Triathlon champ overcomes odds

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David Kyle races to victory in a recent triathlon in New York City. The Alabama resident, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, is competing on Sunday in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon.

Competitor David Kyle suffers from multiple sclerosis. He motivated himself to get in shape after spending more than a year suffering in depression and nonactivity and now competes in triathlons, including this weekend’s Nautica Malibu Triathlon.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

David Kyle woke up one morning in his Florida home five years ago to a strange feeling of numbness throughout his body. Eventually, he became paralyzed from his chest down. However, it was only temporary, and his body returned to normal shortly after. But, six months later, the symptoms returned with his entire right side becoming paralyzed, and he became weak and numb. A doctor informed Kyle that he was suffering from relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the nervous system and for which there is no cure, but there are treatments.

For the first year, Kyle spent most of the time on the couch, depressed. He said his wife and three children also suffered as they watched him suffer.

“Really, I was just bag of bones sitting there on the couch,” Kyle said.

Then, in 2003, a doctor prescribed a drug for him called Copaxone, which helped with his MS symptoms. Also, he decided he was finally going to get off the couch, and begin to get back into shape by doing triathlons.

“My doctors said, ‘You’re insane.’ I was walking with a cane,” Kyle said. “I was pretty bad off.”

Kyle said he chose to get in shape for triathlons because “it was the craziest thing I could do to prove MS wrong. I’m just kind of a rebel with a cause.”

He began working out by doing 100-yard jogs, biking short distances and swimming a couple laps in the pool. Each month, Kyle was able to go a little farther. And by 2004, he was ready to compete in a sprint triathlon in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“It felt great,” Kyle said. “Of course, I was totally exhausted after the race. But I just said, ‘Let’s keep going.’ And I started doing races every few months. And I just kept training.”

One look at the physically fit 35-year-old, a person would never know he suffers from MS. But he does compete against fellow disabled athletes in the competitions. And on Sunday, Kyle looks to defend his title from last year in the Challenged Athlete division at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon.

He is also looking toward the future, with a hope to appear in the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. The triathlon is not an official medal event at the Paralympics, but Kyle hopes that will change.

Kyle now lives in Huntsville, Ala., where he works as a physical education teacher. In his spare time he raises funds to find a cure for MS, and he speaks to others with the disease.

“I tell them you might not be able to do triathlons, but you can still live a normal life,” Kyle said. “You’ve got to use it or lose it.”

New charity for triathlon

A portion of the money raised through the 21st edition of the Nautica Malibu Triathlon will go toward the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. In past years, the charity has been the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

The race on Sunday begins at 7:15 a.m. with a half-mile swim in the Pacific Ocean off Zuma Beach. This will be followed by an 18-mile bike ride along Pacific Coast Highway to Leo Carrillo Beach and back, and a four-mile run to Point Dume and back will make up the final leg of the race.

A laundry list of celebrities and high profile community members is expected to compete in the race. Among them are actors David Duchovny and William H. Macy, Olympic gold medalist swimmer Amanda Beard and Mayor Pro Tem Pamela Conley Ulich.

There will be other events surrounding the triathlon race including a festival on Zuma Beach on Saturday. The event, which begins at 10 a.m., will have a sand castle demonstration, beach expo with interactive booths, and various sports and nutrition clinics. Also, on the day of the race at 11 a.m., there will be a tot trot and children’s race for the youngsters.

More information on the weekend festivities can be obtained online at www.nauticamalibutri.com.