The current air quality has been a deterrent for some riders, but not Malcolm Stinson.
A slight knee injury could be an excuse for many runners, but not the 57-year-old Edmonton resident.
Multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells which can cause bone pain, bleeding, frequent infections and anemia, might slow anybody down, let alone an experienced triathlete. Not Stinson.
With a myriad of potential reasons not to train, race, and complete a half-Ironman triathlon every day this month, the bigger cause is much more important.
“It’s not about me . . . that’s not the point,” Stinson was saying after finishing another long day of training. “The point is, I’m really trying to show that people who have cancer can live active and full lives and live as if you have a future. You don’t have to sit and wait for things to come to you. You can go out there and grab life and seize the day.”
It’s what Stinson has been doing since being diagnosed in 2009 with stage three myeloma and was told he had two years to live. Instead, he hopped on his bike and began competing competitively in the sport of triathlon.
But this year, he decided to take on another challenge by raising money and awareness of Multiple Myeloma through triathlon and an initiative called Living to Tri.
Stinson set the goal of doing a triathlon every day for the entire month of July.
One of the days happens to fall on Ironman 70.3 Calgary, a well-attended and scenic stop on the Ironman series tour which serves as a qualifier for the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
Stinson, like he’s done every day since July 1, will swim 1.2-miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles (a half-Ironman distance triathlon).
On Thursday, he swam at Lake Summerside then got on his bike and headed to Red Deer and then ran. Friday, he swam at Sylvan Lake, biked to Calgary, and ran.
Saturday, he’ll swim at the Sundance Lake in Calgary, then bike and run. Sunday, of course, is Ironman 70.3 Calgary.
After that, he’ll head back to Edmonton the same way and continue “training” at Lake Summerside. Stinson will finish the month at the ITU World Triathlon in Edmonton from July 28 to 29.
Keep in mind — Stinson has been doing this while undergoing chemotherapy.
But neither is the battle many people with cancer are fighting every day.
“I’m one of the very lucky few that has virtually no side effects (from chemotherapy),” he said. “That’s how I’m able to do this. I thought that other people in my situation that are not having such positive results may feel bitter or jealous or some negative emotion . . . but they’re not. I’m getting lots of supportive emails. People are taking inspiration from it. People that are having trouble with their chemotherapy are actually inspired which is a good thing. I’m getting incredible stories from people. People that are telling me that they were recently diagnosed with multiple myeloma . . . and can see there is a full life ahead of them. They don’t have to be shut down.”
It’s not easy.
“The stories I’m getting are pretty humbling, in a sense.”
Triathlon can be an extremely individual sport; one relies completely on their own abilities to compete and complete a race.
But Stinson has been getting loads of support with the logistics — meals, support vehicles, transportation — so he’s able to concentrate on the athletic aspect of his journey.
“I’m getting way more help than I anticipated,” said Stinson who is also assisted by his two daughters Heather and Victoria. “I haven’t been alone for a second. Every time I’ve been swimming, biking, and running, I’ve had someone with me. I always have someone making sure it’s been going fine.”
No doubt, it’s been a challenge. Especially when temperatures reached between 28 and 32 degrees Celsius in the early part of the month.
“When I first started this at the beginning of July, after three or four days, it was hell,” Stinson said. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish it. It was very hot in Edmonton in the first few weeks of July. It’s not just doing it eight hours a day, it’s the sun. You’re constantly exposed to it all day long and it just added to the toil.
“But the body is starting to adapt and I’m starting to get used to it.”
Except, of course, for his darn knee.
“The only cure is rest and . . . well, that’s not available to it right now,” he said with a chuckle.
For Stinson, however, the physical side of his challenge pales in comparison to the larger battle at hand — raising money and awareness for Multiple Myeloma.
“The main reason I’m doing this is not to show people I can do triathlons — lots of people can do triathlons and physical endurance feats,” he said. “That’s not the point.
“The point is to show them that cancer is . . . huge advances have been made in minimizing the side effects. What’s the point of living if you’re barely even existing. You want to live a fully, active, and happy life and that’s what’s available more and more to people (that are battling cancer). We need to keep research going.”