Why these unlikely triathletes are my heroes

Paralyzed triathlete on carpool candy.com

Cristina Ramirez (left) , Kerry Gruson (center) and Liliana Montes their swimming coach

One of the best parts about my gig writing features for the Today show website is the interesting people I get to interview. Last week, I wrote a story about two inspiring women who participated in a mini-triathlon in Florida Sunday. As I said in my lead, they are literally the last people you would ever think could compete in a triathlon, given their backgrounds.

But both Cristina Ramirez and Kerry Gruson are gals who like surprising people. By crossing the finish line Sunday, they probably even surprised themselves.

You can read details of their incredible story here.

Gruson is 66 and paralyzed after an attack 40 years ago. I spoke to her by phone for the story. Her voice is shaky and slow and it was difficult to understand her at first. But as we continued talking, it became much easier to communicate because her ideas and passion are so clear.  I was humbled by our conversation. Her spirit and energy outshine any of her disabilities.

Ramirez was also lovely and impressive. She has a family, trains for marathons and triathlons, and writes a blog called Triathlonmami.com. But somehow she finds time to train with Kerry, which has led to a friendship.

Paralyzed triathlete on carpool candy.com

The two were determined to finish the half-mile swim, 20.7-mile bike ride, and four-mile run and luckily had help along the way. There were several people assisting in Kerry’s transition from boat to bike carrier and many who knew their story cheering them on.

You can see video of the race and their triumphant finish here.

While Ramirez swam through the choppy ocean near Miami, she was tethered to a kayak by a long strap, pulling Gruson, who weighs about 100 pounds. The waves kept breaking over the boat, causing Gruson, lying supine in the kayak, staring skyward, to swallow sea water.

Here’s an excerpt from Cristina’s blog following the race.  You can read the full post and see pictures here. 

“Water rushes into my mouth and up my nose,” Gruson wrote after the race. “It hurts but I pay it no mind. More clearly than ever, I know why I am participating. And if it were easy, if there was no price to pay, this would have very little meaning.”

The two crossed the finish line in 3 hours and 23 seconds. Amazing!!

Paralyzed triathlete on carpool candy.com

I hope you’ll click on Cristina’s blog and read more of Kerry’s thoughtful comments about the race. Her mind is sharp and she and Cristina write beautifully about their experience.

I told my boys (8, 10, and 14)  about Kerry and Cristina and their incredible feat. The hook for them was the race. Any competition gets their attention. I’m hoping the women’s uplifting message that no challenge is impossible sunk in too.

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3 responses to “Why these unlikely triathletes are my heroes

  1. That’s amazing Thea! Congrats to all of you.

  2. Thea Rosenbaum

    my son- in- law participated in the same race. It was a tremendous feat for him
    and Petra and his son Ryan and I were extremely proud of him.

  3. Very inspiring. Great post.