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Running With Purpose—Daryl Mullholand

A Challenging Race - Daryl Mullholand, athletic trainer and associate professor of exercise and sport science at Clearwater Christian College, knows exactly what a rush of adrenaline can do for a person. As a runner, cyclist, swimmer, athletic trainer, and avid youth instructor, he does it all—and then some.

This summer, Mullholand qualified for the 2009 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, a world-famous race held each year in San Francisco, California. The Escape from Alcatraz includes a boat ride to the prison island of Alcatraz, a 1.5-mile swim across the San Francisco Bay, an arduous 18-mile bike ride through the Presidio and Golden Gate Park, and a final 8-mile run across the pavement and sand of the Golden Gate Recreation Area.

“Participating in the 2009 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon was a great experience,” said the 44-year-old athlete. With difficulties beginning right off the boat, Mullholand said that swimming against the current was not easy. “If you swam directly toward the shore, you were fine.” The 1-mile “warm up run” to Marina Green began immediately after reaching shore. At Marina Green, athletes mounted their bikes and started the 18-mile cycling portion of the race. “The trail was so hilly that had I gone slowly, I would have fallen off my bike! It was an unbelievably fast descent. I’m sure that I was going easily over 40 miles an hour.” The bumpy roads, combined with sharp turns and hills made for an exciting leg of the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.

After the cycling portion, athletes had to exhibit incredible physical stamina for the final 8-mile run to the finish line. The trail wound over pavement, through sand, and up a 400-step sand ladder. According to the official Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon website, there is no other obstacle in the triathlon circuit as difficult as the sand ladder. Once he reached the top, Mullholand completed the final sprint to the finish line—the last test of endurance for the exhausted athletes. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” Andy Potts, professional runner, won the 2009 Escape from Alcatraz triathlon for the third straight year. Mullholand said that it was an honor to run with such amazing, talented people.

A Focused Beginning - Training for the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon involved running up and down the Tampa Bay Memorial or Sand Key bridges, constantly logging 6-8 miles on Clearwater and Indian Rocks beaches, “moderate” 10-12 mile runs focusing on endurance, swimming in the cold Gulf waters, and 40-60 mile long bike rides through the hills of San Antonio. “To train for the triathlon, I had to decide what my goals were for the race. Based on those goals, I set up a training plan that began several months before the race.”

Mullholand used his preparations for the triathlon as a way to develop his spiritual walk. “Like my walk with the Lord, [training for a triathlon] is a journey. My focus is on the finish because ’I press toward the mark for the prize…’. When I accepted the Lord there was no way I could fully understand everything concerning my Christian Walk. Just like it takes time to condition your body, it takes time to develop a personal relationship with the Lord. In my everyday walk I find that I have my ups and downs. The same is true with race preparation; there are days when you feel great and can ‘put the hammer down’ and then you have days in which you struggle to just put one foot in front of the other.”

Mullholand runs with a purpose by using the race as a platform for ministry. His passion for finishing strong mirrors his job at CCC. “I have the desire to finish strong no matter what it takes. I put in months of hard work before a race and I want to see it pay off in the end. Being a good teacher takes the same kind of hard work. Standing in front of the class is like race day; however, it takes many hours of preparation to prepare for each day of teaching. God wants us to give our best each day and that is what I strive to do.”

During the summer, CCC athletic trainer Mullholand conducts a College for Kids camp program for children K-5. “College for Kids is an enrichment program for children having completed kindergarten through fifth grade (K-5). It is a program where the children have the opportunity to have fun and learn a variety of topics over the summer. Topics range from photography, tae bo, sign language, French, Spanish, rocketry, Africa, Journalism, reading, and much, much more.” Mullholand enjoys investing his time and skills in the next generation. For more information about College for Kids, please contact St. Petersburg College or visit their website.

A Purpose for Life - Running has become a daily exercise for CCC Trainer Daryl Mullholand; but, running is only a small glimpse into his character. By using principles learned while training for triathlons, Mullholand has molded his classroom teaching into an effective outreach to CCC students. “One of the most important principles of training is consistency and discipline. Just like our fellowship with Christ, being consistent with devotions and prayer will enhance our relationship. This same consistency is needed to develop any exercise regimen. Discipline comes in when you don’t feel like doing it or have trouble finding time in the day. Another key principle I try to teach my students is a positive lifestyle change. I want them to find something active that they can do and enjoy for the rest of their lives.”

“Many other principles and exercises that relate to training and running fit many of my lectures. I incorporate the use of lactate threshold training, tempo training, long-slow distance training, speed training, nutrition, minimizing over-training and overuse injuries, etc. I am able to discuss each of these in my kinesiology, nutrition, conditioning & fitness classes, and athletic injury classes. I find it invaluable to bring real-life experience into the classroom.”

Mullholand has participated in six 70.3 Ironman distance triathlons (one being the World Championship), Olympic distance triathlons, and sprint distance triathlons. “I have been running all of my life, but I would say I’ve been a serious runner for the last 10 years.” He plans on running the Disney Marathon in January 2010 and hopes to one day qualify for the Boston Marathon.

“Running starts with one foot in front of the other. A consistent routine will get you to the finish line every time!”