Photo Memories

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Photos can be made for lots of reasons

Memories account for the vast majority, I’ll bet

While rooting through my archives

I came across memories that pre-date my 1st camera

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Click for full screen

A very special time

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In November 2000 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer

Surgery at the end of January 2001

Completed a 4-day 500+ mile team triathlon August 7, 2001

11 years ago this month

I had done individual “Olympic distance” triathlons 3-4 years earlier

1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run

At age 60+ something like 2:45 was a good time for me

My wife came across this 500-mile team event when I was in my “woe is me” slump in November

Thanks, Dear. The best therapy ever.

I biked, ran, & paddled about 3 hours a day from Feb-Aug (over 3,000 miles bike alone + 20-25 miles run each week)

Lance Armstrong was my inspiration

Never looked back after 2/1/01

You know the old saw about the journey being more important than the destination?

SO TRUE (plus mind over body).

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Teams were 2, 3, or 4 persons

My teammates were my brother, John,  and my son, Joe. Thanks guys.

Each team member was required to do a proportionate share of each day’s stage; we each did 1/3

My sister-in-law, Barb, drove our “support van” with our bikes (couldn’t share) and fluids

After 2 days we got good at switching bikes on/off the roof-top carrier

My wife lent moral support (& went shopping ;-) )

At an average age of nearly 53 we  were twice as old as the rest

At 64 1/2 I was the oldest (by 40+ in many cases)

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8/3 – Luverne, MN (SW corner of state)

Registration, team parade with skits & kickoff dinner

We did a rap piece that I wrote

We’re from back east & we want you to know

We’ve come to Minnesota to bike, run and row….

(for 5 verses & chorus which don’t get any better)

The temp that day was 106 F (a pro footballer died of heat stroke nearby a week earlier when it was “only” 98)

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8/4 – 200+ mile bike north to St. Cloud, MN

Start at 6 am; temps still 100+ during the day

Failure to finish prior to 7 pm meant disqualification

This equated to an average speed of 17 mph; we did about 18.5

We made it but 3 teams had members hospitalized due to the heat

I cramped up a couple of times; big time ouch!

Brother John did the last leg.

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8/5 – 200+ mile bike north to Eveleth, MN

Same deal as the day before

Bad news – big time thunderstorm just before the start

Good news – the storm broke the heat wave, 90′s

Our sole equipment breakdown; spokes on John’s front wheel; we had a spare

We finished in about 10:30, faster than yesterday, cooler is better

Son Joe did the last leg – up hill all the way ;-)

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8/6 – 50 mile run to Cook, MN

We basically split this into a big bunch of short runs to keep our speed up

Run hard for 0.3 miles and hop in the van for about 4 minutes until it’s your turn again

and the two in the van kept close watch on the odometer to ensure Barb went a full 0.3 before stopping ;-)

It took us about 7 hours (1.5 more than the younger teams). Roughly 7 minute miles for 50 miles.

They always had drinks & snacks at the finish line. By the time we finished it was mostly gone :-(

I did the last leg into town; wish I could say there were throngs cheering

Picked out our rental canoe for the next day & retired to the Montana Cafe for burgers & beers

I almost chickened out of the canoe after hearing the race director’s briefing on the river – swollen & fast due to the previous day’s storm

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8/7 – 50 mile canoe to Crane Lake, MN (at the Canadian border – see why it’s called the MN-border-to-border)

10 portages (bush-whacking, not nice trails) around rapids, some class 5, one team’s canoe got broken in half but they survived (did not finish)

One portage was almost a mile; my son cracked some ribs stepping into a knee-deep mud hole

This went through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness – absolutely stunningly beautiful

Winning teams did 8.5 hours; we did 12.5.

We sometimes just drifted and enjoyed the scenery.

Winner’s were 6-pack guys from MN named Sven, Lars, Olaf, …. who counted strokes out loud to maintain a pace.

You didn’t finish “officially” until you tipped your canoe over after crossing the finish line

Near the finish was a US border crossing point proclaiming “Welcome to the US”

Joe & John did the last leg of four (limited to 2 paddlers per leg)

The highlight of the entire event was a fish fry hosted by the Crane Lake VFD

And that 106 F temp when we started? 48 F at the evening fish fry.

And – the stars that night, and the memories of loons, bald eagles and water lilies in the Vermillion River that day

Memories to die for….

Photographs do bring back fond memories. Yes – maybe the most important type of photography.

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Post-event summary -

36 teams started (including us, Team Blue Ribbon – Blue Ribbon being the prostate cancer symbol)

5 teams did not finish due to heat stroke, loss of canoe, etc.

The winning team (4-person) finished in 31:33:06

We were roughly 10 hours behind (28th overall out of 36)

Not sight-seeing during the canoe might have moved us up several spots

Other than that we had no excuses & nothing left to give

500 miles – youth trumps age

But, for me, it was never about winning; I won before getting to MN

Thanks family, friends, doctors & God

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6 Responses to “Photo Memories”

  1. Photos close to home Says:

    Ed, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October 2000; the operation was Dec. 13, 2000. It worked, obviously. You’re right: No excuses, don’t look back. It’s not the only way to handle cancer, but it’s the best way.

    • Ed Knepley Says:

      I see that you moved faster than I did to get the problem resolved.

      • Photos close to home Says:

        I had a close friends who did “watchful waiting” while trying to decide on treatment. He waited too late. I didn’t wait around.

        • Ed Knepley Says:

          Same thing here with a neighbor who was diagnosed 2 years after me, refused to discuss it and died after a year or two. My next door neighbor went to my surgeon two years ago and is now fine – seeing what happened to Jim was a lesson learned. Pretending it’s not so doesn’t make it go away.

  2. Sarah Skerker Says:

    Ed,
    Thank you for this post today. It brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.
    Sarah Skerker

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