Training for Frank

Montreal Writer Participates in Commemorative Triathlon

Athletes participate in the swimming portion of the triathlon which took place in Ste. Agathe last month. Team Frank, one of the teams that participated, was created in remembrance of Frank Dolye, who died in the September 11th attacks of 2001. Photo Richard Blouin

A sense of panic settled in as I contemplated the serene landscape before me. As the newest member of Team Frank, I couldn’t afford to cower from the challenge I had accepted: my first triathlon.

The starting gun sounded off, and with it my worries dissipated with the promise of accolades and a sense of accomplishment waiting for me at the finish line. After all, it was for a good cause, and that’s what brought us all together on Team Frank—a good cause.

Frank Doyle, 39, from Eaglewood N.J., was a victim of the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks. Doyle, the head of equity trading for Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, participated in what would be his first and last triathlon in the summer of 2001. Now, an entire team wears his name in his honour.

When I heard Doyle’s tragic story, I immediately knew I wanted to be part of keeping his memory alive.

“Being fit, being outdoors, being with friends and family, it was totally Frank, so this team just exemplifies everything that he loved,” said Kimmy Chedel, Frank’s widow and mother of his children Zoe and Garrett.

Frank was an avid runner and an accomplished athlete, still holding records as a goalie at the University of Maine. He cherished friends and family, and believed in fitness and perseverance.

Wanting to keep these ideals alive, especially for her children, Kimmy picked two events that would commemorate her late husband. One of the events was the triathlon.

Moved by Frank’s story, I wanted more than anything to help. I was invited by Kimmy to represent Team Frank on Aug. 8 at the annual Ste. Agathe Triathlon.

I had been through countless workout routines and, in great need of a challenge, a triathlon provided just that. I felt part of something greater, something more meaningful. Working out suddenly held a deeper motive than the mere superficiality of fitting into designer jeans.

Frank’s partner for the triathlon Mark Halliday recalls their endeavour.

“We had no preparation, no training. We were both reasonably fit but totally underprepared. We got to the race and realized we were totally over our heads,” said Halliday. “We came back that night, sat around and talked about it and said, let’s keep doing this! Three weeks later, [it was] 9/11 and we lost Frank.”

Frank strived to push those he loved to raise the bar—he made them go beyond their comfort zone.

“I think the best part of the race is that single moment when you want to quit. It’s that single moment, when you cross the finish [line] that you think back to and you’re proud of,” said Christian Chedel, Kimmy’s brother. “It’s like, I got to that mental wall, stood at the gates, and pounded through.”

Christian revealed his intentions of trying out for the Olympic Ski Team to Frank prior to his death. Christian kept his word and quit his Wall Street job to train for a spot on the Canadian Olympic Alpine Team.

“I came up short but it was nice to see my results were up there with guys like Eric Guay, Julien Cousineau, etc.”

Kimmy later revealed to me that Christian, without anyone knowing at the time, had taken some of Frank’s ashes with him on his runs, hoping to bring him to Salt Lake City.

Team Frank has participated in marathons in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco and even London, England.

Members of Team Frank have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in East Tanzania, been on horseback through the Rockies in Montana, competed in a Half-Ironman in Boulder, Colo., and finished in 639th place out of 3856 athletes in the New York City Marathon.

I may not have climbed any mountains, broken any records or even pushed myself way past my limits, but when I crossed that finish line, I felt nothing but pride. I was proud of making it through the dreaded swim, the sloppiest transitions ever witnessed and pushing through the seizing of my calf muscles on the jog. But I was most proud of keeping alive that memory of a man who, despite such tragedy, continued to bring us all together and kept us all striving to better ourselves.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 06, published September 21, 2010.