Tag Archives: Dana McCreesh

Mike McCreesh Zooms Toward An Ironman

Mike McCreesh is a runner. He started doing it for hockey practice in high school, and soon enjoyed it almost as much as playing.

He never stopped running, through marathon experiences that include a New York snowstorm, and Boston nor’easter, heat wave and bombing.

When his and his wife Dana’s toddler Brent was undergoing cancer treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital, Mike was quarantined due to his son’s immuno-suppression. Mike ran up and down the hospital stairs to burn off stress.

Mike McCreesh

Dana signed him up for the Pan Mass Challenge, a 192-mile bike ride fundraiser across Masssachusetts. He had not ridden since he had a paper route, and spent the next few years learning proper techniques.

For the next decade Mike ran and biked, while cheering his daughters on in their swim meets for the Westport Y Water Rats.

Mike and his eldest daughter Madi dabbled in Sprint triathlons (a .46 mile swim, 12.4 mile bike and 3.1 mile run) at Compo Beach. Mike suffered through the swims, but had a great time otherwise.

His youngest daughter Kira joined in. Team McCreesh placed 2nd in the relay division of Tri Ridgefield.

Mike set goals: Olympic triathlons (.93 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike, 6.2 mile run), then a half Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run), ending with the ultimate prize, a full Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run).

To do it though, he had to learn how to really swim.

Mike McCreesh, ready to swim.

Ellen Johnston was just the person. She had taught all 3 of his children how to swim in the Fairfield County Hunt Club pool, and as director of competitive swimming for the Westport Weston Family Y and Water Rat head coach.

Ellen was named YMCA National Coach of the Year in 2015, and Connecticut Coach of the Year several times.

Still, Mike wondered: Could she teach someone so set in his ways?

After just one lesson, Mike radically altered his stroke from childhood choppiness to a one with proper breaths.

With plenty of practice, Mike eventually almost passed for a slower version of one of Ellen’s Water Rats.

Mike — whose fulltime gig is president of Battea Class Action Services — continued with triathlon coaching at Sherpa Fitness. In 2016 he completed the Florida Ironman; 2 years later, he did one in Maryland. He was getting ready for another Ironman this October in 2020, but the pandemic ended that dream.

Mike’s dedication to triathlons extends to reading. Dana gives him books on the subject for holidays. One of his favorites is Will McGough’s Swim, Bike, Bonk: Confessions of a Reluctant Triathlete.

Dana read it too, and related to its insights about how Ironman training impacts a family’s quality of life.

Dana’s interest in the book transcended triathlons. She helps the Pequot Library with their “Meet the Author” series. She thought McGough would be a great, funny speaker. Unfortunately, he’s a travel writer who split his time between Colorado and Hawaii.

But the coronavirus that canceled Mike’s Barcelona triathlon gives him a chance to help the Southport library.

Next Tuesday (August 25, 4 p.m.), Mike will interview Will McGough via Zoom. They’ll chat about Mike’s training for an Ironman (which Will covers like an exotic foreign country). “It will be lighthearted and fun,” Mike promises.

Which running 26.2 miles, biking 112 miles and swimming 2.4 miles — even with the right form — definitely is not.

(The Zoom interview is free, but pre-registration is required. Click here to register, and for more information.) 

Mike and Dana McCreesh, after one of his races.

Anne Farkas’ Very Close Shave

For years, Anne Farkas was a warm, welcoming sight at Restoration Hardware. Her huge smile was familiar to every customer.

Her green hair — that’s new.

Anne Farkas

It all started with Brent McCreesh.

The Westporter was 3 years old. He’d spent over a year in the hospital, battling neuroblastoma cancer — only to be put in isolation at home for 6 months. He missed the nurses, staff and volunteers who played with him nonstop.

He pleaded with his parents to go back to the “fun” hospital. Then he met a few fantastic volunteer caregivers.

One was Anne. By then she was working at the Fairfield Public Library. She helping bring joy into Brent’s life.

She also became a face of St. Baldrick’s, the pediatric cancer fundraising organization that sponsors — among other things — head-shaving events. (The idea is to show solidarity with youngsters undergoing chemo treatments.)

Every year, Anne puts on an enormous bow tie and green leprechaun cap. She greets everyone at the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s St. Baldrick’s.

She’s also a prodigious fundraiser. She said when she reached $3,000, she’d add green highlights to her hair. At $5,000, she’d dye her hair green — and at $7,000, purple.

Now she’s set a new goal: $10,000. When Anne reaches that amount, she’ll shave her head at St. Baldrick’s. The event is set for next Sunday (March 24, Westport Y, 12 noon).

This year’s St. Baldrick’s is the last one for Anne and “Team Brent.” After 15 years, they’ve decided to focus on helping new groups grow. They know what they’re doing: So far, they’ve raised over $4 million.

Taking it all off for St. Baldrick’s, in 2015.

As always, this will be a great day. Head-shaving is done by volunteer stylists; there’s head painting too (and photos!), all while a DJ spins tunes.

There are inspirational speakers (hosted by sportscaster Deb Placey). Anthony Capalbo — whose son Charlie, a former Fairfield Ludlowe High School hockey player, has battled 2 cancers — will talk too.

Brent McCreesh will be there. He’s now 16 — and has been cancer-free for over 13 years.

He’ll take on comers in a challenge chess match. All funds will go to St. Baldrick’s.

See you there, mate!

(For more information on Anne Farkas and the March 24 St. Baldrick’s event — and to donate and register —click here, or email DanaMcCreesh@gmail.com) 

Who doesn’t love a bald guy?