Saskatoon man completes Ironman triathlon after recovering from COVID-19

·2 min read

David Samuel isn't going to let a COVID-19 infection slow him down.

Samuel was diagnosed with the coronavirus in July. He soon found himself gasping for breath and, eventually, struggling with a heart condition.

The severe symptoms surprised the veteran athlete, who had already run about 30 marathons and completed six to eight Ironman triathlons.

Over time, Samuel recovered and started training again.

Then he did something unexpected. On Halloween, he decided to run a virtual Ironman race — completing a 3.8 kilometre swim, a 180 kilometre bike ride and a 42 kilometre marathon.

"This was a grand power move against the virus," he said.

"To reverse the hopelessness and take what I wanted back from it."

As far as Samuel knows, he's the first person who has recovered from COVID-19 to complete an Ironman event. He intentionally ran his triathlon earlier than a cancelled Ironman race that was initially scheduled for later that month in Arizona.

"I felt like someone would have recovered and beat me to it," he said.

"So I thought, well, I'm not going to sit back and watch some American claim it three weeks later. I'll just do it now."

Samuel said he had his doubts before the triathlon about whether he could run the grueling race after wrestling with COVID.

"The night before, I really felt like it shouldn't happen," he said.

"I was just going to not go ahead with it because I felt like it was meaningless and it would be forgotten and there really wasn't any reason for me to do it."

However, as he crossed the finish line at the Broadway Theatre, Samuel said it was all worth it.

"Now that I did it, it's one of my best memories because of how I had to change completely my mindset as a person," he said.

"I had to recategorize the Ironman triathlon from this major thing, to something light and easy. Which, when you look at the distances, it's not. But I had to really sort of get my mind there to treat it lightly in order to start it."