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Competitors get set for Triangle Challenge

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Top international competitors will join home-grown athletes for The Royal Gazette Bermuda Triangle Challenge this weekend.

However, for some competitors the race is about more than a chance of a medal.

Ken Lehman, who grew up in Bermuda, but now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said the race was less about himself than it is about 16-year-old McKenna Bowes.

McKenna is an aspiring athlete whose path to become an elite runner was halted by a serious medical condition.

Mr Lehman said: “I coached her since she was a kid. She is a pretty significant runner who was going to a division one university to run track, when she collapsed during a race.

“Her father and her family took her to get tested. It happened again and that's when the doctor found she had non-curable lupus.”

He said that he has helped raise $4,500 to combat lupus in her honour.

This year, he will be joined by nine others, including McKenna's father, and will run in custom-made #kennastrong shirts.

Mr Lehman said running could be a “solitary, selfish” sport, but the knowledge that he was running for a good cause made the experience worthwhile.

He added: “When you're doing it for someone else, it makes those long miles easier because you're not alone.”

He said the race will also be a bittersweet one for him as it will be the first since his mother, Debbie Loader, died in December.

Mr Lehman said: “For her to have passed away as I was coming home is really poignant.

“With her looking on from heaven and McKenna on my mind, I think it's going to be like I am shot out of a cannon that day.”

Lisa Gorke, from New York, said she was thrilled to be able to run in the event.

Ms Gorke explained she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes three years ago.

She said: “I was overweight and never thought I would be a runner. I had never run before prior to about two and a half years ago.

“I felt terrible and knew something had to change.”

Ms Gorke said she joined up with a group of friends, lost weight and began to compete in races to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which funds programmes to combat type 1 diabetes.

She added she and her friends were immediately interested after they heard about The Royal Gazette Bermuda Triangle Challenge.

Ms Gorke said: “There's really nothing like it that we found anywhere else, challenging ourselves over three days and just seeing what our bodies are capable of. And Bermuda's beautiful, which helps.”

Mr Lehman and Ms Gorke will be joined in the competition by Kevin Maloney, who will be returning for his fifth year.

The Long Island, New York insurance industry executive, with friend Mike Almskog, has run in the event to raise cash for the St Baldrick's Foundation, which funds research into childhood cancer, in tribute to his wife, Lisa, who died of the disease in 2016.

His efforts have raised almost $228,000 for the charity.

Mr Maloney is a senior vice-president with Allied World Insurance, which has a major presence on the island.

Mr Almskog works for insurance giant AIG, which also has an office in Bermuda and is headed by Bermudian Brian Duperreault.

Mr Maloney's donation page for St Baldrick's can be found at www.stbaldricks.org/fundraisers/forLisa

Looking forward: Lisa Gorke is excited about taking part ( Photograph provided)
Not giving up: McKenna Bowes's sporting journey has been hampered by illness (Photograph provided)

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Published January 15, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated January 15, 2020 at 3:19 pm)

Competitors get set for Triangle Challenge

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