COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Competing in an Iron Man is an incredible challenge; something one north Idaho man never thought he would do. That all changed when his 8-year-old son suddenly died, and he needed a way to cope with the loss.
Bryan Langford's son, Conner, died in 2011. It crushed Bryan, and after losing him, running was the one way he felt close to his son.
To become an Ironman, you have to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles.
"I've been pretty serious about it for about 18 months," Langford said.
However, Langford's journey to become an Ironman started 5 years ago.
Langford's son, Conner, experienced epileptic seizures almost daily.
"Conner was very severe and he had at one point when he was having an EEG, he had over 700 in just one day," Langford said.
In 2011, at just 8 years old, Conner died from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.
"A few months after he passed away we actually discovered there are monitors available will pick up on seizure movements and alert a care taker," Langford said.
Those monitors could have saved Conner's life. For Langford and his wife, it was a devastating discovery.
Running was only one way Langford could cope with the pain.
I've never been a runner unless somebody threw a ball," he said. "And that was my time to be with him."
With every step, and eventually every mile Langford found motivation to help other families who have children with epilepsy, and just one more way to keep his son's memory alive.
"He was just a total ham," Langford said. "A huge movie buff that was his thing was movies especially Herby the Love Bug and that's kind of his whole mantra. My tri-gear is a little on the old side compared to most folks, and I think that's kind of a tie in to Herby, kind of this old beat up kind of mentality but your heart's what really matters to be able to get stuff done."
It has been a long five years since Conner's death, and a grueling, 18 months of training.
On Sunday, when Langford crosses the finish line, Conner will be in his heart.
"It's been a very spiritual journey for me. My long runs leading up to Ironman, in fact I go down to the cemetery and visit him. He's buried just a mile from the finish line, and it's extremely symbolic of being able to reach him and get back to him," Langford said. "That's going to make Sunday that much more special."
Langford could not sing enough praise about his wife, who was not only Conner's main caretaker, but raised their three younger daughters in addition to that.
He says she is the true hero in all of this.
The Langfords are ambassadors of an organization called Danny Did, an organization raising money for awareness and research of epilepsy.
If you would like to contribute click HERE.
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