Friday, September 15, 2023

Blackland Aquathlon- A Piece of the Puzzle


"Sometimes God puts a Goliath in your life to wake up the David in you."- Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller

I kicked off CMT awareness month by racing in Plano, Texas to the Blackland Triathlon.  I would be doing the aquathlon.  I needed a second aquathlon race to qualify for the Multi-Sport Athlete of the Year award.  To qualify I have to do two races in three of the following disciplines: duathlon, aqua bike, off-road triathlon, and aquathlon. 

This race was unusual in that they had a triathlon, aqua bike, and aquathlon. The closest aquathlon to my home was a nine-hour drive.  So I decided to make a visit to my Texas family. The Plano race was a 45-minute drive. Thanks to my brother for driving me so early in the morning.

I know my chances are earning the award are slim, but it gives me a goal to work for. Having races on my schedule gives me motivation to keep working out.  It is so important to stay active with CMT to retain function. Awareness month gives me even more incentive as I continue to fight to raise awareness and be a role model.

The race itself was pretty easy. It would be a  300-meter pool swim and a 5K run. The only challenge would be the forecasted triple-digit heat.

There was a kid's race before the adult event. It was really fun to see the kids and their parents racing. I also got to catch up with a few triathlon friends from the area.

The race organizers could not have been nicer. There was no drop-down box to choose Physically Challenged when I registered. I contacted them since this was a USA Triathlon-sanctioned race. They are required to offer this.  I was asked for my 300-meter race time and where I wanted to be placed in the swim order.  We would be lined up in pace order from fastest to slowest with one athlete in the water every few seconds.  I told the race director to place me anywhere in the field that they liked.

I was surprised to see I was assigned the first starting position. I have lots of questions about it. I might have been intimidated if I had less experience.  We would be swimming up the right side of each line for six lanes. The left side was for passing. I told the young and fast guys behind me I would keep tight to the right and leave plenty of room to pass.

I was passed by many swimmers which is what I expected. The great thing about being first in was that I would be out on the run early. The earlier the better to avoid some of the heat.

The short swim was over fast. It was a run up the stairs and a long path to the far side of the transition to get to my spot to get ready for the run.

The 5K run was well marked. I so appreciate that.   Ice water-soaked towels were given out at the two aid stations. They were dry by the time I got to the next aid station.  I carried a water bottle with me and used it to hydrate and stay cool.  

I felt strong on the run on the very flat course. I am not a fan of hills although I am strong on hills. 

I finished the race in about 48 minutes. If I had been doing the full race, my pace would have probably put me in second place.

Still, there are some things I can keep working on. I have one more race to complete my requirements for the award. That race will be a gravel aqua bike in Michigan at the end of September.

This was such a great event. I hope to come back another time. Now on to Michigan


Cheryl Kearney and Chris Wodke


Chris Wodke

Founder & Manager Team CMT


Chris is a triathlete Nordic skier and long-distance runner. She is a three-time participant in the Boston Marathon.  In 2012 she finished 2nd at Boston in the Mobility Impaired Division. She was on the course in 2013 when the bombs exploded.


She has appeared three times at the Para Triathlon National Triathlon Sprint Championship. She was the 2012 and 2014 National Champion Para triathlon Open Division Champion.

She has won national championships as a physically challenged athlete in Aqualon, Duathlon, Aqua Bike, and Winter Triathlon. She was the national champion in her age group in 2023 for gravel duathlon.


 In 2014 she represented the U.S. as a Para triathlete at the Pan-American Triathlon Championship in Dallas, Texas.  


She was the 2023 Gravel Duathlon National Champion in the 65-69 age group.


She has won state championships as an age-group athlete in cycling and triathlon. She has represented America as an age group athlete at world championships in Chicago, Denmark, Cozumel, and Norway. She earned a bronze medal at the Winter Duathlon World Championship in 2023 in Norway.


In 2020 she was named a National Ski Patrol Subaru Ambassador and a USA Triathlon Foundation Ambassador.


She travels around the country raising awareness of CMT.


She is the author of the book, “Running for My Life” which details her experience as a CMT-affected athlete, and the book “Soup Sundays, A Journey Toward Healthy Eating”.


You may visit her author page at:


Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and find a cure for CMT. We currently have 257 athletes in 43 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Vietnam, Iran, Scotland, France, Turkey, Poland, Norway, Mexico, Wales, Ireland, and Sweden! If you wish to join us visit our website; or


CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.


Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance, and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.


Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.


Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.


Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties, and hearing loss.


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