This spring and summer, PMCer Justin Merolla is taking his training for the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge further than most.
In June, Merolla will participate in an Ironman Triathlon in Nice, France. This Ironman race is made up of a 2.4 mile swim in the Mediterranean Sea, a 112-mile bike ride through mountains and former stages of the Tour de France, and then, he will run a full 26.2-mile marathon. Merolla’s goal is to complete the course in 11 hours.
Merolla first rode the PMC in 2008 after his brother, Jamie, and he completed a cross-country bike trek. He has made extreme athleticism a personal goal and says he is a “PMC lifer.”
Merolla’s mother, Susan, died of breast cancer in 1995 at 42 years old. His father, Joseph, was a PMC rider who taught his three children – Justin, Jamie and their sister Spencer – about the importance of giving back and channeling grief into action. Joseph Merolla was 46 in 1998 when he died due to complications from a blood clot.
“Whenever I’m on a bike, my mom and dad are in the back of my mind,” said Merolla, 27. “The PMC really connects us with our parents. Jamie and I ride together, and we end the ride on the Cape, where we spent our summers as kids. It’s such a special tradition.”
Merolla, a Larchmont, New York native who now lives in Manhattan describes his triathlon training as self-indulgent. The PMC keeps him grounded and connected to the cause of fighting cancer, he said.
Together, the Merolla brothers have raised more than $120,000 for cancer care and research through their participation in the PMC. Their goal is to raise an additional $10,000 this year.