Lo­cal triath­letes un­able to com­plete Iron­man Texas, meets fundrais­ing goal

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On May 16, Span­ish Fork High School se­nior Gabrielle Hey­wood found her­self in the out­skirts of Hous­ton, Texas. She was 11 days away from grad­u­at­ing from high school, but that mile­stone was far from her mind. Gabrielle was com­pet­ing in Iron­man Texas with her fa­ther, Dave Hey­wood. The Iron­man is a triathlon that be­gins with a 2.4 mile swim, fol­lowed by a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run.

Iron­man re­quires its com­peti­tors to be at least 18 years of age and Gabrielle had turned 18 only 32 days be­fore, mak­ing her the youngest fe­male in the field of over 2,800 triath­letes. The Iron­man is an event that re­quires months, if not years of prepa­ra­tion. Gabrielle and Dave logged thou­sands of miles of swimming, bik­ing and run­ning over the year lead­ing up to the race to be pre­pared for such a chal­leng­ing un­der­tak­ing.

In ad­di­tion to the train­ing, how­ever, the fa­ther/daugh­ter team wanted to some­thing more than just gain­ing fit­ness. They wanted to make a dif­fer­ence in the

world. They signed up with well­known re­lief agency Save the Chil­dren, which had a team of fundrais­ers com­pet­ing in Iron­man Texas. As mem­bers of the team, they com­mit­ted to raise at least $10,000 for the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Save the Chil­dren sup­ports chil­dren ev­ery­where by pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams, food, shel­ter, med­i­cal treat­ment and re­lief dur­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

On race day they both en­tered the wa­ters of Lake Woodlands and started swimming to­ward their goal. They were quickly sep­a­rated in the crowd of swim­mers. Gabrielle had re­cently learned that she could suf­fer from sports-in­duced asthma and on race day she dis­cov­ered that she could only con­trol her breath­ing if she used a back­stroke in­stead of the freestyle stoke she had used for train­ing.

Dave, who had come out of the wa­ter a few min­utes ahead of his daugh­ter, was wor­ried be­cause he didn’t know where she was or how she was do­ing. As he got on his bike he pushed for­ward with his own race, know­ing there was noth­ing he could do at this point to help her. He re­mem­bers feel­ing very re­lieved when a young lady passed him on a bike 11 miles into that por­tion of the race and said, “Hi Dad.”

“She didn’t wait around for me,” he said. “She’s a strong biker and she quickly was out of sight.” Af­ter Gabrielle passed her fa­ther they both set­tled in for what promised to be a seven- or eighthour bike ride through the rolling hills north­west of Hous­ton. Things ap­peared to be go­ing ac­cord­ing to plan for the next hour and a half for Dave. Sud­denly the plan changed. As Dave crested a hill just be­fore the 30-mile aid sta­tion and be­gan to pick up speed in the de­scent, a me­chan­i­cal mal­func­tion caused his bike’s chain to come off the rear wheel. This caused his rear wheel to lock up at a speed of about 20 miles per hour. Hey­wood went into a fish­tail skid and fi­nally lost con­trol and crashed the bike. He was not se­ri­ously in­jured, but he claims his only tro­phy from this race “is the road rash on my el­bows and knees.” With more than 80 miles still left in the bike por­tion of the race and his bike no longer able to func­tion, the race was over for Dave.

Trou­ble was ahead for Gabrielle too. About 90 miles into the ride, she be­gan to ex­pe­ri­ence numb­ness in her shoul­ders, neck, and jaw. Post-race eval­u­a­tion caused Gabrielle and Dave to won­der if the 2.4 back­stroke had caused those mus­cles to fa­tigue in a man­ner she wasn’t ac­cus­tomed to. Gabrielle pulled into the med­i­cal tent at the next aid sta­tion and de­scribed her symp­toms to the med­i­cal per­son­nel there. In ad­di­tion to the numb­ness (which they all agreed was not nor­mal at all), they dis­cov­ered she was se­verely de­hy­drated. They made the de­ci­sion to not al­low her to con­tinue for her own safety.

“I was very dis­ap­pointed,” she said. “I didn’t go to Texas to not fin­ish. There is no doubt in my mind that I will go back and I will fin­ish this race.” Both fa­ther and daugh­ter agree on that point.

In spite of the fact that they didn’t ac­com­plish the goal of fin­ish­ing the Iron­man, the both look to the pos­i­tive things that hap­pened and con­sider the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence a great suc­cess. “We learned a lot that will help us pre­pare for the next time. And more im­por­tantly, we raised over $11,000 dol­lars for Save the Chil­dren. That money pro­vides real help to chil­dren and re­lieves real suf­fer­ing. We are very grate­ful to the many peo­ple who gen­er­ously do­nated to Save the Chil­dren as a re­sult of our fundrais­ing.” In ad­di­tion to the many in­di­vid­u­als who do­nated, the Hey­woods would like to also thank the lo­cal busi­ness that sup­ported their ef­forts. Gen­er­ous do­na­tions were made by Her­itage Builders, LLC; Wasatch Land & Ti­tle; Lar­son Cer­ti­fied Public Ac­coun­tants; Big O Tires; Rock Canyon Bank; and McKell, Chris­tiansen & Wise, PLLC. With­out their sup­port, the fundraiser would not have been nearly as suc­cess­ful. For any­one still in­ter­ested in mak­ing a do­na­tion to Save the Chil­dren, the Hey­woods’ fundrais­ing page will be open through the end of the year. Sim­ply go to “savethechil­dren.kin­tera.org/iron­mantx/im_­ga­bie_and_­dave” and click the “give now” but­ton.

Dave and Ga­bie Hey­wood meet with six-time world Iron­man Cham­pion Dave Scott.

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