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Forward Focus: Kalamazoo Special Olympian Julian Borst finds inspiration in familiar spot

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Julian Borst, 22, is one of five Special Olympians competed in the 2019 Boston Marathon. None were faster than Borst, who finished the 26.2 mile trek in 3 hours, 5 minutes, and 8 seconds, pacing at just more than seven minutes a mile. (WWMT/Mike McCann)

Why drive when you can run?

For most of us, it seems a silly proposition. A car is simply quicker and will (likely) shield you from any and all elements. For Julian Borst, his legs might as well be tires; because for a majority of his life, running has been an automatic gear.

"My mom motivated me," Borst said on a windy day at the Western Michigan University track, after he, obviously, ran to an interview. "And the competition."

"We practice at Parchment High School, he'd run to practice," Mike Bielski said, the assistant area director for Kalamazoo and Calhoun County Special Olympics. The distance between Parchment High School and Julian's home? 8.1 miles.

But the motivation is the key part for the now 22-year-old. Because Borst's journey is anything but ordinary. Borst was born with sensory processing disorder, a condition that affects the brain's ability process information and stimuli through the senses.

"Most things come difficult to him, pretty much across the board," Julian's mother Ruth Borst said. "Except for running."

So when Julian was younger, Ruth Borst began taking her son on runs.

"Some weekends, it was like pulling teeth to get him out the door," she said.

While it might have been difficult to motivate him early, as time went along, Borst got faster ... and faster ... and faster still.

Borst's success culminated on a national stage last summer in Seattle, when he won three different gold medals at the Special Olympics USA Games, taking top honors in the 3,000, 5,000, and 10,000 meter races in Seattle.

"It was a pretty cool experience," Borst said. "Lots of excitement and lots of cheers."

If the cheers in Seattle were loud, they became even more meaningful this past April, when Borst qualified for and completed the Boston Marathon.

"We had a lot of family support, close to a dozen of us," Ruth Borst said. "It was a great weekend."

Five Special Olympians competed in the field. None were faster than Borst, who finished the 26.2 mile trek in 3 hours, 5 minutes, and 8 seconds, pacing at just more than seven minutes a mile.

"At that point, I was pretty tired and my legs were sore," Borst said of his final stretch on Boylston Street. "But yeah, it was pretty cool, I finished and I think I'll do it again."

Running has been a remarkable career for Borst, fighting against adversity and opponents all in one. But through it all, it's the relationship with his mother that inspired him to reach new heights.

"She was my first coach. She supports me, she cares for me, and she's there for me no matter what," Borst said.

"Is she your best friend," he is asked.

"Yes."