The Racing for Recovery Triathlon returns to Sylvania this year, and with it comes a message.
“With sobriety, anything is possible,” declares Racing for Recovery founder Todd Crandell.
June 9, 2013 at 7:00 a.m., hundreds of racers will dive into the water at Olander for the 9th Annual Racing for Recovery Triathlon. The event has been held at Michigan’s Sterling State Park for the last six years, but has undergone some changes this year, most notably going into the hands of a new race management company, Elite Endeavors which is owned by Sylvanian Jim Donaldson. Crandell felt the time was right to bring the race home to Sylvania, too.
“I am absolutely so excited about bringing it back to Sylvania,” says the 1985 Northview graduate. “This is where I grew up, this is my home. I care deeply about the people here, and I want them to benefit from my message too.”
And his message can be a life-saver. Crandell battled severe drug and alcohol addiction for 13 years, lost loved ones because of it and witnessed first-hand the misery and unbearable pain brought into one’s life by substance abuse.
“I feel strongly about stopping everyone from ever starting to use drugs,” Crandell says with emotion. “Don’t do it! Don’t choose a life of drugs, you’ll pay the consequences. In no way, in no stretch of the imagination, can you do drugs and then just walk away and be okay. You’ll pay a major price for it.”
Crandell fought his way back to sobriety by following a path of his own creation. He eventually escaped from a 13 year long nightmare of addiction by immersing himself in rigorous physical training and working on his mindset at the same time. His journey back has been the subject of two award-winning film documentaries (ADDICT and Running with Demons), two books (From Addict to Ironman in 2006, second book is due out later this year), and his story has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, and on CNN, FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC News, and ESPN, and numerous other media outlets.
“It is never okay to do drugs,” Crandell continues. “That includes steroids, like the Lance Armstrong situation. I’m so strongly against substance abuse, I want everyone to know they shouldn’t do it, and why. The choices I made, they ruined my life in every way possible. I’ve seen people die because of it. The choice I made to stop using drugs blessed me with everything positive in my life today.”
Crandell has now devoted his life to helping others achieve the same victory for their own lives, and he has even changed his profession. In 2001 he founded Racing for Recovery, and then he became a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. His day job is working to prevent addiction and helping heal the addicts who suffer among us.
“I’m not just a guy who survived a drug addiction and then did a bunch of Ironmans,” says Crandell, who has completed 23 Ironman competitions around the world, and also two Ultramans. “I’m here to help prevent the use of drugs, and help people regain their lives who have used drugs.”
The Triathlon’s return to Sylvania will also have a positive economic impact on the community. More than 600 people are expected to race in the triathlon, and they will be arriving in town at the very least the day before, many with their families.
“The race participants usually represent about 20 states, and Canada,” remarked Crandell. “These people are going to stay overnight here, dine here, and shop here.”
Another exciting feature of the Racing for Recovery Triathlon is the course itself.
“It goes all over, the bike route goes out west, the run is through Sylvania and Pacesetter park, and racers finish up at the Northview stadium, which has never been done before,” explained Crandell. “Finishing in the stadium allows more space, and everyone to see better, especially when the trophies are awarded. All racers who finish the triathlon will receive a medal, and the top age group winners receive trophies.”
The Sylvania Northview Cross Country team will also receive a donation from Racing for Recovery.
“Yes, it’s triathlon, and it’s exciting, but it’s not just a race, it’s a celebration of a healthy lifestyle,” says Crandell, who will celebrate 20 years of sobriety this April. “There’s a whole mission behind it, a purpose and program behind this one-day event. I want people to know what we offer, the support services, interventions, counseling, and support groups. Racing for Recovery has valuable services that are available to our community. That’s really what we want to get the word out there about.”
People who want to become involved can become race sponsors and help Racing for Recovery achieve the goals of both preventing substance abuse and helping those who have made harmful choices recover. Becoming a triathlon sponsor is an easy way to contribute and actually see the positive affect right here in Sylvania. Many volunteers will be needed for race day also. To get involved, visit www.racingforrecovery.com or call 419-824-8462.
By: Amanda Swanson, Freelance Writer & Online Editor www.SylvaniaAdvantage.com