Local Woman Wins ‘Duel’
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
It’s not every day a seven-time Tour de France winner, and tri-athlete gets defeated in the pool, but it happened Saturday afternoon. Lance Armstrong was barely beat out by Mary Eggers in the ‘Duel in the Pool: Armstrong vs. Eggers’ in a race for charity.
The race was a 50-meter kickboard race in the Natatorium at Alumni Arena. Armstrong started strong, but Eggers finished even stronger, winning by an arm’s length. Eggers was gracious in victory.
“It felt good,” Eggers said. “He was gracious and kind, not too much trash talking behind the scenes.”
Ever the competitor, Armstrong was seemingly embarrassed by the loss.
“With a loss like this, I don’t know if I can show my face at the Speakers Series later on,” Armstrong joked.
The race was a small part of the collaboration between Livestrong, which is a foundation started by Armstrong, Roswell Park in Buffalo, and Teens Living with Cancer (TLC), a non-profit organization that helps kids that have gone through chemotherapy treatments recover.
It all started on Twitter, where Eggers challenged the cycling legend.
“When he was invited to the Speakers Series, I wondered ‘wouldn’t it be funny if I Twitter-challenged him to a race and he accepted?’ and they thought I was out of my mind,” Eggers said. “I never expected him to actually accept it, I’m really grateful that he did.”
With three names etched onto her right hand, Eggers dove into the pool, and took on her adversary. Those words are a constant reminder of who, and what, she fights for.
The first name, Melissa, is the daughter of founder Lauren Spiker, whose two-year fight against Myelodysplastic Syndrome became the inspiration for TLC. Zach was a friend of Eggers, a guy with a connection to the seven-time champ – he won one of Armstrong’s events a couple years ago. He passed recently, and Eggers said that if he was still around, he would be the one racing Saturday. TLC is the organization in which she fights for an age group that often gets overlooked.
“I found in my work with Teens Living with Cancer that ages 13-19 seems to be a forgotten age group. These guys are discharged from their chemotherapy and told to go get healthy. So that’s where we saw the need for post chemotherapy, or even an ‘in-chemotherapy’ fitness program to help them get back to health.”
The event raised over $51,000 for the organization, which was a far cry from the $1,000 that was originally expected.