"If you want something badly enough and have the courage to chase your dreams, you have to be willing to walk through the dark places to get them." - Brandon Hudgins
In August 2015, Brandon became the 448th American to run a mile in under four minutes. You may be surprised to know that just a few years before, Brandon was fighting for his life.
Back in 2007, Brandon was competing for Winthrop University with a personal goal of running a sub-4:00 minute mile and making the U.S. Olympic team. Then, during his junior year, Brandon began to experience a series of health problems – Bell’s Palsy and a deviated septum, breathing problems, sinus infections, and hearing loss. His performance began to suffer and soon he was unable to run or even exercise. In April of 2008, he was diagnosed with Granulomatosis with Polyangitiis (GPA), a rare autoimmune blood disease.
GPA impacts the body’s small blood vessels, and if left unchecked, can cause cardiac arrest. While Brandon felt relieved to know the cause of his illness, that relief would fade with the realization that running and racing again might not be possible.
Following his diagnosis, Brandon went through chemo and drug therapies. When his treatments had been completed, Brandon started back running and was eventually able to compete at the collegiate level again, transferring to Appalachian State University. While at Appalachian State, he helped the Mountaineers win multiple Southern Conference Championships in Cross Country and Track as well as picked up a few individual titles along the way. By the end of his career at Appalachian he was an NCAA Regional Qualifier at 1500m, #3 on the All Time List at 1500m, and was an Academic All-American.
With college running behind him and his health conditions in check, Brandon decided to continue his quest to break the 4:00 mark, and chase his dream of competing at the Olympic Games. After suffering 2 relapses with his GPA in 2012 and 2013, frustrated with his health, Brandon had given up on his professional running goals and began pursuing coaching positions. After several months of searching, applying, and interviewing, Brandon realized he wasn't finished with professional running yet, and renewed his mission to compete at the Olympic Trials and break the 4 minute mile barrier. On August 7, 2015, his perseverance paid off when he ran the mile in 3:59.67. In 2016, Brandon ran a USA top 20 mark at 1500m and qualified for the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials where he was a semi-finalist.
The road hasn’t been easy – there have been many setbacks and relapses along the way. But Brandon is tough and he never gives up. Brandon has added an additional goal to his life, helping others understand GPA and show that life accomplishments can continue.
Without the help of these sponsors, the success of Team Brandon would not be possible