Every year, thousands of athletes gather in various cities across the country to participate in a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run, better known as an Ironman Triathlon.
For Dr. Gregory Reed, professor and director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy and the GRID Institute, training and participating in triathlons is nothing new. What’s new is his battle with Crohn’s disease, though, that hasn’t ended his 24-year experience as a triathlete.
Reed knew that Crohn’s disease ran in his family since his older brother battled it his entire adult life. It wasn’t until Reed was traveling in the spring of 2014 and experienced severe pain requiring an emergency room visit that he was diagnosed with the disease.
He had planned to train for Ironman Maryland 2015 as a Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCF) Team Challenge Athlete, something his sister-in-law had gotten involved in years earlier. However, just months before the triathlon, he found himself back in the hospital. The severe pain had returned. He underwent a successful ileocecectomy, and recovered.
Reed started training again in early 2016.
“The most trying part was getting my energy back – a frustrating process for someone like me,” he said.
He set his sights on Ironman Maryland 2016 and started to raise funds to be a CCF Team Challenge Athlete.
“If I was going to do it, I wanted to do something that had an impact,” Reed said.
He completed the event and raised $23,500, which was the third highest fundraiser of all Ironman team challengers nationwide. After that success and having no restrictions with training, Reed is at it again, training for Ironman Chattanooga 2017 on Sept. 24, and dedicating both races to his brother.
“This year, I’m even healthier,” he said. “I’m stronger and I feel better – I’m much further along than last year.”
Confident in his training and abilities, he predicts that he’ll finish in under 12 hours.
“I continue to be very thankful for the UPMC Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center and my specialist, Dr. Miguel Regueiro, who has helped me continue my journey in endurance athletics, despite my Crohn’s,” Reed said. “It is one way of beating the disease, but more work needs to be done to find cures.”
To make a contribution to Reed’s Ironman Chattanooga CCF Team Challenge efforts, click here.