Brothers Michael and Will Geary will honour their father by going hard in the Subaru Ironman Canada Triathlon.
And while their dad completed the race 25 years ago, something they also wanted to achieve, they are actually competing for their own reasons. They want some closure of sorts.
The following year after Ken completed it, he was killed while training on his bike along with Steve Brown from Peach City Runners in 1987. Ever since that tragic incident, Michael said the race has loomed large on his life.
“It’s seemed like something I needed to do to be able to move on with my life and become the person that I want to become,” said Michael, who is married and plans to start a family.
The 30-year-old said he decided a few years ago that participating in Ironman was something he wanted to do. Working at Electronic Arts Sports as a quality assurance manager (making sure there are no bugs in FIFA video games), employees receive a seven-week sabbatical after seven years of employment. With that in mind, Michael decided this is the year to do it.
“When I did the math on the years, I thought it was kind of neat,” said Michael.
With the big race just days away, he feels good and is excited.
“It’s been a long hard year of lots of hard work, lots of sweat,” said the six-foot-six rookie triathlete. “A little tears along the way. My wife (Lianne) has supported me the whole way. I wouldn’t be here without her.”
Michael admits to feeling anxious but not nervous. The anxiousness comes from wanting to get out there and compete and enjoying himself.
That is the approach Will, 33, is taking as he too thought this year would be a good time to participate.
“It’s kind of a good way to honour him,” said Will. “Just do something together.”
While Michael (wearing bib 370) will be looking to try and beat his father’s time of 12:37, Will (bib 93) just wants to finish.
He recalls watching his father during the run and being at the finish line to support him. When he crosses he knows he will have the same support.
“We will have a whole bunch of friends and family,” said Will. “Our mom is going to be balling her eyes out.”
The Geary brothers will have another supporter in Steve King, a friend of their late father. King said he hopes it’s going to be a tremendous day for both. When talking about Ken, King said he was a respected local teacher that coached athletes and was a supporter of Ironman. The family never stopped supporting the event after he died.
“It was a terrible shock and loss for us when this occurred,” said King, who has a photo of Ken celebrating his accomplishment of completing the Peach Classic triathlon in under two hours.
Following Ken’s death, the Founders Cup was created in his honour and King was the first recipient.
“It’s actually very emotional,” said King of receiving the Founders Cup, which has only been awarded to people involved with the formative years of the race. “It came the next year. It sort of really hits everybody when someone starts to talk about it and you realize the depth of the loss.”
Others haven’t forgotten Ken. Michael’s friend Terry Craig went to the Bike Barn and spoke to owner Chris Prowse about what kind of bike would be good for a person as tall as Michael. Recognizing the name, The Bike Barn owner hooked Michael up and let him use it for free for a year.
“We knew his dad and his dad was a great guy,” said Prowse. “Just thought it was the right thing to do.”
“I will probably end up buying the bike from them. That’s something I feel I should do,” said Michael. “They were really good to me. Everything that I get for the bike I go to them. It really helped me get set up and ready to go.”
While Michael doesn’t have a lot of memories of his father, there is one that stands out.
“I remember when he used to train, and my brother and I would come and watch him swim in Okanagan Lake,” he said. “We would always stop and get Jeffers Fries. That was always a fun time.”