Mike Tubiak: An Unbreakable Force and Father

By Grace McGuire

To some, creating a legacy simply entails treating strangers with kindness; to Achilles Connecticut athlete Mike Tubiak, creating a legacy entailed passing strangers in the two half marathons he ran last weekend.

Tubiak, 41, joined Achilles International Connecticut in 2014. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when he was 14, Tubiak has not allowed his eye disease to slow him down, literally. As well as being a stay at home dad to his son Evan, he teaches a jump rope class at The Fit Factory and also works as a spin instructor at the YMCA in Naugatuck. At this YMCA he also works out six days a week, sometimes even twice a day! In short, Tubiak is something of a gym rat.

“My friends say I’m crazy,” Tubiak laughed.

He has brought this same energy to his races with Achilles. The first weekend of June, Achilles Connecticut participated in two races. On Saturday, June 4 there was the UCONN  Health Half Marathon, 10K and 5K and on Sunday, June 5 there was the MJP Wealth Advisors Fairfield Road Races. Most athletes signed up for one event, at which Tubiak shrugged his shoulders.

“I thought that it would be cool, that I should just sign up and do both (half marathons,)” Tubiak said. 

Tubiak said he did it simply because he could, despite not having trained for a marathon, nor having run in weeks. Tubiak has run multiple races in a week before and likes leaving people with a story.

“It was almost like an opportunity that nobody’s really done before,” Tubiak said. “I always believe in leaving behind a legacy.”

Mike (center) surrounded by his guides: Alex Soter (left) and Yuhui Zheng (right) at the Fairfield Half Marathon.

One of the biggest struggles of being a visually impaired athlete was finding an opening amid the throng of runners at the starting line. Because Tubiak was running a farther distance, he needed two guides, one at each side to create the formation he calls a “flying V.” Once he passed those first runners though, it was practically smooth sailing. Despite his lack of training, Tubiak finished the first race within two hours and 17 minutes and the second race within two hours and 19 minutes. He even found Sunday’s race to be easier.

“I mean my quads were killing me yesterday (Monday) and still sort of today (Tuesday), but I would do that race again,” Tubiak said with a goofy smile. “That was a great race. I felt actually, weirdly, pretty good (during the marathon),” he laughed. 

This “great race” came a day after his half marathon at UCONN where he and his guides struggled against the heat. 

“I struggled with my hydration,” Tubiak said. “Before mile 10 or so I was starting to have issues, but I fought through it and I had some really awesome guides that helped.”

And not only did he fight through that race, but he ran another one the next day, which was the sort of strong example he wanted to set for his 10-year-old son. Ironically, his son was not there to see him cross either of that weekend’s finish lines, but Tubiak smiled and claimed “When he’s older he’ll appreciate it.” In the meantime, Tubiak is fully prepared to run races three days in a row “if that’s ever an option.”