Once fac­ing death, triath­lete still go­ing strong

Boyle will com­pete in June 17 triathlon in St. Mary’s City

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By DANDAN ZOU dzou@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Dan­danEn­tNews

More than 600 ath­letes plan to com­pete in this Satur­day’s triathlon at St. Mary’s City. Brian “Iron Heart” Boyle is one of them.

Boyle be­came well known lo­cally af­ter his re­mark­able re­cov­ery from a July 6, 2004, car ac­ci­dent in La Plata that al­most killed him. The then-18year-old lost 60 per­cent of his blood; his heart moved across his chest; and his or­gans and pelvis were shattered. He was brought back to life eight times on the op­er­at­ing ta­ble. He was in a coma on life sup­port for more than two months.

Beat­ing all odds, Boyle man­aged to have a full re­cov­ery, swam on his col­lege team and fin­ished the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship in Hawaii in 2007, just three years af­ter his near-fa­tal ac­ci­dent.

Over the years since, Boyle has fin­ished more than three dozen marathons and triathlons and wrote two books telling his near-death ex­pe­ri­ence and the fol­low­ing come­back.

For Boyle, this Satur­day’s race car­ries spe­cial mean­ing. The race marks his 10th year com­pet­ing in en­durance sports and will take place at the col­lege where he trained as a stu­dent for his first race af­ter the ac­ci­dent.

Grow­ing up in Charles County, Boyle grad­u­ated from St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land in 2010 and now lives in Hunt­ing­town.

On June 17, he will join hun­dreds of ath­letes from the East Coast to com­pete in the Vir­ginia Mary­land Triathlon Se­ries that is com­ing to South­ern Mary­land for the first time.

The com­pany or­ga­nizes about 32 events over 13 lo­ca­tions in Vir­ginia and Mary­land from March through Oc­to­ber, said Don White, the com­pany’s vice pres­i­dent of op­er­a­tions.

White said the com­pany had to put a cap on the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants be­cause they weren’t sure how many peo­ple they could sup­port at the new lo­ca­tion.

In ad­di­tion to the 600 ath­letes who will com­pete this Satur­day, “we have 44 peo­ple on the wait­ing list,” White said.

There are two races — an in­ter­na­tional and a sprint ver­sion — planned for Satur­day’s event, White said. Dis­tance is the key dif­fer­ence be­tween the two races — the sprint triathlon is half the dis­tance of the in­ter­na­tional one, also known as the Olympic triathlon.

Boyle will par­tic­i­pate in the Olympic ver­sion, which is made up of three courses: a 1.5-kilo­me­ter swim in a shel­tered cove in St. Mary’s River, a 40-kilo­me­ter-long bike ride and a 10-kilo­me­ter-long run.

The swim course for both races starts along the St. Mary’s Col­lege wa­ter­front area in the St. Mary’s River and nav­i­gates over an oys­ter sanc­tu­ary, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from the com­pany. Water tem­per­a­tures are ex­pected to be in the mid-70s this week­end.

The bike and run courses are fast and flat, tak­ing ath­letes through his­tor­i­cal land­marks in the area, the re­lease said. Based on his pre­vi­ous races and train­ing, Boyle hopes to fin­ish the race in two and a half hours. He will be wear­ing his Red Cross race suit with 36 red crosses on it — to rep­re­sent the 36 blood donors who helped save his life, he said.

“I’m al­ways re­flect­ing back on my jour­ney,” he said. “Never take life for granted.”

The ac­ci­dent, as life-chang­ing as it was, never took away Boyle’s goal to par­tic­i­pate in triathlons like the Iron­man cham­pi­onship.

“I grew up watch­ing the Iron­man on TV,” he said. “I was so in­spired by the sto­ries.”

If the ac­ci­dent had never hap­pened, he prob­a­bly wouldn’t have tried it un­til he was in his 30s, the now 31-year-old said.

“Af­ter the ac­ci­dent, it was about get­ting back into life again, do­ing in­de­pen­dent things,” he said, adding that he also hoped cross­ing the fin­ish line of the Iron­man race would show his par­ents that he’s fully healed, and they wouldn’t need to worry about his health any­more.

In the years fol­low­ing his first race a decade ago, Boyle con­tin­ued to par­tic­i­pate in en­durance sports not only be­cause that’s his way of say­ing thank you to those who helped him along the way, but also be­cause he en­joys it.

“I re­ally en­joy the com­pe­ti­tion, the train­ing,” Boyle said. His com­pet­i­tive in­stincts keep push­ing him for­ward in ev­ery race. With his blood rac­ing and his heart pump­ing, the signs once sug­gest­ing he was dy­ing now sig­nal he’s liv­ing.

The in­ter­na­tional race starts at 8 a.m. and the sprint ver­sion starts at 8:30 a.m. on June 17, and both races are ex­pected to fin­ish up by noon.

“We en­cour­age peo­ple to de­lay their rou­tine travel in the morn­ing” in the south­ern part of the county, White said, adding that there will be no road clo­sures that day.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Brian Boyle runs dur­ing a seg­ment of the Iron­man Mary­land triathlon in 2014 in Cam­bridge.

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