The sky’s the limit: St. Louis man Todd Lewis living ‘epic’ life
Area man living ‘epic’ life
Vicki Bennington For The Telegraph Updated 12:38 pm CDT, Thursday, September 13, 2018
Todd Lewis climbing Mt. Hood in Washington.
ST. LOUIS — Sometimes, your life can be changed in an instant – just when you least expect it.
That’s what happened to St. Louis resident Todd Lewis at a sales conference in Dallas that he didn’t want to attend
That was 2000. Eighteen years later, the result of that conference and the keynote address by former Notre Dame head football coach Lou Holtz, is that Lewis has ran 40 marathons, climbed 12 mountains, and three years in a row, ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.
“Lou wasn’t selling anything; he didn’t use note cards; he just spoke from the heart and talked about making a list of goals, keeping a positive attitude, and giving back to others,” Lewis said.
On the plane ride home, Lewis made a list of 75 goals – that later, grew to 134 – of things that he had always wanted to do, and he set out to do them.
“I knew I wanted to run a marathon, but I didn’t know how to prepare. I knew I wanted to climb a mountain, but didn’t know how to get started,” Lewis said.
But those obstacles didn’t stop him. He went to work part time for an outdoor recreational company and learned the “ropes,” while making extra income to fund his upcoming adventures. And he began to work out to prepare himself physically.
“There were places I had always wanted to see, people I wanted to meet, and things I wanted to accomplish,” Lewis said.
He has also set foot on all seven continents – even Antarctica, flying into Buenos Aires, Argentina, traveling by land to Ushuaia, where he boarded a ship with an expedition that took
them across tumultuous waters across Drake Passage. June marked his seventh and final continent, when he visited Australia and climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
He has reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Hood, Mount Shasta, Mount Rainier, Mount Whitney; hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru.
He also got the chance to meet his inspiration in person to thank him for basically, changing his life.
“With the help of an amazing person, I was able to meet Coach Holtz in Ohio. We have now been friends for 12 years, and I see him and his wife at least once a year. It’s really something when your hero becomes your friend.”
When asked what his favorite place has been, he said it’s probably Nepal because of the wonderful people. When asked what the most fun trip has been, he said it was taking his mother to Ireland when he ran the Dublin, Ireland Marathon.
“She was so happy, and when you see your mom happy – that’s everything,” Lewis said.
Has Lewis had some obstacles and injuries along the way?
“Oh yeah,” he said.
While running a 50-mile marathon he twisted his ankle and heard a “pop.” He kept going. In fact, he ran another marathon before he found out he had been running on a fractured ankle.
Has he ever been scared? “Oh, yeah,” he said. “Running with the bulls is actually horrifying; it’s probably the most intense thing I’ve done.”
As for mountain climbing, he approaches it alone, but once there, joins a group. But Mother Nature is not always on the climbers’ side.
“In February, I climbed Mt. Washington in New Hampshire and there was a storm surge,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been that cold. You really can’t plan for (or control) storms on mountains. ”
But these experiences just add to his adrenalin rush. He said the experience of that “fear factor” can often make that next glass of water; that next beer or dinner the best you’ve ever had.
Not everyone’s list will include such physically challenging goals as Lewis’s did, and he said that’s OK. It doesn’t matter if you want to be the best uncle you can be, you want to take a trip, change jobs, lose weight, whatever it might be. The point is to do the things you want to do.
“There are no small goals,” he said. “My goals are not more important than someone else’s. It’s about being where you need to be to be happy and making your own goals. I didn’t start until I was 33. I wish I would have started when I was 16!”
Not one to rest on his laurels, Lewis’s list is ongoing. A couple of countries still up for grabs are Bhutan in the Himalayan Mountains and Iceland – Bhutan, because the people are said to be concerned most about living a happy life; Iceland, because there’s a mountain called Hvannadalshnúkur that needs to be climbed. And though he attended base camp at Mt. Everest, he has not been to the top, so, of course, that’s on his list.
And in-between his trips and climbs and marathons, Lewis stays in good physical shape by running and going to the gym.
Another project on his list was to write a book, which he is currently in the process of. It centers not as much about the actual adventures, which one might think, but the people surrounding those experiences that Lewis said he’s been lucky enough to meet along the way.
“Take Nepal for instance,” Lewis said. “The people there – though they basically, have nothing – they have everything. They are so giving.”
James Dunn, founder of the E.P.I.C. Living Social Club (the acronym stands for Education, Play, Inspiration and Community, the four basic principles the group is based around) in Edwardsville, said Lewis is a prime example of someone who is living his “epic” life.
“A lot of people talk about living an E.P.I.C. life. Todd does it,” Dunn said.
Lewis will share his experiences and how he went about making his list of goals come true at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 19 during the E.P.I.C. Living Social Club’s monthly personal development meeting at the Holiday Inn Express in Edwardsville. The event is open to the public, and first-time attendees get in free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information on Lewis, visit www.irunwithbulls.com.