Main Street News

Bruce Knickerbocker Raises Money for Cancer Care in Lake Placid Ironman

By Published On: February 21st, 2024

Bruce Knickerbocker, a Pine Plains, NY, resident, will be competing in the Lake Placid Ironman race in July. He’s currently raising money to support cancer care on a local level throughout his training leading up to the race. 

Bruce, who works in the nursing supervision department at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, started participating in triathlons when he graduated college. “Not being involved in team sports anymore, I found myself hanging out at the gym, lifting weights, and just missing athletics in general,” he said. “I started biking to the gym and someone told me that I should try triathlons, so I signed up and did pretty well, and just became obsessed with it from there forward.”

Bruce has previously participated in short, olympic, and half Ironman distance races. In 2017, he completed his first Ironman in Lake Placid and participated again in 2021. 

The full Ironman event consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and finally, a 26.2-mile run. All of this must be completed in a time limit of 17 hours, and each segment also has cut off times. 

Training schedule 

As one can imagine, Bruce’s training schedule is pretty extensive. 

For a full Ironman, he’s started on a 24-week schedule to build a strong base before he moves into his typical 16-week preparation schedule. 

Essentially, his schedule boils down to a five or six day training schedule that consists of at least two runs, one bike, and one swim per week. Because he enjoys lifting, he also tries to lift at least twice per week while completing his Ironman training as well. 

His schedule also includes taking on more miles week by week to the point where he is consistently running a total of at least 20 miles per week by May. 

Bruce typically swims in the pool at his home in Pine Plains or in Stissing Lake once the weather warms up, but when he can’t swim, he uses the rowing machine. 

In addition to all of his training, Bruce also works nights in the form of three 12-hour shifts each week and he’s a dad to three young kids. 

When asked how he balances it all, he laughed. “I don’t balance it. There’s no such thing as balancing it,” he said. “The truth is my wife, Kelly, she’s the balance keeper for me. She knows how important it is for me both mentally and physically to participate in these races, so she really runs the household and keeps me on track. She keeps me in check to make sure we’re balancing our lives for the kids.” 

Whenever possible, Bruce tries to involve his family in his training as much as he can. “We have a gym at the house, so I’m able to get a lot of my workouts done indoors while the kids are still here with me,” he said. “My son loves to come down to the gym and spend time with me, and my youngest is five, so she still enjoys being in the jogging stroller.”

Because he works nights, Bruce also logs a lot of miles while the kids are in school. Particularly in the spring when the weather is a little warmer, his plan is to get them on the bus and then hit the road running. 

He always trains on his days off from work and he typically tries to squeeze in a 30-minute workout in between shifts. 

He also gets a lot of support from Rich Tamburrino, who he works and trains with. “I did my first Ironman with him and we’ve done seven Marine Corp marathons together, among other races. I get a lot of emotional and physical support from him. He’s not competing this year, but he still supports me a lot.” 

Raising funds for cancer care

While this certainly isn’t Bruce’s first time competing in a race, it is his first time fundraising for cancer care at Vassar Brothers Medical Center and Northern Dutchess Hospital.

He’s been working at Vassar, which is a part of the Nuvance Health system, for 18 years. 

“What we do as healthcare professionals and employee advisors is of course important to me. I’ve dedicated my entire adult career to it. But also, I lost both of my parents to cancer in a very short window of time.” 

His mother passed away within a month of being diagnosed with Lymphoma and his dad suffered from Mesothelioma for many years. “Dad’s passing came as no surprise. He had asbestos exposure from being in the Navy and we were very fortunate to have had more time with him than we expected, but mom’s passing came out of nowhere,” he said. 

Bruce explained that just about everyone in his family has lived to be between the ages of 80 and 90 years old, so he didn’t expect to lose his parents at the ages of 70 and 68. 

“Although we’ve all been touched by cancer, that experience really put my family and me in the middle of it, so it makes cancer care very important to me.”

Bruce’s first job was in the cancer unit, so professionally, cancer care has always been something that he’s been involved in. Being able to support cancer care here in the local community is incredibly important to him.

“I want to be able to help those that I know and love in the area, so that means supporting the Breast Center at Northern Dutchess Hospital and the Dyson Center at Vassar,” he said. “There are a lot of larger national organizations who are doing great things, but their reach to our local community only goes so far. To help those who live on our main streets, it affects our every day lives and what we can do for our families.” 

Biggest challenges, biggest rewards

Balancing life, being a dad and husband, working, and finding time to train are some of the biggest challenges for Bruce. “Also not overdoing it and wanting to go full throttle all the time. I started triathlons in my 20s and now I’m 40, and your body doesn’t tolerate life the same way it did then.” 

Being able to balance life in a healthy manner physically and mentally is a top concern for Bruce, as well as keeping his family as involved as possible and not “turning away from them too often when training.”

“Being a dad is number one and Ironman training is number two,” he said. 

In that same vein, the biggest reward for him has been meeting his family at the finish line after completing the Ironman races, or any races, for that matter. 

“Not to sound goofy, but the biggest reward for me throughout training and especially up in Lake Placid at the Ironman is seeing my family along the course or at the finish line with their signs,” he said. “I always stop along the way during the race to give them a hug or a high five, and getting to see how excited they are for me is the most rewarding part.” 

This year, his race has an additional layer of reward, as he knows that the funds that he’s raising are going to a good cause. “I’m not just doing it for myself this year. I’m doing it to support somebody else, and that’s extremely motivational throughout the training part, which can sometimes be a bit difficult to get started up after being stagnant through the winter.”

You can also scan this QR code to donate directly to Bruce’s fundraiser.

Bruce is running his fundraiser directly through Nuvance Health and will be making updates on the page as he moves through his training up to the race in July.

“I appreciate our whole community. All the races and events I’ve done, the community support in Pine Plains and the surrounding area is huge. It takes a village to accomplish these things.” 

To learn more about Bruce’s fundraiser and to donate, visit this link here. To learn more about the Lake Placid Ironman, visit this link here.