When Meagan Hairston reached the base of the hill, the Texas A&M junior placed a 2-by-4 board across her shoulders and back and continued running. Fighting to breathe, she climbed the steep incline about a mile above sea level in the athletic competition’s finale called the Golgotha Run.
“It’s about a 20-hour competition that we run the athletes through starting the day before,” says Jon Demeter, who directs the Athletes in Action Ultimate Training Camp.
Since 1979, collegiate athletes like Meagan (left), a swimmer, have attended the week-long camps hosted by AIA, the sports ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. Last summer, 275 athletes from 75 different universities and three different countries attended one of the two camps.
The athletic competition known as the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stands for “Scriptural Principles + Exhaustion = Confidence in Almighty Lord.” Typically, seven- or eight-member teams compete. During the week, they discuss five biblical principles for athletic competition, including worship and motivation.
“Throughout the competition, the people who have been teaching in the classroom read the Passion story of Christ going to the cross,” says Jon.
“It helped me understand that God gave me this talent for swimming, and He wants me to succeed in it,” says Meagan. “But it shouldn’t consume my life.”