DENVER (KDVR) — 100-mile runs. Seemingly endless mountain bike races at better than 10,000 feet. Nonstop racing across Europe for five to eight days. The list goes on for Evergreen’s Travis Macy.
“It teaches you to deal with fear,” Macy, a professional endurance athlete, said. “It teaches you to deal with uncertainty. It teaches you to show up even when you don’t feel like it. I think it helps you through all this well of resilience that you can draw from.”
A veteran of 130 ultra-endurance events in 17 countries, Macy found his competitive calling from his dad Mark, a lawyer by trade and an endurance athlete by passion.
“In 1988, I was 5 years old and dad signed up for the Leadville 100 run,” Macy recalled. “We found ourselves up in Leadville at 4 a.m. out in the cold.”
And so, a lifelong team was born. Father and son sharing their love for the outdoors of challenging their physical and mental limits. Limits, ironically, that wouldn’t be challenged by the races run, as much as it would be a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s for Mark.
“My initial sense was I am not ready for this,” Macy recalled in an interview with Colorado Sports Night. “I was having severe anxiety panic attacks. Just really dark nights of the soul and I realized after a while there I have to grow up to be an adult in a whole new way.”
Accepting it and dealing with it are different things. Now five years since Mark’s diagnosis, it’s an ongoing process.
“Not only do I have concern for our parents, but ourselves,” Travis said. “For me the fear is real and so I’ve become very interested in lifestyle things – diet, sleep, exercise and supplements. Whatever might make a difference.”
Their last race together was the world’s toughest, the Eco-Challenge in Fiji four years ago. Macy spends a lot of his time now coaching endurance athletes and writing and podcasting about mental health.
“For my dad, the word has been engagement,” Macy said.
It’s interesting how questions about our own mortality can enhance our appreciation of life.
“It’s essential and that’s something I’m still seeing from my dad. Finding happiness, his core personality of optimism and resilience are still there. And I’m seeing for him that it’s never too late to help other people. To find happiness.”
You can learn more about Mark and Travis’ journeys at travismacy.com and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.