At 81 years old, Brookline resident Ronald Brown was one of the oldest cyclists to finish the two-day Pan-Mass Challenge this year. This was his 23rd ride.
An annual event, the Pan-Mass Challenge raises money for the Dana Farber Cancer Research Institute. All rider-raised funds go directly to the institute. This year Brown raised $18,791, and donations are still trickling in.
Brown first completed the challenge in 1993, and has biked the two-day, 192-mile ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown ever since.
And Brown has no plans of stopping. He said he plans to bike in the challenge as long as he is able.
Brown recently took some time to answer a few questions from the TAB about the Pan Mass Challenge and why he participates ever year.
Your first Pan-Mass Challenge was in 1993 when you were 56. What inspired you to participate?
I was becoming active in swimming and biking after my running career climaxed in back surgery. I needed a goal to encourage serious training starting in spring of the year as the weather will allow. The cause is compelling as so many people suffer from this affliction and that 100 percent of each dollar goes to Dana-Farber. The people I know personally that have been treated at Dana-Farber describe their treatment as outstanding, warm and caring.
What was that first ride like?
The first ride was certainly daunting with serious hills during the first 45 miles of the first day of 109 miles. This was the longest one-day ride I had ever done.
What has kept you going?
The ability to persevere, the cheering onlookers, convincing myself that I am not getting older, a little kid holding a sign reading “thank you for saving my life.”
Do you have a favorite part of the Pan-Mass Challenge?
The 5:30 a.m. start in Sturbridge on Saturday joining 3,000 plus riders, the top of a brutal hill climb in Wellfleet viewing the ocean before the much easier downhill descent, and then the final cross of the finish line in Provincetown. It’s a toss-up.
There are many events and organizations that support cancer research, so why the Pan-Mass Challenge?
The reputation of the organization and personal accolades that I have heard from patients and their loved ones.
Is it difficult to stay motivated? What keeps you going?
Too fight cancer, keep fit and enjoy the scenery. It is exhilarating!
Is there anything you would like to add?
The PMC is the most impressive fund raising effort I have ever experienced in terms of organization, efficiency, support and enthusiasm for a most worth cause.