Mike Duncan, tennis director at Potomac Tennis Club, is not unfamiliar with triathlons. He is currently preparing to race in his third since 2001. This time, he will participate to benefit the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR).
Duncan’s contribution will be through Walk F.A.R. for NAAR, NAAR’s main activity, which raises funds and awareness of autism. Walks can range from large gatherings at which everyone is participating for NAAR to, as in Duncan’s situation, triathlons where only one participant is supporting NAAR. They take place across the country and throughout the year to help fund autism research.
"I think [autism] is something that’s not brought up that much,” Duncan said in explanation of his choosing to help raise money for research on the disorder. He added, “It hits everybody, every race. It affects everybody.”
DUNCAN WAS MADE aware of NAAR by Lennie Gladstone, whom he has been instructing in tennis for around five years. Gladstone was the corporate sponsor chairperson for the first Walk F.A.R. for NAAR in 2001. There have been three Washington, D.C.-area Walks in the past four years, and Walk F.A.R. for NAAR is currently arranging a fourth for May 2005. According to Gladstone, Duncan makes an effort to get to know the people he instructs in tennis. This included learning of Gladstone’s 15-year-old autistic son and her involvement in NAAR.
Gladstone was quick to express her appreciation that Duncan would be interested in having donations made to NAAR in conjunction with his triathlon run. She added that Duncan had the idea on his own. “He came to us and said, ‘Do you think this would be a good idea?’” recalled Gladstone.
The triathlon in which Duncan will participate this month, the Vineman Triathlon, takes place in Sonoma, Calif. August 14 is the date of the Full Triathlon, for which each of the three events is completed at Ironman distance. The day-long excursion encompasses a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. To prepare for the conditions,, Duncan has undertaken a 13-week training schedule.
“IT DEPENDS ON the week,” he said, referring to how much time he spends preparing, “but it’s sometimes up to 15 or 16 hours a week.” A typical Monday through Friday in Duncan’s training schedule includes swimming three days and “a couple of short runs and rides.” Weekend training features a longer ride and run. “I do have a schedule,” he said, “and I keep to it.”
Donations are most commonly made in the form of a certain amount for each of the 140.6 miles of the triathlon but can be made for any amount. They can be placed online at http://justgiving.com/pfp/potomactennis.
Information about Walk F.A.R. for NAAR in the D.C. area can be found at http://www.autismwalk.org/wdc. NAAR’s Web site is http://www.naar.org.