Just getting to NYC Triathlon is big win for Alan Hamilton

Alan Hamilton’s performance in the New York City triathlon won’t mark the true test of his endurance. His arrival will.

For the 31-year old Atlanta attorney, the rigor of running, cycling and swimming will celebrate the end of a cycle of diagnosis, radiation and chemotherapy.

Last October, Hamilton found himself in a weakened state in the midst of a nine-week chemotherapy treatment.

It was his third bout with cancer within nine years, and it had spread through his abdomen and into his chest.

“What would make you feel strong again?” asked his brother-in-law, Tyler Henritze.

“Training,” Hamilton said.

They began to plan their participation in the triathlon upon Hamilton's recovery. Meanwhile, Henritze arranged the only logical support fit for a fighter — an army.

A group of 47 individuals, including most of Hamilton’s in-laws from Atlanta, will compete as “Alan’s Army.”

They will be among more than 3,000 athletes plunging into the Hudson River along Manhattan’s West Side for the 10th Annual Nautica New York City Triathlon on Sunday.

"It started out where we had gotten a small group of family to do it," Henritze said. "It kind of snowballed into a big group to kind of celebrate Alan’s healthy recovery."

Hamilton has remained cancer-free since the treatment and doctors say he has a 95 percent probability of remaining cancer-free.

But long before recovery was so certain, plans for his first full triathlon began to unfold.

“It was something for him to aspire to when everybody was telling us, ‘You don’t know what’s going to happen in a year,’” his wife, Morgan, said.

But the couple needs little lecturing on the unpredictability of life.

Hamilton’s first cancer diagnosis arrived within a day of their engagement. Another came just four months after the birth of their second child.

His latest required extensive chemotherapy treatment to stop the cancer from spreading to the brain.

"It’s hard to find the words to describe it," Morgan said. "It’s difficult to walk into where the chemo occurs and see people hooked up to equipment for eight to nine hours. The drugs can make you depressed, you feel weak. You feel helpless. But Alan's attitude has been amazing."

Hamilton attributes much of his optimistic attitude to the support of family and much of his motivation to the two family members least aware of his battle.

His sons, Porter, 3, and Jack, 1, will join the family reunion in New York.

“It’s really very special having two little guys who are always looking up to you and don’t have a clue that anything else is going on,” Hamilton said. “That’s what you crave — someone to treat you like normal."

It did not take long for Hamilton to transition back to normalcy. Two weeks after treatment, he was trying a case in DeKalb County.

He also has worked to redirect the focus of Alan’s Army away from himself. The group has worked to raise money and awareness for the charity Cure Search for Children's Cancer.

As for the race itself, Hamilton said he is not intimidated by the 1.5 kilometer swim, 40 kilometer bike or 10 kilometer run.

After a battle with cancer, it 's an opportunity to face off against a more welcomed opponent.

“I just want to do the best I can,” he said. “I just want to compete against myself.”