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Orrington athlete wins spot in London World Championships

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Christopher Blanchard Christopher Blanchard

ORRINGTON - An Orrington native is preparing for the race of his life. Christopher Blanchard is one of many athletes around the globe who recently qualified for the 2013 London International Triathlon Union (ITU) Aquathlon World Championships taking place in September at the same venue as the 2012 Olympics. He did so by being one of the top 10 finishers in his age group at the Lake Logan Aquathlon race in North Carolina earlier this month.   

"I was psyched," Blanchard said. "I was super excited because I had tried to qualify for nationals in triathlon at a competition in Massachusetts and didn't. Then we started looking at qualifying for Team USA Aquathlon."

An aquathlon, unlike a triathlon, is a two-stage competition involving swimming and running, no biking. However, it's just as competitive. Blanchard managed to hold his own among the other athletes, and he did so all while managing diabetes. 

"It's a challenge," he said. "There's that balance between having the perfect blood sugars to be able to exercise. It doesn't always happen. I have an insulin pump I've been wearing for 15 years. Some days it works better than others, and for the most part it's made my life a lot easier."

Blanchard, a certified USA cycling coach, trainer and little league baseball coach, has always been into fitness. He said exercise, along with diet and adequate sleep, is one of the things that keeps his diabetes in check. So two years ago when he made up his mind to participate competitively against other amateur athletes, he began searching for a trainer and coach. That's when he found Janet MacDonald of Bangor.

"Without having a triathlon coach I probably would've just focused on races around Maine, maybe New Hampshire. I wouldn't have had the knowledge about USA Triathlon," Blanchard said.

MacDonald is not only a triathlon coach; she has run the North Carolina race herself in years past. This time she stayed on the sidelines keeping a close eye on the clock to make sure Blanchard was hitting his goals at various stages of the race. To prepare him for his London competition, she said Blanchard will need to increase his speed.

"The swim in London is a little shorter than the one in North Carolina, so it'll be more of a sprint," MacDonald said. "His swim workouts have to change so he's going at a greater speed. And a lot of his training up to now has been in open water. We need to get back in the pool to get those measurable distances."

Blanchard said diabetes has never prevented him from accomplishing his goals, and other diabetics shouldn't let it stop them either.

"Anybody with Type 1 diabetes is just as capable as the next guy," he said.  

But Blanchard does recommend diabetics work out with a buddy who can remind them to check their blood sugar levels. 

Although he is training hard for London right now, he has already set a new goal for himself when he returns home.

"I really enjoy coaching, and I look forward to getting my USA Triathlon certification so I can coach triathletes," Blanchard said.

The Sept. 11, 2013 London ITU Aquathlon World Championships will be broadcast on Universal Sports. For times and listings, log on to http://universalsports.com.

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