WATERLOO — No matter your age or athletic ability, a triathlon tests the body and soul of each participant.

There were plenty of individuals eager to push themselves to the limit Saturday morning as 266 participated in the sixth annual Accel Triathlon.

“We have had tremendous support from the whole community and over 100 volunteers to get this thing going,” noted race coordinator Tina Miller. “The support we have received from local police forces and businesses has been fantastic. Those people help make this a real neat event that brings people together from all over the country.”

Athletes from California, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma and the six surrounding states competed in the Sprint and Olympic International divisions Saturday. The Sprints swim 500 meters to the 1,500 by the Olympics, biking distance is 15.8 miles compared to the Olympic 24.9, and the run for the Sprints is 3.1 miles while the Olympics go 6.2 miles.

While the event attracts athletes of all levels, it was especially rewarding for Luke Moore of Cedar Falls.

Moore is a two-time survivor of Acute Myeloid Luekemia (AML). He whipped AML at a younger age, then took on the battle once again when his daughter Lilly was born.

“Yeah that second diagnosis really got to me,” Moore said. “I just wasn’t feeling good and I very rarely get sick. Our daughter was born and then this was happening. I was not going to give in. I beat it once and I was going to beat it again.”

Moore went through stem cell transplants and eventually began getting his life back. That’s when he decided to attack the triathlon.

“I don’t know why I did it, really,” Moore said, sporting a shirt that read Above and Beyond Cancer. “I always try to find something each year to push myself and this was on the bucket list. I thought it would be a good way to show people that you can beat anything, you just have to try. I wear this shirt as a reminder to me, and to show all those out there watching that it can be done.

“Towards the end of the race my legs started to cramp and my hip was bothering me,” said Moore added, noting those are side effects from the stem cell transplants that are still affecting his body. “I get real bad joint pains at times and it slows me down.

“I tell you what, though. I was glad to get out of that water and hit dry land.”

Deanna Johnson of Sumner conquered the course, too.

“I just started about three years ago and just learned how to swim,” said Johnson, who took first in her age group (50-54). “I survived the swim and got on my bike and felt much more comfortable. Riding always gets me going and it gets me in a comfort zone.

“It is so fun to compete in these events because you get to meet so many interesting people from all over. It is not really competing against them because they are more like friends. They will help you with pointers and they are always there encouraging others. It is like family in a sense.”

The event also brought out younger athletes from the area, including Waverly’s Eamonn McCullough, an accomplished swinner in the Cedar Falls High program. He won his division in 1:08:10.6.

“I just wanted to come out have fun and meet new people,” said McCullough. “I love the swimmimg, of course, but the whole idea of competing and doing your best, then cheering on others, that is what this is all about. I was first out of water and led the bike all the way and that kind of shocked me.

“It was a good race and it was a fun race. I will definitely be looking forward to the next one.”

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