#BayBlog: The Grandman Series
Racing for a Cause
Interview with Clint Martin, President and Founder of myTeam Triumph: Southern Alabama, one of the beneficiaries of the 2016 Publix Grandman Triathlon.
On June 4, Mobile Baykeeper is hosting the 12th Annual Publix Grandman Triathlon at the Fairhope Municipal Pier at 7 a.m. The race is a sprint triathlon consisting of a 1/3-mile swim, 18 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile run along beautiful Mobile Bay, featuring 700-800 racers and requiring up to 150 volunteers.
Along with Mobile Baykepeer and Gulf Coast Triathletes, one of the beneficiaries of the Grandman this year is myTeam Triumph: Southern Alabama, an athletic ride along program founded in 2014. In this edition of #BayBlog, we sit down with Clint Martin to learn more about the powerful and inspiring story behind this wonderful organization.
For those of us who aren’t familiar with myTeam Triumph, give us a brief description of what the program is and how the races work.
myTeam Triumph is an athletic ride along program for individuals with disabilities or special needs who would normally not be able to experience endurance events such as road races or triathlons. Individuals with muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and other conditions are side by side with other athletes competing. We provide the equipment and the volunteers to push and pull them through the races, and they provide the inspiration. The teams are made up of "Captains", the participants with disabilities, and "Angels", the athletes who have the honor of pushing and pulling the captains through the race.
You started myTeam Triumph here in 2014, but initially were inspired several years back. Tell us about your first experience seeing people help racers with disabilities complete triathlons.
About 6 or 7 years ago, I saw an Ironman Triathlon video on the incredible story of Dick and Rick Hoyt, a father and son duo who have been racing together fore more than 30 years. Rick, who has cerebral palsy, is out there competing just like everyone else. After watching it, I thought wow – that’s just amazing. If I had a child with a disability I would definitely want to do that.
When did you initially get the idea to start something like that here in Fairhope?
In 2013, I was working out at the Fairhope Pier and see a girl in a wheelchair down at the park watching me go up and down the stairs to the bluff. It made me think – who is that guy that pushed his son in the Ironman? Would this girl want to do something like that? The more I thought about it, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. This is it – I’ve got to do something.
So what was the next step? When did myTeam Triumph come into the picture?
After seeing the girl at the Pier, I called the Hoyt Foundation and told them I was inspired by what they do and that I wanted to do the same thing here. They gave me some great insight, and after doing some research, I learned about myTeam Triumph and started the Southern Alabama chapter here in 2014.
How has the Southern Alabama chapter grown and evolved over the last two years?
Our first race was in Fall 2014. We started with four to five Angels and three Captains. Today, we have over 90 registered Angels and 25 registered Captains. It has been amazing to see the progress we have made so far. People see us at these races and they come up to us and ask how they can get involved.
At first, we had to seek races out. Some people, for whatever reason, are apprehensive at first. But once they understand it better and once they see it – everything always changes. This is what happens at every race. It’s pretty awesome to see.
How did you first get involved with the Grandman, and why is this race a good fit for myTeam Triumph?
I have personally competed in the Grandman prior to 2015. With it being in our backyard right on the Bay, it's a very special and unique race. I enjoyed it so much on a personal level that I wanted myTeam Triumph to participate as well. Fortunately, we were welcomed with open arms by Casi and the rest of her staff. We are so thankful that The Grandman is run by a caring group of individuals and an organization that does great things for this community.
Besides the Grandman, myTeam Triumph has a busy schedule of races throughout the year. What other races can people see you race who might want to get involved?
2015 was our first full year of races. We entered in the Grandman Triathlon, Run Forrest Run 5K, Senior Bowl 10K, First Light Marathon, the Joe Cain 5K, and the Spring Fever Chase to name a few. We are still looking to fill in some gaps here and there, but our goal is to have one race a month, and repeat that same race every year.
What are your main goals to achieve in the future?
Our primary goal is raise awareness for inclusion. Inclusion. Inclusion. Inclusion. We have changed a lot of people’s perceptions as they are running in the races. I can’t count the number of people who have come up to us and say – wow, I had no idea something like this even existed. We just want to get the message out and show people that anyone can participate in these events, regardless of their disabilities.
What’s the most rewarding part about starting myTeam Triumph in Alabama?
It’s such an incredible experience to see our Captains cross the finish line for the first time in a race that neither them or their parents would have even imagined them competing in. Every time that happens – it’s just amazing.
It’s equally as rewarding for the Angels and the Captains. We have created such a strong sense of family and community amongst ourselves. It’s a nice break for the families too. They come to the races and its therapeutic for them. They meet people in similar situations and see their kids doing things they never thought to be possible.
How can people get involved?
I’ve found the best way for someone to get involved is to pick up the phone and call us at 251-458-8999. Because what we do encompasses so many disabilities and abilities alike, having a conversation with someone wanting to get involved is the best way to pinpoint where their talents can best be utilized.
For more information:
Publix Grandman Triathlon: visit the official Grandman website, "Like" the Grandman Triathlon Facebook Page, and follow @GrandmanTri on Twitter. Call 251-433-4229 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.