Tim Egan, 42, is currently training with the TEAM TO END AIDS (T2) for the Chicago Triathlon and the Steelhead 70.3 Ironman race.
It will be his third straight year participating in races to raise money and awareness for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Not bad for someone who has never considered himself an athlete.
“My main motivation is to raise as much money as I possibly can. But I also want to try and beat my personal records from prior years,” said Egan (at right). “What can I say? It is addicting and it is a challenge — and over the years I have learned not to back down from a challenge.”
The Massachusetts native now lives in the Uptown/Edgewater area of Chicago’s North Side, while working as a financial controller for The Chopping Block. He recently took the time to answers a few questions via email about why he participates in T2 and what he gets out of it.
Inside Story: What has been your past involvement with T2?
Tim Egan: I began in 2009 training with what was then the AIDS Foundation of Chicago training program for the Rock & Roll Half Marathon. In 2010, T2 was born. That year I decided to switch to the triathlon training program and participated in the Chicago Triathlon. Last year, I trained with them and did the Steelhead 70.3 Half Ironman and the Chicago Triathlon. All three years it was AFC/T2's inaugural year for those races.
IS: Is it more of a physical fitness program to you or an advocacy/fundraising endeavor?
TE: I won't lie. Initially for me, it began more so as a physical fitness program. Now that I have developed a passion for the sport, as well as a more structured workout program for myself, I do it for the advocacy/fundraising ... and most definitely the camaraderie!
IS: What have you gained from it (personally, physically, etc.)?
TE: I don't even think I can condense into this interview everything that I have gained since joining T2. I was a pretty sedentary person prior to this undertaking. I was a regular smoker who hadn't had a gym membership in years. The thought of running even ONE mile was beyond comprehension, while the thought of 13 miles for the half marathon seemed impossible! I can say with confidence that I am now in the best shape of my life – probably since emerging from the womb.
All kidding aside, I have gained both physical and mental strength, as well as adopting a lifestyle that is eons healthier than I had ever lived. And as important, if not more, in my teammates I have met and become lifelong friends with some of the most inspirational, kind, thoughtful, generous and giving folks I have ever met in my life.
IS: What’s been the most challenging aspect of your T2 involvement?
TE: Early morning workouts! Haha ... in the beginning at least. I was always a night owl, so I did have to alter my lifestyle and train my body to adjust to this shift. But it did get easier, trust me. The training and advice from your coaches really helps. Now I actually prefer morning workouts believe it or not.
IS: Could you please share a specific memory from your previous experiences or current training that will always stay with you?
TE: I know it will sound corny, but it was running that last stretch toward the finish line of my very first race three years ago. Even though I was tired and my legs were sore, all of the ups and downs of the whole training season went through my head and I could not have felt more proud of what it meant for me to cross that finish line. It was both a personal and shared achievement. And to have your family, friends and fellow athletes there cheering you on as you cross ... it was pretty emotional.
IS: What do you see as the biggest challenge with stopping HIV/AIDS?
TE: People's perception that the epidemic is over. With the advancement of the medications available today, thankfully we are not facing the daily news of people dying from the disease. Now people who have HIV are living long, happy and productive lives. It is no longer a mandatory death sentence.
However, this does bring with it a sense of complacency when it comes to on-going funding and support. The fact still remains that, every 9 ½ minutes, someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV and nearly 1.2 million Americans are now living with the disease.
So the battle, while advancing, is far from over and we all need to make sure that worldwide attention, education, funding (both private and public) and any other resources necessary continue to be directed to this fight. It is not over until there is a cure.
This year's T2 races include the Chicago Marathon, the Wrigley Field Road Tour, the Life Time Chicago Tri, and the Honolulu Marathon, among others. Register today to join the TEAM TO END AIDS.
And click here to help Tim and other T2 participants reach their fundraising goals.