Paraplegic Marathoner Still Has Mountain To Climb Maj. Phil Packer of the Royal Military Police participated in the London Marathon this spring. He finished last — almost two weeks later — but earned a world of admiration. Now the Iraq vet is ready to climb a mountain — which, in a way, he's already done.
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Paraplegic Marathoner Still Has Mountain To Climb

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Paraplegic Marathoner Still Has Mountain To Climb

Paraplegic Marathoner Still Has Mountain To Climb

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SCOTT SIMON, Host:

Major, thanks so much for being with us.

SIMON: Absolute pleasure, thank you for inviting me.

SIMON: Take us back for moment to the London Marathon. I mean 26 miles, two weeks, what did it feel like to cross the finish line?

SIMON: I had very mixed emotions. It was super to finish it, physically, because it had taken quite a toll on the body. But I just wasn't expecting the support from the British public and - which was just quite overwhelming. And also, just to hear firsthand how they feel about their armed forces. So a very humbling experience for me.

SIMON: You mind telling us what happened 19 February 2008?

SIMON: The sort of most significant part, really, was the paraplegia. And I sort took my first aided steps in March and then started the marathon in April.

SIMON: What about that term, disability? What does it mean to you now?

SIMON: It means quite a few things. I've led a very active life in the armed forces for 16 years, and I am sure, like many soldiers around the world, you live in a world where you don't really see very much of disability because you're an organization that's fit and able-bodied. This has really opened my eyes in the last year to a lot of people with disability, and sometimes I forget that I am one of them.

SIMON: You're going to climb the famous El Capitan Peak in Yosemite National Park.

SIMON: Yes, indeed.

SIMON: Notice how I phrase that, with no doubt whatsoever that you'll make it.

SIMON: And that's how I'll do it. I'll just be on the line underneath and just maneuver myself and pull myself up the mountain, really.

SIMON: You make it sound so easy.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIMON: I don't really do heights. I don't like heights at all so I haven't really thought about it very much. I'm just going to get there and do it. But, yeah, I'm not really thinking about it very much. People keep asking me the question, try not to get worried about it. I think I'm anxious, and it's good to be.

SIMON: Major, you're still on active duty?

SIMON: So I've really got to think hard about what I want to do in the next 20 years. And probably El Capitan is the best time to do that, perhaps.

SIMON: In some ways is your life richer since your accident?

SIMON: That's a really good question and it's not cheeky at all.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIMON: And what I want to do is to enrich the lives of other people. And I guess that's the most important thing, really, is thinking about that.

SIMON: Thank you so much, Major.

SIMON: It's a pleasure. Thank you for - thank you for inviting me. It's been really, really interesting. Thank you.

SIMON: You can find a link to Major Packer's Web site on ours at npr.org. And for continuous updates on Major Packer's climb this weekend, you can follow him on Twitter. His username is philpacker, all one word.

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