Ironman more than a race for two friends
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- This weekend athletes will put skill and stamina to the test during Louisville's Ironman race. In a WDRB follow up report, we caught up with the Louisville athlete who is racing for a much bigger cause than himself after a life changing accident.
"It's been such a long road to get here so it's finally race day so it's going to be fun," said Jason Dierking.
Dierking will push his body hoping to finish the Ironman in ten hours or less Sunday but his friend Tom Morris will likely be in competition with his body for the rest of his life.
"It's just a challenge in my life right now," Morris told WDRB in March.
The two athletes met as strength and conditioning coaches at Indiana University. They formed a friendship training for triathlons. Then last May, everything changed. Morris hit something during a training ride, fell off his bike and broke his neck and spine.
"It just left me laying there on the ground," said Morris.
Morris was paralyzed from the chest down. After more than a year of grueling therapy, Morris is still in a wheelchair but is getting stronger. A bet they made after the accident will inspire them both this weekend -- Dierking will try to finish the Ironman fast enough to qualify for the Ironman in Hawaii -- if Morris will try to walk across the finish line.
"Half of it for me, half of it for Tom so it's like we're racing together again in spirit," said Dierking.
Dierking is also using the race to raise money for Frazier Rehab, where Morris was a patient. His Frazier Rehab Ironman Housing Fund helps other patients who need help paying for housing in Louisville or to offset transportation costs. Byron Dale gets a $50 gas card each week.
"With gas prices the way they are, it's a phenomenal help," said Dale.
"Knowing that I'm doing it for a bigger purpose makes it that much better," said Dierking.
A bigger purpose. An unbreakable friendship.
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