Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tony O'Keefe - As Tough As They Come!

In an earlier post I wrote about my friend Tony O'Keefe and included a link to his blog as he tackled The Race Across America. If you have been following or reading the updates in the feed down to the right you will have seen that Tony had to DNF yesterday. Anyone who knows Tony would know that this would have been an incredibly tough decision for him to make. The post that Randy put up about his decision says everything there is that needs to be said about Tony and what it means to be a champion. Here it is;

Randy's RAAM Report #10 - June 23 (Final)


In my previous report we had just had an incredible day where Tone rode 349 miles and where we took advantage of conditions to move us up in the race standings. After a 2-hour break we started off on the next day. Tone was in great form. Our goal was to get out of Kansas by the end of the day and also reach the halfway marker under the 10-day goal pace. Tone felt great. His legs, body and mental state had peaked. Our routine was in place. Tone would start the day with very easy riding to loosen up.

As Tone rode the first hour, he felt some fatigue and tightness in his neck, something he had never experienced before. He mentioned this to us in the follow-vehicle. Within an hour he was struggling to hold his head up. To provide some temporary relief, we tried to create a device in the van to support his head as he rode.

As the miles progressed it quickly became worse. With his inability to hold his head upright, Tone eventually crashed. He only suffered some road rash. It could have been far worse. We were lucky. Being an athlete, Tone and the team continued in the hope that this would pass and things would improve. Unfortunately they did not.

We did reach half-way under the 10-day goal pace, but we did not leave Kansas.

Tone pedaled to TS 26. We met and after a very emotional conversation, he decided to pull out of the race. Shortly after this he spoke to the team and told them he had to withdraw. I have never been more proud of an athlete than during his talk to the team. I am unbelievably thankful that he is a friend!

In my last post I finished off by saying that Tone was racing. Racing is defined as giving all of yourself to the event, pushing yourself to the highest level of performance possible, taking risks to test your resolve. When you do this, you define who you are and what you are. Only on occasion will this lead to victory on the podium that we use as a measurement of success. My great friend Tony went beyond the top podium yesterday. The greatest victories in life never have a medal attached to them.

All the best my friends.

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