Father Set to Compete In Ironman World Championship, Carrying His Son With Cerebral Palsy
Not everyone is physically capable of competing in the Ironman World Championship, but a Michigan man with cerebral palsy is about to challenge the outdated notion.
Meet Johnny Agar, a 22-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan who became one of only five physically challenged athletes to win a spot in the Ironman World Championship. Only 2,500 people qualify to compete in the Kona, Hawaii, Ironman World Championship every year.
Johnny's cerebral palsy makes it difficult for him to get around without a walker or wheelchair. To complete the triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26-mile run, he will be carried by Jeff Agar, his father.
"It's probably one of the most brutal one-day events you can do," Jeff told InsideEdition.com. "When I first agreed to it, I thought, 'Well what are the odds of getting picked, right?' But now here we are. We got selected and so we're moving towards making it work."
"Carrying a 100-pound kid 140 miles down the race course in Hawaii is... it can be really difficult," his son joked.
For the swimming portion, Jeff will pull his son in a boat as the younger Agar swims. During the bicycle and running challenge, Johnny will be towed in a chariot until just short of the finish line, where he will get off, and run the last mile.
"A mile for me is really difficult to achieve," said Johnny. "The reason why I wanted to walk was because I really appreciate everything my dad does for me. I wanted to let my dad know how much I appreciated him doing this race with me."
In order to do that, his father said timing is key. The time limit on the race is 17 hours, but Jeff said he will have to finish the other courses while carrying his son with enough time for Johnny to walk the rest of the way.
"As long as we can get him there with enough time to walk the last mile then that would be kind of the perfect plan for us overall," Jeff said.
"Hopefully I don't have to pull a Usain Bolt and go bolting down the finish line in order for us to make our time limit," Johnny laughed.
Jeff said he began training for the event since last December, when they first applied to participate in the September race, despite only hearing of their admission in April.
"It's been really hard since December, when we first had an idea that it was even possible to be selected, so I thought I better get after it right away," he told InsideEdition.com.
He enlisted the help of a professional coach, who helped him get used to marathon training, weightlifting, and different exercises they should anticipate for the event.
According to Jeff, the pair started becoming involved in races six years ago. He said he wanted his son to experience competing a race and being an athlete, despite his cerebral palsy.
They started out small, participating in 5K races, and working their way up to bigger challenges. Despite their original goal to cross a finish line, Jeff said that now, it was the father-son journey that mattered.
"I was not a big fan of running up until that point," he said. "I'm a huge fan of it now. We like it a lot more. It's something we can do together."