Kurt and his wife Melissa have always been a source of inspiration within the team and in particular in our fundraising to fight breast cancer. Kurt shares their amazing story here.
How I got into Triathlon……
My fitness has always been hit and miss, I guess like a lot of people. I’ve been in great shape and not so much. In 2012, I got the idea to give triathlon a try during my indoor bike sessions on an old spin bike. To say that I had no idea what I was doing was an understatement. I registered for an Olympic distance race (a sprint seemed silly) and proceeded to train without any sort of structure or guidance. What’s this brick you speak of??? I had never experienced an open water swim start and after getting punched and kicked I nearly drowned. During the run I constantly repeated to myself that I would never do another one of these stupid things again. 4 weeks later with a little more preparation, I did a sprint race (my way of talking myself back into doing another) and finished 4th in my age group, I was ecstatic until I realized that when I stopped to grab my kids to run across the finish line, the guy that ran past me ended up taking my place on the podium. Lessoned learned, there is no such thing as family in the finishing chute.
How I found Maccax
I was looking for a race at the end of the year and I saw a post online with a race in and around the Miami Zoo and an opportunity to train with Chris “Macca” McCormack. The catch was that you had to join his triathlon team MaccaX. I signed up with the plan of being a member until the camp and would promptly cancel my membership right after. I was invited to join the team’s private Facebook page and I slowly dipped my toe into the water. I was amazed; there was Chris McCormack, the guy from those Kona videos I had binge watched on YouTube. I started interacting with the team and was instantly welcomed and embraced as one of the gang. The team was rallying around a fellow team member who was having some serious health issues and helping get him get to his dream race, Challenge Roth. The team’s first Embrace the Suck t-shirt was just made and the team was doing everything they could to get him to Roth.
About this time my wife Melissa was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and even with the best insurance, it’s expensive and I had to sell my bike to make ends meet. Triathlon, the training and MaccaX kept me sane during her weekly chemo, the radiation that followed and finally her surgery. When one of the team found about the circumstances surrounding my bike I was contacted by a fellow team member (whom I had never met or spoken to) who had just got a new bike and offered to send me is old bike, his mom had passed away from breast cancer and he wanted to give back.
The daily support from the team was amazing and we even received several private messages from Macca expressing his support. A second embrace the suck shirt was made and we were blown away when we found out the proceeds would be going to our family to help with medical expenses. That was it camp or no camp I was going to be part of this team as long as they would let me.
I got to meet several of the team over the next several months leading up to the camp and I have never met a group of people more welcoming and supportive than the people who make up this team. I’ve seen people travel hours to watch other team member’s race, invite team members to stay in their homes, congratulate them on success and support them during the hard times. I guess people could say it’s weird that you can become such close friends with people you have only messaged on Facebook or texted with, but they wouldn’t understand this team or the sport of triathlon. I’ve be lucky to race and train along side of some great people, never once encountering a team member who thought more of themselves than they did of you.
Those friends were there last April when Melissa, cancer free, walked into the water to do her first triathlon. We swam, biked and ran the entire race with her, it wasn’t fast by any means, but as one person said, “this is the most fun I’ve ever had doing a triathlon”. We were one big group laughing the entire way. That is what triathlon is us…..
What has come out of joining this team……
In June of last year, we met the team in Atlantic City for the inaugural Challenge Atlantic City, just another great experience meeting new team members and seeing old friends. During the camp we sat with Macca and asked how could help with his MACCANOW Foundation. We left that meeting running the foundation and committed to bring the foundation to a whole new level.
For those that don’t know MACCANOW helps individuals and their families who are battling cancer and uses triathlon and endurance sport as a means to inspire people to train for more than just the races on their schedule. We came away with an agreement that we would take over the foundation and do everything we could to take it to the next level.
We love this team, it’s not perfect, but nothing ever is. Triathlon a hard sport, there are lots of long and often lonely hours in the pool and on the roads. Having a support system is vital to keep you honest and on track and MaccaX has been the best team I could imagine being part of.
Train hard, race smart and always, EMBRACE THE SUCK!