This past Sunday was the 5th annual Louie Bonpua Memorial Triathlon at Treasure Island (near the Bay Bridge between Oakland and San Francisco). The triathlon is a day for the entire IronTeam to train, and more importantly, to remember why we do what we do as we celebrate the life of a true IronMan... Louie Bonpua.
Louie was an IronTeam participant. He finished IronMan Canada in 2001 with only 3.5 minutes left before the official cutoff. That fact makes him remarkable. But to those who know would say that him finishing was a miracle. Louie had leukemia.
He tried to remain upbeat in with his disease, but it eventually caught up to him. Shortly after IronMan Canada 2001, he set his sites on IronMan Canada 2002. He would never race again. In January 2002, his condition accelerated, and his end was near. His downturn happened 2 weeks before he was supposed to carry the Olympic Torch as the relay made its way through San Francisco.
Some would say that he willed himself to stay alive just so that he could be part of that Olympic moment. He also had some help from friends that "broke him out" of the hospital. He pulled up to the Golden Gate Bridge in an ambulance. His frail body seemed to have new life, though he must have been in tremendous pain. He carried the torch for 0.2 miles... on his own power.
After he passed the torch, he got back into the ambulance and made his way back to the hospital. Later that night, he would slip into a coma. He died 2 days later.
Louie lived like we should all hope to live our own lives; to the fullest. I have never personally met Louie, but I feel like he is there with me on the swim, the bike, the run. There are times when I feel like quitting, but I know that Louie wouldn't have... so I don't either.
If you would like to read Louie's personal story, in his own words, visit his website at www.shrimplouie.com.