What, besides a tail wind, is propelling central Iowa’s Above and Beyond Cancer team in the Race Across America?
The spirits of people whose lost their lives to cancer.
Dr. Richard Deming, who’s leading the team of five cancer survivors and two other cancer caregivers on the grueling bicycle race across some of the country’s most unforgiving terrain, said he’s reminded of that every morning when he calls the nursing staff at Mercy Cancer Center to check on the condition of his patients.
Some haven’t made it, joining the 600,000 people who succumb annually to cancer – a number the radiation oncologist says is “unacceptable.”
“Yesterday, I learned of the premature death of two patients, each one an incredible woman whose life was cut short and had so much more she could have contributed,” Deming said in a phone interview this morning.
“It’s so easy for us to remember why we are out here doing this,” he said. “No matter how difficult it might seem, it’s nothing compared to the challenges of individuals with cancer. We are in this race to honor the memory of people of have lost their lives to cancer. It’s a higher purpose that keeps us mentally strong – our secret weapon.”
That “secret weapon” moved the team into 13th place sometime early this morning – and that’s in a field of 80 teams.
“That was a little boost,” Deming said. “We don’t have aspirations of winning, but we’re not out here putzing along, either. We have a great deal of kinship for the other teams, but as in any race, we would like to finish ahead of those teams we’re capable of finishing ahead of.”
The race, which began Saturday in Oceanside, Calif. has been arduous. The Above and Beyond cancer team been up and down the coastal mountains, across parts of the desert Southwest, over the Continental Divide and down the Rockies.
The cyclists began Tuesday in Colorado with a tailwind that allowed them to pick up speed, then changed directions and became a 30 mph crosswind that battered cyclists as they made their way across Kansas in blistering 105-degree temperatures.
The cyclists are about halfway through the 3,000-mile race, which will end in Annapolis, MD, on Saturday.
Cancer survivors on the race are Gail Endres of Norwalk, Drennan Fischer of Norwalk, and Bobby Irving, Brandon Sickler and Sarah Russell of Des Moines.