Ironman contestant's path to world championship hampered by dog attack

Published on Wednesday, 4 September 2013 16:27 - Written by By Kenneth Dean, kdean@tylerpaper.com

Seth Cooke has trained the past 18 months in his journey to the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii next month. But a Tuesday dog attack has the 33-year-old recovering from several injuries instead of putting in the last few weeks of hard training. 

Cooke, who suffered a broken clavicle, bruised ribs and a case of road rash in the incident, said he still plans on competing in Hawaii after qualifying in Texas earlier this year.

However, he knows it will not be his best effort in the triathlon, which includes a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.

"It's disappointing that I've put in all of this time and have something like this happen. I am still hoping to compete, because a chance to be a part of this race doesn't happen all of the time," he said Wednesday. 

Cooke said he and fellow cyclist Jeremy Brown were riding down Oakdale Drive, south of Old Omen Road, about 25 mph when they saw a large dog charging them. 

"Usually they go for the ankles or lower legs, but this thing ran right at me with no hesitation," he said.

Cooke said he hit the dog straight on with the bike, causing him to flip over the bike's handlebars and hit the pavement. 

Cooke bounced off the pavement, hit his head, breaking his helmet and slid on his side. 

"Thankfully the dog was startled and ran off, because Jeremy thought the dog was going to attack me once I was down," he said.

Cooke said EMS and Smith County Sheriff deputies responded to the scene to take a report and treat him. But it was not until Wednesday morning when doctors at Texas Spine and Joint provided him the scope of his injuries.

"The orthopedic surgeon told me to take the next two weeks off and then to see what I could do," he said. "This is definitely not ideal training, but sometimes life just happens."

Cooke trains with fellow Tyler athlete Clay Emge, who is also participating in Kona on Oct. 12.

"The race is just over five weeks away and I should be training really hard before tapering the last week before the race, but this has changed all of that and the way I will prepare the last few weeks before the race. I don't know how I will do, but I am planning on competing," he said. 

John Moore, Smith County Sheriff's spokesperson, said the owner of the dog was issued a citation for the incident. 

"I just wanted to get it out there how important it is for those out walking, running or cycling to watch out for dogs and for pet owners to be more responsible," Cooke said.