By Randy Pierce
Scrambling down an incredibly steep, icy, and challenging section of the Falling Waters trail in May 2013, I paused to talk to a couple of climbers ascending the trail. Realistically, we had to pause to manage passing each other safely on this perilous stretch, and each of us was glad for the moments of communication that provided a brief break.
As I was introduced to Michael and Serenity Coyne, I quickly realized there was an incredible story in front of me which I hoped I could share with our community. We are, after all, significantly in the business of inspiration and adventure, both of which these two incredible people demonstrate beyond the wildest imaginations of many! Rather than giving you my version of their story, I’ll let them tell it in their own words. Suffice it to say I am in awe of and appreciate their response to challenges and life. I hope you may find a similar appreciation and inspiration in their tale.
The 2013 Icelandic Wild Heart Expedition
By Michael Coyne
I am the team leader for a group of athletes and explorers from the New England area called Expedition Outreach, a charitable organization I founded in 1995. My team will be setting out on expedition in August of 2013 that kicks off a series of trips around the world from Costa Rica to New Zealand and Africa where we will rock and ice climb, race in triathlons and SCUBA dive to raise awareness of heart disease testing.
Sometime ago, I had heart failure in the transition zone of a triathlon equivalent to 2 massive heart attacks that was related to an assault that happened on duty as a Massachusetts State Trooper, when a man tried to kill me for no other reason than the uniform I was wearing. My doctors told me I had an ejection fraction of 15, a measurement of the amount of oxygen that leaves the heart, and had roughly 5 years to live and would never SCUBA dive or climb again. The heart failure was related to sleep apnea that I sustained due to the head injury I sustained during the assault, something I could have been tested for if I had known at the time about the correlation.
As a lifelong athlete I was devastated, I was forced to retire and now I train full time to rehab my heart and extend my life span. In 1 year I have improved my E.F. to 45%, not normal but something my doctors thought unprecedented. I desire now to come back stronger than ever: Inspiring all those who have experienced adversity in their lives.
In Iceland I will attempt to climb the highest peak and set the Guinness Book World Record for the fastest ‘“Alpine” face first Luge. I currently hold the “Official” World Record for the highest altitude Luge run in Bolivia.
My team and I take the publicity we receive from our “extreme” sporting and mountaineering adventures, expeditions and races and focus it on education and awareness: In my life I have broadcasted live from the summit of a previously unclimbed peak in Alaska across the nation on ABC Television and named it Mount Hope, in the symbolism of the world working together to fight disease instead of each other, as a former US Marine I know too well about the effects of war. We were also the first to wakeboard the Amazon River complete with crocodiles and piranha to and wreck diving in Iceberg Alley. We first capture the attention and imaginations of our audience in order to better educate.
When I was told I had roughly 5 years left, my wife Serenity, a registered nurse and athlete we call “Cheetah Girl” since she dresses up as a cheetah for all her races to raise awareness for the highly endangered cheetah, planned these Wild Heart Expeditions and Races. Serenity is on the road to her first Ironman triathlon in New Zealand in 2 years. In Iceland she will race in the Reykjavik Marathon. Iceland starts the filming for our extreme sports documentary designed to educate about the importance of facing our fears to understand the nature of this planet and our own hearts.