Athlete won't let Crohn's disease stop him in IRONMAN WI - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Athlete won't let Crohn's disease stop him in IRONMAN WI

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Completing an IRONMAN race is a huge accomplishment for an athlete.  One Wisconsin man is taking on the challenge of IRONMAN Wisconsin Sunday, while living with Crohn's Disease. 

Luke Gulbrand might live in Colorado now, but he's a Wisconsinite through and through.  He grew up in Green Bay and went to school at UW Madison.  Luke has been an athlete his whole life.  "People, especially with the running, just look at me like you ran how many miles today? For how long? And they look at me like I'm crazy," he says. 

In 2002 as a junior in college, that's when Luke received his Crohn's Disease diagnosis.  "Everyone has their tough GI days... I think maybe a way to compare it is that's almost me for everyday," he says.  "I really need to live my life being close to a bathroom or knowing where a bathroom is." 

Luke has been taking the past few months in stride, as his symptoms took a turn for the worse.  "There was the risk, and the time, maybe a good two-week period, where I was really unsure if I could do it." 

Reflecting on that, he took another leap of faith.  Luke created a blog and posted his story of struggle and strength online, something he had previously been private about.  "I wanted to share this story to help motivate people, to inform them, and I think it's a good way for me to continue being strong mentally," Luke says.  He revealed he will be competing, but after IRONMAN, he'll be relaxing his muscles and undergoing GI surgery. 

"It's going to be probably going to be my biggest challenge, probably more so than IRONMAN," he admits.  "But I'm going to just focus on the mental side of it, and what I've learned of myself and trying to stay motivated, stay positive and not let the disease control me." 

Luke will be having his large intestine removed in hopes of minimizing his digestive problems.  He will be out of training for seven months.  After that though, Luke says he wants to start working on training for his second IRONMAN. 

You can watch Luke and all of the other competitors beginning at 7:00 a.m. Sunday.  Luke will be posting personal updates throughout the race to his Facebook page. 

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