This is the story of Stewart "Stu" McCullouch III, part-time Rodgers Forge resident, retired Air Force captain, aerospace engineer, triathlete and aspiring Ironman. Sounds intimidating, but truly, if you met him you would never know most of these accomplishments because boasting doesn't suit his character. You would simply think him the most jovial, salt-of-the-earth man you ever met.
And maybe you did meet him during his annual part-time residency on Stanmore Road where he would stay with his daughter. Perhaps while he was walking his dog or jogging the streets of the Forge, or maybe you met him on one of the lanes of the pool at the Towson Y. Possibly you met him at Brown Woodbrook Memorial Church where he would attend Sunday mornings from February through May wearing his full Scottish kilt and plaid ensemble.
Every spring, Stu along with three suitcases, his favorite racing bike (the one with the fancy tires), and his trusty and gentle dog, Colt, would hop in the truck and travel the 496 miles from Tupper Lake, New York, to Stanmore Road where he could train on snow-free streets and swim in water not frozen 20 inches deep.
What made Stu become a triathlete? In 2007, at 335 pounds, he decided he wanted to grow old with his wife, Charlene. So consistent with his engineering background, he developed a strategy to achieve his goals starting with small, achievable milestones and goals. He changed his eating habits and hired a trainer to help him get started. And by March 2010, he had lost 128 pounds and was competing in triathlon sprints and Tinman — half an Ironman — competition.
Stu's dream? Compete in the Lake Placid Ironman. An Ironman, is an endurance race involving a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike leg and ending with a 26.2-mile marathon. Add to that the steep Lake Placid mountain road system, elevation swings and grueling terrain, you might think this a young person's folly. But Stu was 65 when he first attempted the race in 2012. Unfortunately, he was not able to finish that year due to an issue with his Achilles' tendon. And that's how it came to be that on June 25, 2013, while training on the mountain roads of the Adirondack Mountains his tire blew and he was thrown from his bike. Sadly, on July 10, 2013, Stu succumbed to his injuries. And his many friends both here and in Tupper Lake mourned his loss.
So a few weeks ago, on June 28, 2014, a year after Stu's accident and death, two Rodgers Forgers and a friend from Lake Placid participated as a relay team in the Tupper Lake Tinman. Swim: Michele McCullouch, Stu's daughter and Stanmore Road resident. Bike: Joe Leonard of Lake Placid, N.Y. Run: Ben Rodriguez, of Dunkirk Road. And as each one handed over the timing chip for the next leg of the race, they also handed off a piece of Stu. Each of them wore Stu's Road ID, effectively keeping him present with them. Even though he is gone, he is still very much here. And because it takes three people to equal one Stu McCullouch.