It’s down to the wire for our Indy-sponsored triathletes. D-Day is this Sunday, August 26, and, after months of training and two dry runs, they’re ready to get this show on the road. In addition to the grueling physical training, Danny Brire and Cynthia Stewart have come up against all sorts of unexpected obstacles and picked up a couple top-secret tricks of the trade, too-you know, critical stuff, like how to get the sand off their feet in record time, and the anti-chafing benefits of baby powder. It seems that even in the face of a 500-meter swim, followed by a six-mile bike ride and a two-mile run, the devil remains in the details.

These weeks of swimming, biking, and running under the tutelage of Platinum Fitness trainer Peter Park haven’t been all fun and games, of course. The Zaca Fire-fueled smoky, ashy air has left Stewart prone to asthma flare-ups, something she’d never experienced before. But there’s something else that has her even more concerned: running without her iPod. “You know, whatever song’s in my head, I’m stuck with for two miles,” she said. That could be ugly.

And the swim is still giving Brire some trouble. Though he admits-albeit reluctantly-that his Parkinson’s has had more of an impact than he anticipated it would, rendering his right side less cooperative than he’d like, “that’s not the lion’s share of the challenge; it’s just all new : and every now and then, I can admit that I’m 50 years old,” he said, quickly adding, “but I try not to go there too much, and I’m in better shape than I was when I started.” Let’s hope so.

And what are they looking forward to most about race day? “Oh, you mean besides it being over?” Brire said, only half joking. “No, being persistent when I want to quit-and I know those times will come up, and I’m just going to press through that. Either I’ll step up big, or I’ll be okay with whatever I can do.” As for Stewart, “I’m looking forward to lunch that day,” she said. “My mom’s buying, and I can eat whatever I want.”

It’s a fine dance they’re doing, between humility, bravado, and humor-and it’s that fragile balance that’ll carry them across the finish line. All the jokes, the worries, and the adrenaline aside, though, it didn’t take long for the two to cop to the same dark secret. “The thought did creep in my head the other day,” Brire said, “that next year I’ll do better.” And, though she’s still pretty convinced that runner’s high is a myth, Stewart’s actually thinking about conquering the full course next time around.

Running for a Cause

Every year, the Santa Barbara Triathlon sets aside some of the proceeds from the event for a local nonprofit, and the triathlon’s presenting sponsor gets to select which charity will be the beneficiary. This year’s sponsor, Mentor Corporation-a longtime supporter of breast cancer awareness, education, and research-selected the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara’s Wellness Program, which works to improve the health and well-being of individuals through increased availability of information, services, and education related to healing, health maintenance, and cancer prevention.

The triathlon upped the fundraising ante five years ago, when it began inviting its athletes to raise money, too, and, in that time, has raised approximately $150,000. Triathlon Director Joe Coito believes there’s a definite correlation between the event and giving back to the community, saying, “Both take commitment, sacrifice, and hard work. Whether you’re talking about fitness or philanthropy, doing nothing is the default, and it’s easy to fall back on that. Our athletes go the extra mile-literally.”


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