PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - Completing an Ironman is no small feat. Athletes enter the triathlon with goals ranging from simply finishing the event to beating previous times and so on.
For Marcus Cook, his journey to becoming a triathlete came with great loss - for a greater good. His goal now is to spread hope through his inspiring story.
"If you just start doing small baby steps every day in your journey to finding health, those small steps lead to giant rewards and I'm proof of that," said Cook.
In 2016, Cook weighted in at nearly 500 pounds.
"A close friend of mine said, 'Hey, I'm dying from cancer. You're dying because of your choice. You've got to promise me, if I pass away, that you'll keep pursuing and regaining your health for your family.' I took that word of advice and started walking 20 minutes a day," said Cook.
Those short walks turned into a lifelong marathon.
"It went from the small distance to a sprint to an Olympic then to doing a half Ironman and, now, two and a half years after being able to not get off my couch, I just finished my second full Ironman," said Cook.
Two and a half years later and 275 pounds lighter, Cook is now racing across the country to dare others to face the impossible.
"I changed my health and my family life got better. I changed my health and my job got better. So you may have a listener out there who isn't 500 pounds, but they may have 500 pounds of problems. Whatever that problem is, I just find that if you change a nd start doing something new every day in the area that you need to change in, you can change your whole life. Then changing your whole life changes your whole family and people around you," said Cook.
Cook says when you start seeking health, health will find you.
"It is the hardest thing to not park in the front of the parking lot and park in the back and walk. It's the hardest thing not to take the escalator when you can take the stairs. We're built out of a convenient society, so everything's about convenience. It's hard not to take a golf cart across the road to the store or whatever you're doing, but just start doing those baby steps," said Cook.
Cook says you don't need to start the journey alone. He hopes to encourage others to reach out to local workout groups for knowledge and support.
"Believe me, people want to help you get in shape. They want to see you succeed because if you succeed, your family succeeds. It's a domino effect that you don't even think about when you're big," said Cook.
Cook finished his third half Ironman here in Panama City Beach yesterday and has now raised over $100,000 dollars for the Ironman Foundation.
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