Runner Monty Steele

Transformative moments in life often begin with the realization that one’s current path is a counterproductive one. For 59-year-old Monty Steele, that moment came when he woke up in the middle of the night and lit up a cigarette. He had smoke in his eyes, started coughing and thought to himself, “I can’t even go all night without smoking cigarette. This has to change.” At that time, his wife was pregnant with their younger son. Monty knew that if he continued with a sedentary lifestyle and continued smoking, that he had a very real possibility of not seeing his son grow up. Once that switch went off in Monty’s head, he knew he had to quit. That was 18 years ago, and though it was one of the most difficult things Monty has ever done, he is so thankful that he broke the habit. Monty says, “The worst decision I ever made was to start smoking. The best decision was to quit. It is something I will never regret. My cough went away. I can smell things again, and my doctor says my lungs are healthy.”

Monty had been an athletic kid. He played football in high school. He weighed only 165 pounds, but his feisty nature allowed him to compete against much bigger athletes. Though he loved football, he found that he really enjoyed running. He competed in track events through his high school years. Monty really liked sprints and ran in the 400 and 800 meter events. Monty says of his early running memories, “There were times when I was a kid and in great shape that running felt effortless. At those times, I felt like I was floating.”

When Monty went off to college, he took up smoking. His new habit eventually caused him to quit running. The effects of the cigarettes made it difficult to enjoy running, so his running eventually fell by the wayside. After college, Monty, began working in a very sedentary IT office job. Monty recalls how he looked in the mirror one day and said, “Who is this guy?” Now that he had quit smoking, he wanted to start getting back into shape. Though he has done martial arts (Karate, Aikido, and Jiu Jitsu) consistently since he was a teenager, he knew he needed to get back into weight training and running to regain overall strength and fitness.

When he lived in Wisconsin, Monty decided to join a gym because the winter weather was not conducive to a consistent outdoor running program. He started a weight and cardio program but felt that he needed to take running back up to get to the next level with his fitness. When Monty moved back to his hometown of Colorado Springs, CO, he found the weather and the supportive running community to be the kind of incentive he needed to really commit to a running program.

Monty ran several 5ks over the last year and a half. He soon decided he wanted to take his training to the next level, so he signed up to run his first-ever 10k at the Bolder Boulder. Signing up for this challenge provided Monty with incentive to train harder and longer than he had been. He also wanted his running experience to be meaningful and not just for his own personal gain. He decided to run his first 10k for Project Purple’s Pioneer Program. The Pioneer Program allows runners to fundraise for the charity at any race of their choosing. Monty could achieve his goals and bring meaning to his miles.

Monty’s family has been touched by cancer on a number of occasions. His mother has survived breast cancer and his brother survived thyroid and bladder cancer. Monty’s grandfather passed away as a result of prostate cancer. Monty chose to run for Project Purple specifically because he has known several people who have been affected by Pancreatic Cancer. He has a friend who is a pancreatic cancer survivor, and he has friends who have lost relatives to the cancer. He understands the devastating nature of Pancreatic Cancer and wanted to raise money for Project Purple to help make a difference in the lives of those who have been touched by the illness.

Nothing worth doing in life ever comes without some challenges, as Monty discovered during his training. He encountered several obstacles along the way. He injured his knee while training on a very rocky and technical trail. Monty’s mother broke her hip while he was deep into his training, and he was her caretaker while she faced surgery and rehabilitation. Monty is also a single father to his teenage son, Jeff, and being a single parent is both a blessing and a challenge at times.

Monty's sons, Andrew (L) and Jeff (R) with his mother.
Monty’s sons, Andrew (L) and Jeff (R) with his mother.

Monty also has a very demanding job, and he had weeks of working overtime in the evenings and on weekends that cut into his ability to train. Most sadly, Monty’s sister Connie unexpectedly passed away while he was caring for his mother.

Monty's mother with his sister Connie, who passed away unexpectedly in February.
Monty’s mother with his sister Connie, who passed away unexpectedly in February.

Despite all of these stressful events, Monty made a commitment to all of his donors that he would run the Bolder Boulder 10k. Though all of these stressors tested Monty’s resolve, he wanted to honor his promise to those who had supported him. Monty finished his first 10k on Memorial Day of 2015. The Bolder Boulder is a 10k race which has 52,000 entrants. The party atmosphere of the race inspired Monty to keep moving forward. The first 5k felt easy for him, and as the second half grew more difficult, his spirits were buoyed by the throngs of screaming spectators. Even though the distance was farther than he had ever gone before, Monty enjoyed the experience and had fun. He stopped to take pictures with the Elvis impersonators and the hula girls. He also talked to people about Project Purple and why he was running for the organization.


Monty after finishing the Bolder Boulder 10k
Monty after finishing the Bolder Boulder 10k

Monty Steele is an inspiring example of someone who has made significant positive changes in his own life. He has quit smoking and committed to living a healthy lifestyle. Monty plans to continue running because it makes him feel good and it helps him deal with the stresses of life. He has now finished his first 10k and he hopes to run the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll 10k in the fall of 2015. He has enjoyed his experience running for Project Purple because he is able to give to others while doing something healthy and positive.

Monty running the Bolder Boulder 10k
Monty running the Bolder Boulder 10k

You can contribute to Monty’s fundraising campaign by donating at his Crowdrise page:

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