Before becoming connected with World Vision, Missy Eck had done a half marathon eight years prior with a less-than-desirable showing. She had zero desire to check any bigger event off her bucket list and had never even contemplated a Half distance tri. It was during a regular Sunday church service that the team from World Vision gave a presentation regarding aligning endurance sports with the mission of eliminating the global water crisis. At the time, the organization was recruiting for the Chicago Marathon. While it wasn’t something that Missy, now age 47, had a longing to do, her husband raised his hand and, along with him, she took the challenge to run for this important mission.
Missy ran as part of Team World Vision at the Chicago Marathon in 2014 and 2015 and again at the NYC Marathon in 2015. Until then she had been a casual runner, doing the typical 5K or being part of relay teams. Her biking consisted of a handful of charity events with nothing longer than a 20-miler. Swimming was completely new to Missy; she swam her first lap in a pool just this past January. This was scary, as Missy had already committed to doing a Half for Team World Vision and had just eight months to build that swim up to 1.2 miles. She immediately got a coach and started from scratch.
Before beginning this journey Missy would have said that her favorite discipline was running, but now she’s finding she thoroughly enjoys the bike. “Something about the ability to combine your strength and focus with the mechanics of the bike feels empowering.” Her biggest challenge, as it is for many new triathletes, is the swim. She has some fear of that discipline. During her first open-water swim she found herself being kayaked back to shore with some tears and panic. That next weekend at the Grand Rapids Tri she swam from kayak to kayak, taking nearly 40 minutes to go that distance and being the very last pink swim cap out of the water.
But none of that has deterred Missy. She’s racing for a bigger cause, something more than just crossing that finish line and getting a shiny medal. Missy has the goal of raising $7,000 by racing at the Michigan Titanium. That is enough money to fund 140 people with clean water for the rest of their lives. This is what keeps pushing Missy through the fear, the pain, and tough training schedule. While many see triathlon as an individual sport, for Missy it is all about her Team. Her Team World Vision friends are always there to motivate and inspire her. “We know this is for the greater good. We are in this to complete, not compete. The big win is how many lives we can change as a group through our fundraising.”
For now, Missy’s race goals are to get out of the water at MiTi by the cut-off, finish the event, and then run the Chicago Marathon. What comes after that she doesn’t know. She tells us, “The night before any Team World Vision event you are offered a ‘YES’ mug if you commit to doing an event the next year. I know our team captain, Tye Eckert, will be waiting at the finish line with my mug of the Full Iron in 2018! We’ll see…”
If you are interested in learning more about World Vision and their mission as a global Christian humanitarian organization, please check out their website at www.worldvision.org or find their team tent and talk to the athletes in the Team World Vision gear.