WACO, Texas — Ten years after a traumatic brain injury that nearly took his life, Mike Bigogno is taking a victory lap like no other—a 140-mile one.
He's one of 2,500 athletes set to run, swim and bike across Waco in this weekend's IRONMAN triathlon.
But the journey to the race has been anything but simple.
"It doesn't matter how hard you can hit, it matters how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." It's Bigogno's favorite quote, one from no other than Rocky Balboa.
If it applies to anyone, it applies to him.
In May 2012, a skateboarding accident in college left Bigogno with a brain injury so severe, doctors said he only had a 9 percent chance of living.
"I get a little choked up thinking about it," he said. "[I] thank the man upstairs that I'm still here, and keep going on."
Mike spent the following months re-learning how to speak and how to walk.
Two years later, he was running, biking and swimming in his first IRONMAN competition in California.
"I still had that drive in me, that competitive edge. I never understood that I couldn't do something."
This week, Bigogno and his family made the 700-mile journey to Waco from St. Louis to do it all for the fourth time. He's been training to swim 2.5 miles in the Brazos River, bike a 114-mile loop around Lake Waco, and wrap up with a run that ends at the Waco Suspension Bridge.
Just hours away from the starting line, he's calling back to that Rocky quote.
"It doesn't matter how hard you can hit, it matters how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."
Moving forward is exactly what Mike does best, now ten years out from the moment that almost stopped him.