David Dullens: Running Like A Girl.

Run Like A Girl… for obvious reasons, sadly, doesn’t attract a lot of male runners… however, every so often we come across someone who sees past the initial gender specific title we carry and embraces what we are actually trying to do… Run Like A Girl was created with the intention of showing that everyday people can do extraordinary things. That you can overcome those bumps in the road and live limitlessly… followling your dreams no matter what. David Dullens has done just that. He is out there “running like a girl” and we couldn’t be more proud of his determination and the connection he has found with our inspirational community.

David is a 41 year old runner from the Netherlands who has shared his story with us:

David Dullens’s life changed dramatically all of a sudden on December 9th 2004, due to a horrific motorcycle accident on the Van Brienenoord bridge where he lives.

What happened on December 9, 2004?

David: “I was hit by a truck while driving my motorcycle that day. The driver drove recklessly into my lane. In addition, he was driving too fast. I ended up with my head against a mile marker of the guard rail. The day started the same as any other day. I went to work on my bike at a quarter past seven, but I never arrived there. Instead I was taken to the hospital by an ambulance. I was in a coma for ten days.”

”What was the diagnosis?
“A broken C1 nerve vertebra and traumatic brain injury (TBI). I still suffer from it every day. Headache, problems with my neck and shoulder, I am very tired all of the time. Everything I do costs me more energy than befor the accident. My battery never gets full again. If I worked for four hours, it feels like a hard day of overtime.”
What kind of work do I do?
“I now work four days a week, maximum 5 hours a day, at a personal injury attorney office. At the time of the accident, I was employed by an insurer. I worked on very nice projects, but they had to shrink at some point and I couldn’t keep up the same work pace as before my accident. Through a labor expert I found my current job which is really nice, I enjoy it and is finally nice to feel of value again. I do not have to read everything from a booklet anymore and when it comes to injury damage, and helping other people I can now talk from my own experience and use my experience positively.”
When did I start running?
“In 2003. Before the accident, I played as a right forward football player, because I wasn’t a technical player I had to play often with my speed. After the accident, the doctors advised me to find another sport. Football is to much of a contact sport and any shoulder charge or tackle can give serious physical complaints. I did not want to take that risk so I started running with some neighbors.“And here is where it really started.
“At one point I said: It’s nice to run together for fun, but why don’t we sign up for a running contest.  So we have a goal. For example, I ran several times 5K and 10K in contest(race) and on September 7, 2014, after a bit of a running dip in 2012, I ran my first Ten Miles in 1:22:31.”
A dip in 2012?
“Yes, in the summer of that year I had another car accident. And again it was not my fault: someone hit me from behind. Because of that accident, I have been a two and a half years incapacitated and I was not able to run again until 2014.“
Beat the bridge 2014!
“I signed up to Beat The Bridge, ten years after the motorcycle accident, because I wanted to close it. I wanted to close that chapter and incident that had happened in my life. Beat The Bridge is a 15k road race and the route actually crosses the bridge where the accident took place. It was a huge goal of mine, to revisit the exact place that changed my life forever. To go there again and this time run by it.
It was, fortunately, less emotionally than I expected. But I can say I felt like a Hero. I was hoping for a time around 1:10. However, my finishing time was actually 1:08:41! This is something I am so very proud of.
Was this the end?
“No, after running the Ten Miles and the 15K (Beat the bridge) I started running really fast times, 10 kilometers in 43 minutes and little by little did the 5 kilometers in 20:21, my fastest times. Once I completed my fastest running times, I saw what’s even more possible in terms of distance.“
And what distances where even more possible?
“Well I signed up for the Marathon Rotterdam in 2015. My first thoughts were: I’m going to run the marathon, I’m fearless. Can I finish the marathon? I do not know, but I’ll do my upper best. After training seriously, my second thoughts came: stopping is not an option! “

City-Pier-City run The Hague half Marathon
“The general rehearsel was one month before the Marathon of Rotterdam. In march 2015 the half marathon would be the last competition to see if I was really ready for the serious work for this marathon distance. My mother was with me at The Hague Half Marathon, she watched over my belongings and waited for me at the finish line. I finished in 1:36:27 and was very proud of what I had achieved. Then my third and last thoughts came: I am ready for the marathon! For me it will be bronze if I finish in just over 4 hours, silver if I finish within 4 hours and gold at crossing the finish line in three and a half hours.“

Marathon of Rotterdam April 12, 2015
“On the day my mother turned 65, I ran the one and only real marathon! The marathon of Rotterdam. Everyone told me that it would be really hard at 30 to 32 kilometers.
In one way or the other that wasn’t the hardest part for me. After all, I had trained to 33 kilometers (in 2:44). From the 36 kilometer point my legs could not sustain the pace but walking was not an option. I finished with a smile on my face and for me it was platanium. My finishing time was 3:40:14. For my mother’s birthday I gave her a marathon finisher medal.“
How did it go after that?
“After finishing I wanted to have that feeling again. But I know how much time it costs to train for a good result. I also have my limitations that I always have to keep in mind.
So that’s why running a marathon, how wonderful it sounds, to me, is a step too far because I always want to run the races faster.“
On December 10,2017 I returned for the second time to the bridge that changed my life.
“One day exactly thirteen years later, yes. I decided to run across the bridge again and this time wearing my RUN LIKE A GIRL BUFF!

I am optimistic in nature, I don’t sorry myself to death.
“I’m proud of where I stand. The only external feature that I’ve left that reminds me of the accident is an angel I have tattooed on my shoulder. Because thirteen years ago there was an angel on that shoulder, or else I would not have survived the accident, it was that close. Life is not always easy, but I’m happy with what I’ve achieved.”

In 2004 my wife Claudia was halfway through the pregnancy of our first child. I had good prospects at my job. And then suddenly my life was completely different. In a few seconds everything changed. But I’m still here. It was close but I survived the accident. I have my wife Claudia (39) I’am father of two beautiful daughters, Kathleen (12) and Kalise (7), and I have a job.” Nowadays, I try to win a few seconds a kilometer during a running contest and sometimes it’s possible.

Participation in the Bruggenloop 15K is a confirmation?
“Yes. I’am fairly honest about the accident and the consequenses, but I do not want others to know me just that way. I want people to also know and see the other side of me, not just the accident. I have found now that a social career is no longer for me and as a runner I will never win, but I can participate and deliver a contribution.”

That should give me a lot of satisfaction.
“There’s nothing wrong with my legs. It gives me rest when I run. And afterwards there is the kick. Then it’s funny that you curse your stiff calves instead of the things you usually suffer from.”
Davids story and running journey shows us that stopping, giving up and letting ourselves become defeated in times that would be easily defeat us… is just not an option! He finds peace and freedom when he is running like so many of us. I am proud of David for his continuous ambitions and for facing this life changing moment, more then once! I am also so proud to have David running with his Run Like A Girl Buff, he is exactly what our community represents. Thank you David for sharing and for RUNNING LIKE A GIRL!!!

Leave a Comment