ATHLETE SPOTLIGHT: RHONDA LEE CURRAN: AQUABIKE ATHLETE
- What motivated you to train for Challenge Penticton 2016?
I wanted to do something positive and I love the Challenge Family, having participated in the Challenge Penticton full distance relay and Challenge St. Andrews half distance Aquabike in the past. Training for this event has helped me focus on fitness while using my journey to raise awareness and funds for a charity that is close to my heart.
- What are you fundraising for?
I am fundraising for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a devastating disease with no cure nor effective treatment. ALS affects the motor neurons, leading to disability which may include the ability to use arms and legs, the ability to speak and swallow, and ultimately the ability to breathe. On average, those with ALS die within 3 to 5 years of onset of symptoms. Each dollar raised goes to provide equipment, support services, and education for the ALS community and fund research to find a cure.
- What are your fundraising goals?
My fundraising goals are to raise in excess of $2000 for ALS and build on the incredible success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. My fundraising progress can be viewed on my fundraising website at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/als-society-of-nova-scotia/rhonda-lee-epic-charity-challenge/.
- What keeps you motivated when training/racing gets tough?
Typical challenges include scheduling training around other commitments. Simple phrases help motivate me, like “keep moving” and “start somewhere”. When I don’t do a swim/bike-specific workout, I try to incorporate more “movement” into my day, such as going up and down extra flights of stairs in an office tower, walking around the neighbourhood, stand up paddleboarding, or focusing on stretching and strengthening. I even bought a multi-visit pass to a gym on the other side of the country, so I had no excuse not to keep up my training while vacationing!
- What is the greatest challenge you have overcome or been faced with during your training/racing?
Unfortunately I discovered that the heart-breaking loss of a loved one can feel even more debilitating than a sports-related injury. I decided to initiate this ALS fundraiser in their honour, take each day at a time and push on. Aside from focusing on fitness, I also started playing my clarinet in a concert band last season for wellness – after a 15 year hiatus – which would have some co-benefit to improving my lung capacity (bonus).
- Who inspires you?
Pro triathlete Chris Lieto inspires me through his triathlon accomplishments and dedication to giving back to the community. My husband and I had the opportunity to meet Chris Lieto a few years ago, when Great White North Triathlon organized and sponsored a bike ride with him followed by a seminar where he discussed his triathlon career, personal stories, and the charitable foundation he founded (“More Than Sport”); More Than Sport aims to support areas of need in the communities where ambassador athletes like him ride, race and train.
- What is your greatest accomplishment in triathlon (or related events)?
Rather than a greatest accomplishment, I feel I have a “highlight reel” of small feats depending on my goals in a given year, e.g. the first time I ran 5 km without a walk break, competed in the 400 m individual medley at a masters swim meet (survived the 100 m butterfly stroke portion!), and cycled a long steep climb up a mountain in a respectable timeframe. In terms of longest distance in an event, so far I have completed a 4 km open water swim, 100 km bike in one day, 180 km bike over 2 consecutive days, a half distance aquabike, and (only J) a 5 km run and try-a-tri.
A memorable event for me was during a cycling fundraiser, when the weather was particularly miserable (cold, raining, and relentless wind) and I attached some balloons to my back for the bike ride. My initial intent was to help boost spirits of the other participants, and while I did see some smiles as well as chuckles over the “extra wind drag”, I overhead some participants saying the balloons would never make it in those conditions. To the surprise of the participants and finish line volunteers alike, I rode the entire 90 km with the balloons flapping vigorously but intact. I’d like to think this “accomplishment” ultimately encouraged hope or a silver lining to be sought even in difficult situations.
- Tell us about your story.
My interest in triathlon and other activities is about fitness and fun. I strive for a healthy lifestyle and have participated in a variety of swim/bike/run events, whether solo or in a relay, often “simply because I could” rather than being truly “competitive”. If I can inspire others to simply be more active and help a charity in the process then all the better!
Aquabike is my favourite event and I refer to it as Swim-Bike-Fun or Swim-Bike-Done. J I am currently on track to complete four aquabike events in Canada (two in the east and two in the west), ranging from Olympic to full distance, by next summer”.I am looking forward to Challenge Penticton this August (the amazing event, the gorgeous scenery, and the city with the infamous peach!) while helping to strike out ALS.