For Greg Andricopulos the road to the Ironman has been bumpy to say the least.
Greg’s first triathlon, Bangs Lake in August of 2009, was a brutal endeavor after a wipe out on his bike left him covered in road rash and bruises. Click here for those gruesome details.
Not one to let a few rocks embedded in his arms and knees slow him down, Andricopulos finished Bangs Lake and continued to set new goals at different distances, with a grand finale of Ironman- Madison 2012.
Like most of us Greg is busy, very. He lives in the Northern suburbs, but works on the West coast, which made for a hectic and imaginative training routine.
Couple that with spending time with his daughter, and the road to the finish line was something littered with obstacles and distractions, including a motorcycle accident that left him hospitalized.
Despite all of those things, it didn’t stop Greg, only made him work harder. In the heat, cold, rain and different time zones, Greg continued on.
Unlike some other athletes, Greg didn’t ask for sponsorships, free bikes, write a blog or any other special attention. Greg just trained hard.
It was on a training run a month before Madison, while he was running in the dark, Greg took yet another spill, throwing his back into spasms.
As history has shown, pain doesn’t stop Greg, it may slow him down, but never stop him. He worked through the pain, after three years he could see his goal and wasn’t going to let something as silly as pain slow him down.
Saturday night, the night before the race, as Greg got ready to lay his head on his pillow, he got a phone call that changed everything. His 17 year old daughter was being rushed to the hospital, back in Chicago, her appendix had burst. She needed her dad.
Without giving it a second thought, Greg jumped into his car and raced back to the area to be by his daughters side. The Ironman was no longer a thought in his head, “I don’t care about the race, she is more important than any triathlon, always will be.”
The Ironman was over. So he thought. As he sat by his daughter’s side, she told him “go back to Madison dad, finish the race for me.”
“She has been my motivation this entire time and now she was pushing me to finish our journey.”
Sleep the night before an Ironman isn’t something that comes easy to most athletes, but it’s not mixed with a three hour drive, a sore back in the middle of the night, it can be a recipe for disaster.
Arriving a few hours before the cannon went off, Greg Andricopulos was back in Madison and ready to race, for his daughter.
“Now nothing was going to stop me from finishing.”
15 plus hours later, Greg Andricopulos, crossed the finish line, a newly minted Ironman.
Crossing the finish line isn't something that defines who you are inside, for many athletes it's the journey that gets them to the starting like that truly defines them. Obstacles, pain, disease, disability and how they deal with it all, is what counts. Those people who know Greg, know he is a man of a stronger medal than iron. He is a role model to his daughter, a shoulder to his friends, an example to other athletes and yes, ladies single(FYI).
Welcome to the club Greg. We are all proud of you for crossing the finish line and so much more.