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Originally published Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 8:10 PM

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Man with prosthetic leg finishes half-marathon

On the 22nd wedding anniversary with his wife, Anthony Smith decided to partake in his first half-marathon on behalf of Challenge Athletes Foundation at Rock 'n' Roll Seattle.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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On the 22nd wedding anniversary with his wife, Anthony Smith of Auburn decided to partake in his first half-marathon on behalf of Challenge Athletes Foundation at Rock 'n' Roll Seattle.

The nonprofit organization raises money for challenged athletes and asked if he could participate in the event three months ago. It gives grants for equipment usage seen in Saturday's event such as handcycles and Smith's prosthetic leg.

Smith, 56, said he was injured in a motorcycle wreck in 1993. He suffered significant damage to his left leg.

"It hit me and tore me up pretty good," Smith said.

The doctors attempted to restore his left leg by degloving his foot, but it didn't work. Smith said he couldn't run without his foot bleeding. His leg was amputated 10 years later after the bone got infected.

He wishes the doctors would've cut it earlier.

"Ten years prior, they probably didn't have the same technology," Smith said. "But the technology they have now, my everyday walking leg is amazing."

After the accident, Smith decreased his activity level. His wife, Julie, said that changed after he turned 50. Smith turned to Challenge Athletes Foundation and joined a bicycle-racing group. Quickly thereafter, the group participated in triathlons.

When the organization asked if he wanted to run a half-marathon, he hesitated but insisted on registering for his first half-marathon.

"When we have family Christmas and all, he'll bring the disk of the Challenge Athletes Foundation and play it for everybody and ask for donations for them," Julie said. " ... They've been a great support to him so he wants to pay it back."

His game plan was simple as it gets for a first-timer: just finish. He drove the course with his wife and daughter Meagan last Sunday on Father's Day so he could mentally prepare himself.

The foundation supported him with a customized prosthetic leg built for long-distance running. Smith said it costs about $17,000 and it's something he wouldn't have been able to receive help for even with health insurance.

After he completed the race, Smith joked, "I made it today and I didn't die."

He thanked his family, especially his wife, for supporting him through the endeavor.

"I could've been a couch potato, retired and done nothing else but that's not what I am," he said.

His active lifestyle has also had an influence on his wife. Julie, 55, became more active after Smith's decision and has participated in 5K runs.

"Once I saw him (at the finish line), I just wanted to cry," Julie said. "I was just so proud of him. Nothing holds him back."

Julie said her husband was apologetic in the hospital after the accident, but she didn't understand why. It didn't make any difference to her what resulted from the wreck because she knew they'd continue on together.

Julie said they've grown together through running, and she hopes to continue that bond.

"We're in it for the long run ... no pun intended," Julie said.

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