Kevin Mackinnon has another story from Clearwater
Published Friday, November 9, 2007
Lisa Bentley has won 10 Ironman races. She finished third at the Ford Ironman World Championship last year, second here in Clearwater just three weeks later. She won Ironman Canada last August, despite an Achilles tendon that most of us would consider kaput …
Bentley finished 15th in Kona. It was a day full of health issues. She’s not a woman who ever quits anything, so finishing was never in question. She walked through much of the marathon in Australia earlier this year. A few years ago she had to be pulled off the course in Kona during the marathon. Turns out she had a ruptured appendix. She wanted to keep going. Sure, you’re saying, anyone can tough out a ruptured appendix for 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and then 10 or 12 miles of the marathon. While that’s impressive, the fact that Bentley has enjoyed so much success as an endurance athlete is nothing short of a miracle. She has Cystic Fibrosis.
So where is all this going? Yesterday I got to chat with Bentley about her finish in Kona. Despite the difficulties of the day, it is likely a finish she’ll never forget, because waiting for her at the end of the chute was a little boy named Carter.
Carter has a Cystic Fibrosis, too. One day his mother asked him what he would most wish for in the whole world. He told her he’d like to see Lisa Bentley finish the Ford Ironman World Championship. She contacted the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, who contacted Diana Bertsch (the race director in Kona) and then Carter was there. The deal was simple: as long as Lisa wasn’t involved with a sprint to the finish, Carter would run across the line with his hero.
“I got to cross the finish line with Carter,” Bentley said yesterday. “He’s an incredible little guy and has a beautiful family. That was pretty important to me and it got more important to me as a reason to finish. I certainly had a rough go on the marathon – I was a bit sick and I kept thinking that this is what it’s all about, finishing what you start. Carter gave me great reason to do that, beyond all the normal stuff that you do it for.
“In the last mile of the race there were two women who were passing me – normally I would have fought back, but I thought ‘this isn’t about finishing 13th or 15th, this is coming across the line with Carter and I’m not going to jeopardize that. Priorities really changed out there, but it was an opportunity for me and I didn’t want to pass on that.'”
“Opportunity for me?” How many of the world’s most competitive athletes do you know who manage to find something truly inspirational about every day, no matter what it brings.
Lisa Bentley sure is one of them.
You can reach Kevin Mackinnon at [email protected]