Triathlon Writers-Part 1
Part of the magic and joy associated with the Triathlon World Championships is not only the experience and pride of representing your country at the pinnacle of the sport but the journey in getting there.
Over the next few weeks we will be showcasing some of the amazing stories of the adversities, accomplishments, ups and downs of a select few of the thousands of age group athletes who represented their nation in Lausanne.
This is part of a new series of triathlon stories submitted by age group athletes about their triathlon journey. Whether about their dream to compete at the world championships or completing their first race… This is the story of one of those athletes.
Dream as if you will live forever. Live as if you will die today.
Scott Simpsons learned he was HIV positive in the fall of 1998 and ironically he says this life changed for the better. Simpson was an overweight average Joe who ate too much, drank too much, smoked like a chimney and was generally out of shape. Simpson is 59 and back then he weighed 240lbs, today he is 154lbs and in the best shape of his life. This shocking news 8 years ago forced
Simpson to turn his life around and today he is the picture of discipline and dedication.
Simpson, a 40-year-old from Toronto, will be competing in the Triathlon World Championships in the 40-44 age division in Lausanne, Switzerland the first HIV positive athlete to ever compete in the ITU Triathlon World Championships.
Simpson qualified for the event with a fourth place finish in the National Championships on Canada Day weekend in Brampton and has worked incredibly hard getting ready for the biggest race of his life. I am up everyday at 4:30am. I train from 5am to 7am and Im at work by 8am. I work until 4pm and Im back training by for another 2 hours from 5pm to 7pm. As you can imagine Im exhausted by the end of the day and its off to bed to get ready for the same routine the next day. Simpson trains 6 days a week, however, even on his off day he is still doing some anaerobic workouts.
Simpson lives by the mantra Dream as if you will live forever. Live as if you will die today. This is a terrible disease it can be very difficult to cope with. I live day-to-day and depend so much on my medicine. Without my medicine I wouldnt be here. Simpson started his medication in 2002 and says more than anything the doctors prescribed hope. Now Simpson has a reason to fight through all the adversity.
Simpson says the statistics show theres an 85 percent chance hell live 90 more months. However, Simpson has dedicated his life to his work and triathlon and is committed to making the most of his time left. In this short period we have on this earth I still have so much more to accomplish its now or never this is it!
Simpson contracted the disease having unprotected sex.
Simpson described the news back in 1998 as a downward emotional spiral but he taught himself to swim in 2002 and now he is one of the best triathlon Age Groupers in the country and will be competing in his first ever World Championships. Simpson readily admits he has come along way in the past 8 years. Further prove as to why Simpson is known as a fighter who never gives up.
Simpson is certainly a battler who can take on any challenge. Eight years ago, despite not knowing how to swim, I entered the sprint triathlon in Muskoka and threw up twice in the water but made it to the finish. I was immediately addicted and signed up for the rest of the Subaru Series the next day. Because of his inability to swim, Simpson first competed as a duathlete for 4 years prior to racing in triathlon events.
Simpson says he is most proud of the silver medal he won at the Gay Games in Chicago in a triathlon Olympic distance event and the gold medal he won at the Outgames in Montreal which was a Sprint race (750m swim, 20km bike & 5km run).
Simpson is also a tireless worker who works for an organization called Dignitas International a medical humanitarian non- governmental organization co-founded by Dr. James Orbinski, former International President of Doctors Without Borders. The medication I have access to is the only reason I am alive today. The goal is to get the medicine to the 40 million people world wide that are HIV+. The rich countries in the western world have to help the poorer countries because this disease is out of control.
One of Scotts dreams was to race in the worlds longest and most grueling bike race called Tour dAfrique. The race consists of a 13,000 km trip from Cairo to
Cape Town and takes four months to complete. That was my goal cycling across the continent that is the birthplace of humanity that is now being ravaged by AIDS to raise awareness about the inequities in access to ARVs (Anti - retroviral medications).
As part of his preparation for his Race for Dignity campaign, Scott entered an Ironman. Unfortunately he was ill heading into the race, passed out just past the halfway point of the bike and regained consciousness in the back of an ambulance. I realized my dream was over because there will not always be paramedics to assist you when youre passed out in a desert in Africa. But all was not lost. On this past World AIDS Day - December 1st - at three different University campuses across southern Ontario students rode stationary bikes for 12 hours, in dedication to Simpson who was unable to compete in the race of his dreams, to raise awareness and funds for this horrible disease.
Simpson has made his life long quest a battle against this epidemic. August 17th in Toronto, Simpson rode a stationary bike for 25 straight hours this number represents the years since the disease entered the publics consciousness. Because the International AIDS Conference was in Toronto last week there are many people dedicating themselves to his Race for Dignity and Scott is at the front of the pack.
One thing is for sure Simpson will do whatever it takes to get his message across to the masses. Simpson is passionate about fighting on behalf of those who cannot fight for themselves. Simpson knows this disease affects the emotional, physical, spiritual and mental aspects of life and as a top triathlete he is well equipped to continue the fight of his life.
Please feel free to provide any feedback or words of encouragement or even submit your own story to firstname.lastname@example.org