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Deanna McCurdy is currently ranked the #1 off-road triathlete in her age group by USA Triathlon. Last year she won the XTERRA Triathlon Rocky Mountain Region Champion award, was the 1st overall amateur at the XTERRA PanAm Championships/USA Championships and placed 2nd in her age group at XTERRA World Championships in Maui. Most recently Mccurdy was selected to Team USA to compete at the ITU Cross Worlds in Penticton, Canada this coming August.

A 42-year old mother of two, McCurdy’s youngest daughter who is almost nine, has a neurodevelopmental disorder called Angelman Syndrome (AS). She cannot speak, has a seizure disorder, sleep issues, cognitive and developmental delays, as well as balance and coordination issues. She did not take her first steps independently until she was 3 1/2, still cannot run, catch a ball or put on her shoes by herself. Yet, because of the nature of her condition, she is extremely happy, loves everyone she meets and finds joy in little things like splashing around in water or giggling over a handful of rocks. In an effort to help with finding a cure for her daughter’s genetic disorder, McCurdy started and runs a not-for-profit running/triathlon Team Miles for Smiles that supports a charity dedicated to finding a cure for Angelman Syndrome. “I am the founder and head cheerleader for Team Miles for Smiles, a running and triathlon training/fundraising team that supports The Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST). I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to combine my 2 passions, the love of running (and now triathlon) and my daughters.”

A competitive runner since high school and college days, McCurdy said “Running is part of who I am. It is simple, something almost anyone can do, but at the same time, it is both physically and mentally challenging. The reality is, we don’t have to do this, most of us don’t get paid to do this, but we do it because we love the challenge. We love overcoming obstacles that we once thought impossible. We love testing ourselves and seeing what we are made of. We love that pain because the pain we feel when we push ourselves really is so much easier to deal with than what so many others battle each and every day.”

“I think that is why I am attracted to triathlon; there are so many life metaphors wrapped up in it.”

In 2011, McCurdy set Ironman 70.3 Augusta as a fundraising goal for her team Miles for Smiles. “It was the first time I had ever asked people to donate money on behalf of a cause I believed passionately about. On race day, I remember thinking ‘there is no way I am slowing down, stopping or giving up with so many people believing in me and cheering me on’. Crossing that finish line was the most incredible feeling.”

“Little did I know it wasn’t the finish, but the start of a journey into the sport of triathlon.”

“Two years later, our journey brought us to Colorado for the inaugural 2014 Ironman Boulder and through the efforts of friends and family who loved us and our cause, raised over $17,000 for our foundation which made that finish line pretty epic in more ways than one.”

As a competitor of triathlon, a very self-consuming and involved sport, McCurdy explains how fitting in training takes some creativity to get it done. “It can be very hard on families. Sometimes the workouts get turned upside down or squeezed in between therapy and doctor appointments with little or no recovery time. I have gone on runs where I have to drop something off at my daughter’s school, so I do intervals on the way there and back. I don’t train as much as many people do, so I focus on quality workouts instead of quantity workouts. I know my almost 43-year old body needs a bit more recovery time, stretching, and healthy balanced eating habits than younger athletes. I also know that I have to give myself a bit of grace if I can’t get a workout in. Fortunately, I have a supportive husband who also occasionally trains with me and is part of my race crew. We try to pick race destinations that the girls will enjoy and turn race weekends into mini family vacations because I love having my family at races and seeing them at the finish line. Some days, even with the best intentions, things don’t turn out as planned. I used to get upset about missing a workout and would become consumed with trying to figure out how to make it up. Now, I know that it is okay and sometimes watching my daughter’s lacrosse game or adaptive swim class is more important than getting that extra bit of time on the saddle. When I get discouraged or tired of juggling training, working, and being a mom, I am reenergized when I see what others are doing and overcoming to cross finish lines of their own.

Inspired by her daughter, McCurdy and her family traversed a path that gave her the strength and driving purpose to race – to help raise money to find a cure for Angelman Syndrome. “When we received her diagnosis at 16 months, I struggled. The life and dreams that we once had disappeared in that one phone call from our neurologist…or so I thought. I didn’t think of myself as nurturing, the type that could take care of another 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the rest of my life. After months of seeking solace running out my frustrations on the trails after countless sleepless nights, an idea began to form in my head. I could either let my child’s condition take over not only my, but my entire family’s life, or I could do something about it. Granted, I am by no means brilliant enough to cure Angelman Syndrome, but it had been cured in a mouse model in 2008 and because of the work of the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST), a foundation created by passionate parents who truly believed that a cure for AS was not only possible, it could happen with the right funding and resources. I knew I had been given this talent for running for a reason, but I didn’t understand until then what the reason was. If I could use my talent, my stubborn determination to make a difference, and help others do the same thing, perhaps we could help raise enough money to change the future and fate of our children.”