After months of training, hours of running, swimming, and biking, two 44-year-old women will participate in an Ironman competition to honor their friend and local hero who died earlier this year.
Hawthorn Woods residents Diane Peterson and Kristen David don't describe themselves as the most athletic people, but the recent death of a friend, Ruth Paul-Caudle, has given their athletic abilities a new life.
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"It's all determination and will and setting your mind to a goal higher than yourself," David said.
An Ironman competition is a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation. It consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run.
This year, the women's goal isn't to finish the race, but to raise money and awareness for "Renew Hope," a nonprofit, Christian-based organization dedicated to changing the lives of children in Haiti.
Paul-Caudle, who grew up in Haiti, started the organization and raised $20,000 to build a school near her hometown, and tens of thousands more to reduce poverty, improve education and other causes. After a lengthy battle with cancer, Paul-Caudle of Vernon Hills died Feb. 24.
"She was just an amazing woman, she was really instrumental," Peterson said. "She was just kind, never thought of herself first, even when she had cancer."
Peterson will participate in the Ironman competition in Louisville, Ky., Sunday, Aug. 26. David, who planned to join her, will postpone her Ironman journey until October, where she will compete with the world's best athletes in Kona, Hawaii.
David will be one of 100 people -- four from Illinois -- who were chosen to travel to Hawaii to compete in the Ironman Triathlon World Championship.
Ironically, the day the lottery winners were announced was the same day David signed up to represent Paul-Caudle's charity.
"I sort of feel like it was fate, some higher purpose was involved there," David said.
The women started training in January, rotating workouts between swimming, biking, and running. Averaging about a 14-hour finish time upon completion of their first Ironman competition, they are hoping to beat their personal record.
"As far as training specifically, it's very similar," David said. "As far as motivation, it's obviously a lot higher. I feel like I'm doing it for a reason this time."
So far David and Peterson have raised more than $2,100 for the charity with the help of Paul-Caudle's husband, Brian Caudle, who was the first to donate.