A B78 coached athlete on the road less travelled racing for Team Operation Rebound
I met Stu Wild while stuck on an airplane for 8+hours no thanks to a massive snow storm that hit Montreal on December 27th, 2012. We were both hoping to return to British Columbia after a few festive days with our respective families. The airport was at a standstill and midnight was fast approaching as was the end of the pilot’s duty. One minute into overtime and he would have to exit the plane deemed unfit to fly. Finally, and thankfully, they cancelled the flight, passengers were to find a bed for the night only to rebook a flight the following day.
As you do in such dire circumstances, you make friends and bond over the perils of ‘what now’ and the ‘critical’ events you will miss due to such an unfortunate change of plans. For myself, that included a 6:30 a.m. swim workout with Steph Corker. For Stu, that was a social gathering in Whistler surely planned to be late and intoxicating. Instead, I headed back to my parent’s house and Stu hit the airport hotel. We made plans to reconnect the next day for our second attempt to return to the West Coast. And thankfully we both did.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that this Stu Wild lived up to his name. He only knows and wants a life of adventure, epic risk, creativity, serenity, often times gritty travel met with the occasional five star experience, and exploring the next ‘impossible’. Stu is his own person yet fills his life with an international base of friendships and authentic connections. His life takes guts. Most envy, admire and shake their heads at in a moment of inspiration.
Originally from Montreal, Stu moved West, became a helicopter pilot in 1996 and was quickly recruited as a heliski pilot for Whistler, CMH and India Heliskiing prior to landing numerous wild land firefighting contracts in Europe and most recently a two year stint in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. His career, at the time, was intermixed with epic “Round The World” solo motorbike trips covering ground through Tierra del Fuego and Buenos Aires (2008) then Eastern Europe, Northern Africa and Portugal (2009-2010) whilst finishing up in Thailand in 2012. He went on to earn his MBA at Royal Roads University in 2012 to satisfy his witty business acumen and potentially open new doors of possibility in his future.
I met Stu with less than a year left in his Afghanistan flying contract. His specific role as a helipilot was providing critical aerial support, troop transportation and resupplying the ISAF/NATO/US Army on the forward front lines. Not your everyday 9 to 5 job. From knowing absolutely nothing about his day to day tasks or his unimaginable sightings, I sensed it required much more than your typical definition of stamina, strength, mental hardness, raw gumption and a somewhat robotic persona. Skills and traits he now embodies that will live in him, at his core, forever.
Stu wrote me shortly after his Afghanistan flying contract ended in an effort to seek assistance in his preparation for Ironman Canada 2014. True to his word, he had told me when we first met he wanted to complete an Ironman in his 40th year. Well this kid turns 40 in April and will not only cross the Ironman Canada 2014 finish line but a few other finish lines along the way.
In October 2013, we began his journey of Ironman training on the very same week he was recruited to fly the helicopter for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. This one of a kind experience could not have been scripted better for accelerating his learning about the culture of triathlon and accessing resources to gear, expertise and his first long ride to Hawi [in running shoes!!].
Stu balances his Ironman preparation with ample time kite surfing, CrossFitting and SUPing. He has the endurance, he has the stamina, he has the mental capacity and he has taught me more than I will ever teach him. It’s been a true honor coaching Stu Wild to all the start lines he will face this year.
On March 29th 2014, Stu will be stepping up to his first triathlon in Oceanside, California (aka: 2014 Accenture Ironman 70.3). He will be racing with the Challenged Athletes Foundation on Team Operation Rebound. TOR helps injured troops live life by healing through sport getting them from the frontline to the finish line and providing them with an invaluable experience captured only by sporting experiences.
As a B78 Athlete, we are so proud of Stu Wild. He is wild and remarkable. Please visit the fundraising page here and join us in supporting his efforts: http://teamorimca14.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1077309&lis=1&kntae1077309=BC6433E 7919A4588B894046040ADEBA0&login=t=#sthash.TkWEPJb7.dpuf