Anyone that knows me knows that spend a good bit of my weekends standing behind a microphone announcing at HFP Racing events all over the Midwest. People ask me why I do all of these events, knowing that I leave the house at 3am for some of them, spend my weekends volunteering my sweat and energy, and not racing. For the most part, I love doing it, and that is a big reason. I was reminded this weekend of one of the other reasons.
Saturday started out with a thunderstorm at a beautiful Miami University course in southern Ohio. The storm rolled through, and as we started to get racers in the water, it morphed into a warm sunny day for 350 or so triathletes to do their thing. In the field of racers was John “Bo”, who was easily identifiable as he only had one leg. He swam well, had no trouble getting on/off the bike, and started his 5K run in a small group of other racers. I had the pleasure of talking with his family while they waited and watched for him at the finish line.
Born with a birth defect, Bo has spent all of his life with one leg severely misshapen, painful, and not quite but nearly useless; and he has endured that pain for years. He had never been a runner, an athlete, or done much exercise of any sort because of the leg. Finally in 2012, doctors said the leg needed to be amputated, and it was.
That decision changed his life. Since the amputation, he has run a 5k, been incredibly active, and now, with us at HFP Racing, is attempting his first triathlon. You could see and hear the pride and love from his family just ooze out as they told his story.
Bo rounded the bend walking and entered the chute for the last 100 yards to the finish line, and I jumped on the mic to let the crowd that had gathered to welcome him in know his story. I also chided him a little about the unwritten rule that “If people are watching, there is no walking for a real triathlete”, but also let him know that we’d cut him a little slack on that gentleman’s agreement this time. He smiled, looked at his family that had gathered at the line to impatiently wait for him, threw his shoulders back and RAN the last 30 yards to cross the finish line. He IS a triathlete, and the cheers of the people who had gathered at the line to encourage him drove home the point. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including his own. It was one of those moments that some people wait a lifetime to accomplish, and others wait a lifetime to watch.
Thank you Bo for sharing your moment with us; we are honored and humbled that you chose an HFP Racing event to conquer your demon. There is no stopping you now, and your children and grandchildren that watched your finish line sprint will know that too, and there will never be a better source of inspiration for them. Congratulations, and we wish you all the success you could ever imagine.
To answer the question asked earlier – Why do I volunteer my weekends and get up at crazy hours to stand in the rain and sun and mud to simply watch a triathlon? – Take a look at Bo and his story, and know that every person that crosses a finish line has their own demon to conquer, and if I get to help tell just a few of their stories, then that’s good enough for me. I consider it time well spent.
Got a demon to conquer? Come share the load and the story with us. The road behind is littered with vanquished demons, and the road ahead is waiting for you.
See you on race day!