Friends Philip Henry and Sean Kull of Bangor are both reaching peak physical condition as they undergo rigorous training for Ironman Lake Tahoe, a grueling triathlon scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 21, in Lake Tahoe, California.
While doing so, their thoughts are also with those who are struggling with illness. They are asking those who acknowledge their training efforts to make donations to the pediatric unit of Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Cancer Care of Maine in Brewer.
Henry and Kull each have three healthy children and became motivated to raise funds for Cancer Care while thinking of the diligent support others need when battling the disease.
“We cannot imagine the strength required by a family dealing with an illness like cancer with a family member and especially with a young child, which is why we have chosen this avenue for the fundraising to support,” Henry said in an email to the BDN.
Kull was approached by Henry with the fundraising idea and it resonated with him because his oldest daughter, Rebecca, has a close friend who was stricken with bone cancer approximately two years ago.
“This relationship not only exposed me to the hardship of childhood cancer but also exposed me to the wonderful care and support this young girl and her family received through CancerCare of Maine, including orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ian Dickey,” Kull said in an email.
“I realize how fortunate my wife and I are to have three healthy kids and how important it is to have a care center tailored to the needs of children being treated for cancer in a setting that is comfortable for them,” he added.
Henry and Kull do year-round triathlon training, but both started a strict 20-week program on May 5 in preparation for Ironman Lake Tahoe, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles of cycling and a marathon (26.2 miles).
Their training program includes swimming, biking and running six days a week with a long run, long bike and long swim on the weekends.
“The miles build weekly with the longest training miles four weeks out from the Ironman followed by a four-week, gradual taper,” said Kull, who is 43.
The path to competing in triathlons began for Kull after he began his optometrist practice in Orono in 1998 and sought the mental relief that exercise had provided in his past.
“I always knew what exercise meant to me but now I felt I had an obligation to pass on the importance of exercise to my kids and also my patients,” he said.
He started doing road races, moved up to a sprint triathlon in 2007 and became hooked on triathlons.
“I love the variety of the three disciplines in the sport and the fact that each discipline helps improve your fitness in the other two disciplines,” Kull said.
He went on to compete in several triathlons as well as Ironman Florida in 2011 and Ironman Louisville in 2012.
Kull’s love of competing in triathlons attracted his friend, Henry, to do so as he was also seeking another physical outlet and began training two years ago.
Shortly afterward, he completed his first one-half Ironman triathlon and despite struggling in the swimming portion, he also became hooked on the sport.
“My attraction to the sport is that you need to continue to work on all three areas — swim, bike, run,” he said.
“And it has forced me to step out of my comfort zone and from not being able to swim a couple pool laps to completing a one-half Ironman gave me the confidence to set a goal of completing a full Ironman before I turn 40,” added Henry, who is 39.
The triathletes’ online fundraising page for Cancer Care has been set up by EMHS.org to ensure the funds will go toward EMMC’s children’s cancer and blood disorder program, known as the Raish Peavey Haskell Children’s Cancer and Treatment Center.