Maggi Thorne is interviewed after completing 76 miles. Copyright: Kyria Abrahams for Obstacle Racing Media
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Maggi Thorne: 'Nothing is Insurmountable'

By NU Athletic Communications

Randy York's N-Sider

Official Blog of the Huskers

Maggi Thorne is an empowered former Husker student-athlete who earned her track scholarship as a hurdler and her stripes with the Nebraska Athletic Department as a creative thinker and dedicated worker. An assistant director for capital planning and construction, Thorne, along with Nebraska Associate AD John Ingram, have teamed up to lead the Student Life Complex, Hendricks Training Complex, the East Stadium Expansion, the Devaney Center Improvement Project and the Athletic Research Laboratory Project. Thorne also has led the Athletic Department’s recycling campaigns to put the Huskers on the map with nationally prominent sustainability efforts. 

This Mother Thrives on Pressure

Thorne thrives on pressure. She looks at life from both sides now, internally as a former captain of Nebraska’s track and field team and externally from the perspective of fans who pay to watch student-athletes perform. Her husband is Fred Thorne Jr., who lettered as a Husker cornerback and special teams standout 10 years ago. They have three children – Charlie, Fiona and Ellie – and support each other while sharing the same personal philosophy that nothing is insurmountable!

Consider, for instance, Thorne’s latest accomplishment – a second-place finish last month in the World’s Toughest Mudder Championship Race, which drew more than 1,000 competitors from all over the world to Raceway Park in New Jersey. The week before the competition, she was home sick, but not despondent. Instead of envisioning the roadblocks most of us would see under similar circumstances, she looked at the situation as a gift. “Most of the competitors had been training for a year; I’d trained for two months,” Thorne pointed out. “Later in the week, I felt stronger and then I dedicated my performance to Soles4Souls and the kids I compete for – kids around the world who don’t have shoes to wear and just need someone to help them have a chance in life. Once I put the focus on them, my strength returned. I saw nothing ahead of me as insurmountable, and I was able to push through with the inner strength of my faith.”

24 Hours, 76 Miles, 330 Obstacles

Before we get back to the Soles4Souls organization that donates shoes for those in need around the world, let’s define what the World’s Toughest Mudder really is – a 24-obstacle course that challenges athletes to trudge through mud, freezing water, 16-feet walls, electrical shock and more. It’s a 24-hour competition, an endurance test that some call the toughest event on earth. Thorne completed 76 miles and conquered 330 obstacles to claim the overall No. 2 female spot.

Not surprisingly, Thorne credits the mental toughness she has to her days as a sprinter/hurdler who ran a 400-meter leg on Nebraska’s record distance medley relay team. She picked up competitive racing this year as a way to help raise awareness for Soles4Souls, an organization she now serves as an international spokesperson. To date, the organization has helped supply 21 million shoes and serve 127 countries.

5,000 Shoes Down, 15,000 to Go

“I’m on a mission to represent Soles4Souls,” Thorne said. “By grace, I’ve overcome adversity of my own, and my goal is never to give up and deliver as many shoes as I can…one pair at a time.” So far, she’s collected 4,000 pairs of shoes and raised enough money for 1,000 pairs of shoes. She devotes 25 percent of her race earnings to the cause. In January, she will deliver shoes in Haiti and continue to raise awareness as a spokesperson for the project.

Did we mention that last August, Thorne was named Mrs. Great Plains International 2014 and will compete for Mrs. International 2014 next July in Florida. She represents 10 states and parts of Canada and does whatever she can to bring hope to the world through her role as an international advocate.

Life Skills Launched Motivation

“One of the best life skills I learned as a student-athlete at Nebraska was how to engage in community and the world around us to serve others while balancing out academics, athletics and life,” Thorne told me. “Keith Zimmer and Dennis Leblanc had a tremendous influence in my growth as a young adult about to enter the real world. When people ask about my schedule and how I do it, I just tell them grace is No. 1 and being a former Husker student-athlete is No. 2. I work a full-time job, engage in serving others, train for races and go home to my family. I walk alongside them every chance I get, and I’m proud to be a football coach’s wife.” 

As a representative of the International Pageant System, which has a platform focus, Thorne wanted to bring service to a whole different level. “I looked around at what I wanted and then took a second look at what people needed,” she said. “One of the greatest needs in the world is shoes.” Her goal is to collect 20,000 pairs after gathering 4,000 at the Tough Mudder competition in her hometown of San Diego and 1,000 more in New Jersey race earnings. The worldwide need is an estimated 300 million pairs of shoes.

Local Work Supplements Global

As much as Thorne relishes international work, she takes time to serve Lincoln’s People City Mission and the Salvation Army. She will continue to run obstacle races about once a month, representing Soles4Souls. So far in 2013, Thorne has attended 65 events, traveled more than 15,000 miles and served 1,500 hours across the globe. She knows it all sounds overwhelming and maybe even semi-hopeless, but she always comes back to the word that pierces her heart, engages her mind and triggers faith-based action. “Nothing is insurmountable, and I see people prove that almost every day of the year,” she said. As Thorne prepares for 2014, she’s embraced her new motto: Never Give Up! 

Like there’s any chance of that ever happening.

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