Jeff and John Agar face three incredibly difficult events at the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii this Saturday, but it really comes down to just two things:
• The bond between Jeff, a father who never even ran a 5K until seven years ago, and his son with cerebral palsy.
• The message each looks to share – the father, that there are achievements far beyond our limits, and the son, who has turned a disability into an ability to inspire.
Jeff Agar will swim 2.4 miles and pull his son on a float, then bike 112 miles with John in tow and then do the same pushing him for 25 of the 26-mile run.
What about that last mile?
John plans to walk it to the finish line.
“Right now, it’s like we’re into the postseason for us now because we’re about at the last stage,” said John Agar, a junior at Aquinas College. “Every training session really counts now.”
The Agars have been profiled nationally numerous times following John’s inspiring last mile walk to the finish in Rockford on August 2013. Since, they have been guests of the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, to name a few, and befriended players on each. John, a huge sports fans, is a sports management major at Aquinas.
They’ve also done several half marathons together and picked up the pace beginning in April when they learned they could compete in the Ironman. They did a half iron triathlon distance at the Michigan Titanium on Aug. 21, but nothing that approaches the endurance event in Hawaii.
“This is just taking it to a whole other level of crazy,” chuckled Jeff Agar, a former pitcher in the Detroit Tigers organization.
The 53-year-old, normally vice president and general manager at Genesis Seating Inc., is immersed in training sometimes two to three times a day. When he flops into bed, he’s out.
Aside from the inspiration, there are real concerns. It won’t be easy. The 190-pound Agar is especially worried about the bike portion. Tack on his son’s weight plus the chariot and that’s another 150 pounds to pull along some steep slopes in Kona under often windy conditions.
“All of our training of late has revolved around getting faster on the bike while still trying to prepare for the other events,” said Agar, who has practiced by riding up the hills on Fulton near Grand River with the chariot and 150 pounds of sand bags in tow.
They must make the cutoff of 12 hours and 50 minutes for the first two legs or they will be forced to retire. If they do make it, then John’s daily training comes into play for the finish.
The younger Agar, usually confined to a wheelchair, has a walker on wheels he calls Miggy (for Miguel Cabrera). He’s working to improve his mile time that will, in turn, relieve the speed his father must run to make the 17-hour overall cutoff to finish the race.
“I think I can do it in 30 minutes, ” he said of the mile walk. That would be about 30 minutes faster than at Mitchell’s Run.
As they’ve trained and shared their workouts on social media, they’ve been contacted by thousands who have been inspired by their achievements – even before they take to the course.
It’s may not be about the finish line as much as the journey.
“It has been so gratifying all that we’ve experienced,” said Becki Agar, Jeff’s wife and mother of John. “Trying at times, but the support has been incredible, just beautiful.
“Jeff and Johnny have always been so close, and this has really brought them even closer.”
As crazy as the challenge seems, Jeff Agar knows there’s a message he carries through his son that he hopes inspires others.
“It’s an accomplishment that not long ago was something you never thought he’d be able to do,” he said of his son. “We’ve heard from literally thousands of people. It really shows you can set your sights higher in life than what you even imagined.
“Look at me. Seven years ago I had never done a 5K. And to now maybe complete an Ironman in this way? Seven years ago I would have said that was 100 percent impossible.”
article by Peter Wallner from MLive News Sept. 22, 2016