Forty-two participants commemorated the events of 9/11 while participating in the White Sands Missile Range annual Freedom Triathlon held at the WSMR Aquatics Center Sept. 12.
The event consisted of a 7K run, 40K bike ride and a 400M swim honoring the lives of those lost on 9/11.
Chance Cass, 12, the first child to participate in a WSMR Triathlon, was sitting deep in thought 10 minutes before the 7:30 a.m. start time.
“Well I’ve done a 50-mile bike ride, so this was a higher level for me,” Cass said. “It makes me feel better knowing that everyone else is still in bed at this time.”
Standing next to him was his father, Daniel Cass, a Holloman Air Force Base Engineer, thinking about how to get his oldest of five to successfully push pass the mental breaking point.
“One thing I’ve learned when it comes to endurance races is the point you want to quit the most is before the halfway point. He wanted to quit before the halfway point on the 50-mile bike ride and I knew mentally he had to get passed that point,” Daniel said.
“The running was the hardest part because of my knees. It felt like I was about to collapse on the ground. The biking was very far and (there were) a lot of hills compared to Holloman,” Cass said.
Holding back tears, Cass’ grandmother, Judy Cass, who drove from Oregon to support her grandson’s first triathlon, talked about her grandson.
“That competitive spirit runs in our family and just the fact that he is here competing when his peers are at home in bed or playing video games says a lot about his drive and character,” Judy said. “I made sure he knew it was ok to come in last and sometimes you don’t finish, but you get right back up on the horse and prepare for your next race. This is a great life lesson for him,” Judy said.
Daniel said he and his wife did their first marathon overseas and the family is usually there to experience it with them.
“The kids are always along to watch and experience it with us. It was just a matter of time before Chance wanted to try it too.”
Cass had to mentally prepare in-between each phase of the triathlon with his dad as the extra push.
“I kept telling myself if you just keep going it will be over sooner. If you just sit, it will be harder and take longer. Get the pain over with and it won’t hurt as long,” Cass said.
Daniel said Cass was born after 9/11, but he is aware of what took place and the significance. He also wants his son to take lessons learned through training and push pass upcoming hurdles in life.
“In life you’re going to struggle through things. And if you’ve never struggled then you aren’t living hard enough,” Daniel said.
Cass’ next triathlon is going to be the next one at WSMR in December, followed by the kid’s quad at mount Taylor in February.
For more photos of the Freedom Triathlon visit the official WSMR Flickr page at www.flickr.com/photos/whitesandsmissilerange/