The greatest man I've ever worked for was named Chuck Gunther. He was a loving family man, a volunteer firefighter, and a cowboy with the kind of personality that made all the sweaty, muddy, back-busting work we were doing seem not only worthwhile, but more fun than any other job we could have taken.
I worked for Chuck at the 7D Ranch in Cody, WY the summer of 2009. Chuck died on May 25, 2012 at the age of 47, four short years after being diagnosed with ALS. Although I knew him for only a short time, the impact he had on my life and the way I viewed the world was monumental. Chuck Gunther was always uplifting, even when I messed up, and never thought there was anything I couldn't do just because I was a girl. I've never respected a boss more, or many men for that matter.
Therefore, in his honor, I raised over $1,000 for the ALS Association. I was inspired to do so while brainstorming a way to make training for my first Half Ironman race meaningful for more than just me. I am always so inspired by endurance athletes who push themselves to honor someone that drove them to do better, and couldn't think of anyone more deserving of honor and support than Chuck. I am keeping this blog that at first just followed my training and base my progress on the distance I have traveled from my home in Austin to Chuck's final home in Cody. I aim to post at least once a week with a map of my progress, a story about Chuck, both from myself and the friends and family that knew and loved him, as well as discuss the race products and nutrition that I use from the perspective of a newbie- no expertise, just honest opinions from someone trying new things.
It was about 1,450 miles between my home, and the place that would imprint itself on my heart the second I crested Dead Indian Pass and saw Sunlight Valley for the first time. Through my swimming, biking, and running for my first Half Ironman, I covered the same amount of miles and made the journey back to Cody, all while raising money to fight a disease that robbed this earth of one of The Good Ones.
Although I have long since crossed that first finish line, I haven't stopped wanting to help causes I believe in while I push myself to new limits. Although this blog began solely as Cowboys Against ALS, I decided to keep it going as Cowgirls Tri- a continued nod to the roots of my mission, while expanding my goals to new races and new places. Thank you to everyone for your support and donations!