SOUTH BEND — Competing in a triathlon is difficult, and for many, it’s a chance to challenge what their body can do.
We met two friends who formed a special bond competing together.
Joe Secrist and Barb Martz have finished two triathlons together in the past year. They are always by each other’s side — even when they train.
Running about four to six miles every training day, Joe and Barb have accomplished a lot together, and they continue to train hard.
Biking, swimming, running — they do it all together. They aren’t just close friends; Barb is Joe’s guide.
“Barb is my eyes in all reality,” said Joe. “When we do the swim part of triathlon, we are actually tethered together. When we do the biking, we do tandem bikes, so she’s in the front I’m in the back.”
Joe says he used to shy away from the idea because his vision made competing nearly impossible. He is legally blind.
“The swimming part is difficult because I can’t see the shore once I get out, so I can get lost in the water,” said Joe.
Because they’re always two feet from each other, Joe says they often communicate the hard way by bumping into each other.
“Not only does she have the abuse of the race, she has the abuse of me beating her up part of the race,” said Joe.
But Barb says she’s honored and loves competing with him.
“I feel like Joe motivates me,” said Barb. “It’s funny the way I’m wired because I’m motivated by helping others.”
She admires Joe’s motto of overcoming challenges and living his life.
“I think the bottom line is when you put your mind to it, you can do it,” said Barb. “Say you can and you will. Anything is possible.”
They’re not just competing for themselves.
“She’s giving me the opportunity to do something I wanted to do as far as myself, but also together we have the opportunity to let people know about people facing their challenges and there’s always options out there,” said Joe.
The two will be competing this weekend at a triathlon in Elkhart and have the half iron man in Muncie on July 13.
Joe says he is determined to compete on a national level and Barb says, like always, she will be by his side.