Extreme Devotion

by Sharyn Kopf

 Rebekah (DeLancey) Trittipoe ’78 doesn't like doing things the traditional way. She prefers to be challenged — even if that means racing through the Amazon jungle, scaling peaks, or running nearly 300 miles in six days.

Rebekah participates in a sport called “ultrarunning.” It all began when she and her husband, Gary Trittipoe ’76, moved to Lynchburg, Virginia, and met veteran ultrarunner David Horton at their new church. David and Rebekah became friends and after observing Rebekah’s athleticism, David commented, “I bet you can’t run 50 miles.”

She immediately responded to the challenge. “I was 37 at the time and soon fell in love with trail running.”

At first, she experienced physical problems and had to adjust her training strategy to accommodate her bone structure. But in a few years, she was running 100 miles at a time. “I was good at running,” she said, “but I lost perspective. I was a mom, wife, and medical professional, but the only thing I could think about was training and racing.”

A string of running injuries frustrated her efforts and slowed her progress, but her struggles also provided time for Rebekah to re-examine her priorities. Now, racing doesn’t consume as much of her time, but it remains an important part of her life. And she continues to set records. Recently, Rebekah ran the Hellgate 100K, almost 67 miles, through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She was the fourth woman to cross the finish line, beating her best time by 14 minutes. Before, when people asked her why she does it, Rebekah’s response was, “Because I can.” Now, her answer has evolved. “I run because God made me that way,” she said. “Not running with the ability He’s given me would be wrong.”

Her passion for running has also given her a unique platform to share her faith. Rebekah has written books and articles, including A Quest for Adventure, a book that chronicles David Horton’s Appalachian Trail record-speed run and his trek from Los Angeles to New York City in 64 days. She also recently published a devotional book, Pace Yourself: 366 Devotions From the Daily Grind. She considers this book to be one of the most daunting undertakings of her life. “I wanted to challenge myself to see a truth from God every day. It was tough. I wrote very honestly, from the desperate lows to the mountaintop highs. The process taught me to look for truth and proved to be the most spiritually edifying thing I’ve ever done.”

When Rebekah isn’t running or writing books, she provides consulting services and authors online medical education for cardiovascular perfusionists. These medical technicians are responsible for monitoring the patient and the oxygenation of blood during open-heart surgery, a career Rebekah was active in for about 25 years. Rebekah left clinical practice three years ago, but she stays involved in the profession by teaching high school classes and instructing online courses as an adjunct faculty member for Midwestern University and Liberty University.

Gary and Rebekah have two sons, Caleb and Seth, who have both completed ultramarathons. Rebekah believes her spirit for racing taught them to persevere, to allow steady progress achieve great things. Today, as she pursues new adventures as a writer, speaker, wife, mother, and ultrarunner, she continues to see the truth of that lesson.

You can find out more about Rebekah by visiting her website at rebekahtrittipoe.com.