JENSEN BEACH, Fla. - Marisa Cook plays several roles in the Treasure Coast Triathlon. She helps run the race, encourages others as they head out and competes in it herself—all things she couldn't have done just a couple of years ago.
Cook struggled most of her life with obesity. She shows people a photo of herself weighing 320 pounds, saying around the time she took the picture she realized she had to make a change.
“When you lack confidence and self-worth,” Cook told WPTV, “It's really important for you to dig deep and to find that and set little goals."
Cook’s first goal was to run a simple race. After some training, she finished her first 5K still weighing nearly 300 pounds.
After that, she began running half marathons, and the weight continued to drop. Soon, she says, just running became too easy, so she learned to swim and began entering triathlons.
“It was just mesmerizing to go from 320 pounds to an athlete who can cross the finish line doing three sports that I had never done before,” she says.
Sunday’s competition marks Marisa's 11th triathlon in the past year.
"I never imagined standing here today a year ago, and I have done 11 triathlons," she says. "I didn't know what a triathlon was five years ago."
She finished Sunday’s race in less than an hour and 45 minutes.
“When you cross that finish line,” she says, “I smile ear to ear, I put that medal on and I get that ‘I did it again, I did it again’ unstoppable feeling."
When Cook isn’t training or competing, she coaches other runners for half marathons and runs a bariatric boot camp. She says it’s all about sharing with others the inspiring message she now lives by.
“Chase your dreams,” she says. “Just believe that you can do anything that you want to do, and the only person that's stopping you is you."