My Journey to Age Group Nationals

By Ivan Tucker | July 30, 2015, 12 a.m. (ET)

Hi, my name is Ivan Tucker. 

This is the story of an athlete racing through life and its obstacles. 

ivan tuckerFor about 10 years I have considered myself an average triathlete not taking the sport, or myself, too seriously. It all changed four years ago when sudden and abrupt changes in my heath stopped me in my tracks. At first a rapid weight gain, then stiffness and tightness, until my hands and arms would no longer function properly. I had no idea what was happening to me. I was soon diagnosed with scleroderma and given five years to live. This diagnosis took over what was left of my life, and I had to live with the knowledge of my life ending very soon, for six months.

Changes in my heath suggested that more tests and evaluations were required, and soon after a muscular biopsy my diagnosis was changed to eosinophilic fasciitis. In short, this new diagnosis was a lifelong autoimmune disease that allowed me to live as long as I treated myself to a weekly dose of chemotherapy with no real end in sight. I made a choice to use this burden against itself and transformed myself into an athlete with a mission. 

That was four years ago. Fast forward to present time. In racing ChelanMan Long Course I managed to win my age group by a margin of 30 minutes and qualified for the 2015 USA Triathlon Olympic-Distance National Championships. I also won my age group in the last four half marathons I participated in. My disease has taken me on a trial path and tested my will, against all odds; however, so far I’ve won all its challenges. 

At my last six-month checkup, I smiled and I felt incredibly proud as I watched my physician wipe a tear and listen to her praise my qualification. “People with a chronic autoimmune disease, people on chemo, just don’t make it to the National Championship, Ivan.” Oh, but they do. 

Hope was, and still is, the one thing that keeps me going forward, the one thing I seek the most. I am grateful for the chance to compete, and for the chance to prove myself in this race. In doing so I hope to inspire others who see no end in sight and need a spark to ignite their desire to move on.

For more coverage from Age Group Nationals, visit the Olympic-distance and sprint event pages.