Amy Donaldson: Utah's Kona Inspired Ironmen are true champions
“I could feel his presence there,” said Anderson. “It was the best I’ve ever felt after riding my bike for 100 miles. That never happens to me.”
Then again, he said he’s learned in his preparation for triathlons and marathons that your body does what the mind allows.
“I tell people, ‘You can only do what you’re mentally prepared to do,'” he said.
One of the Kona Inspired athletes wasn’t able to travel because of her cancer, so only six of them started the race. Anderson said Nicholas Tierney, Ohio; Kelly Miyahara, Calif.; and Terry Kennedy, Australia, all finished. Kennedy was competing after suffering a stroke and heart attack while training for a marathon to honor his son, born with a brain disorder, and his father, who’d succumbed to cancer. Tierney was registered for the Ironman Wisconsin when his quadruplets were born at 29 weeks and had to spend more than a month in the NICU. And Miyahara was competing for a friend who’d been killed in a car-cycling accident while she trained for her first Ironman. The two met while fundraising for an endurance event.
Win Charles, Colo., who has cerebral palsy and Bullock weren’t able to finish. On the Team IronDean Facebook page, his family reported that Bullock didn’t make the bike cutoff time and was taken off the course at mile 107 — just 5 miles shy of the transition to the marathon.
On Saturday his family posted a message to supporters, who’ve been inspired as much by his positive attitude as they are his quest to conquer Kona.
“Four months ago today our dad had his second brain surgery in a year. Over the last 15 months, he has had two brain surgeries, six weeks of radiation, 11 months of chemo, and three rounds of Avastin. The fact that he is even out here is a miracle in itself. True IronMan.”
Bullock told the Deseret News four months ago that he wasn’t going to waste any of the precious time he has left wondering, "Why?" or feeling sorry for himself.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I’m living with cancer. It doesn’t define me.”
Bad things happen to good people every day. And everyone faces tough times. Sometimes we feel better than we ever have, and sometimes we struggle more than we ever thought was possible to bear.
Their stories are not tragedies. The tears shed for them are not simply about despair because hope shines through every step of their journeys. Anderson and Bullock simply made a decision not to let life’s cruelty defeat them.
And that, more than any finish line, makes them champions.
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