He has biked from Sweden to Paris, done a "swedish classic" in under 24 hours, swam over the Åland sea with just his arms and become the first person in a wheelchair to climb mount Kebnekaise. On top of this add four Paralympics in three different sports and a handfull of EC WC medals and you get a list of merits that few can reach in a lifetime. Meet Aron Andersson - the real life superman who knows how to stretch the limits and turn challenges into opportunities.
When Aaron was 8 years old, he received news that he had cancer in the pelvis. Two years and several treatments and surgeries later, the cancer was gone, but life was changed when he was partially paralyzed. He decided, however, that the wheelchair would never restrict him, either socially or physically.
He started early to try different sports and elite efforts in athletics, sledge hockey and sailing have today turned into to demanding adventures on the mountain, on country roads and in the sea.
– Swimming to Åland is by far my biggest challenge yet. It was challenging in so many ways, both physically and mentally. To manage to swim 37 km in 13-14-degree water with fog and high waves is one thing. To be able to absorb energy during food breaks when you are so cooled down is another. The last miles were extremely tough and I really had to push myself to the limit.
The key to success is, according to Aaron, to build up a mental strength, something achieved by going through a lot of training and body awareness. To learn how to tackle pain and be prepared for the valleys and peaks that come with every challenge.
– I have mental strategies that I use and think about the types of questions I ask myself. Like "If my life depended on it, would I manage one more kilometre?" or "Would I like to trade places with my mom who is seasick in packing the boat?". It's about trying to get a perspective on what you're doing. Another driving force was that I did it for a good cause, to raise funds for the Kids cancer Foundation.
To challenge the boundaries and push himself is a major source of energy for Aaron in his sport and adventure spirit. And he obviously loves what he does.
– Find what you like, try all sorts of sports and have great variety in training. Get people around you to join, workout buddies that can help push each other. It means a lot.
What's the worst that can happen if you fail? It is usually not associated with mortal danger and you will have gained so much lessons and training on the way to the goal. So take the opportunity to enjoy the journey!
Aron during Wings for Life World Run 2015.
The next adventure for Aaron is a trip down to Africa in January to climb Kilimanjaro with Molly Sandén and Danny Saucedo. He also tells us about dreams like Mont Blanc and Iron Man and hints of a huge project that is still in the planning stage. And, of course, he would like to improve the 64.9 km that got him winning Wings for Life World Run in 2015.
– Wings for Life World Run is an amazing contest on many levels, and I love that they use technology in a most innovative way. And if we don't have the challenge of head wind this year, maybe I can put in a new record. 75km's would be awesome, haha.
A selection of Aron's merits:
– Climbed Kebnekaise as first person in a wheelchair, ever.
– Conducted a Swedish classics as the first person in a wheelchair in under 24 hours.
– Holder of the Swedish record for the marathon in wheelchairs at 1:29.11.
– Swum across the åland sea using only his arms.
– Competed in four Paralympic Games in three different sports.
– Won 10 gold medals in the athletics JWC.
– Biked from Sweden to Paris.
– First person in a armbike to finish Cykelvasan.
– Won Wings for Life World Run in Kalmar.
– Ambassador for children's cancer Foundation and has collected more than 1.5 million SEK to their activities.
Read more about Aaron at aronandersson.se.
Text: Paul J