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North Carolina’s Only Iron Distance Triathlon Benefits Cancer Care at Duke

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- On Oct. 11, Chris Coby of Wake Forest will compete in his first iron distance triathlon, the Duke Blue Devil.

That same day, he will celebrate an anniversary of sorts. On that date three years ago, Coby completed chemotherapy treatment at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center for testicular cancer. Today, the elementary school teacher is doing well and feeling grateful to be cancer-free.

"As soon as I heard about the Duke Blue Devil, I told my wife I had to do this," said Coby, 39. "It's just a great way to give back."

The Duke Blue Devil Triathlon will be held in Raleigh at the Beaverdam Recreation area at Falls Lake. More than 400 triathletes are scheduled to participate in this grueling event, which combines 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running. The event is the only iron distance triathlon to be held in North Carolina and the first iron distance triathlon hosted by a non-profit organization. All proceeds from the race will benefit research and patient care at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center.

David Glover of Brambleton, Va., winner of last year's inaugural Duke Blue Devil, shares the sentiments of Coby. His passion for the Duke Blue Devil also stems from personal experience. Glover, an avid triathlete, was diagnosed with schwannoma (cancer that originates from a nerve sheath cell or schwann cell) in 1995. Today he is cancer-free.

"The Duke Blue Devil is different for me than other ironman distances. It isn't just about me. It is about everyone who has had cancer or who will get cancer in the future," said Glover. "I saw a billboard once that read, 'I have cancer, but it doesn't have me.' That pretty much sums up why I am a triathlete."

Close to 100 athletes from North Carolina will share the course with athletes from as far away as Canada, Alaska, California, Mexico, Texas and Hawaii. Many simply want to test themselves; others will race to honor a loved one or to celebrate survivorship.

Two Duke relay teams will participate in the event. "It's just a great way to support this effort," said Thomas D'Amico, M.D., a team member who is a thoracic cancer surgeon and medical director of Duke's Oncology Clinical Service Unit. "We wanted to do our part to raise money for a necessary cause and to honor all of our patients who fight this disease every day."

The race will end with a huge finish line celebration on the Beaverdam beach complete with live music, food and entertainment that is based on a Hawaiian luau theme. Spectators are invited to attend the daylong event, which begins at 7 a.m. and concludes with the celebration beginning at 3:30 p.m. and lasting until the last participant finishes.

"This is truly a unique event to witness. There are less than 10 iron distance triathlons held each year in the entire country," said Dorrys McArdle, director of special events for the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. "It is really an experience the entire family can enjoy. We invite everyone to come out and support these incredible athletes and support a great cause."

Hundreds of volunteers from the community, including member of the N.C. Jaycees ( longtime supporters of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center,) will staff aid stations and assist with the event. Volunteers are still needed and can register to help by calling (919) 667-2613.

For more information about the race, visit http://www.dukebluedevil.org or call (919) 667-2616.

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