The Alinkerlympics - An Interview with Harley Salter
Harley Salter is a 26-year-old man from the UK who not only holds two Guinness World Records, but regularly goes over and beyond his limits for a good cause. With his mother supporting him, he regularly starts fundraisers to not only challenge himself but also to raise awareness and helping people. Harley has a range of moderate to severe cognitive and physical disabilities, but that won’t stop him to push his boundaries and be part of several challenges. As part of the “Alinkerlympics”, Harley will be taking part in the Virtual Runners Tokyo Athletes Challenge 2021. In our interview, you'll learn what the “Alinkerlympics” are all about and what Harley's biggest motivation is.
VR: Harley, you achieved major success on your Alinker. Can you tell us what an Alinker is exactly and when you started riding it?
Harley: An Alinker is a walking-bike on three wheels without pedals. Almost three years ago, I had surgery to have one of my feet amputated. The Alinker still allows me to be active and to do things like participating in various challenges and fundraisings. I have had it for about two years and have competed in many challenges and virtual races with it. It gives me free movement in my day-to-day use, and I like the positive engagement it initiates by talking to people about it. They see me as a person and not my disability, it helps to overcome prejudices, which is very positive.
VR: You even hold two Guinness World Records. Would you like to tell us about that?
Harley: The first was in 2019 at the Great South Run for the fastest 10 km on an Alinker Bike. Actually, it was a fundraiser, but it went so well that I got it without having it planned beforehand. My mom and I originally planned that she finishes alongside me, but I was so fast that I finished way earlier and got my first record. The second Guinness World Record was for the participation at the virtual London Marathon. It was a participation record because it was the largest mass-participation for a 26.2 miles race.
VR: Your newest challenge is the “Alinkerlympics”. What is this challenge about, and how did the idea come to life?
Harley: Basically, it was Christmas last year, when I was talking to one of the managers of Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice about my Alinker. That is when the idea for a fundraiser started to grow. My mom wanted to come up with something special and had the Olympics in mind as a theme. In terms of coming up with a name for it, she just rolled with “Alinkerlympics”. The idea is for me to do 21 different Olympic themed sports on my Alinker as part of the fundraiser, because it is the year 2021. It will take place from 23rd July until 8th August to coincide with the official Summer Olympia Games in Tokyo this summer.
VR: Additionally, you will be part of our Tokyo Athletes Challenge, won’t you?
Harley: The virtual Tokyo Athletes Challenge will be an extra bonus theme, as I will ride an extra 3.1 miles per day as an extra push. It will make it more inspiring and get people more aware and interested in the fundraiser. It is also a great challenge for me, as it is not going to be easy.
VR: That certainly sounds like a true challenge. What other sports will be on the schedule?
Harley: Things like 100m, 200m or 400m races. To mix it up a bit, we will also do some kind of basketball challenge. We also plan a football challenge on the Alinker, some off-road Alinker cycling and maybe even a bit of gymnastics. It will be a diversified program, and we will release the full schedule on Monday via my Instagram channel @harleysalter.
VR: How can people support you during the “Alinkerlympics”?
Harley: There are several possibilities. Other people who use Alinkers can pledge to become a virtual running mate, anyone can donate via the event's official page, or simply help us tell my story and raise awareness about the “Alinkerlympics” by sharing the story on social media or with friends, family, and colleagues.
VR: Is the Tokyo Challenge an exceptional challenge due to the extended time frame?
Harley: Yes, 3.1 miles each day for 13 days will be a physically and mentally challenge, alongside the other challenges. My mother will be there to encourage and support me, and I want to demonstrate that sometimes you need to push yourself outside your comfort zone to move on in life. We have overcome a lot of hurdles already, and every challenge helps me to thrive and develop as a person.
VR: What motivates you the most?
Harley: Growing and pushing the boundaries to progress and move forward. Personal achievement, meeting new people and charity. The most important goal in everything I have done is to raise awareness and helping feel people good about themselves. Life can be difficult and a challenge for people with disabilities. If I can make one person happy and feel good about themselves, it is the ultimate goal. Inspiring people and receiving positive response is my inspiration and makes me happy.
VR: What advice would you give to people who struggle to motivate themselves?
Harley: You don’t know if you can do something or not if you don’t try. You need to set goals, even if you do not achieve them, you got to give it a try. It is not easy, but it is the only way to grow. And if you achieve a goal, it doesn’t mean you stop, but move the goal pose.
VR: You like superheroes and Star Wars, which superhero is your favourite one?
Harley: Especially Wolverine, Spider-Man and Thanos. Although Thanos is technically a super villain, rather than a superhero, I like the character in the movies and am inspired by his quote: “I am inevitable!”. That sums it up about me and what I have achieved. If a film were to be made about me, I would call it: “Harley, The Inevitable”.
VR: Thank you, Harley, for giving us a glimpse into your next challenge and for you and your mom taking the time to share your inspiring story. We wish you the best of luck with the Tokyo Challenge, the “Alinkerlympics” and all future endeavours.
Your VirtualRunners Family
THE CHALLENGE IN THE OLYMPIC SPIRIT.
Run on each day of the scheduled Olympic Games from July 23rd - August 8th, 2021.(Will take place even if the Olympic Games may be postponed).
Choose from three challenges: 5 km (3.1 mi) per day on 13 of 17 days, 10 km (6.2 mi) per day on 13 of 17 days, or 15 km (9.3 mi) per day on 13 of 17 days.
(Please use the 4 days of regeneration according to your fitness during the challenge).
Pictures 1 and 2: Harley Salter