Joe Mulligan

June 15th, 2016: Heat

by Joe Mulligan on June 15, 2016 Comments Off on June 15th, 2016: Heat

I stood leaning on the following car, watching Marshall’s crew describe the drink system. The previous driver was tapping the drink instruction sheet as a science teacher might. The next two follow vehicle workers nodded their heads in understanding.

I walked over to the RV with Marshall’s son and crew member, Jesse. I asked Jesse how he felt Rob was doing. “His mind-over-matter ability is crazy. He is definitely in minor pain, but he just keeps going. To the point that he will ride until he hurts himself if he isn’t stopped. But you also don’t want to interrupt his flow or anything.”BC_RAAM_2016_06_15-23

I could clearly see the white sunscreen outlining Marshall’s cheekbones as he began to pedal once more. He had a glint in his eye, enjoying the break, in the midst of the cacti-filled fields and heat of Northern Arizona.

Every road looks the same: miles and Miles of hot, bumpy pavement. The only other thing you see is sand covered 18-wheelers and old trucks. The sandy mountains outline the even sandier valleys and there are rhythmic gusts of hot wind that almost increase the temperature, but provide relief at the same time. Water is necessary and ice is appreciated, as we all seem to bake like potatoes in the heat.BC_RAAM_2016_06_15-8

The constant struggle against the heat and the sand reminds me of Mom. Every day, having to see her fade as she fought was a challenge. It hurt to see her change. The same steady fight against the desert raged in Mom’s brain.

In every pedal stroke, there is resolve. We will beat brain cancer. Marshall is acting on this resolve. You can too, by donating here. Every penny goes to research.


Thank you all

Stay steady Marshall.  

Joe Mulligan

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Joe MulliganJune 15th, 2016: Heat

June 14, 2016: Step by Step

by Joe Mulligan on June 14, 2016 Comments Off on June 14, 2016: Step by Step

This morning started with a delicious waffle and a warm cup of coffee. The team met, and we talked about our unique skills and how doing RAAM for 3000 Miles to a cure might bring hope. It gave me confidence and even comforted me to see a group of people so rallied behind 3000 Miles to a Cure.

The media team asked Marshall a few questions about the race. When asked about the start he said, “I don’t like attention; I don’t like all the hoopla at the start. I would rather just be started somewhere and just go . . . There is never a “I shouldn’t do this” because you’re gonna. Once you get to that point, it is almost a relief,”BC_RAAM_2016_06_13-2

His toughness was heard in his words. Marshall is a fighter. He is fighting a different fight than my mom was, but I can see the same determination and grit. He reminds me of the diesel truck my dad had when I was a kid. I can almost see him crossing the finish line in Annapolis. I am in awe of Marshall’s strength and am really interested to see how it will manifest itself as he supports 3000 Miles to a Cure through RAAM.


But honestly, I am a little scared. I have a feeling the new time zones and car-confinement are going to be hard. I really do love my fellow passengers though, and I know they are going to get me through it. However I am constantly reminded of my mother’s words.

“God is an amazing God, you just gotta have faith.”
So here I go, RAAM begins tomorrow and I am going to be ready. We have the people, we have the equipment, and now we have the excitement. Annapolis here we come!

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Joe MulliganJune 14, 2016: Step by Step

June 14, 2016: Soarin’

by Joe Mulligan on June 14, 2016 Comments Off on June 14, 2016: Soarin’

Marshall Reeves is a pilot when he isn’t competing in ultra-cycling events. We sat together, 100 feet from the starting line discussing airplane types and the advantages of being a pilot. He usually flies to Europe and gets to pick his hours, because he has been a pilot for 26 years. As we chatted, it was almost like RAAM didn’t exist, but you could see his leg restlessly pulsing, despite his veteran coolness.


As he looked over his bike for the third time, I could tell he was thinking about the challenge ahead. His crew was a very different kind of nervous. They were talking and socializing, clearly trying to occupy their minds with something other than bike mechanics and checkpoints. We bought some delicious pizza and had some good conversation around the well-decaled follow car.

There was grease on Adam, the bike mechanic’s, hand as he sat there running over the plan with his crew buddies and looking for tools in the back of the RV. Jacob sat cross-legged on the ground tinkering with Marshall’s helmet.

As the starting time approached, hundreds of people stood mingled in with the racers encouraging them and giving them friendly pats on the back. The announcer was steadily counting down from 5 every minute sending each racer across the start line. Marshall was just sitting in the shade and rigging up his ear buds so he could listen to James Taylor.  

Twenty minutes later, he sat on his bike under the inflatable Race Across America start line, dancing to the upbeat music that was playing in the background. He had a big smile on his face and his fingers drummed impatiently on the handlebars.


Once started, he was all business. I got to see him 3 or 4 times over the next 50 miles. Each time he passed, I could see the resolve in his face. His crew simply handed him water bottles and told him good luck as he passed by. The last time I saw him, he was riding 40 miles per hour down a long descent, weaving around turns and bracing against the wind. His bike tires were a blur and his face was tight with concentration.


I can’t belive it has actually started. I feel the mix of excitement and anxiety as the race has only just begun. RAAM is about endurance and Marshall is ready to ride.
Here we go, 100 miles out of the way, and we are just getting started.

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Joe MulliganJune 14, 2016: Soarin’

June 12, 2016: Introduction and Preparation

by Joe Mulligan on June 13, 2016 Comments Off on June 12, 2016: Introduction and Preparation


Heroes are people who have fear, but overcome that fear and use it as fuel. What makes heroes even more special is their ability to instill courage in others around them. The best hero is one who leads with confidence and humility and inspires those traits in the people around them.

Marshall Reeves and Rob DeCou are the heroes of 3000 Miles to a Cure. By attempting RAAM they show us what it means to be courageous leaders and selflessly support 3000 Miles to a Cure.

I am here because my mother, Jenny Mulligan, died of brain cancer almost exactly 2 years ago. I have been given the opportunity to write about this event from my perspective. In doing so, I honor my mother’s memory and aid the fight against brain cancer. I will be following Marshall Reeves as he competes one of the most challenging ultra-cycling events in the world.

Marshall stands at slightly under 6 feet and sports a gray 5 o’clock shadow. He has an aura of intelligence and leadership around him. He looks like a man who has been hardened by battle. His smile is a fatherly one, often coming after a punny joke or witty retort. His strong calves and quads stand out on his muscled figure. His crew is a group of young men with great sense of humor and great dedication to the cause of helping Marshall to finish. They share a tight, family like bond, though they haven’t known each other for long. They seem to be excited to overcome the challenge alongside Marshall.


Today I helped to prepare Rob and Marshall’s vehicles by applying their RAAM numbers and  3000 Miles to a Cure decals. Marshall has attempted RAAM twice previously, and he is clearly committed to getting to the finish line this year. His crew of six shares his commitment and plans to do whatever they can to get him to Annapolis safely.


In this morning’s meeting, we gathered both teams together and discussed how RAAM and the fight against brain cancer are intertwined. RAAM presents an opportunity to combat the hopelessness of brain cancer. Some tears flowed, as my Aunt Maria talked about her personal experience with brain cancer. Jenny Mulligan, her sister and my mother, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2012 and died a year and a half later.

It was during this story that I began to realize how personal RAAM was, not just for me, but also for others in the room. Though some had relatives that suffered the same fate as my mother, I realized it was more than just brain cancer, it was hardship of any kind. Race Across America represents a fight against the odds, it represents a fight against the very earth beneath your tires and feet. In life, we are often given difficult situations that we can do little about, but it is during these times that we learn the most and grow the most.

I am looking forward to being inspired by Rob and Marshall as they begin this 3000 mile journey.  BC_RAAM_2016_06_12_Watermarked-6

Joe Mulligan is the 16-year-old son of Jenny Mulligan, whose story is at the heart of 3000 Miles to a Cure. Joe is following Marshall Reeves in his 2016 Solo Race Across America for brain cancer research. He will be sharing Marshall’s stories along the way, honoring the memory of his mother and working to change the future for those diagnosed with brain cancer.

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Joe MulliganJune 12, 2016: Introduction and Preparation