By Dana Willett
If ever there were a story of determination and triumph, this is one. Meet Richard Kalasky, Atlanta native, resident of Morrison, CO for the last eight years. During these years in Colorado Richard has made significant lifestyle changes, prompted by a harsh, painful diagnosis: he was told by a doctor in Crested Butte that he was “too fat to live at altitude” and needed to move back to sea level. Richard says that was his “a-ha” moment.
Suffering from multiple health concerns, including high blood pressure, diabetes and sleep apnea, Richard decided to fight his obesity. Just three years ago, at the age of 35, he had lost 100 pounds and decided to start running. Once he’d overcome that hurdle, he set his sights on Ironman.
He has now lost 160 pounds and competed in multiple 70.3’s, as well as completing Ironman Louisville and Ironman St. George. He is headed to Arizona this weekend to finish his third full Ironman in three years, just three days after turning 38.
Richard has clearly embraced an entirely new lifestyle, turning his angst into opportunity, and his self-pity into success. He started a company called O2EA, Overweight to Endurance Athlete, and lectures on the national circuit on obesity and fitness. He races for Team TriBike Transport and is part of the E3 Multisport TRIBE, under Coach Eric Doehrman. Richard is also a USAT coach and his athletes on the O2EA team benefit from his first-hand experience. “I get emotional every time that I see a client cross that finish line, because I know what it takes to get there,” he says.
Richard credits the Colorado Triathlon community with much of his success. He explains, “Despite my challenges and not being your ‘typical triathlete,’ they have embraced me and have always been more than supportive of not only myself, but my athletes that I coach as well. I have always felt that I was part of the group! There is always a wealth of information, knowledge, and willingness to help each other.”
Ironman Arizona represents a significant “come-back” milestone for Richard, after losing 80% of his stomach due to a medical issue last December. His clients, colleagues and friends look to him for inspiration, and that is an important part of what motivates him. “I look forward to being a role model for my athletes and friends and family that support me. It is an amazing sense of accomplishment knowing what I have had to overcome in the last few years. It is a great venue and I can’t wait to see everyone tracking me and cheering me on across the finish line hopefully to a big PR! I love to cross that finish line to see some of my athletes there and the motivation they get from seeing me being able to accomplish anything that I set out to do.”
“As I tell my athletes all the time, anything is possible,” Richard continues. “I am always driving to better myself and hope that it will just motivate one person to make a difference in their life. If you want it bad enough, you will accomplish it. Trust in yourself and your coach. Don’t let anything stand in your way!”
Good luck, Richard!