Ed Sproull knows the hardest part of the Issaquah Triathlon that he and his wife Linda will run Saturday will be the transitions between stages.
Like the rest of the participants, Ed will come out of the first stage of the race, the 1/4 mile swim in Lake Sammamish, and change out of his wet suit. Like the rest of the participants, Ed will throw on his cycling shoes in preparation for the 15 bike ride.
Unlike the rest of the participants, Ed Sproull will change legs.
“I don’t just get to change shoes,” Ed said with a laugh. “I get to change limbs.”
Ed, 54, lost his left leg in a 1981 motorcycle accident, but that won’t stop him Saturday. Using three different prosthetics and seven months of hard work, the husband and wife from Bellevue see nothing that can stop them from finishing their first-ever triathlon.
Not too long ago, neither would have thought Saturday possible. In little more than a year, the Sproull’s have dropped more than 130 pounds between them in an effort to live a healthier lifestyle. The push came after Ed watched his father pass away from hardened arteries, kidney failure and other ailments.
“I was telling my dad all my life ‘you need to exercise, you need to exercise,'” he said. “One day I looked into the mirror and said ‘Wow, you aren’t practicing what you’re preaching.'”
The motivation was there. Getting started was the hard part.
“I was a couch potato,” Linda, 48, said. “I’d never run all my life. At my high school, if you were in the band, you didn’t have to do PE.”
The couple joined the Pro Club in Bellevue, and enrolled in the club’s 20/20 program, a wellness program that has its members list out goals. Last year, the Sproull’s goal was to complete the Seattle to Portland bicycle ride.
Last July, they checked that off the list.
“We got done, and [Pro Club trainers] said ‘Well, what’s your next goal?'” Ed said. “And Linda says, ‘I want to do a triathlon.’ I looked down at my leg and just went ‘OK!'”
Away they went. With the help of his sponsor, Hanger Prosthetics, Ed has a specially designed leg for each stage of the race. For the swim, it’s a leg with a lever that moves the ankle so the foot locks outward. For the 15-mile bike ride, Ed has a specialized bike to go along with a custom-made leg that snaps into the pedal just like a normal biking shoe would. For the final stage, Ed has a running prosthetic, much like one sees during the Paralympics.
“I can actually change a leg really fast,” Ed said. “It just snaps on.”
The triathlon, both say, is just another waypoint on the roadmap to healthy living, not an end. In fact, the couple plans on doing the Moses Lake Triathlon the following weekend. In all, they’ve lined up 10-11 events this summer, with the possibility of picking up a few more along the way, they say. Ed wants to eventually do the Olympic distance Triathlon (.93 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike, 6.2 mile run); Linda hopes to run a half-marathon.
“The whole goal for me was to use this event as a mechanism to keep my training going,” Linda said.
“It’s the journey, not the destination,” Ed added.
It also serves another purpose for Ed; to show that nothing can hold a person back from achieving their goals.
“If I can inspire other people to do it,” he said. “Being there, and doing it on one leg…I’d like to show that it can be done.”