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Mark Brotherton just before the start of the 200-mile Seattle to Portland bicycle event.

High cholesterol drove Walla Wallan Mark Brotherton to consider improving his health following a 2002 diagnosis.

Mark celebrated his 65th year by tackling the two-day, 207-mile Seattle to Portland/STP event July 13-14. 

He was among 8,000 other riders who departed Seattle at the start of the annual ride, according to a release.

“The ride was challenging; but well worth the effort,” Mark reported afterward. “I started training for this ride on Jan. 8, the day I registered to do STP. I was pretty confident that I could do the ride; but became somewhat nervous a few days before the start.  

“Once I settled in, everything went well, no flats or mechanical issues. The guys at the Bicycle Barn take good care of me,” he said.

His daughter Brooke, son in-law Sloan and grandson Breden saw him off and met him at the finish line along with his niece Michelle and great-nieces Emory and Addie.  

“It was a total team effort that I was able to pull it off with my wife Georgie leading the charge. Crossing the finish line was nothing short of thrilling especially since family was there.”

Mark changed his diet because of the health alert from his doctor. It gave him the motivation to start riding his bike and his cholesterol lowered by 60 points, but an online assessment delivered another wake-up call.

“My initial assessment showed that I was at risk for diabetes,” Brotherton recalled. 

He learned that for those who are overweight, losing even 5 to 7 percent of their body weight can help reduce their chances of getting type 2 diabetes. That gave him the inspiration he needed, along with tools through Kaiser Permanente.

“Now I weigh myself daily, and eat only fruits, vegetables, whole grains and little bit of meat,” he said.

As his 65th birthday approached, he decided it was time to sign up for this year’s Kaiser Permanente STP presented by Alaska Airlines.

“I’ve always wanted to do the STP,” he said. “I knew if I didn’t do it now it would be too easy to keep saying ‘later.’ As soon as I signed up, I started telling everyone, including my co-workers. There’s no going back now.”

Preparation for the STP involved training on his bike four days a week. He logged 1,900 miles over six months. Through all his efforts, he’s lost 20 pounds, meeting his 7 percent weight loss goal.

“There hasn’t been a real rough spot in training because I feel like I’ve been preparing for this the way I should, and I’ve had support through Kaiser Permanente programs,” he said. “I don’t miss the foods I used to eat, and I look forward to everything I’m doing to make this happen.

“It’s nice to feel like I’m making a positive impact,” he said. “I’m so glad to be able to share this journey with family, friends and co-workers.”

Training for a race or taking your bike out in the neighborhood? Kaiser Permanente shares a few tips to keep you safe on the road:

Always wear a properly fitted helmet and visible clothing

Stretch before and after your ride

Obey all traffic laws and signal your turns

Carry water and wear sunscreen

This is the same Mark who cycled more than 600 miles in June to raise funds for the Great Cycle Challenge children’s cancer research fund.

But wait — there’s more. Dust won’t collect on his bike after this latest event as Mark expects to ride in Providence St. Mary’s Gran Fondo on Sept. 21 in Walla Walla. 

Proceeds from that event help neighbors, friends and loved ones who are fighting cancer, Mark said. 

All funds raised stay local to benefit the Cancer Center Fund of Providence St. Mary Foundation, he said.

Gran Fondo has walk, run and cycling events. Registration in person is available at the starting point at Burwood Brewing Co., 1120 E St. The earliest check-in time is 7 a.m. for the metric century 65-mile bicycle ride. 

Check in at 9 a.m. for the celebration 35-mile bicycle ride and 10 a.m. for the 1-mile fun run/walk. A festival will have live music from Blue Mountain Spanish Sound and a catered barbecue. See ubne.ws/32yuFtL for more details.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313. 

Annie joined the U-B news staff in 1979 and since 1990 has written Etcetera, a daily community column. She was promoted to a copy editing post in 2007. She edits copy, designs and lays out pages, including the weekly arts and entertainment guide Marquee,