Hermin Garic '13 | MVCC | Mohawk Valley Community College
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Hermin Garic '13

Hermin Garic 2013 graduate of MVCC

Garic ’13 wins Miami Marathon pushrim division title

Hermin Garic ’13 has been building his reputation as an accomplished athlete, first with the adaptive sports program Sitrin STARS, and then as a competitor in the Boilermaker 15K Road Race Wheelchair Division, in which he has placed second for the past two years.

Now he has bragging rights to a new victory: Garic won the pushrim division title at the Miami Marathon in February, with a time of 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 18 seconds.

“It was bittersweet,” Garic says of his marathon win. “I was hoping to finish in less than two hours, since I have been working on my conditioning and endurance. But some technical issues with my chair occurred halfway through the race and I had to stop for a couple of minutes to fix the problem. But in the end, I was very happy to have finished first, and I was glad that I had a lot more energy than I did with my first marathon.”

His training regimen is rigorous – endurance training is key to getting the body used to the distance.

“I do strength training, cardio, and of course, road training, or pushing in the racing chair,” he says. “My road training, weather permitting, would usually include about 30 miles a day, consisting of flats, uphills, and down hills, which vary on what I want to focus on for the day.”

Such a feat might have seemed nearly impossible 20 years ago, when Garic, just 4 years old, suffered a severe injury during the Bosnian war. As he and his family were running to a safe house, a rocket-propelled grenade exploded above them, sending shrapnel into Garic’s back, knocking him unconscious. His father rushed him to his uncle’s house to be bandaged, and the three proceeded toward an ambulance close by. On its way to the hospital, the ambulance crashed into a lake, resulting in Garic’s spinal cord being severed.

In 2000, Garic’s family moved to the United States, where medical treatment was more advanced.

“We had family in Utica, which made it an ideal place to move,” he says. “The doctors and rehab professionals here have helped me tremendously. I have gotten back sensation in my lower extremities, as well as gaining strength and balance over the years.” 

Becoming active in the Sitrin STARS (Success Through Adaptive Recreation and Sports) was another way for Garic to help himself improve his strength, endurance, balance, and coordination in a supportive environment with fellow MVCC alumnus Marc Deperno ’94, an occupational therapist and director of the Sitrin STARS.

“I started playing wheelchair basketball with the Sitrin STARS in 2003, and they told me about the Boilermaker Wheelchair Challenge,” he says. “The challenge was to complete the Utica Boilermaker (9.3 miles) in a standard wheelchair in less than 2 hours and 15 minutes, in order to win a brand new racing chair. I completed this challenge in 2005 – in 1 hour and 16 minutes – and have been racing ever since.”

Garic hopes that he can help to raise awareness of adaptive sports.

“I want to make racing my profession,” he says. “I’d also like to expose more individuals to the world of adaptive sports, because they can really change people’s lives.”