I know people who have MS. I know people who love to run triathlons. And I love watching the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. I never thought I would see a local Barrie triathlete, with MS, compete in the Ironman….well, he can only do that if enough people read the following article and then VOTE for him. Please take a minute to learn about his story.
The following article is in the current issue of The Barrie Examiner.
The Ironman World Championship held every October in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii is considered by many the most gruelling one-day sporting event in the world.
It’s a 3.8-kilometre swim, followed by 180.2-km bike ride and then completed with a 42.2-km run. An astonishing test of one’s endurance and perseverance.
And Brent Boden wants so badly to take it on.
“It’s when you’re out there all by yourself in the middle of nowhere and there’s no fans cheering you on, but you still have to get half way through a marathon after doing the rest of it,” the Barrie native explained of his passion for the world’s most difficult triathlon. “That’s when you find out who you really are.”
Boden, a longtime triathlete himself and the founder of the Barrie Bay Dogs triathlon club, has dreamed of competing in the Ironman in Kona since he first saw the event on television when he was 14 years old.
“I originally thought it was too big for me. I can’t ever do that,” he said. Now 44, Boden’s dream has hardly faded. This, remarkably despite being diagnosed five years with multiple sclerosis (MS). Boden has entered a contest, called Kona Inspired, with hopes of gathering enough votes to earn a spot in the Ironman World Championship.
“As I got older and older I got into triathlons, into the shorter ones, and the dream never went away,” he said. “I did a couple of Ironmans that you didn’t have to qualify for, but I was a long way off of qualifying (for Kona). I kept getting a little faster and faster as time went on.
“When I got MS, I started getting slower and slower. When this opportunity came up to enter this contest, I jumped at it. I thought what a great idea to raise awareness, to promote activity for people with MS because a lot of times people here, they have MS and they just stop everything.”
Good luck stopping Boden. The married father with two young children is determined to keep going despite all the challenges the disease presents him with. His love for his family and his passion for the sport, he says, is what drives him.
“If I didn’t have that dream, or didn’t have dreams at all, I would be happy to just sit on the couch and take drugs. But I’ve got two young kids (Spencer, 4 and Lincoln, 3) and I need to support them,” Boden said. “I’ve got a wife (Andrea) I love and I want to be an active supporter in the family, and active husband and father. The best way to do that is to exercise, to do this stuff.”
Boden says the training and competing actually helps him deal with the pain associated with MS. It’s therapeutic. “I feel the symptoms, but the actual pain that I’m taking the drugs for I don’t feel when I’m exercising,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s just because of the endorphins or if it’s just because I’m using muscles in the way they’re supposed to be used, as opposed to the way MS is making them be used when I’m not exercising. “The book is out on that and I don’t know why, but it’s true. I go for a long bike ride and I don’t experience pain when I’m out there. I get off my bike, sit on the couch and it comes back.”
Unbeknownst to him at the time, Boden first starting getting symptoms at age 16. He would wake up with headaches. His brain would be in a fog and he had tingling in his hands. But it wasn’t until March 22, 2008 that he was diagnosed with MS. Boden had injured his shoulder after a crash on his bike and visited Dr. Richard Goudie in Barrie. It was during an MRI while looking for a slipped disc in his back they discovered something more serious.
“It can get you down, but that’s not what it’s intended for. It’s not a disease that kills many people,” Boden said. “It’s a disease that paralyzes them. It’s a disease that ruins the quality of your life if you let it and I’m determined to not let it do that.”
Boden is asking that people go to http://bit.ly/19FYcnc and vote for him. Already into Round 3, Boden is up against 14 other Ironman hopefuls. The top two with the most votes, until July 8, will get to compete in October’s Ironman. “I just need people to follow the link. They can watch the video if they like,” he said. “You just need to go there once and hit vote for this. It’s in the bottom left corner of the video. The idea is that they allow one vote per day, per device or IP address.
“If you’ve got a computer, an iPhone or a tablet, you can do all of those devices in a single day. One vote per day for 10 days and then we’ll find out on July 9 if I made it.” Even if he doesn’t win a spot into the Ironman in Kona, Boden will still do whatever he can to help raise awareness for MS.
He will be competing this September in the Ironman 70.3 Muskoka in Huntsville. Then depending on how he and his family feels, he plans to take part in one of the Ironman Canada, Mont Tremblant or Lake Placid competitions. His dream, though, is to compete in Kona.
Kona competitors have 17 hours to get the gruelling event done. While the pros will likely finish in approximately eight hours, Boden says “the rest of us mortals” will be take 12 hours and more. “It used to be this mountain that I could never climb,” he said. “Then once I started getting closer and closer to it, I realized, yeah, it’s tough. But it’s worth it.”
“Anybody who is in the Ironman will tell you it’s about the finish line,” said Boden, who can be followed on Twitter at @Tri_skier. “It’s about that last kilometre when you’re running down the road and everybody is cheering and you cross that finish line and it’s over. You’ve done it. You’ve accomplished it.
“It’s the drive for that. It’s a long drive, but when you get there it’s worth it. That’s the same with life. It’s a direct parallel to life.”