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Runner's Scars Tell Of A Survivor's Story

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT

Gilbert Tuhabonye is one of the most popular running coaches in Austin, but how he got to Texas is a path of hope.

“It’s a part of my history. It’s a part of who I am,” Tuhabonye said.

The scars that nearly cover his entire body tell a survivor’s story.

“Running helped me overcome obstacles,” Tuhabonye said. “I almost lost my life, I almost died.”

He was born and raised in Burundi, Africa, a small nation plagued by civil war and political tribes battling for power.

On October 21, 1993 Gilbert found himself in the middle of the country’s unrest.

“That day the Hutu president was assassinated by Tutsi extremist,” Tuhabonye said. “In act of retaliation the Hutu came to my school and locked up everybody they could find.”

Tuhabonye and 200 of his classmates were kidnapped, taken to a gas station, locked inside, and the building was set on fire. The flames scorched for eight hours while Tuhabonye hid under a pile of dead bodies. He was the only one to escape.

“I had to use something to break the window so I could run free,” Tuhabonye said. “I used a dead body, someone that I knew, and I broke the window and was able to run.”

He kept running.  Despite third-degree burns all over his body, Tuhabonye earned a track scholarship to Abilene Christian University where he became a national champion. In 2008 Olympics he carried the torch while representing his native country.

“The emotion that I went through carrying the Olympic torch, the fire that burned me few years back, and now I have the fire in my hands,” Tuhabonye said.

Now living in Austin, he does everything he can to give back to his tribe. He started the Gazelle Foundation and the proceeds build water projects in Burundi. The largest annual fundraiser, Run for the Water, has helped 16,000 people get clean drinking water.

“You've seen all my scars. I don't have scars in my heart because I forgive,” Tuhabonye said. “Running for me is my therapy, it’s my freedom.”

That’s because he’s been running his entire life.

By Cassie GalloRunner's Scars Tell Of A Survivor's Story


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NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Saturday's Games

WEST REGION FINAL: Wisconsin 85, Arizona 78

MIDWEST REGION FINAL: Kentucky 68, Notre Dame 66

Sunday's Games

EAST REGION FINAL: Louisville vs. Michigan St. at Syracuse, 2:20 p.m.

SOUTH REGION FINAL: Duke vs. Gonzaga at Houston, 5:05 p.m.

NBA

Saturday's Games

Charlotte 115, Atlanta 100

Chicago 111, New York 80

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Houston at Washington, 12:30 p.m.

L.A. Lakers at Brooklyn, 3:30 p.m.

Minnesota at New Orleans, 4 p.m.

Philadelphia at Cleveland, 4:30 p.m.

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San Jose 3, Philadelphia 2, SO

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Chicago at Winnipeg, 7:30 p.m.

NCAA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Saturday's Games

ALBANY REGION: UConn 105, Texas 54

ALBANY REGION: Dayton 82, Louisville 66

SPOKANE REGION: Maryland 65, Duke 55

SPOKANE REGION: Tennessee 73, Gonzaga 69, OT

Sunday's Games

GREENSBORO REGION FINAL: South Carolina (33-2) vs. Florida State (32-4), noon

OKLAHOMA CITY REGION FINAL: Baylor (33-3) vs. Notre Dame (34-2), 8:30 p.m.

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FC Dallas 0, Seattle 0, tie

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Philadelphia at Chicago, 5 p.m.

Toronto FC at Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m.

MLB PRESEASON

Saturday's Games

Miami 1, Houston 1, tie

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N.Y. Mets vs. St. Louis at Jupiter, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Minnesota vs. Baltimore (ss) at Sarasota, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Miami vs. Washington at Viera, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Pittsburgh vs. Atlanta at Kissimmee, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Detroit vs. Philadelphia at Clearwater, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Tampa Bay vs. Boston at Fort Myers, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

N.Y. Yankees vs. Houston at Kissimmee, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Baltimore (ss) vs. Toronto at Dunedin, Fla., 1:07 p.m.

Cincinnati vs. L.A. Angels at Tempe, Ariz., 3:10 p.m.

Seattle vs. San Diego at Peoria, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Milwaukee vs. Oakland at Mesa, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Texas vs. L.A. Dodgers (ss) at Glendale, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Chicago Cubs vs. Kansas City at Surprise, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

L.A. Dodgers (ss) vs. San Francisco at Scottsdale, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland at Goodyear, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Colorado vs. Arizona at Hermosillo, 4:10 p.m.

Arizona vs. Colorado at Scottsdale, Ariz., 4:10 p.m.

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