by Chris Brewer
Greetings from Nice and Ironman France where 32 amazing athletes among 2500 of their peers challenged the sunny skies and hot temperatures – and a hilly bike course – all for Team LIVESTRONG! Anyone able to just finish a full Ironman has achieved an extraordinary accomplishment, but add in that they did it to help further the mission of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, raising $47,500 as a team in the process, and now you’re talking about being truly significant!
We started the event weekend off with lunch together in the market area along the coast. During the meal each of our competitors shared their story about why they decided to race for Team LIVESTRONG. For some it was the loss of a family member, or a loved one who had fought and successfully beaten the disease back.
The story though that stuck with me the most, though, was Jonathan’s. He’s a 2-time cancer survivor, and following his 2nd bout he decided that each year he’d celebrate life by doing something outrageous. Year one the Englishman hiked from John o’ Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in England (~1200 miles), last year he went up Mount Kilamanjaro in Tanzania, so why not try his first triathlon ever at a full Ironman?! He had a long day in the water and on the roads of France, but at the end of the day he proudly crossed the finish line and helped redefine what it means to be a cancer survivor – bravo!
We were fortunate to have not one but two LIVESTRONG leaders here at the event. Vanessa from Ireland raced for us and gave such a proud performance, and Shu is a senior leader for all of the UK and France and was roadside with my colleague Helen for 14 hours cheering all our athletes to the end. Thanks so much to them for coming out, and for all they do for the LIVESTRONG cause.
They say there’s nothing like an Ironman finish line, as anyone who crosses the line has had a monumental life changing experience. But now I’ve seen a close second. At the end of select races, a very small percentage of age group racers will qualify for the Iroman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in October. Last month for Team LIVESTRONG Charlie Brockus did at the Honu half Ironman, and we’re very proud to announce that Alexander Nikolopoulos from Germany locked in his place here as well! It’s an amazing experience to see such a group of incredible athletes literally sitting around, waiting to hear if there are enough slots available to head to the Big Show in Hawaii, and Alex is going there for us – congratulations! It was an outstanding weekend of racing, but more importantly we made some great friends, shared our stories, and did it all for the 28M people around the world living with cancer. What best sums up how I feel about this great group of folks? What else: they all truly LIVESTRONG!
View all the photos of Team LIVESTRONG at the Ironman France on our Flickr page.