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Army captain blinded by battle finds strength in running

Posted March 20, 2011

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— Thousands of runners across the Triangle will be resting their aching legs Monday, after going the distance in the second annual Tobacco Road Marathon on Sunday, a race through Cary and western Wake County that benefits the Wounded Warrior Project.

For Army Capt. Ivan Castro, aching legs are a reminder that he's alive. Since 2006, he's struggled to run again after suffering severe injuries in a mortar attack in Iraq that killed two of his comrades.

"Every step that I take, it feels like I am alive," Castro said. "It took baby steps. I had to learn how to walk. It took three people to stand me up for the first time for only two seconds. I was so weak."

The attack didn't just take his mobility, Castro lost his eyesight as well. 

"You know we all have a cross to carry. The Lord decided that this was my cross. He wouldn't give me this cross (if) he didn't think I could carry it," Castro said. 

His running partner, Lt. Col. Fred Dummar, helps him navigate the course with a string tied around their wrists.

"If he shows up and you don't, he can't train," Dummar said.

Iraq vet runs marathons to feel alive Iraq vet runs marathons to feel alive

The pair has run seven marathons together, including the Marine Corps and Boston Marathon. The Tobacco Road Marathon was Castro's 15th.

When Castro isn't running, he's working for the Army, reaching out to soldiers who've been wounded in battle.

"If I'm able to inspire one person, if I am able to turn one life around, I think I did my job for the day," he said. 

The Wounded Warrior Project aims to help raise awareness for the needs of injured service members and also offers programs and services to aid them.


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  • braddavis Mar 21, 2011

    I finished 5 minutes ahead of him in the Marine Corps Marathon, and stuck around because they announced he was coming......100,000 people crying.....it was completely awesome! What an inspiration.

  • InterestedNurse Mar 21, 2011

    I ran this marathon and ran in his pace-group for a while. It was my first marathon and toughest run...running with him was truly inspirational. Good job Captain.

  • bombayrunner Mar 21, 2011

    Fine example of our Officers. The officers we had and all the officers I knew were always great people. They were all very respected because of the courage and example they set, just like this.

  • lakeyk1 Mar 21, 2011

    An awesome story. Our Lord and Saviour, Captain Ivan Castro and Lt. Col Fred Dummar are truly a "Dynamic Duo". Stay encouraged, so thankful that you did not give up...but pursevered through hard and challenging times....Army Tough!!!! God Bless our men and women serving our country and their families for their sacrifices as well. lakeyk1

  • westernwake1 Mar 21, 2011

    Excellent and inspirational story! Capt Castro - thank you for your service and sacrifice.

  • scottandjackie Mar 21, 2011

    Wow! Great story! Both Castro and Dummar are awsome and an inspiration to us all!

    hereandnow99.....God is good. He gives us hope and love in times of need. He never promised to take all of the sins and suffering in the world away. He has promised us a wonderful place in Heaven and to stand by us until we get there! Try going to church one Sunday it may open your eyes and heart a little bit.

  • deannaandgrace2 Mar 21, 2011

    Hereandnow... really?!?!?! good grief!

    Great story. What an inspiration you are, Captain Castro! Truly a hero!

  • jollyrogered Mar 21, 2011

    This story just about brought tears to my eyes. How encouraging. Thank god for people like him and his running partner. What a beautiful bond!

  • NavySrChiefswife Mar 21, 2011

    Awesome story! Thank you Capt Castro for your service and sacrifice. You are a true inspiration to everyone:)

  • Dark of the Moon Mar 21, 2011

    GREAT story.

    Charlton Dude