Friday, January 15, 2010

Four local men embark on world’s toughest endurance event for LLS

Once is not enough! After cycling across country last year—a feat that took them more than seven days—four local men are training for yet another cross country race in 2010. The men----Dave Armento, Frank Fuerst, Tony Myers and Jerome Rossetti—are gearing up for the event, Race Across America (RAAM), this spring. This will be Frank’s first time participating in the event since an injury last year forced rider David Dowdakin to take his place.

The race, which begins in Oceanside, California and ends in Annapolis, Maryland, has been named the world’s toughest endurance athletic event by Outside Magazine.

Known as the Georgia Chain Gang, the team used the event to raise more than $82,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LL S) in 2009. But this year, their goal is to more than double that amount —they plan to raise $200,000 to benefit LLS.

The average age of the four Atlanta men is the fifties so they will be entered in the 50-59 age bracket. In addition, their crew members, who volunteer their time to travel and assist the team, will also raise a minimum of $4,000 each for the cause. Two crew members have already been named: multiple Team In Training cycling participant Jane Eastham and Warren Bruno. Bruno, owner of Atkins Park restaurant in Atlanta, is currently undergoing treatment for a Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

The RAAM route climbs more than 100,000 feet and runs through16 states as teams ride in rotating shifts 24 hours a day. In 2009, supported by a team of ten crew members, the group was forced to finish the race as a three person team. Dave Armento suffered an injury on the course on June 25th and did not finish the race with the team. Even so, the riders and crew were overcome with emotions when they finished the race. “For riders this will undoubtedly be one of the greatest achievements of their lives, something they will never forget. For our crew it was an incredible experience as well, nothing like anything any of us have ever done. We won't ever forget it either,” they said.

The four men are all avid endurance athletes—having completed marathons, Ironman triathlons and long-distance cycling events. The men are training inside about 16-20 hours per week and doing multiple 60-100-mile rides outside on the weekends.

They were all looking forward to the challenge and adventure of the race but, with a goal of raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, they saw the event as a way to also raise awareness for blood cancers--- a disease that now affects nearly 900,000 Americans. Cyclist Dave Armento lost a sister, uncle and father-in-law to leukemia. “I am looking forward to the ride itself again this year but I am also looking forward to making a difference,” he says. “Research has come a long way in treating blood cancers—there are now 85% success rates---so hopefully we can help raise awareness and success rates even higher.”

Learn more about the Georgia Chain Gang at
Follow the Georgia Chain Gang at or
Learn more about Race Across America at
View pictures of the 2009 RAAM:

Donate to the Georgia Chain Gang in support of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at

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