When Andrea Kardos was 20 she was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. By the time she was 23, Andrea underwent surgery to remove her entire colon. This did not stop Andrea from competing in various endurance events both locally and nationally.
In fact, it may have inspired her.
This year Andrea is looking to compete in the Whistler Half-Marathon and a number of long distance cycling and multi-sport events, including Ultraman Canada, a 3-day, 512K race that involves a 10K swim, 418K bike and an 84K run.
Andrea hopes to contend but she also hopes to tell a story about an illness that, despite afflicting 200,000 Canadians no one wants to talk about. Dave Clark, race director of the Whistler Half-Marathon, is also hoping to start a conversation and like Andrea, for Clark the cause is deeply personal.
“We started the half marathon here in Whistler,” he said, “inspired by my wife and her fight against Crohn’s disease. We are determined to do what we can to help move the world closer to a cure for IBD [Inflammatory Bowel Disease]. We are honoured and humbled by the success of the event – having sold out both years we have held it. We are even more excited by the fact that we feel we are a small part in growing awareness that is crucial to the next steps in finding the cures,” states Clark.
His wife, Wendy, continues to be an avid mountain biker in the summer and skier in the winter months. “She has a true fighting spirit which I am witness to daily with her battle against Crohn’s disease.”
Not everyone who suffers from inflammatory bowel disease is as fortunate as Wendy or Andrea and it is this reality that has provided the impetus behind the Whistler Half-Marathon.
There are easier ways to raise money and despite selling out for the last two years only seven per cent of registration money goes towards finding a cure. That seven per cent, however, is still far ahead of what most races give to charity.
According to Clark, the lion’s share of the registration funds go towards logistics that are so common at races that athletes only notice them (and often complain) when they are absent.
In order to run a safe race, provide accurate timing and deliver a positive experience that will attract new athletes while retaining veterans, the breathtaking Whistler scenery is the only aspect of this event that is free. Before the starting gun even fires races must manage traffic, which includes control personal, advisory signage, rental of thousands of traffic cones, and of course, police. Short-term contract positions for operations management must also be hired. Throw in registration processing fees, taxes, audio production, awards, loot bags, medals and of course the ubiquitous port-a-potties, and seven per cent starts to look awfully generous.
Last year, seven per cent translated in to $17,000 for the cure and for Clark and the 200,000 Canadians who live with IBD, this is the number that matters.