|Servant to a Cause|
Women's dignity at heart of triathlete's extreme flats
By Kathleen Kenna
The first time Will Rogers saw an Ironman competition on TV, his reaction was: “Idiotic! These people are just freakin’ nuts — they’re insane.”
“Who would even think of doing that?” Rogers asked. For one, he did.
Fast forward a few decades: Rogers, 53, has done so many long-distance triathlons, he calls them “just a warm-up.”
“I don’t even do them anymore,” says the Vancouver paramedic. “It’s a graduation of levels; once you hit a certain level, you want to take it to the next step, and then the next step.” Rogers is combining his considerable capacity for endurance sport with a campaign to help stop sexual exploitation of women.
He’ll begin June 24 with a 22K swim from Tsawwassen, B.C. to Galiano Island, advance to a 440K bike tour from Penticton to Victoria on June 30 and July 1, and wrap with a 500K run, also from Penticton to Victoria, from July 9 to 22. The goal is to raise $1 million for Servants Anonymous Society, a charity recommended by a friend, Surrey Mayor Diane Watts, who met Rogers at a 2008 marathon.
Rogers is celebrating his 25th year as a Vancouver paramedic, and has structured his work and life into six months of maintenance training then six months of “hard core” training to prepare for this summer’s epic journey. That means 120K to 160K of cycling, 8K swims and 16K runs, each a couple of times a week.
“Many people drop out at this age,” Rogers says, jokingly calling himself “a triathlete gone crazy.” Rogers says he enjoys pushing his limits. “Besides, it separates me from the rest of the boys,” he laughs.
As a father of three, with five grandchildren, Rogers says he’s committed to helping young women so they can get treatment, go to school, and lead productive lives. The Servants Anonymous Society won the William. H. Donner Award in 2011 as best Canadian non-profit for addiction prevention and treatment. It won another Donner award for excellence in providing social services to Canadian women. Its motto is: “When you educate a woman, you change a generation.”
Will Rogers is doing his part to make that mission a reality.