Pete Masiel is a “no-excuses” guy.
He’s 58 years old with rods in his back. He’s an ultra-cyclist, known to peddle 100 miles a day. He is fit and athletic.
Last year, he ran the Maricopa Mud Run for the first time. It was a rude awakening, thanks to Mayor Christian Price.
Price has created the “Mayor’s Challenge,” giving prizes to everyone who beats his time on the course.
“I thought it was really cool,” Masiel said. “When I heard about the Mayor’s Challenge, I figured, ‘OK, that will be pretty simple.’
“He kicked my pants off. It took me just under two hours to complete the course, something the mayor did in about 30 minutes,” he said.
For Masiel, the event became not a challenge for a day but a challenge for the whole year.
“I said, ‘OK, I’m gonna get you next year,” Masiel said.
Masiel recognized despite his endurance riding, he had not been a runner in a long time. He worked to change that. Over the succeeding year of training for the mud run, he became a marathoner and lost more than 25 pounds.
He started with the Veterans 5K last November. He walked the course. He tried the Santa Run 5K at Merry Copa and was able to jog the distance.
“It hurts my back, but it’s not killing me,” he said. “So, I decided to start running.”
By himself at Copper Sky, he ran his first 10K since the 1990s. He jogged through 14-minute miles. The effort caught up with him.
“I was so sore I could barely go up and down my stairs,” Masiel said.
Then friends invited him on a bike ride on South Mountain. Masiel forgot his cycling shoes. He was wearing his running shoes, however.
So, he ran the six miles to the towers and the six miles back. From that day, he started running regularly and is now part of the Maricopa Running Club.
He first ran a marathon-distance event on his own in April. In June, he ran in the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.
“I’m able to run now, and I’m a pretty good contender,” he said. “I always say, ‘Don’t write a check your butt can’t cash.’”
He crossed paths with Price and his training partner Matthew Reiter at Copper Sky, all three men getting ready for the mud run.
“He called over to us, ‘Mayor, I want you to know you’re my inspiration,’” Reiter recalled. “And we thought, ‘What is he talking about? Pete’s the inspiration. He’s awesome!”
After his back surgery in the ‘90s and before he got involved in endurance cycling, Masiel carried 265 pounds on his 5-foot-8 frame and was on the verge of a heart attack or stroke. Doctors cautioned him about strenuous physical activity because of his back.
But he turned to cycling, “pushed through the pain,” and got back in shape. He shed 30 pounds and then another 30. His running weight now is 185-190.
“I haven’t talked to my doctors about anything in years,” Masiel said.
A year after his humbling experience with the Maricopa Mud Run, he feels ready to take on the challenge anew.
“Tell me I can’t do something, I’ll find a way to do it.”
This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.