Talented artist, family man, triathlete, and all round champion bloke, David Castle has overcome more obstacles than most to achieve his goals. David’s travelling to Chicago in September, to represent Australia in the Open Paratriathlon Team for the World Triathlon Championships Grand Final. David, you’re a true local legend …
Hi David. Last time FOCUS spoke to you, it was about your amazing artwork, but this time it’s about another passion of yours – triathlon! How long have you been participating in this sport, and what originally got you hooked?
That’s right … the first time it was just before a presentation I did at PechaKucha about my art, and why I did it. Triathlons have a similar connection to me that art has and like the art, in triathlon I am a rank beginner, having only competed in a couple of short ones in my late teens. My wife, Julie, and I decided to challenge ourselves to do the Crowdy Head Tri in January 2015 and as there was a shorter one in Forster in November, we entered into that one as well. So, I only started training for triathlons in September 2014.
Refresh our memories, please, and remind us about some of the medical challenges you’ve faced to get you to where you are today – especially given August 17 – 23 is Brain Injury Awareness Week … Like I said before, my art and triathlon have a similar connection for me, and that connection centres on my brain. I started art to help ease the terrible constant headaches I was suffering caused from a traumatic brain injury I acquired while at work in 2010.
By 2012, with the persistence of the debilitating headaches, I was sent for a MRI in which they found and operated on a subcranial aneurism. Unfortunately, although the aneurism was successfully clipped and the headaches stopped, the surgeon made a mistake, causing a haemorrhage in my brain (very bad stroke) causing left side hemiplesia (damage in the right hemisphere of the brain disconnecting brain communication to left hand side of my body), so I couldn’t use any muscles in the left side from face muscles to toe muscles – nothing worked post-surgery.
Luckily I am right handed and could still paint. That’s what I was thinking late August 2012 in John Hunter Hospital. From that point ’til now, I’ve been working as hard as I can to reconnect my brain to my body while still suffering from the initial brain injury ailments, minus the severe headaches.
I’ve been able to regain use of my left side better than anyone would have expected – so much so, that with the help of my physiotherapist, Jenyce Fernando, I started to relearn how to run again in September 2014.
How do you feel competing in triathlons has benefitted you? Triathlons for me have been a way of maximising my recovery from the stroke. Although it is one race, it incorporates three different disciplines: swimming, cycling and running – all three utilising different muscle groups. In transition (swap over from swim to bike or bike to run) you switch in-between the muscle groups, which is great for retraining my body.
What’s your favourite leg of triathlon events? Throughout my youth I was a very strong swimmer, so when I started doing triathlons I thought that was my strongest leg, but since Mario Schumacher came on board as my coach and pointed out it was my worst part and my run wasn’t too bad, I’ve been working hard on my swimming stroke and have been enjoying my running training.
So I guess at the moment I like running the best. It gives me great satisfaction to run, creating my own breeze, remembering the months I spent learning how to walk again. I’m not the best runner and have a lot to learn and improve on, but it does make me smile to run.
How many hours do you spend training each week? That’s a hard one, as my training programme changes week to week. The best way to explain it is, I train seven days a week. Monday mornings are my rest time, but I train in the afternoon. I also train am and pm for the rest of the week, then on the weekends I do a long run on Saturday and a long ride on Sundays, so it is quite encompassing.
You’ve been selected to represent Australia in the Open Paratriathlon Team for the World Triathlon Championships Grand Final in Chicago this September. What an amazing achievement! When do you jet off to the US, and how long will you be away? Mario, my coach, Julie my wife/carer and I take off on the 14th September, and my race day is on the 19th September. We will be away for eight days plus two days of flight travel. The event will be televised in 160 different countries, so maybe some people can watch!
Tell us about your new bike … My bike is a Giant Propel Advanced Pro 0 with Di2 gears. The electronic gears make it a lot easier for me to change gears. It’s fast and light. It was purchased by funds raised through my crowdfunding site and sourced by Bourkes Bicycles in Taree, who gave me a great deal and are my major bike sponsor. I was also professionally fitted by Pete at Bourkes Bicycles using Body Geometry Fit technology.
Travelling to Chicago will be an expensive exercise. What fundraisers do you have planned for August/early September?
Triathlon is an expensive sport to compete in. Saxbys Soft Drinks have come on board as a sponsor and will be on my race suit. There are other sponsorship spots still available for other businesses to be part of the team. I have had several successful fundraisers in the last month, including a Mega Raffle at the Blackhead Surf Club, where the community have really gotten involved with assisting me raise funds.
I’ll be holding a fundraiser/fun games night at The Aztec Restaurant on August 21, 6:30pm for pre-drinks and nibblies, with games starting at 7pm. Tickets are $25, and $10 from each ticket goes towards my Chicago campaign. Bring some gold coins for the games! Tickets available from The Aztec: 6554 5906, Julie Castle: 0407 304 838 or Donna Bayley: 0402 286 047.
I am currently looking for a venue that could hold a fundraiser in late August/September. Help with this would be invaluable. You can contact me on 0420 390 662, follow me on Facebook and/or checkout my website: scootercastle.org.au
Final say … I have had a remarkable recovery from the stroke, and my efforts to represent Australia and take on the world will mostly be to try and raise awareness of brain related ailments. For instance, brain cancer is the biggest cause of death in children in Australia, and one in 12 people have sustained a brain injury.
I would like to thank my physiotherapist, Jenyce Fernando, and Banks and Dade Chiropractors for keeping my body together, my coach Mario Schumacher for his expertise and guidance – without him I would not be as competitive as I intend to be. I would also like to thank the ongoing support from the local community. Anyone else who would like to help me get there in any way would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!