DES MOINES, Iowa — It was 10 days until the big race, and Doug Staudt was pumped to put his mental toughness and willpower to the test yet again by competing on both land and water.
Staudt planned on participating in the IRONMAN 70.3, also known as the half IRONMAN, just as he'd done three times prior. The triathlon consists of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run.
"I just fell in love with the camaraderie of the people in the sport, and it's really kind of been home for me ever since," Staudt said.
While cycle training in 2021, Staudt was crossing the street when suddenly an SUV ran a red light and hit him.
"I had a green light to go across the crosswalk and I saw a car coming, and he looked like he saw me and was slowing down and made the eye contact," Staudt said. "He obviously didn't see me."
Staudt suffered several serious injuries, including a torn ACL, a torn meniscus in two places, a broken tibia and a broken hand.
While he was disappointed he wouldn't be able to compete, he was grateful to have survived and was determined to return to competition.
This weekend, his recovery will come full circle as he competes in the IRONMAN triathlon in Des Moines.
"After physical therapy and spending some time with a therapist as well, learning how to work through things and process all of that, I decided to sign up for this race," Staudt said. "When they announced this race, it was the one year anniversary of the bike accident that I had. So, I kind of felt it was the universe, karma or someone sending me a message that 'Yeah, you needed to get back on it and give it a go again.'"
While he may have lost the opportunity to compete that year, he gained a new perspective on life – including the importance of gratitude and not taking a single day for granted.