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Student Perspective: Finding Inspiration

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Travis Pastrana with CSU-Pueblo student Rebekah Runnells
Travis Pastrana with CSU-Pueblo student Rebekah Runnells

When striving for the success that we long for, many students, like myself, have times where we feel worn down by all the hardships and responsibilities that college life brings. During these moments, a little inspiration goes a long way.

This September, I drove up north to see the Rally America National Championship race in Steamboat Springs, Colo., an event known as Rally Colorado. I not only got to watch the excitement of more than 20 awesome sports cars racing at outrageous speeds through harsh mountain terrain, but I was also fortunate enough to get to interview someone who is my source of inspiration: Travis Pastrana.

Travis Pastrana is a legend in the world of extreme sports. He has accomplished so much that I can only share a few highlights.

According to his biography on www.travispastrana.com, he won the World Freestyle Championship when he was just 14. From there he went on to win several national and international championship events. At the X Games in 2006, Travis became the first person to land a double-back flip on a motorcycle; he earned three gold medals at this event alone. Also in 2006, he won the Rally America National Championship, and he continued to dominate the competition in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Not to mention, he has numerous films in his daring “Nitro Circus” series and a new “Nitro Circus” television show on MTV.

Sitting down with Pastrana, I was awestruck by the genuine smile and upbeat personality of this action sports superstar. I had to ask him the questions that I have been wondering ever since I first saw him on “Nitro Circus.” What were his secrets to success?

Pastrana told me about how supportive and encouraging his family has been and the values that he was taught as a child. “Success comes in different ways,” Pastrana said. “The biggest thing is don’t quit, never give up and chase your heart. I’ve done a lot of things that most people wouldn’t have done because it wasn’t for the money or what made sense to everybody else. But it was for me.”

When it comes to Pastrana success goes beyond achieving difficult goals. “You find success means a whole different thing from what you thought it meant as a kid.” In his cheerful tone he explained, “As a kid success was winning, success was being the best. Once you get to where you’ve always wanted to be, you find that success is the people that you surround yourself with and how much fun you have on a day-to-day basis.”

But, this doesn’t come easy. “Unfortunately, but true, you have to be willing to put everything else aside,” Pastrana said. “To be successful you have to be willing to sacrifice everything. So many people want to be successful on game day or when it comes down to it, but there are not many people who want to be successful every day of the week.”

Pastrana’s passion encompasses nearly everything extreme. He is not only a professional rally car driver and motocross racer, but he is also a professional stunt man for his show, “Nitro Circus,” where he can be seen jumping out of a plane with no parachute, attempting a back flip in a monster truck, and performing all kinds of other wild stunts with his group of gnarly friends.

It’s clear that the freedom and artistic aspects of all his endeavors are what he enjoys the most.

“I love that there are no rules, there are no coaches, there’s no one to set the guidelines of possibility. It’s kind of your own expression. Instead of everyone telling you don’t do this and don’t do that, you are encouraged and rewarded for doing stuff that no one’s thought of and really being creative,” said Pastrana with a spark of excitement.

Over the years Pastrana has dealt with many physical injuries as a result of his dedication to his career, but he has thoroughly enjoyed the route that he took. “My only thing that I would regret was not following my heart and doing what I really thought was the right decision at the time,” Pastrana said. “As long as you go for what you believe in at the time, there are no regrets.”

“Chase your passion!” Pastrana advised in his charmingly positive demeanor. “I feel like if you are really passionate about something, you’ll be successful at it no matter how many people tell you that it’s unobtainable or it’s dumb, because if you really believe in something you can probably make it work!”

 Being able to meet such an extraordinary person means the world to me. Pastrana’s insight and outgoing attitude motivate me to live each day to its fullest. To get my weekly dose of inspiration and be entertained to the max, every Thursday at 8 p.m. I am tuned in to “Nitro Circus” on MTV.

Note from author Rebekah Runnells (senior, English major): I am very lucky to have met Travis Pastrana and to get published in the TODAY for my article about him. This experience was thrilling and it taught me so much. When I could have just assumed it wouldn’t work or gave up because I was afraid of failure, I maintained a positive attitude and went for what I wanted. With relative ease I was able to accomplish my goals. I couldn’t be happier.