Healthy Living

Despite Cystic Fibrosis, Professional Triathlete Won 11 Ironman Championships

Despite Cystic Fibrosis, Professional Triathlete Won 11 Ironman Championships

Despite Cystic Fibrosis, Professional Triathlete Won 11 Ironman Championships

Lisa Bentley is a Canadian professional triathlete that was born on November 28th, 1968. She received an honors degree from the University of Waterloo in Math and Computer Science, as well as a Bachelors of Education from the University of Western Ontario. For over 20 years, Bentley competed in the Ironman race series, which require a 180-kilometer bike ride, a 42-kilometer run, and a 3.8-kilometer swim. Having participated in 33 worldwide competitions that took place in Canada, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, she won 11 championship titles.

Despite being diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF), Bentley competed at the highest level throughout her career. “CF has taught me the power of longevity while giving me the psychological advantage to compete with other professional athletes on the world stage,” she said. Fortunately, her CF was manageable, allowing her to pursue her passion for sport and excellence. “Every time I raced, I knew that my race served a higher purpose to give families hope that their children with CF could achieve similar things in life. And sport kept my lungs healthy so it was a double blessing!” said Bentley.

Determined to make her mark
While every race was a different story for Bentley, the 2004 Ironman World Championship was by far the most special one for her. In the days leading up to the race, Bentley was coping with a raging chest infection as a result of her disease. She had dreamt of winning the race and delivering a powerful message to all those coping with CF, but when she showed up at the pre-race press conference, she could not help but feel sorry for herself.

Tracey Richardson, a fellow competitor, also attended the press conference. She was a member dedicated to raising funds to help children with CF participate in sports and her motivation came from the plight of her own two children, both of whom had CF. When Richardson spoke out about how the disease had affected her children and even threatened their lives, this caused Bentley to feel ashamed and it completely changed her outlook. “I had no right to feel sorry for myself. Then and there I decided that I would be the best that I could be with the deck of cards I had been dealt. I decided to be the best one on the start line with a chest infection,” she said.
Bentley finished fourth in the race and now, looking back, she stressed that it was her mental attitude that allowed her to rise above her condition.

Read on to learn even more about Lisa's triumphant, inspirational story.

Photo: Lisa Bentley