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TODAY news for Thursday, June 29, 2006

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LLUMC employee and friend take a 24-hour bicycle ride—while in cold storage

Willie Stewart (left), PossAbilities coordinator at East Campus, is joined by Aimee Fuller, a reporter with KUSI, and fellow athlete Mike (�Antarctic Mike�) Pierce
Willie Stewart (left), PossAbilities coordinator at East Campus, is joined by Aimee Fuller, a reporter with KUSI, and fellow athlete Mike (“Antarctic Mike”) Pierce in the midst of their 24-hour spin-a-thon in a cold storage facility.
“I hate the heat.  Give me the cold.” No wonder athlete Mike Pierce of San Diego has earned the nickname “Antarctic Mike.” 

On June 1, as temperatures soared in Southern California, Mr. Pierce was comfortable in Miramar Cold Storage, with the temperature a cozy minus 4 to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

With him was Willie Stewart, coordinator of LLUMC’s PossAbilities program, who calls himself “One-armed Willie.” 

Together they cycled on spin bikes for 24 straight hours to raise awareness of people with disabilities. Last October they ran a marathon together in the same deep freeze.

The two athletes, decked out in Arctic-caliber outerwear, boots, and gloves, spun from 5:00 a.m. Thursday to 5:00 a.m. Friday. Televised reports about their endeavor aired on three San Diego stations and went worldwide on CNN.

Mr. Stewart’s brother, a colonel in the U.S. Army, even viewed it at his base in Iraq.

How did Mr. Stewart feel at the end? “Tired!” he says, but apparently not exhausted.

The next day he entered the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, held in San Francisco, won the challenged athlete division, and  placed 54th overall out of approximately 1,800 participants.

In January, Mr. Pierce, who says he feels “more at home in the freezer than I do in my own home,” ran back-to-back marathons at Patriot Hills, a base camp 600 miles from the South Pole. “Success is achieved when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone for a reason and purpose that is bigger than ourselves,” says Mr. Pierce. 

Now what’s on the agenda for the chilly duo?

They hope to run another extreme marathon—this time at the real North Pole.

By Marilyn Thomsen

TODAY news for Thursday, June 29, 2006