Overcoming odds: Triathlon trains body, mind

7 Feb 2014 | Cpl. Timothy Norris

A triathlon is a race that challenges the participants in three ways: running, cycling and swimming.

It’s a common sport of varying difficulty and distances with hundreds of events all over the world and is a physical fitness goal many people set for themselves.

Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island is scheduled to host the annual Parris Island Sprint Triathlon March 15. In order to help participants prepare for the event the MCRD Parris Island and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort physical fitness centers are offering the Sprint Triathlon Race Training to prepare participants for success in the upcoming triathlon.

"The reason we put this training out there was to offer the opportunity for those who have never had the chance to try a triathlon to get some training, conditioning, information and experience beforehand, so they will be more likely to sign up and participate," said Harriet Fisher, Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit coordinator.

According to Fisher, everyone who participated in the triathlon training and competed in the triathlon crossed the finish line; a 100 percent success rate.

"Most of the people in the program have never done a triathlon, so they will just be happy that they complete it," Fisher added.

For others it can completely change their life.

Kelly Causey is one of the participants in the triathlon training. She is also a cervical, uterus, and ovarian cancer survivor.

After the third bout with cancer, Causey quit smoking, adopted healthy eating habits, and became physically active.

"I took a look at my life and decided I wanted to do things I never would have done before the cancer," Causey said. "I made a list one night and the top of that list was the Marine Corp Triathlon."

Causey used to swim competitively, so she spent the next year training with running and cycling to rebuild enough strength to complete the triathlon. At her one year anniversary of being cancer free she completed a 5K and began the START training in January 2012.

"The amount of help it gave me last year was immeasurable," she said. "It gave me the extra confidence and push I needed to actually compete."

Causey said the training helped build core and body strength, improve her running and cycling endurance and technique and proved to her that she could do something that at one time she thought was impossible.

Causey completed the 2013 triathlon almost in last place but for her it wasn’t about placing, it was about finishing.

"I could have been dead last and I wouldn't have cared," Causey recalled. "Hearing ‘three time cancer survivor Kelly Causey crosses the finish line,’ I began to cry, good, happy accomplished tears as I ran into my husband’s arms who also had tears in his eyes."

Since then, Causey has completed two triathlons, one warrior dash, two biathlons, one 50k road bike race, several 5ks and 10ks, the Parris Island swim meet, four half marathons, two marathons, and a 50k Ultra Marathon.

Causey plans to continue competing in one major race every month for 2014 including a half Iron Man in June.

"I have to say I am grateful to MCCS for offering these programs," Causey said. "Without them I would not be who I am today, nor would I have the love, passion and purpose I have now for being physically fit."

For some, their triathlon journey may end at the finish line while others take it much further. Whatever the outcome is Fisher said it’s the opportunity of a lifetime that will never be forgotten.

"Even if individuals don’t want to do the triathlon, they can still benefit from the training," Fisher said. "I would hope they sign up for the experience and camaraderie between all the participants. You couldn’t feel any better when you cross the finish line. It isn’t always about winning the race, sometimes it’s about being together doing something great and having that bragging right."