Seventy-point-three miles. It’s nearly the distance from Kansas City to Clinton, Missouri. But for one Blue Springs police officer, it’s a distance he frequently exerts himself to travel in a variety of endurance events.
“They think I’m crazy,” laughed Officer Keegan Hughes when asked if his fellow officers participate with him on the 70-mile trek.
Hughes said he does this regularly because he simply likes being in shape and, more importantly, to help families in need of support.
“It’s life-changing,” he said about exercise. “You have more energy to do things and overall just feel more lively.”
Years ago, Hughes said he was 50 pounds overweight and one day decided to just shed off the excess pounds. He has never felt better since.
In fact, Hughes became dedicated to fitness so much that he participates in a series of grueling events known as triathlons across the country where he bikes, runs and swims a total of 70.3 miles in a single-day competition... while wearing a full police uniform – body armor included – during the running portion of one.
“It gives you a sense of accomplishment, just like raising a family.”
Hughes participates in both Ironman and REV3 half triathlon competitions in Knoxville, Tennessee; New Orleans and Wisconsin to solicit donations for SAFE, a charity that financially supports surviving spouses and families of fallen public service personnel in the greater Kansas City area, and CampLIFE!, a Texas-based non-profit organization that provides the families of fallen heroes a fun summer camp experience.
His first triathlon was in 2011. Although he finished all 70.3 miles, he was “not at all mentally prepared.” Hughes said he hit the proverbial “wall,” where one’s mind and body give out during an endurance sport, despite preparing for the triathlon months prior.
After that initial experience of what a triathlon is like, Hughes contemplated whether or not to participate in future events. He later came across “Fireman Rob” Verhelst, who he said completed a full Ironman triathlon – 140.6 miles in under 17 hours – while wearing firefighter gear. He also contacted Verhelst, who rekindled his interest and inspired him to compete in future triathlons.
Still, Hughes needed that underlying motivation to finish the Ironman and REV3 events. In 2012, he heard about two police officers who were fatally shot near a grocery store in Topeka, Kansas.
“I knew right then I was going to support the families of fallen police officers and firemen.”
From then on, Hughes found the drive that steers him through a 56-mile bike ride, a 1.2 mile swim and 13.1 running marathon. He wears the police officer gear at the running event in memory of fallen public safety service workers.
“It takes a lot of adjustment,” he said about wearing the uniform during a triathlon. Hughes also said he trains six days a week that alternate between weightlifting and the three triathlon events to build stamina.
This Sunday Hughes will be competing in the Kansas Ironman half triathlon in Lawrence, where he will sporting his police uniform, of course.
“My goal is to raise at least $5,000 for each charity.”
To support Officer Hughes, donations can be made to either SAFE or CampLIFE! by visiting his webpage, www.policemankeegan.com, that will direct you to the Crowdrise link for each respective charity. The links can also be found on his Facebook group page, “Policeman Keegan” or Twitter account, “@Policemankeegan.” He is also seeking some business sponsorships for his fundraising efforts as well. So far Bike Stop in Blue Springs has helped him out with nutritional supplements and gear, he added.
“Winning my way,” wrote Keegan’s blog, http://policemankeegan.wordpress.com. “Not first across the finish line, but for a reason.”