A different breed of triathlete that inspires

Jirome De Castro - A triathlete and dystonia awareness advocate

Published by Paul Caneda
on August 31, 2020


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Triathlon is one of the toughest sport there is, according to an article that rated in 2019 the top 10 endurance sports, Triathlon ranks #2. Athletes who have joined a triathlon knows the preparation and training that it requires to get to the level of mental and physical conditioning that will enable a participant to finish the race.

When the COVID crisis hit, it showed how challenging it is for triathletes to maintain their level of fitness as they are mostly confined to indoor training and can only do stretch cords for swimming, but it cannot simulate what it is like to be back to the water.

Not just confined to athletes, what the crisis also did is that it revealed what we are made of when faced with adversity that we can do very little or absolutely nothing about. In a time like this, and in most situations that put us in a position to dig deep, we often try to draw inspiration from people who have overcome adversities and have experienced far worse than what we are facing and yet has been able to embrace their situation and come out victorious.

Speaking of adversity, imagine now that you will join a triathlon having cervical dystonia, also called spasmodic torticollis, is a painful condition in which your neck muscles contract involuntarily, causing your head to twist or turn to one side. Cervical dystonia can also cause your head to uncontrollably tilt forward or backward.

Jirome De Castro is such an athlete, he has been diagnosed with cervical dystonia in July 2015 and has battled all that this painful condition has thrown at him. Instead of letting dystonia get the best of him, he has used it to spur on further in marathons, multisport, and triathlons.

70.3 Ironman 2018 - Photo by: Roderick Petogo

Since the time that he was diagnosed, he has participated in 31 running events, 5 of which are marathons where he had his best finish at 9th place. He has also participated and finished in 19 multisport events of which 6 are standard triathlons and 2 are half ironman. The last standard triathlon event that he joined before COVID hit was in October 2019 where he finished 12th in his age group. His primary motivation is that he is now inspired to be an advocate of dystonia awareness. As he has said in one of his blogs.


“Currently, I am serving people with XDP a severe kind of dystonia only found in male Filipinos whose roots can be traced in Panay, Philippines. These people feel that they are being misunderstood by our society. Until I found myself representing them. My service to them has brought me a deeper purpose of my pain and suffering. Every time I represent them in my own little way (during my races), the feeling of “sincere gratitude” is there. Helping them has brought me a sense of fulfillment. Now I can confidently say that there is “joy” in all the pain and suffering I am feeling everyday”


Jirome finishing the Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2018

People who are into endurance sports show us how to have grit. But there is a breed of people who participate in endurance sports inspite of having tremendous physical challenge like dystonia, they inspire us to have something better which is fortitude.

Whenever I am discouraged and even complaining about an adversity that I am facing, especially when it is physical, I find myself getting encouragement from Jirome because he shows the way that what seemingly is almost impossible for most people, can be conquered by taking on the challenge and finding a way to use it to develop an indomitable spirit.

So no matter where you are or whatever your situation is, get out there and soldier on, because we all have the capacity to inspire and encourage others and stir them towards making that first step and have them pursue and achieve their finish line.

Above standard triathlon finish in July 2018 - Photo by: Brian Dee


 

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Published by Paul Caneda
on August 31, 2020


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