Heather Black

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Video: Starkville Resident Inspires Fellow Racers at Half Triathlon

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)-The 2nd Annual Possum Town Half-Triathlon brought many from different states and surrounding areas to test their endurance in swimming, biking, and running.

It’s quite an accomplishment to finish the Possum Town half-triathlon – swimming 600 yards, biking 17 miles and running 3.3 miles.

Especially for Starkville resident, John Long, who is no ordinary athlete.

“I am a C7 complete Quadriplegic I am paralyzed from the chest down and I have a little hand impairment I don’t sweat and that’s the biggest challenge for me in a triathlon is just staying cool,” says John Long.

After John’s accident, he wanted to do something to stay in shape so he decided to start training for half-triathlons.

“A lot of people told me it wouldn’t be possible. They were like a Quad wouldn’t be able to do it, but there is five I think in the World that’s done them. I’m the 5th one so I’m pretty excited about that,” says John Long.

With help from, J.P. Arnett during his training and races, John was able to overcome his most challenging obstacle.

“The first three times I swam was very difficult. Finally I just got in the water and kind of relaxed and the wet suit, the buoyancy kind of held me up and started swimming so finally just taught myself. I used the back stroke and that was the hardest part though,” says John Long.

“We just got in a pool ad worked everyday. He will get in his racing chair I get on a bike and we will ride and just keep riding. His little boys will come help us and we will just have a good time and train,” says Tanner Long.

Working alongside his brother, Tanner Long sees John as an inspiration and hopes others will too.

“I’ve always looked up to him of course he is my brother. He makes me push myself harder. It’s kind of hard to be lazy when I look at him in a wheelchair working harder than anybody I know. Loves God, loves his kids, great father, great husband. He is an all around good guy,” says Tanner Long.

For those with similar disabilities, John offers advice to those who want to try something new.

“You get disabled and you think you won’t be able to be an athlete. It is just 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical on your body. It’s just a mental thing. Fear kind of takes over after you kind of let go you can just jump into it and pretty much do what you want. It’s pretty limitless,” says John Long.

This was John’s second half-triathlon.