Terry Craig is out to prove the Ultraman Canada can be finished by someone with one kidney.
The 10-kilometre swim, 420-km bike and 84-km run, starts Saturday at Skaha Lake and wraps up on Monday at Summerland’s Memorial Park. The Penticton resident is the lone local athlete among 31 taking on the challenge. As he does it, he wants to raise awareness about kidney transplants.
“Ultraman Canada is the first step in terms of saying and showing people, look, you can donate a kidney but you can still do crazy, ridiculous athletic events like this,” said Craig, an accountant for the Kemp Harvey Group, who will be competing in his sixth triathlon. “It shouldn’t stop you from being able to do what you could previously do.”
Craig has one kidney after giving his other to wife Laura in 2005. Things were good for five years until she was infected with a virus that began attacking her transplanted kidney.
“It’s tough because she does dialysis every night, it lasts for about eight hours,” said Craig. “It’s like she’s doing her own little endurance event everyday. She’s tired everyday. The dialysis does help to clean out her blood, so she isn’t as tired. It’s tough to see her struggle like she does.”
The two met on Lavalife.com when he was competing in the Subaru Ironman Canada in 2003 and at that time Laura was seeing the effects of her kidney problems. She is his motivator as he strives to create awareness.
Craig said there are lots of obstacles that prevent people from donating. One is taking time off work to recover after giving a kidney. Craig said people usually need between two to six weeks away from work but can’t afford to do that. Some qualify for employment insurance benefits, which will cover 55 per cent of their wage. His office is offering to pay 40 per cent on top. He also has a website promoting awareness at www.bethekidney.com.
Craig would like to see more people become living organ donors.
“If people above her (Laura) get an organ from a friend or family member then she won’t be on the wait list as long,” he said.
According to www.transplant.bc.ca, there are more than 300 people on that list.
Craig describes Laura as “an amazing mother and amazing wife.”
“I’m so impressed with how she is able to push herself through every day,” said Craig, who is inspired by Laura’s smile. “She doesn’t feel sorry for herself. Her kids (Haley and Trevor) are her life. She does whatever she can for her kids. I always look up to her as an example of how I want to lead my own life.”
As Craig strives for the finish line, Laura will always be with him and not just on his crew.
“I’ve got a picture of her on my bike,” said Craig, who will also have the help of Haley and Trevor. “To put all that effort in to be there with me while I’m out on the bike course or the run course it’s such an inspiration to me.”
Craig can’t believe the race is almost here.
“I think I’m ready as I can be,” said Craig, whose kitchen table is covered with Gatorade bottles, power gels and other foods. “It’s a lot different than training for Ironman where it’s all about speed. This is all about endurance. Making sure you can maintain a certain level. Physically, I feel like I’m almost at where I need to be.”