Man With Prosthetic Leg To Compete In OKC Triathlon

Friday, September 19th 2014, 11:37 pm
By: News 9

People from all over the world are in Oklahoma City getting ready for the Redman Triathlon. Even competing in the race is a victory in itself, but for one athlete it is something bigger than the competition.

“There is no such thing as quitting,” Earl Barnes said.

It's a way of life for Barnes, but it hasn't always been. In 1997 a motorcycle accident left him an amputee, until one day.

“Finally in 2009, we just kind of had a moment where I said enough is enough,” Barnes said. “It wasn't fitting right. I was getting blisters all the time.”

He was finished with dealing with a prosthetic that held him back and met with a team of doctors which led him to Dr. William Ertle.

Five years later, they share more than just a doctor patient relationship. Dr. Ertle will be one of thousands of athletes participating in the Redman Triathlon. He's doing the half, but Barnes is doing the full 140.6 miles of swimming, cycling and running.

“Phenomenal. I think it's an incredible testament to him,” Dr. William Ertle, OU Physician's orthopedic surgeon said. “I think it's a great testament to amputees that being an amputee shouldn't limit your life. Being an amputee isn't a disability. You have a deficiency, but being an amputee still means you can do anything anyone else can do if you put your mind to it.”

Dr. Ertle's grandfather is also a doctor and developed a unique procedure for amputees. Since Dr, Ertle performed it on Barnes, this is the most active he's been since his accident. Hanging up his doubts long ago, Barnes has been a fireman for 15 years and a triathlete for five.

“It's been a whole new lease on life since then,” Barnes said. “I look at my daughter run. She just runs with reckless abandon, and I really wanted to capture that.”

The event starts Saturday morning at 7 a.m. at Lake Hefner.