HEART OF UTAH

Utah man finishes World Championship half Ironman while dying from ALS

Sep 27, 2021, 7:08 AM | Updated: Sep 28, 2021, 9:10 am

 ST. GEORGE, Utah — An elite cyclist from Farmington finished the half Ironman he vowed to complete in last month after he found out he had an aggressive and terminal form of ALS.

Kyle Brown has been diagnosed with Bulbar ALS, and he just completed the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in a time of 5:38:35. The race was held in St. George on September 18th. 

“You know to experience this and especially with this support group behind me, I hate to say this but I can die happy. I really can,” Kyle said just after he crossed the finish line.

 

The start

Emotions were high for Kyle before the race. He’s already been on a journey just to get here. Bulbar ALS, which starts in the mouth, affects his speech which has already started to decline.  His throat closes when he swims which can cause him to choke. He feels extreme fatigue and his hands are in jeopardy of not being able to squeeze the breaks on his bike. 

“You can’t hide behind someone and draft, you ride an uncomfortable bike, and you run like you stole and the cops are behind ya. And that’s after you swam a long ways,” he said describing how different an Ironman is from a cycling race.

As he took off for the 1.2-mile swim, he struggled. His family watching from the shores of Sand Hollow Reservoir were nervous he was choking when he stopped early in the swim.

“I was throwing up the whole time, in the water, on the bike, and it was affecting my stomach,” Kyle said. 

But he was determined. He had plans to do a log-roll over the finish line, and nothing would stop him. His log roll was to honor a fellow triathlete who died from ALS, named Jon Blais.

The Jon Blais connection

Blais is the only man to complete a full Ironman with ALS. He was the originator of that roll over the finish line. Triathletes still honor him by doing it, it’s now known as the Blazeman roll.

“His doctors said if you’re going to do it they’re going to have to roll you across the finish line. So he said, alright.” Kyle said, fighting back tears. “So he finished it.”

Blais stopped right in front of the finish line, laid down, and rolled across. And wearing his number, that’s what Kyle has planned to do. 

The bike and run

Kyle Brown straps in his shoes as he starts the bike portion of the IronMan. (Lindsay Aerts KSL NewsRadio)

Kyle made it out of the water, then it was a 56-mile bike ride through the grueling red rocks of St. George. With each mile, he grew wearier. Biking, however, is in his blood.

“It’s my true calling in life I guess.”

And finally the run, 13.1 miles. The last 100 meters Kyle said his legs were cramping.

“I don’t know if I can do this anymore, that about killed me. And I don’t need help.”

The finish

As Kyle approached the massive Ironman black carpet and archway, party music blaring the background, he got about two feet from the finish line, got down on all fours, and log rolled. His very own, Blazeman roll.

He then buried his head in his hands and sobbed.

“I got there, and it all hit me,” he said crying. “Just overwhelmed.” 

Not only did Kyle finish the race he gained support from fans, strangers, and other athletes along the way who heard his story while at the race.

After the race, Kyle held up a white flag with black lettering.

“It’s too late for me but not for someone you love, the cure for ALS is close,” it read.

Kyle Brown holds a flag as he crosses the finish line
(Lindsay Aerts, KSL NewsRadio)

Final race day message

Kyle’s final message on race day: go out and live. 

“Don’t waste time, do somethin crazy and stupid, do something you love because you don’t know what could happen tomorrow.”

When you’re faced with tragedy, he said, you can come alive or you can come undone.

“I hate to say this but I can die happy. I really can. I’m not lacking anything. I haven’t missed out on a thing.”


Kyle and his wife Colleen have also set up a fundraiser to help raise awareness and create policy changes for people with ALS.

*KSL NewsRadio does not assure that the money deposited to the account directly benefits the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

Today’s Top Stories

Heart of Utah

The very first ever Miss Volunteer America is Mapleton, Utah's own Alexa Knutzer. Photo courtesy of...
Mark Jackson

Mapleton woman crowned first-ever ‘Miss Volunteer America’

Alexa Knutzen said the name Miss Volunteer America represents the organization's new focus on women's empowerment.
9 days ago
refugees Ukraine...
Mark Jackson

Brigham City man uses time between work gigs to help refugees in Ukraine

His family says Solomon Smith is uniquely trained to bring supplies to refugees in Ukraine, after having worked in the Peace Corp in Africa.
1 month ago
Spencer Truman st george wwii veteran...
Simone Seikaly

St. George WWII veteran celebrates 100th birthday on Valentine’s Day

Spencer Truman was trained to enter combat in gliders, and fought in Operations Overlord and Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge.
3 months ago
afghan community fund helps refugees arriving in utah - small boy holds drawing...
Becky Bruce

Update: Afghan Community Fund raises more than a million for Utah refugees

The Afghan Community Fund collected more than $1.1 million since mid-October, though Gov. Spencer Cox acknowledged an unprecedented level of need.
5 months ago
Sarah Pugliese...
Curt Gresseth

Pandemic can’t stop Topaz Fairy on her mission to spread joy

As a special friend to abused and traumatized children across the country, the Topaz Fairy -- who is also a graduate student at the University of Utah -- was determined not to be derailed in her mission of joy by the pandemic.
6 months ago
...
Amber Gentry

Volunteers of America has resources for homeless youth

SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands of Utah’s homeless youth are not only facing hunger, but are experiencing homelessness. Volunteers of America is a program that aims to promote and spread awareness for the more vulnerable people in our community.   As a part of Utah Gives Back presented by Select Health, The Director of Youth […]
6 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Utah man finishes World Championship half Ironman while dying from ALS