by Dan Meyer
I truly love the sport of triathlon, so when I was given the opportunity through the Kyle Pease Foundation (kylepeasefoundation.org) to race John Tanner Sprint Triathlon on 9/6/14 with an assisted athlete with cerebral palsy, I jumped at the chance. This was an experience as rewarding as any race I have done. My teammate, Justin Knight, is a truly remarkable person, and seeing the race through his eyes was really amazing.
Dan and Justin getting ready to swim
After strapping an inflatable kayak containing Justin to my waist, we were ready to swim. Once we got going, it felt easier than expected, and I checked several times to make sure Justin was still in the kayak. We finished the 600 meters in 14:05 (14:55 w/run to T1), only a few minutes off usual.
Dan and Justin on the bike
Transition to the bike takes lots of helpers and was 7:34.The start of the bike was tough as there are some little hills out of transition that seemed much bigger with a combined weight of 375 pounds, but Justin willed me over. The terrain soon turned more favorable, and we started cruising. The back half of the course was much hillier and challenging and there was one hill that I had to get out of the saddle in granny gear just to make it over. Justin helped me up the hills saying “you’re doing fine” and “almost there” then cheered when we reached the top. Hearing him whoop when we descended fast downhill made me smile wide. I was glad when we finally reached transition after a 1:03:46 ride, averaging 12.9 MPH.
Dan and Justin on the Run
T2 from bike to wheelchair was slightly less involved, and in 3:40 we were off running. The first mile was around the lake on a flat, paved path, so we were cruising. The second mile begins an out and back section that starts uphill on gravel and was very tough. I encouraged runners coming back and nearing the finish with “bring it on home”. Justin picked up on this and started yelling it to all the athletes. This really made them and me smile. Later we would say “looking good” or “keep it up”. Justin made sure to share his energy with all those on the course, and I loved seeing the other athletes light up when he encouraged them. After the gravel section, we were back on paved roads and onto some steep hills. I had to power walk up them and was glad Justin kept encouraging me. The downhills were almost too fast, and I used the brake a lot to slow down the momentum. As we neared the finish line, we could hear the crowd cheering. I wheeled Justin to the large contingent of fans from the Foundation so he could give them all high fives and then we crossed the finish line in just under 2 hours (1:59:07) with a 29:11 5k, our amazing journey complete!
Post race celebration
Justin’s next race will be Marine Corp Marathon in October, but he still needs to raise funds to get there. Please help by donating at www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/teresaknight/marinecorpmarathon