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Denver Colfax Half Marathon runner has been defying the odds all her life

Royce Razgaitis and her dad, Rich Razgaitis, are running the Colfax Half Marathon in Denver next weekend. For Royce, it's a testament of beating the impossible.
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Posted at 4:53 PM, May 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 09:09:47-04

DENVER — It wasn’t love at first run for Royce Razgaitis. The 22-year-old grew up watching her dad, Rich, running races and competing in Ironmans.

“I remember when I was in middle school, I tried running three miles with my dad. I remember crying, at like mile two and a half. I was like, I can't do this anymore. And I remember him cheering me on,” she recalled.

That encouragement from Rich Razgaitis eventually got her hooked on running a couple of years ago.

In fact, she's the one who suggested running the Colfax Half Marathon. It’s the first long-distance race they're running together.

“It's always fun to run with somebody. And it's inspiring. And just in life, of course, just having an accountability person that goes through life with you, whether that's fun things, hard things,” Rich Razgaitis said.

But it’s not the first race they've run in life, and certainly not the toughest.

Rich Razgaitis recalls that day, September 8, 2001. It was the day Royce Razgaitis' mom found out she was pregnant.

“We lived three blocks south of the World Trade Center,” he said.

Three days later, tragedy struck the nation during the World Trade Center attacks.

“[Royce’s] mom got trampled in the park and was trying to run away and she was obviously newly pregnant with Royce, and then, you know, [she was] covered in all the debris, in the soot, in the ashes,” Rich Razgaitis said.

Initially, doctors said Royce Razgaitis would have a zero percent chance of survival. She ended up being born at 26 weeks.

“She was teensy tiny and was in the NICU for about eight weeks and had underdeveloped lungs and there's a lot of comorbidities that can exist with premature birth,” Rich Razgaitis said.

Denver Colfax Half Marathon runner has been defying the odds all her life

But Royce Razgaitis was a fighter and defied the odds.

“I always had this sense that something was going to be okay. And I can't explain why. But, you know, it's devastating to hear the news. But then, sometimes you get this inner peace that happens, and it's inexplicable,” Rich Razgaitis said. “We had doctor, after doctor, after doctor counseling us on why it wasn't going to be okay. And what all the data said, and all the impossibilities. And yet, I still felt this, this inner peace.”

But through life’s challenges, dad and daughter have been each other’s biggest cheerleaders. It’s something Rich Razgaitis does not take for granted, considering what could have been.

“I just have this insane gratitude for having the gift of a daughter, in having the gift of being a dad. So my goal is to try to do it as well as possible. I want to be a great dad, but hopefully, at least I'm a good dad,” he said.

This race comes at a special time, as Royce Razgaitis graduates from Colorado Christian University. She’s on her way to becoming a nurse, just like the ones who helped her in that moment when she was given that zero percent chance of life.

“I wouldn't be here today without God from 22 years ago versus the same God now that's getting me through nursing school and through the run that we're about to embark on,” Royce Razgaitis said.

At the end of the day, it’s who you run the race with that makes all the difference.

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