Travis Roszell is planning to run through Jasper next summer as he wants to tell the world that it’s important to tell someone when you’re hurting.
“People are like, ‘Speak up if there's something that bothers you or something you want people to know.’ You have to tell someone or they won’t know. Don't be too scared or too proud to say what you're feeling. People want to listen; people want to help,” he said.
Roszell speaks from incredible personal experience. Six years ago, he suffered life-threatening injuries in an industrial accident in British Columbia. A hydrostatic pressure test malfunctioned, and he took a blast to his face, breaking several bones in his skull and blowing out several teeth, leaving him in a coma heavily bruised and with a dim prospect for survival.
When he came out, he had hearing in only one ear, no senses of smell nor taste and partial blindness in one eye. It was a long road to recovery, and it still is. It was a fundamentally and profoundly life-altering event.
The physical damage was one thing, but that brought with it another form of wound: one that can’t be seen. There are many mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual struggles that come with brain injuries. He has had to relearn how to do many regular activities.
“That invisible injury goes hand in hand with mental health, depression, the things that people can’t see,” Roszell said.
Battling back against these invisible injuries can be just as difficult to live with as broken bones if not even more so. There are no bandages to help heal those wounds.
What does help, he has learned, is running. It has become his escape and his therapy, even though he has poor depth perception with his altered eyesight. Running helps clear his mind and his thoughts, along with the physical exercise that’s also so good for his body.
Perhaps because of the extremeness of his injury, his affinity for running has also gone to greater lengths. He has participated in ultramarathons and death races, but he has a plan for something farther.
He is hoping to take his long road to recovery as inspiration for a really, really long road trip. Next summer, he’s planning to run from Sherwood Park to Victoria at an extended marathon pace. In doing so, he encourages people to join him along the trail to share the experience.
“I think that's what will be the biggest struggle for the run: running for five to six hours a day for 41 days in a row,” he said.
“The mental part of it, you know … that's why I'm hoping as I run through these municipalities, I'll get some company: people come over and run with me, talk with me, just hangout. Even if you want to ride a bike with me while I'm running, cool. At least people are becoming aware, and they're seeing what I'm trying to do, and they'll talk about it.”
People can visit his website at www.invisibleinjury.ca and follow along with his journey and even run along with him. He expects to pass through Jasper approximately 10 days after his planned start of June 1, 2024.
“Just come run with me,” he said.