When I found out that the old TV show American Gladiators was making a comeback, I was ecstatic. With the utmost devotion (I am talking about Grey’s Anatomy devotion here), I watched every episode of Season 1 and Season 2. In the beginning of Season 1, I quickly decided that Venom (aka Beth Horn) was my absolute favorite Gladiator. Then, after some research on her, I found out that we have one big thing in common: two surgically repaired knees thanks to ACL tears. Upon learning this and watching her compete week after week inspired me to train even harder for marathons. If she could compete in these events and carry on with her (what I can only imagine is an extremely strenuous) work out regimen, I could run a bit faster and a bit farther.

While watching the show, I typically route and cheer for the contenders. I mean, after all, some of those Gladiators are rather intimidating and they have a lot of gumption to go up against them. The only case when I don’t cheer for the contenders is when they are battling Venom. For those challenges, I am always hoping she kicks some major butt.

Recently, I decided to write Beth a quick email letting her know that I sincerely appreciate her determination despite her setbacks with her knees. I actually think knee surgery pain tops marathon pain. Anyway, Beth responded with a personalized, genuine email and now I like her even more. I always appreciate when people are sincere and nice, especially when they don’t have to be.

Here is the email I sent to her:

Subject: ACL- inspiration

Date: Sat, 13 Sep 2008
Hi Beth,
I just wanted to say that your a truly an inspiration. You are one of my favorite gladiators and while reading your bio I learned of your multiple ACL injuries. I too have had multiple torn ACLs. (the left one in Dec. 2002 playing soccer, the right one in 2005 snowboarding, both of which were surgically repaired. And then, I re-tore my right ACL snowboarding again in 2006). While I opted out against revision surgery and still have a fully torn right ACL, I continue with my passion – running and training for marathons. So far, I have completed one marathon and three half marathons since my knee injuries. It is amazing to watch you compete on America Gladiators knowing about your previous knee injuries. You are a great inspiration to athletes like myself who have experienced the same injuries. You lead by example and did not let multiple torn ACLs get in your way. If only young girls could idolize you instead of the Britneys and Lindsays of the world.
All the best,
Christina Cassell
p.s. I would totally audition for the show if I had an intact right ACL.

And here is the email she sent back to me:

Hey Christina!

Thank you for your sweet email! I am glad you feel I am an inspiration! Thank you!! I am sorry to hear you re-tore your ACL! Wow. Do you plan on repairing it again? It is amazing you are able to train for marathons!! That is so awesome!! Good for you!! How do you run with your knees?? That is really the only thing I do not do is run (I do not like it anyways!) My surgeries were so long ago that I do have arthritis, so running does not feel good, however I do lots of sprinting! I know- weird. So, I do not do any cardio, but my trainer kicks my butt as it is all hardcore anaerobic. That is so cool what you are able to do all your training w/o an ACL! My best friend also did marathons & gymnastics w/o an ACL for 15 years & finally had surgery a few year ago. I would research to find out is it better to have surgery or not in relation to arthritis later in life. I know a lot of research says it can set in after 20 years, but I keep doing what I’m doing & just listen to my body. I just need more rest in between workouts sometimes.
I can keep you posted on auditions for Gladiators for season three. Yeah, it may be tough though without a ligament!
I wish you all the best! Good luck in your marathons!! When is your next one? So amazing! Go for all your dreams!!!
Beth 🙂

Seriously, how sweet is that?

Thanks, Beth!


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