Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/tbbh/public_html/blogs.teamtbb.com/wp-includes/ms-load.php on line 113
Hooray! Wongstar’s travel sponsor is an Ironman!!! « Jocelyn Wong's Blog


Hooray! Wongstar’s travel sponsor is an Ironman!!!

How does a first-year pro triathlete fund all the traveling and racing around the world?

presenting Mark, Wongstars official travel sponsor

presenting Mark Cathcart, the Wongstar's official travel sponsor

Well once upon a time, I met my future travel sponsor, Mark Cathcart.  On the internet, of all places, in the “blogosphere” as they say.  We have been blogging friends since…well maybe as far back as 2003??  Mark aka “Triman” knew me before I was anything close to a professional triathlete.  Like most of my blogging friends, he knew I harboured a not-so-secret desire to become a triathlon superstar and to be super fast, as delusional as I may have been as a 13-hour Ironman finisher.  In fact, he knew me before I went to grad school for prosthetics and orthotics (this is important to the story later, keep reading), and before I finished my two years of residency and became a certified prosthetist-orthotist.

We officially met in person in May of 2007–the same month I began seriously talking with Brett and Alex about becoming a development member of teamTBB.  Mark is from the UK but has lived in Austin, TX for many years; in 2007 I was living in Dallas for my orthotics residency and drove the 3 hours down to Austin to race at the Rookie Triathlon, a little sprint triathlon.  I finished as first amateur, partially because the fast amateur girls all raced the elite wave, and then Mark and I biked the 3 hours back to Austin together.

Over a year ago in the fall of 2008 I was getting ready for my first TBB training camp in Subic Bay, Philippines, and Mark stepped up to cover the cost of my airfare using his frequent flier miles.  He loved my enthusiasm and sparkly personality (who doesn’t?!) and really believed in me and wanted to help me go after my dreams.  This year, in 2009, he has helped tremendously with a large portion of my travel expenses, donating both $$$ and miles, and hooked me up with that sweet place in Orlando when we both raced the 70.3 there.  I got my pro card at that race, but unfortunately Mark had a bad reaction to the cortisone injections to his knee and ended up in the med tent for a while.

poor travel sponsor!

the smile came back after 2 IV's!

Well, Mark was doing this 70.3 in preparation for his very first Ironman, and I’m very proud to announce he finished IM Arizona yesterday!  What makes this accomplishment especially impressive is that multiple knee, hip, and back issues have plagued Mark since he was involved in a nearly fatal motor vehicle accident (motorbike vs. double decker bus) over 31 years ago.  His tibia and fibula were completely smashed and he lost 3 inches of bone in his right leg.  Instead of amputating, the doctors performed some radical procedures to try and salvage Mark’s leg.  He had been a very competitive soccer player but his activity became drastically impaired following the accident.  Subsequent surgeries (including a surgical re-break of the leg in 1991) and various infections have resulted in a right leg that is now 2 1/4 inches (about 6cm) shorter than the left side.  As you can imagine, having such a large leg length discrepancy causes many imbalances and wreaks havoc in an active body, and thus the multiple knee, hip, and back issues!

About 10 years ago, Mark began doing triathlons, primarily sprints and Olympic-distance races.  He actually competed at the ITU world championships for the Clydesdale “demonstration” category, and also represented Great Britain at the 2004 European champs.  However, on hilly courses, he found it very hard to produce power when one leg was significantly shorter than the other, and running for more than 5k would cause his knee to swell up over 1.5 inches!

When we first met a couple years ago, Mark had begun experimenting with various shoe build-ups on his running shoes, slowly increasing the height from an inch to two inches.  He had tried to fashion something similar for his cycling shoe too but it was much too heavy…and this is where Wongstar/MacGyver the Orthotist stepped in!  Before I left for my second training camp in Subic (February this year), I carved out a special wood block for Mark, which could be attached between the sole of his cycling shoe and his Look cleat.  It filled out the two inches between his foot and the bike pedal…

Wongstars magical wood block, side view.

Wongstar's magical wood block, side view.

lightweight and effective!

lightweight and effective!

I didn’t hear anything back for a few months until April, when Mark reported that it really made a difference with how his hips feel off the bike, and gave him more power going up the hills!  He even showed me a picture:

I should patent this.

I should patent this.

This was pretty exciting.  When we raced together the following month at the Florida 70.3, Mark mentioned being unhappy with the lift on his running shoe–it felt way too heavy and stiff, and the rollover from heel to toe just wasn’t very smooth.  As an orthotist I have done my share of building shoe lifts like these and so Mark asked me to take a look at his current shoes and see if I could improve them at all.  I carved a rocker bottom to the sole and drilled out some holes on the inner layers of crepe to make the build-up somewhat lighter, and we went on a short run together when he was in Silicon Valley for a business meeting.  After trying them for a few weeks at home, Mark liked my modifications so much he wanted a second pair built up from scratch!  This is where our travel sponsorship deal became a mutually beneficial partnership.  :)

this is what we call a leg length discrepancy

this is what we call a "leg length discrepancy"

Before I left for the Jeju ironman and subsequent Swiss training camp in July, I worked on a new pair of shoes for Mark…not content with what I had done before, I tried to make this shoe even lighter and more flexible than before.  I ended up doing a funky two-part build-up with a separate heel and forefoot–this would drastically reduce the weight of the shoe.  It was different than anything I’d ever seen and made before, but I figured, why not try it…he had a current pair that worked great if this new one didn’t work at all.  I was pretty happy for him when he received the shoes and said they were even better than the last pair!  The irony of it all is that we never expected the travel sponsor deal to turn out to be win-win for the both of us!

Wongstars magical shoe lift, side view

Wongstar's magical shoe lift, side view

magic shoe: bottom view

magic shoe: bottom view

So armed with the new Wongstar shoe lifts for biking and running, travel sponsor Mark was able to build up his training for his very first Ironman…and fulfill his dream of doing an Ironman yesterday!

thats him on the live video feed!!

that's him on the live video feed!!

And the Wongstar, armed with fantastic travel sponsorship this year, has been able to train for her very first season as a pro and is fulfilling and pursuing her dreams this year and beyond!!

Mark & Wongstar at the Florida 70.3 back in May

Mark & Wongstar at the Florida 70.3 back in May

Thanks Mark and congratulations!!!  I am so proud to be your sponsored athlete!!

P.S.  I just found out he was 2nd place in the Ironman Executive Challenge, 50+ category!!  :D

Please leave your comments on the forum.