Magnolia triathlete to race for cancer cure

June 12 is going to be a busy day in Maui for Magnolia resident Patrick Oishi.

But forget aerobic lounging on an idyllic beach. The Deputy Pierce Country Prosecutor is going to swim one mile, bike 25 and run 6 in the King's Trail Triathlon on the Hawaiian island as part of a fundraising effort for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training (TNT) program.

More than 30,000 TNT athletes will raise money nationally for cancer research by taking part in marathons, triathlons and 100-mile bike races all over the world this year, according to the organization's Web site (

It is the world's largest endurance-sports-training program, and more than 265,000 participants have raised close to $600 million since the effort was launched in 1988.

But for Patrick, it's personal. His wife Janet was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease in 1991 while she was finishing up her nursing degree at Seattle University and also planning their marriage, she said. "So I took a month off for surgery and radiation treatment," Janet said.

But she still graduated on time and got married while she was only halfway through her cancer treatment, and "not with my doctor's blessing necessarily," Janet smiled.

She was cured. But 20 or 30 years ago, chances of survival were slim to none for sufferers of the disease, said Janet, who went on to become an oncology nurse. "So I feel this is kind of an opportunity to give back," she said of involvement with the TNT group.

Patrick said he raises money in honor of his wife, but not everyone on the roughly 50-member TNT group in this area has a personal connection like he does.

So Janet is the group's "team-honored teammate," he said of a member in each TNT who doesn't race but provides fundraising inspiration for those who do.

"I feel like I'm kind of bringing it home for everybody on the team as far as... an everyday person who has gone through this (disease) and reaped the benefits of all the research that's been done in the past," Janet said.

She's also the keynote speaker at the carb-loading banquet the night before this year's race, Patrick said of a role that makes Janet a little nervous. "But I'm honored," she said. "I think I have a lot to say as both a patient and an oncology nurse."

The King's Trail Triathlon doesn't compare with the grueling Iron Man Triathlon, which is a 2.4-mile swim followed by 112 miles on a bike, and ending in a 26.2-mile run, Patrick conceded. But the King's Trail event can get pretty brutal, he said.

Patrick took part in the triathlon last year, raising more than $12,000 for the cause, but he said he had some problems with dehydration and cramping during a race. "He had to walk part of the run," Janet said. "It was a bummer."

Patrick said he hopes to do better this year. "Right now I'm training six days a week," he said or a regimen that includes training two days each for swimming, biking and running. "So you never get to bored." Half of the training includes the help of a coach provided by the TNT, Patrick added.

The local team this year includes members as young as 19 and as old as 50-something, and not everyone is in tip-top shape when training starts, according to Patrick. "We have people at the start of the program who frankly couldn't run around the block or swim a single lap," he said.

But everyone finished the race last year, including one woman with Parkinson's Disease, Janet said. "So it's amazing."

Patrick said the local TNT group has received pledges for approximately $250,000 this year, and he said he hopes to raise the same amount of money he did last year. "We're right at $12,000 right now," he said of both in-person and online fundraising efforts.

Janet said this year the minimum fundraising goal for TNT participants is $5,400, with part of that money paying for the coach's time, administrative costs and for participants' airfare and lodging in Hawaii. The money raised works out to be four or five times the amount of expenses, she added.

Patrick, who grew up as a competitive swimmer, said he started doing triathlons around three years ago to keep in shape. Fundraising aspects aside, it's apparently a habit-forming sport. "After the (King's Trail) race, I'll continue to do triathlons on my own this summer," he said.

Donations for the King's Trail Triathlon can be made in Patrick's name by mailing a check to the Washington/Alaska Chapter of Team in Training at 530 Dexter Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109.

You can reach veteran reporter Russ Zabel at 461-1309 or[[In-content Ad]]