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Racing for Recovery: An Iron Man Story

Racing for Recovery: An Iron Man Story

Hard to say what’s more impressive – 29 years of sobriety or 99 Ironman competitions. On the one hand, nearly 30 years of sobriety is beyond enviable. Then again, so are 99 Ironman Triathlons. Both require unmitigated drive. Both require indomitable determination. And both are owned by Todd Crandell, the man behind Racing for Recovery.

The Sober Triathlete

Todd Crandell was six years into sobriety before he decided to step up his game even further. To most folks, that would mean simply making an extra meeting or two each week or perhaps adding another service day to their personal equation. Crandell is not most folks. In fact, he’s not even close. Because rather than simply take bigger 12 Steps, he decided to swim, bike and run for over 140 miles.

That’s right. Over 140 miles. That’s how many miles Crandell covered back in 1999. Why? Because that’s the distance of the Ironman Triathlon. Since then he’d repeat the process 99 times.

Okay, so Crandell didn’t technically compete in 99 full-length Triathlons. He has competed in 31 of them though. He’s also competed in 50 Ironman 70.3 events, as well as two Ultraman events. And if knocking off 70.3 miles a full 50 times doesn’t impress you, perhaps you’ll be swayed by the 320 miles he covered twice. You’ll be especially swayed once you learn Crandell knocked off one of those three-day endurance tests during the very same week he pulled off a full-length Ironman, in two separate countries no less! Yep, after completing Ultraman Hawaii’s 6.2 miles of swimming, 260 miles of biking and 52.4 miles of running over the course of three days, he continued Down Under for the Ironman Western Australia.

Crandell was the only person in the world to do so that year.

Racing for Recovery

We’re not the first outlet to cover Todd Crandell and Racing for Recovery. In fact, we’re far from it. That’s okay though. Because when an endeavor generates widespread attention, it’s bound to be a worthy endeavor. That’s especially so when the attention really is more akin to acclaim. Or maybe Crandell just fast-talked everyone at CNN, ESPN, The Doctors, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Runner’s World and Triathlete Magazines.

Of course Crandell didn’t fast-talk anyone, anywhere. He didn’t need to. His story is inspiring enough on its own. If anything, Crandell might have had to tone down the specifics. After all, he’s put up some rather impressive numbers.

Then again, that’s what impressive people do – put up impressive numbers. But it’s not just the nearly 30 years of sobriety or the 99 triathlons that so impresses us (though both are double-plus impressive), it’s the two decades of service represented by Racing for Recovery. After all, adding 20 years of service to such an overbooked life shows true altruism.

Racing for Recovery was founded in 2001, one suspects by Crandell alone. The non-profit now however boasts a 20-person staff and a headquarters in Holland, Ohio. The headquarters are on the aptly-named Trust Drive. And it’s there where Crandell and company offer an array of services, including support group meetings, intensive outpatient groups (IOP), individual and family counseling, interventions, assessments, specialized treatment plans, speaking engagements, and urinalysis testing. The goal is “to help develop and promote a balanced holistic lifestyle.” The kind of balance needed to handle a triathlon, as well as to simply stay strong and sober.

Choices and Consequences

Crandell himself is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with Supervision Designation (LPCC-S), as well as a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC), a certification awarded by the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board. He’s also a Certified Ironman Coach. So he’s more than qualified to run Racing for Recovery. Throw in his experience though, both in the field and in competition, and you get enough story to generate some kickass motivational speaking. It would also seem to be enough ammo to warrant a book.

That’s undoubtedly why Crandell racked Choices and Consequences. Released in 1999, with a little help from Lauren Kanne, Choices seems to serve as both something of a guidebook, as well as an inspirational memoir.

Through stories, science, and interviews this book explores the choices we make around addiction and trauma. Charting a course through tragic consequences to a balanced, healthy, holistic lifestyle isn’t easy, but following the plans outlined here makes it simple.

We’ll take the blurb at its word. Why not? It’s straight from the source. Besides, Crandell has a couple other titles to his credit. One of those titles concerns the 12 Steps (There’s More Than One Way to Get to Cleveland); the other goes from addiction to triathlete without missing Go (Racing for Recovery: From Addict to Ironman).

Pure Euphoria

Crandell also has what might best be called a Self Help Movie. It’s called Pure Euphoria: A Journey of Consciousness. Here Crandell not only shows how he “reached his higher purpose by pushing his body, mind and spirit to the limit,” but tags along as he “swims, bikes, and runs through mystical terrain.”

“This is not about me… it’s about you” says the site. And it goes on to call the journey “the ultimate race of self-betterment.”

Todd Crandell is the living proof that anything is possible, it continues, echoing Racing for Recovery’s “with sobriety, anything is possible.” Oddly enough, “anything is possible” also happens to be the tagline of the official Ironman.

Healing Properties

Healing Properties applauds Todd Crandell, not just for his achievements (though all are certainly applaudable), but for the way he’s put his achievements to work – for himself, as well as for others. We also commend his for so tenaciously sticking to his cause, regardless of what it was. We’ve personally never swam 1.2 miles, biked 56 miles and ran 13.1 miles, at one or any time. And we most certainly never did double that. We do know though that running a non-profit can sometimes require every hour of every single day and more. To be able to do both, let alone to such a tremendous degree is commendable in ways we can’t even explain.

We also congratulate Crandell on his near-30 years of sobriety. Depression and addiction are two of the most debilitating afflictions every identified. To keep both at bay for three solid decades is cause for daily celebration. We hope Crandell gets to do so every single day.

How about you? Are you suffering depression and/or addiction? Have you decided to fight? Would you like some help? Then please give us a call. You don’t need to sign up for a full or even a half triathlon. Heck, you don’t even need to run any laps. But it’s a cinch that sobriety will get you back in running form. Better yet, you’ll now be toward things rather than away from them.

(Image: Stockvault)

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