Triathlete doesn’t let cancer diagnosis get in the way of 300th race

Mike Morris crosses the finish line at the annual Smith Mountain Lake Triathlon on Saturday...
Mike Morris crosses the finish line at the annual Smith Mountain Lake Triathlon on Saturday morning.(Will Thomas)
Published: Apr. 30, 2022 at 5:25 PM EDT
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BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Completing triathlons is nothing new for Mike Morris.

“I did my first race in Richmond in 1985.”

Saturday morning’s Smith Mountain Lake Triathlon was the 300th Morris has completed. An almost four-decade journey that has taken him to all 50 states and four continents.

“The more I thought about it, the more it wasn’t about this race, but the journey here. The first 299 races, and to come here on my 25th founding of this race, it was just a dream come true.”

A journey that became a lot harder in August 2021.

“The first thing he said to me was you have stage four renal cancer, I can’t cure it and you’ll die from it.”

But Morris wasn’t going to let that diagnosis stop him from living his life.

“There’s no rulebook. They never handed me a rulebook and said you can’t do this, and this is what I’ve been doing for the last 37 years. I’ve been swimming, running and biking and I just decided that I’m going to do it.”

Roars of cheers could be heard as Morris approached the finish line and he was surrounded by friends as he completed the milestone. It was a day he made sure he was going to share with close friend David Daggett, who completed his 200th triathlon.

”I just consider him a great friend and an idol and it just meant the world to me to be here with him.”

A friendship that will continue on the track and off it.

“Mike is a hero to this whole community and you always know when Mike’s around because you hear him before he gets to you. But his heart is the only thing he has that’s bigger than his voice.”

Morris now looks to the coming months, which have a lot in store.

“What I wanted to do was to survive to this day. I have two grandchildren that are going to be born this summer and I’d like to see them both born. So that’s as far as I’m going to go out to August and then if I make that we’ll look at something else, maybe get to my birthday in October.”

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