BLOG: Presidential Perspectives

Fired Up to overcome obstacles and inspire others

A mindset that leads to success

I came across an article recently that featured someone with unimaginable grit, determination and passion. This remarkable person pushed through what others told him he could not do. He turned negativity into fuel and even inspiration. When I learned that part of Martinus Evans’ story involved Central Michigan University, I began to see parallels between how he takes on the world and how we prepare our students to change it.

Martinus grew up in Detroit and was often targeted with negative comments about his weight. He played football at another university, but eventually transferred to CMU to study exercise science. His first semester did not go well. With a 1.6 GPA, Martinus says he had to make his case for a second chance at CMU. “I was like, I can guarantee you that I’m the type of guy that if you tell me no, I am going to prove you wrong over and over and over again.”

Martinus got a second chance and proved he could succeed academically. He proudly earned his CMU degree in 2009.

A few years later, Martinus began to experience health problems. His doctor said he needed to lose weight or die.

His response was – to put it mildly – Fired Up. Martinus told the doctor he would run a marathon. He started running, admittedly very slowly.

“Somebody's going to tell you no, you can't do that. You shouldn't do that. That’s the reason why you should go out and pursue it,” Martinus said.

He worked his way up to a 5k, then a half marathon. Along the way, he became an inspiration to those who were determined to follow their passion for running despite various challenges. He even started a blog called 300 Pounds and Running to bring others along on his journey.

Ten years ago, Martinus did exactly what he was told he could never do:  He finished the Detroit Free Press Marathon. But he was by no means finished with his journey to better health.

Martinus kept running, even amid taunts  about his size and pace. When someone shouted that he should stop running because he was “slow as  f***,” Martinus’ initial anger developed quickly into something quite inspired.

Wearing a shirt printed with the phrase “Slow AF,” Martinus kept running, transforming the cruel disapproval into motivation. He earned the admiration of many who run for the love of running, not to win races.

These days, Martinus is not alone on his journey. He started a virtual group, the Slow AF Run Club, and has more than 10,000 followers and fellow runners worldwide. You may have even seen him on national television explaining the club and promoting his new book Slow AF Run Club: The Ultimate Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Run.

The values of Slow AF Run Club are perseverance, positivity, determination and courage. These values align perfectly with what We Do at CMU, especially leading with a Fired-Up attitude.

Martinus said, “When you have an obstacle in your way, I think there's a way of being fired up about it and approaching it head on. I think that if we take more time to just be fired up about the things that are in front of us, knowing that you’re going to approach this head-on with that mentality, it gets done faster, it won't be as hard as you think it was, and you find that there are silver linings in everything.”

His story is not only about the determination it takes to succeed; it also is about inspiring others along the way. Martinus repeatedly accomplished his personal goal of running a marathon, then began lifting up others to motivate them to achieve their goals.

He said, “I think that when you do something long enough, your personal journey is no longer for you. Yes, I did what I had to do. I went through the rigor of training, and I actually ran that marathon. Once you’ve done that, the journey is no longer for you, it’s more to get other people inspired.” 

When you understand Martinus’ approach to overcoming challenges, you start to see that having the right attitude — and a healthy dose of Fired-Up determination — can change nearly any negative into a positive. He shows us that success in college, and success in life beyond campus, is often rooted in the approach you take to the adversity that will inevitably come. Or as CMU alumnus Martinus Evans puts it: “Take a fearless mindset and stay Fired Up and you WILL be successful.”

Blog: Presidential Perspectives posted | Last Modified: | Author: by Bob Davies, CMU President | Categories: President's Office
The views and opinions expressed in these blog pages are strictly those of the page author.