Inspiring man from Illinois participates in Ironman competition

Inspiring man from Illinois participates in Ironman competition. // WSBT 22

Swimming for more than a mile, cycling for 56 miles and running for 13.

That is what people at the Ironman in Benton Harbor will be doing Sunday.

That will take a toll on a person's body.

But, that is nothing compared to what one of the competitors has gone through in his life. He is the definition of overcoming obstacles. This man knows a thing or two about endurance.

Fred Nobrega has overcome cancer. He fights with diabetes daily.

His story is inspiring and his message is to always keep a positive mindset. That's how he says he has overcome the biggest obstacles.

Running, biking and swimming for hours. That's no problem for Nobrega.

The 59-year-old from Illinois will participate in the Ironman competition in Benton Harbor Sunday.

“After 20 some odd years of marathons, I pretty much had enough of that and was ready for the next big challenge,” said Fred.

The challenge he was looking for wasn't necessarily the one he got.

Getting here has meant a fight for his life.

While training for a marathon, he was diagnosed with type one diabetes. Then another hurdle to his health, Nobrega was diagnosed with Luekemia.

With his wife by his side, he went through intense chemotherapy. He fought for his life and had to regain his strength.

“I began to walk. Every day I walked further and further,” said Fred.

Nobrega walked every day, pushing himself to run.

“About 16 months later I did the Chicago marathon,” said Fred.

This was a major accomplishment for Nobrega.

“I used to be crawling out of bed, struggling to walk down the hallway to the bathroom,” said Fred.

Nobrega has now changed his focus to Ironman races.

“This is not easy. You don’t go through something like he did and feel like everyone else. You’re more tired,” said Lucy Nobrega, Fred's wife.

He's competed in Ironman competitions for three years now.

“At some point though when you develop your strength and get your strength back, part of that is getting your mental strength back and having the drive to keep going,” said Fred.

His wife couldn't be more proud of everything he has accomplished.

“Fred is meticulous, loyal, smart, empathetic,” said Lucy.

Nobrega will keep going and Sunday’s Ironman finish will be another race toward better health.

Nobrega's story has a message that no dream is too big and that you should never give up.

He is racing in the Ironman Sunday so we wish him the best of luck.

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