Macken proud of Race Across America effort despite having to withdraw through illness

Navan man and ultra-endurance athlete Graham Macken was forced to pull out of Race Across America a 4,800km cycle across the United States due to rhabdomyolosis.

Rhabdomyolosis is a condition that can be fatal or result in permanent disability. It occurs when damaged muscle tissue releases its proteins and electrolytes into the blood. These substances can damage the heart and kidneys and cause permanent disability or even death.

Graham, who had been taking part in the event to raise funds for Whistlemount Day Centre Navan, an Alzheimers respite centre, had completed 2,700 kilometres of the route from its starting point on the coast of California to the heart of Kansas.

After experiencing severe hallucinations after several days of cycling through extreme conditions, Graham and his crew decided to seek medical attention.

“I was in convulsions, I couldn’t breathe, I was shaking uncontrollably, I had double vision, I thought I was dying.”

By chance they came across a doctor from another team who was able to provide IV fluids and recommended Graham be rushed to hospital.

“I dread to think what would have happened if he hadn’t shown up”, Graham said. “I don’t know what sort of long term damage could have been done.”

It was there he was diagnosed with rhabdomyolosis and Graham was told if he had continued for 2-3 hours more he could have suffered kidney failure and even cardiac arrest.

Despite not finishing the event Graham has no regrets over his performance and is proud of how he fared.

“I was at peace with it, I felt fantastic in spite of long way to go, the crew were fantastic, I was going to make it, my averages were getting better. I had pushed my body so far, and it just started to breakdown.

I’m proud of my performance, I couldn’t do anything about it, it was the toughest RAAM on record, it was the hottest, the windiest, the most amount of DNFs (did not finish).

He also paid tribute to his crew for their help throughout the race.

“They were excellent. They embraced every minute of the challenge, the whole of America is talking about how friendly, how helpful how hardworking they are. I’m really proud of them."

To donate to Whistlemount Day Centre Navan visit