In 2006 the John Young, triathlete, marathoner, father and math teacher from Salem, MA (originally from Canada) that exists today was a far different person.
In 2006 at age 40 he was 195 pounds on his 4’4” frame. After reading all he has accomplished you would also never believe he’s a little person. Young has achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. He was diagnosed with sleep apnea and was told to use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) Machine. With the increase in energy from using this machine Young started losing weight right away. Having been a swimmer his whole life, he began swimming again. Then he started cycling. As a child he was told by doctors he’d never be able to run.
In 2009, he saw a video about the Hoyt’s. (The Hoyts’ are an inspiring duo where Dick competes in triathlons with his adult son who has cerebral palsy pulling him in a raft on the swim, trailing him in a cart on the bike and pushing him in a wheelchair on the run). “I thought, if he could do that with his son, I could do triathlon. Prior to my first race in the summer of 2009, I had never run more than once around the track.”
Young has now competed in several sprint and Olympic distance triathlons and also a half distance race with plans to do more. He is heading to Middlebury, CT this weekend to participate in Rev3’s Quassy triathlon. He will be competing in the Olympic Rev distance. This comes after a crazy 8 months of marathon running that includes a canceled NY marathon due to Hurricane Sandy, the Myles Standish Marathon in Plymouth, MA, a last minute NY replacement that was characteristic of New England’s unforgiving rolling hills, to the Boston marathon’s tragic bombing.
Young and fellow dwarf Juli Windsor were set to be the first dwarfs on record to finish the Boston Marathon. Young was at mile 25.7 when the explosions went off. His wife Sue and son Owen were at the finish line but thankfully were unharmed.
On April 30th 15 days after the Boston Marathon bombings, he finished what he started and completed the marathon. He said he was weeping as he finished the final mile. “I lost it,” he said, speaking of the moment his son gave him finisher’s medal. He put on his Twitter feed after finishing, “The chapter is finished. Only possible to do that with Sue and Owen both there with me.”
Young looks forward to heading back to Quassy this year and “getting that monkey of my back”. Young had to drop out last year after suffering a severe allergic reaction to the pollen in the water.
If you are wondering how he gets to the finish line after all those miles swimming, biking and running Young states it very simply.
“ There are different groups of people who motivate me to race. The first group are those who support and encourage me. Those are the people who help get me to the starting line. I also think about those people who doubt me or who at some point in my life told me I couldn’t do something. Those are the people who help get me to the end of a race. When my legs hurt and I want to quit, I think of proving those people wrong, and I am able to get to the finish line.”
If you find yourself at Rev3’s Quassy race this weekend, look for John and get ready to be inspired.
Fun facts about John:
coffee or tea? coffee
swim in am or pm? AM
favorite song? I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, by Mercyme. ”Till I Collapse” by Eminem
magazine or newspaper? Magazine.
Mac or PC? PC
favorite snack on bike ride? Trail mix
milk or dark chocolate? Dark
coke or pepsi? When I did drink it, coke, but now, sparkling water.
what is your most important thing to bring on your bike ride? Gatorade and a cell phone.
what are your three words to describe triathlon and what it means to you? START, HURT, and FINISH!
In my mind, the most important thing is to prepare well enough to get to the start line and be ready to race. While racing, expect it to hurt, because if it was easy, everyone would do it. Finish with a smile and enjoy the spoils of all that work and effort you put in to get you to race day.