Behind the Cover: Dead man to Ironman


This week’s Marine Corps Times cover is an inspirational story about a Marine who competed in the 2010 Ironman World Championship after beating cancer not once, but twice.

Staff Sgt. Clay Treska was diagnosed with stage-one testicular cancer in 2009, but beat the disease back with chemotherapy. The treatment that saved his life, however, also ravaged his body. He began packing on the pounds and edged in on 300 before deciding he was going to get back on track by training for an Ironman triathlon.

After months of hard work, Treska who had no experience as an endurance athlete, was nearing peak condition. That’s when his back pain started. Doctors dismissed it as training related, but he soon checked himself into the emergency room where it was found that his cancer had returned with a vengeance. It had spread through his upper body and he had just months to live, he was told.

But Treska didn’t just roll over and die. He continued training through the worst of it and thanks to an experimental cancer treatment, he survived to compete in what is likely the world’s most prestigious endurance sporting event.

Now he is cancer free and studying physical therapy at San Diego State University in California, with plans for a career helping other to battle cancer.

For Treska’s complete story and a copy of his seven-day Ironman workout, pick up this week’s Marine Corps Times on newsstands now, or subscribe here.


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  1. His was the race I watched; for me he was the winner no matter the place he finished. The race is always with oneself. Thank you for reporting the story.

  2. Margaret McConnell on

    This is my roommates boyfriend and he is a complete sweetheart and such an inspiration.
    Recently a new tumor has been discovered in his spine. The fight goes on for Clay please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

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