Tallahassee, FL - For every run, every bike ride and every swim, Tallahassee native Kate Harrison doesn't get fazed. In four months, she'll be competing in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. But that's nothing compared to what her mother had to experience in chemotherapy.
"When I feel like I'm struggling a little bit, I'll think of my mom and it definitely gives me a second wind," Harrison said.
Harrison's mother, Claire, was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time last spring.
"I just really wanted to do something meaningful that would be a challenge," Harrison said. "Something that would be a struggle for me to finish."
Harrison had never competed in an Ironman competition until last November at Ironman Florida in Panama City. She placed first in her division, automatically qualifying for Worlds.
When she first decided to sign up for the race, she didn't have a bike or any formal swimming training. So her first try was only for the experience. She was actually 40 minutes behind the leader in her division during the running portion until she remarkably pulled out front and took first.
The Ironman begins in the ocean, a 2.4 mile swim. Then it moves over to a 112 bike ride, followed by a 26.2 mile run. Harrison will make each step at Worlds a tribute to her mother who is now cancer-free.
"I think it's going to be a great race," she said. "There's going to be some of the world's best athletes there, so it'll be really neat to toe the same starting line as them."
Thousands of miles away, racing for her mother, the expectation is a simple one.
"Just crossing the finish line and reaching my fundraising goal and just having a good time because it's the World Championships," she said. "It's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Harrison started a fundraiser called "Kona for Cancer." She has raised $7,000, but hopes to reach $10,000 by the start of the World Championship in October.
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