Category Archives: Athlete Photos

Dean Sowards . . . A kick-ass inspiration

Dean Sowards – IMAZ 2017

When I posted our weekly race results yesterday, I included a photo of one of our athletes, Dean Sowards, who completed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon last weekend. If you read the post, either on Facebook or our website, there’s a good chance you glossed right over his results. He finished in 6:56. And yet, he was by far, the most impressive finisher of the day

Dean is battling Stage 4 cancer.

He was diagnosed in 2015, and up until that day, he’d never really been sick a day in his life. He took hormone and radiation therapy for about two years and was considered cured.

In 2017, he wanted to do something epic during remission. He decided he wanted to become an Ironman. He bought a bike and a wetsuit and completed AZ 70.3 and IMAZ.

Dean and son, Peter, Coeur d’Alene 70.3 2018

 

In August of 2018, after experiencing “phantom” leg pains, his therapist ordered an MRI. The cancer was back. It had metastasized and spread to more than a dozen spots in his body. He was given 24 – 36 months to live.

 

 

 

Dean and friend, Scott Chaffin – Rock ‘n’ Roll 2019 (just after finishing chemo treatments)

 

He started chemo in September of 2018 and continued through January of 2019.

Dean and I met just after the 2019 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, when he came to me for swim help. He’d DNF’d his four previous swims due to anxiety and what he thought was poor technique. We did our lessons and wow! He went on to complete three half Ironman swims and three full Ironman swims in 2019.

 

 

Dean Sowards IM Santa Rosa 2019

Cancer-related kidney issues hampered his training in 2019 (he didn’t train at all the last half of 2019), but that didn’t stop him from participating in three full Ironmans – Santa Rosa, Florida, and Arizona. He didn’t complete these races, but he did finish the swim and bike on all courses.

Dean and family IMAZ 2019

 

 

He is not slowing down in 2020. He just finished Rock ‘n’ Roll, and next, he’ll be toeing the line at Oceanside 70.3, Escape from Alcatraz, IM Canada (with his son!), IMFL and IMAZ.

IM Canada is being held exactly 24 months from the date he was given 24-36 months to live.

 

Dean and best support group EVER! Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon 2020

Currently, he’s combatting new lesions as they occur. He underwent surgery in December to fuse and kill new cancer lesions in his L5. And they’re trying to figure out how to deal with spots in his hip and scapula. Dean has full body scans every 90 days and is always meeting with his team to devise new battle plans.

 

 

Dean’s support system is second to none. His family, his friends, the T-SHIRTS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill is excited to be stepping in to write Dean’s training plans this year and we can’t wait to see what he’ll do. He inspires us daily, and we’re hopeful that in relaying his story, perhaps you will be inspired, too!

Phoenix Half Marathon, Lake Pleasant Sprint and Olympic, Javelina Jundred

Tali Toncray – Javelina Jundred

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weather has been SO nice for racing this fall and we had some spectacular results last weekend!

We’ve also included another photo from Tali Toncray’s Javelina Jundred (100-mile run), not only because this is such an incredible accomplishment, but this photo (taken by Howie Stern) shows the behind-the-scenes reality of ultra-running. Absolutely love how this raw moment was captured.

Phoenix ½ Marathon
Sorin Tohatan – 1:41 – 11th in AG
Mike Haenel – 1:59

Lake Pleasant Sprint Tri
David Hay – 1:35 – 1st in AG! David will be racing the draft-legal National Championship next weekend.

Lake Pleasant Olympic Tri
Dan Streeter – 2:25 – 1st overall!

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Javelina Hundred

Congratulations to Tali Toncray! Tali ran the Javelina Jundred (100-mile run) last weekend and finished in an impressive time of 25:45! Finishing any 100 miler is a huge deal in itself. To finish in under 26 hours is REALLY strong. This time was fast enough for 32nd overall female. Tali will be doing another 100 in the spring at Bryce Canyon. Nice job Tali!!

 

 

Beyond the Beach Marathon – Gary, Indiana; Maui Marathon – Hawaii; World Senior Games – St. George, Utah; Looney Challenge 10-Miler – Minnesota; Superior Burro Race – AZ; Chicago Marathon

We had some pretty impressive–and interesting (racing with a burro?)–race results over the last two weekends and from across the country, too!

Beyond the Beach Marathon – Gary, Indiana

Frank Smith – 5:14, 1st in AG!

Maui Marathon – Hawaii

Frank Smith – 5:40 – 17th in AG. This was Frank’s 150th marathon!!

World Senior Games – St. George, Utah

Julie Kimball raced the road race, time trial, hill climb and criterium bike races. She took gold in the road race and crit and silver in the TT and hill climb!

Looney Challenge 10 Miler – Minnesota

Melissa Samuelson – 1:25

Superior Burro Race – Arizona

Heather Wilson raced an unusual event in Superior. The Burro race involved racing 12.5 miles over trails with a burro! These animals can be notoriously stubborn and may stop at any point. Getting to the finish takes a lot more than fitness! Heather and her burro (Robbie) finished in 3:42 and took 15th place!

Chicago Marathon – Illinois

Liz Filion – 4:57

Good luck to everyone racing AZ 70.3 this weekend! Hope to see you there. Anne and I will have our tent set up on race day. We look forward to cheering everyone on!

Antelope Canyon 100-Mile Run, Antelope Canyon Half Marathon, 42nd Heart Mini Half Marathon – Cincinnati, OH

Tali Toncray – Antelope Canyon 100

We hope you all had a great week! Time to catch up from last weekend.  We had some impressive race results from tough venues.

Special congratulations goes out to Tali Toncray who raced the Antelope Canyon 100 Mile run and placed 30th overall and 8th female with a time of 28:38!!

Antelope Canyon 100M
Tali Toncray – 28:38 – 30th overall

Antelope Canyon ½ Marathon
Cortney Smith Ellish – 2:03 – 6th overall female and 1st in AG!
Joan McGue – 3:41 – 13th in AG

42nd Heart Mini Half Marathon – Cincinnati, OH
Frank Smith 2:06 – 35th in AG – There were over 32,000 runners at this event!!

Black Canyon 100K, Ft. Lauderdale Marathon, Chinese New Year 5K, RAGNAR

Nine-Mile Hill – not like we’re used to!

Oh, my! What a fun day of snow (pic is from 9-Mile Hill). We hope you’re enjoying this awesome weather!

Quite a few races to report on from this past weekend.

 

Eero Allison – Black Canyon 100K

Congratulations to Eero Allison who finished his first ultra-marathon! Eero finished the Black Canyon 100K run in 14:55. Eero will be running the Boston Marathon later this Spring.

Frank Smith kept his marathon streak alive by finishing the Ft. Lauderdale Marathon in 5:47.

Joan McGue finished the Chinese New Year 5K in 29:34 and took 2nd in her AG!

 

 

Kathy Stanley – RAGNAR

Kathy Stanley and her team finished the RAGNAR Relay (RAGNAR del SOL) on Friday and Sat.

Congratulations, all!

Cabo 70.3, Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, Joshua Tree Half Marathon, Tempe Draft Legal Sprint Tri, Phoenix 10K, Lake Pleasant Olympic Tri

What a great weekend for racing! We love the variety of events that the fall and winter months bring and our athletes are taking advantage. Great job, everyone!

Cabo 70.3
Liz Flint – 6:44

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
Frank Smith – 4:37

Joshua Tree ½ Marathon
Cortney Ellish – 2:02 – 3rd in her AG!

Tempe Draft Legal Sprint Tri
Peter Ney – 1:08 – 10th overall. Peter also did the Tempe 3K open water swim in 30:01!

Phoenix 10K
Joan McGue – 1:01 – 10th in AG
Mike Haenel – 54:13

Lake Pleasant Olympic Tri
Andrew Broderick – 3:15 – 1st ever tri!!