Fun for an awesome cause...
Chicking Lance : LAVA Magazine
On one of her regular morning runs earlier this month, Rochester-based triathlete Mary Eggers had a wild idea: challenge Lance Armstrong to a 50-meter duel in the pool. Eggers had heard that the cycling icon would be speaking at the nearby Univerity of Buffalo in April, and she wanted to make the most of his visit to her Upstate New York region.
“I just threw something out on Twitter, thinking ‘He has 3 million followers what are the chances?’ All of a sudden it just totally exploded,” Eggers laughs.
To her surprise, Armstrong tweeted back. The two will go toe-to-toe in a 50-meter kick-off to try and raise $100,000 for LiveStrong and Teens Living with Cancer—an organization Eggers has been working with for over a year as a fitness mentor.
Eggers says she has a habit of issuing “ridiculous challenges,” including a recent kick-off with one of her QT2 Systems co-coaches. “It’s like a potato sack race—it’s stupid,” she says. “But it was really fun!
Eggers followed up on the Twitter conversation with a heartfelt letter to Armstrong on her blog, in which she asks him if he’s ever been chicked. The Livestrong army got on board quickly, helping with promotion and setting up a donation page, which opens today. After ironing out a few logistics, the challenge is scheduled for 4 p.m on April 28 at the Universraity of Buffalo’s Alumni Arena.
Besides a love for triathlon—which won over the collegiate swimmer after graduation—Eggers shares something else in common with Armstrong: the desire for a cancer-free world. On her blog post about the kick-off, Eggers writes: I hate Cancer. It’s ripped through my life more times than I want to count, both as a nurse and as a person.
“On May 20, 1986, my mom knocked on my door and told me that my grandmother had died of lung cancer. It was my first experience with death,” Eggers says. She says from then on she’s been hit from various angles by the disease, and the memories have stuck with her. “I’m tired of it,” she said plainly.
Her first encounter with Teens Living with Cancer was last year, when she was invited to one of their retreats to give a presentation on exercise. One of the teens asked her a question, to which she asked, “What does your doctor recommend?” “They all just looked at each other and started to laugh,” Eggers said. “Their doctors don’t tell them anything when they’re done with chemo other than to go get healthy.”
Eggers started looking for programs geared towards young people, and there wasn’t a lot for the under-18 set. To help fill the hole, she joined up with Lauren Spiker, director of Melissa’s Living Legacy Teen Cancer Foundation, and created a program to see how exercise affected teens who were post cancer treatment.
Since meeting them, the TLC teens have become dear to Eggers, and she’s always looking for ways to raise money to help make their lives richer. When she told them Armstrong was coming—and that they should all go ask him to get involved—they just laughed at her. Then she told them she’d be on the same race course as him on April first at the Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, and that she could solicit his support when he ran past her. Their response? “They thought it was hilarious,” she reports.
Joking aside, it’s clear from Eggers’ blog that she has tremendous respect for Armstrong, and wants to respect his privacy. “A lot of people got excited, and started asking me to introduce them to Lance, etcetera, but I don’t want people to forget the message, which is trying to raise money, ”she says.
As for her thoughts on the cyclist’s return to triathlon, she says: “Anyone who knows the history of triathlon knows that he started as a triathlete. What better way to bring a spotlight to our sport? He’s a tremendous athlete, a good role model, plus he’s over 40 … there are so many angles to his story.”
So how does a person train for a 50-meter kick-off with a man “who’s made millions off his legs” as Eggers puts it? Lots and lots of kicking, as prescribed by her own QT2 Systems coach, Jesse Kropelnicki. (Read more from Eggers on the all-important kick here.)
And of course the social media banter continues. “Lance asked me the other day how fast I kicked a 50. I said ‘One second faster than you do!’’” Eggers reports. “I’m getting myself into big trouble. Apparently when you do these things you should have a plan beforehand!”
But as many triathletes know (remember signing up for your first race, anyone?) sometimes in the moment a plan is less important than a dream.