issues had become in the United States, Campell found himself contemplating how he could help while skating laps around Liberty Park.
As he was working out his frustration on his skates, the idea of a long-distance skate to raise awareness for Wounded Warriors struck him.
“My parents’ voice kind of popped into my head like, ‘You can complain about it, which will solve nothing, or you can try and make a difference,’” he remembers. “So I kind of took it upon myself to do something to bring some support back to our culture, as opposed to just complaining like most people do.”
With the idea buzzing in his mind, Campbell rushed home to pitch the plan to his girlfriend, Renee Carr. While Campbell jokes that he probably sounded crazy while explaining his idea to his partner, Carr says it was actually pretty typical of him.
“Actually, I wasn’t all that surprised or shocked, because he goes big or goes home, and it was another day and another idea,” Carr explains. “He aims high when he makes goals and it just sounded like something he would do, so I just jumped on board.”
Since January, Campbell, with Carr’s help and support, has been training almost daily in preparation of Friday’s launch. He has done three to four hours of skating each day, combined with sprinting and bike riding intervals. It’s not uncommon for him to complete a 65-mile skate along the Jordan River Parkway as part of his training.
Campbell also reached out to the Wounded Warriors Project, which has been instrumental in giving him its endorsement, providing him support, and raising awareness for his skate.
Set to take his first stride of the skate on Friday morning at 10 a.m., Campbell has a route mapped out but does not have specific plans to stop for sleep, rest, or nutrition. The 31-year-old is simply hoping to listen to his body and make the appropriate stops when needed.
He’ll be motivated by his concern and appreciation for the military to get him through the journey.
“I want to bring awareness to how much these heroes struggle and sacrifice for us. They have to come back and deal with that and a lot of the time to deal with it without a support staff when they come home,” Campbell says.
As for Carr, she’ll be riding in a car being driven slowly behind him, posting the progress on social media and managing the live stream of his skate. While it’s not as bad as running would be, Campbell jokes that she’ll have even more difficulty with the distance than him.
“That sounds worse than skating,” he jokes.