IRONMAN Athletes And Their Stories

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Here are some of the athletes participating in the Little Debbie IRONMAN Chattanooga Presented by McKee A Family Bakery. 

OLDEST IRONMAN AT CHATTANOOGA
Herb Brown of Charlotte, NC
Age: 80
Herb will be the oldest athlete to compete in IRONMAN Chattanooga this year.

YOUNGEST IRONMAN AT CHATTANOOGA
Gavin O’Donohue of East Peoria, Il. 
Age: 18 (11/19/98)
Gavin will be competing in this year’s race, not only as the youngest athlete, but alongside his dad.

A KIDNEY DONOR CAN DO ANYTHING
Avraham Apelbaum  of Eli, Il. 
Age: 35
Avraham is an altruistic kidney donor. As one like this, he wants to show the world that kidney donation does not stop him from doing anything. He hopes that people who are able to donate, will donate. He hopes to eliminate the waiting list for kidneys in the world, through his awareness efforts.  

RACING IN HONOR OF HER DAUGHTER
Donetta Behen of Rochester Hills, Mi. 
Age 58
Each mile Donetta trains and each mile she races, will be in honor of her daughter Morgan. Morgan had Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas, and passed away on October 13, 2016 at the age of 23. Morgan donated her brain and tumor to the University of Michigan in hopes of finding a cure. Donetta says Morgan never gave up and always had a smile on her face. This race is for her.  

LIFE CHANGING WEIGHT LOSS POINTS COMPETITOR TO NEW GOALS
Ben Chastain of Puyallup, Wa.
Age: 42 
Ben previously weighed 470 pounds. Ben began to lose weight when he found the sport of triathlon, forever changing his life. Now, his goal is to race in the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona. Ben is trying to attain a slot through the IRONMAN legacy program.  

MORTGAGE COMPANY CFO RACES IN IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 
Michael Bourque of Christiansted, Vi.
Age: 40
Michael is the CFO of Ocwen Financial Corporation, one of the largest mortgage companies in America with over 9,000 employees. Michael ran two marathons in 2016 and his wife Emma finished an IRONMAN 70.3 the same year as well. Now, he is joining her in her quest to complete a full IRONMAN in Chattanooga. 

EIGHT-TIME EVEREST SUMMITEER AT IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA
Robert Casserley of Saint-Romuald, QC
Age: 41
Robert is a former surgeon and now general practitioner, who is a specialist in altitude and expedition medicine. He is also a mountain guide who has summited Mount Everest eight times, including double summits (climbing the mountain from both the north and south sides) in the spring of 2007 and the spring of 2010. He is the first western climber to have achieved this feat, and now is tackling IRONMAN Chattanooga.  

HE IS STRONG FOR HER
Zachary Chin of Troy, Mi.
Age: 30
Zachary’s mother has just finished her battle against an aggressive form of breast cancer, and she needed all the support of the whole family to get through this chapter of life. His family has been hit with several challenges in the past few years. The Chin family lost their father, and the mother’s life has been difficult without his presence at home. Zach is unable to be home with his mother as well, so this race is being dedicated to her. She's inspired him to complete this race and he wants to show her that his strength runs deep. Zach wants to celebrate with her at the finish line, as a toast to success and beginning a new chapter one step ahead of two huge physical and mental challenges. 

RACING IN HONOR OF HER BROTHER
Rachel Elizalde-Powell of Renton, Wa. 
Age: 42
Rachel’s brother was killed while serving with the United States Army on August 23, 2007. Following his passing, Rachel wanted to do something big to honor him and his service. She was not an athlete as a child, but her drive, dedication and discipline, makes her a better version of herself each day – and she is ready to take on IRONMAN Chattanooga.  

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS ADVOCATE AT IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA
Kristin Gustafson of Mankato, Mn.
Age: 40
Kristin was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This disease taught her how to be strong and how to push through all of her struggles. Kristin loves being an advocate for the MS community and sharing the message to keep following your dreams! 

HERRON IS BACK FOR ROUND THREE
Roy Herron of Dresden, Tn.
Age: 63
Roy is a former state senator who did IRONMAN Chattanooga in 2014. Two months following the race, Roy had a heart attack, and had to undergo a steady recovery. However, he was able to recover fast, and just ten months later, Roy participated in IRONMAN Chattanooga 2015. This year, Roy is back looking to completed his third IRONMAN Chattanooga.  

REBUILDING HER STRENGTH FOR IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA
Kelly Joyce of San Jose, Ca. 
Age: 48
In 2013, Kelly relapsed with Leukemia and was in a coma after suffering from congestive heart failure, respiratory failure and kidney failure. She was in the coma for two and a half weeks on an oscillator and nine IV bags, keeping her alive. Doctors weren't confident she would be able to regain consciousness and if Kelly did she would have serious neurological effects. When she woke up, Kelly had to learn to sit, stand, walk and eat again. Kelly was diagnosed with what was considered a fatal brain infection. She endured 10 months of chemotherapy and medication to fight her brain infection, surviving it all. Kelly says she was able to survive all of that because her desire to race an IRONMAN. Kelly has had to work hard at rebuilding her body and this will be her 15th IRONMAN event. 

UNTIL WE BRING HIM HOME
Rob Ladewig of Colorado Springs, Co.
Age: 68
Rob’s oldest brother Melvin has been missing in action from the Vietnam War, since 1968. He pledged in 2003 to complete at least one IRONMAN a year, as long as he is physically able until his brother is brought home. Rob was a featured athlete at IRONMAN Boulder in 2016.  

FINDING HER INNER WARRIOR AT IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA
Emily Munoz of Somerville, Ma.
Age: 39
Emily is a Tennessee native who now calls Boston home. She is a surviving widow of an Army Special Forces soldier, who died as a result of his service in 2005. She now helps others find their inner warriors as part of an Inner Warrior program, a tragedy assistance program for survivors. Emily helps other survivors fight for the lives their loved ones wanted them to have.  

WIDOWED ATHLETE COMPETES IN HONOR OF HER BIGGEST FAN
Heather Ott of Granville, Mi.
Age: 41
Heather has always wanted to compete in a full distance IRONMAN, and thanks to the support of her friends, family and team, this race will be her first. Last year, Heather traveled with her husband to Chattanooga to lay eyes upon the course. Heather’s husband had always been her greatest fan and supported her through everything she did. In a cruel twist in fate, Heather’s husband died in a motorcycle accident a few weeks after their trip. She is looking forward to competing in her late husband’s honor. 

NASA ENGINEER READY TO TAKE ON IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA
Chris Radke of Pearland, Tx.
Age: 29
Chris works for NASA, and is responsible for computational and mechanical design as well as development of experimental rocket engines. He is a team member of the Propulsion Advanced Development Group (PADG) which provides new designs, concepts, technology and demonstrations for future space missions.  

ULTRA RUNNING LEGEND
Pam Reed of Jackson, Wy.
Age: 56
This will be Pam’s 52nd IRONMAN. In addition to competing in IRONMAN Chattanooga, she plans on running across America. Pam once held the record for most miles run without stopping (301 miles). She has also appeared on David Letterman and 60 Minutes after winning the Death Valley Badwater Ultramarathon, one of the toughest races consisting of a 135 mile run through Death Valley. Pam is the author of the book The Extra Mile: One Woman's Personal Journey to Ultra-Running Greatness. 

FOR THOSE WHO GAVE ALL
Chad Wallace of Senoia, Ga. 
Age: 42
Chad is the founder and CEO of Team Blue Line, a non-profit foundation with the goal of raising money to help the families of law enforcement officers who have selflessly given their lives in the line of duty. One of the ways they raise money is through racing. Members of the racing team participate in triathlons, cycling races, road races, and trail runs across the United States. Team Blue Line desires to love and care for the families left behind. They honor the fallen by finishing each race with a blue flag that represents the premature loss of a law enforcement officer.  

ANOTHER IRONMAN IN THE BOOKS FOR WIEGAND
Gregory Wiegand of Mount Horeb, Wi.
Age: 46
Gregory is trying to do all of the North American IRONMAN races and this will be his 12th IRONMAN in North America. 

ATHELETE DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER AT THE YOUNG AGE OF 26
Mark Zellefrow Jr. of Birmingham, Al.
Age: 28
Mark had stage two colon cancer at 26 years old. A wide range of motions went through his mind after learning his condition, but he immediately knew it was "game time" and switched into battle mode. Doctors had to remove 12 inches of colon surrounding the area the cancer was growing, took lymph-nodes, and cleared the margins. A few weeks later, Mark had his follow up appointments and found out he was cancer-free. Four months later, on May 22nd, 2016 Mark competed at IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga, proving that "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE." Mark have continued to fight to bring awareness to Colon Cancer in younger people and will continue to do so. His first exposure to IRONMAN was in 2011, when the IRONMAN World Championship was televised and he learned about Teri Griege’s story being an athlete, and later fighting Colon Cancer.




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