ERIN DUGGAN: SWEET SURVIVAL
Interview by Ben Yosef
This gig puts me in contact with so many incredible athletes. Because of the nature of our sport, most often the first thing I notice is a brilliant physique. Such was the case upon seeing Erin Duggan’s muscularity as a guest poser at the 2013 DFAC Pure Physique in Irvington, New York. Before this event, I had never heard of Erin Duggan. I was immediately impressed by the package she displayed. At one point in the show she was hitting shots side by side with the men’s pro middleweight winner, Mark Foley, and she was holding her own!
A few months later I would get an opportunity to interview Erin for Natural Mag. What I would learn about her would not only fascinate and inspire me, but it would once again put me in awe of the challenges and personal battles that many competitors have endured and overcome in order to make it to the stage.
BEN: Hi Erin! You are such an incredible athlete! You hold pro cards in a number of different organizations, correct?
Erin: Thank you very much! Yes, I do hold several pro cards. At the 2011 INBF Monster Mash in Marlborough, Massachusetts, hosted by Nancy Andrews, I won my WNBF pro card in Bodybuilding, Masters Bodybuilding, Masters Figure, and Masters Fit Body. Then, after winning the 2012 WNBF Pro Americans I tried some other federations. I also have pro cards in, and have won in, the DFAC, ANBF, and IFPA.
BEN: Wow, what a great run you had within the WNBF/INBF. Why did you decide to leave?
“Being restricted to only a few local shows wasn’t enough. I can’t describe it other than only being able to eat at one chain of restaurants…”
Erin: I love the WNBF and highly respect and admire their competi-tors and administration. Kristen Fonseca, Tracy Rabbitt, Cynne Mesoula, Cyndy Bohn, the list goes on. I still take Nancy Andrews’ posing classes twice a year, and helped expedite her last show this June. I really miss competing with them, but I had done every show in the Marlborough Middle School in Massachusetts. I just wanted to meet different people and get on stage with different people.
“I love challenges and I love to compete. I would compete every other weekend if I could.”
I love challenges and I love to compete. I would compete every other weekend if I could. It’s what I am used to as a competitive cyclist. Being restricted to only a few local shows wasn’t enough. I have met so many really nice people over the past few years. I can go to almost any show and see someone I know. I can’t describe it other than only being able to eat at one chain of restaurants, or never leaving your state. There are so many other experiences to have. I would love more than anything to have all of the natural athletes be able to compete against each other without sacrificing pro cards to do so. It kills me not to be able to do WNBF Worlds because i really miss those women. My mission is to keep women’s bodybuilding alive and promote it to newcomers, as opposed to the easy sell of bikini. Don’t get me wrong, I have awesome friends who are bikini competitors as well, but I want to let women know its okay to train hard and have muscles. We look good too!
BEN: Erin, you definitely have a fantastic look. You are able to merge rugged muscular-ity with feminine lines, and balanced proportions.
Erin: Thank you very much. [smiles]
BEN: Erin, let’s talk about the devastating accident that occurred during the Summer of 2009. Being the avid cyclist that you are, you were out for a workout on the bike, when you where hit by a car. How serious were your injuries?
“My doctor assured me that if I had not had the amount of muscle I did, I would not have lived.”
Erin: Pretty bad! The car was waiting to turn into a state park, and gunned for the entrance just as my friend and I were crossing it on the side of the road. He hit us pretty much head on, and after I had made eye contact with him, it felt like more of an assault than an accident. People at the park commented that they did not hear him hit the brakes either.
Luckily we had passed another cyclist who turned out to be an ER doctor. This doctor saved our lives. I thought I only broke my nose, but when he moved me to the side of the road I could see my leg moving from side to side. I thought maybe my knee had dislocated, but it was actually my femur which had been shattered in over seven places. I also had a gash down my face which required fifty stitches, my hand was lacerated to the bone, and my thumb was completely shattered from going through the windshield.
In addition, I broke both fibulas and my right ankle bone had a deep hole in it from the chain on my bike. I have numerous scars on my chin and back, and have a titanium rod in my left leg. Later my doctor assured me that if I had not had the amount of muscle I did, I would not have lived. We had to wait over an hour for the Life Star to arrive. I spent a week in the hospital and a week in rehab, and was in a wheelchair and a walker until October. The man that hit us was put in jail for six months. He never apologized, and tried to leave the scene.
After trying physical therapy for two months I decided to join a boot camp January 1st to rehab. I could only march and do low impact modifications, but that was where I started training for my first bodybuilding show six months later, in 2010.
BEN: Wow Erin. What an incredible example of survival and triumph. Your story both saddens and inspires. Erin, three years after that accident, during the Summer of 2012, you sustained another devastating injury. How did that happen?
Erin: Not as exciting! I slipped getting out of shower. My chihuahua peed on the bath mat, so it was in the washing machine. I got out to get a razor to shave my legs, and on my way back into the shower I slipped. I couldn’t move to get to a phone, so I just sat there for a few. Then I remembered how they relocated my left knee while in the ER when I was 14-years-old and slipped on my Latin book, so I relocated it myself. I got donor tendon replacement surgery in October of last year. Determined not to stop, I decided to go on crutches to the gym to build my upper body.
BEN: You are an amazing Super Woman.
Erin: I don’t know about being a superwoman, but I give everything 200% laser focus or as much as one can bring being single with four kids. It probably is watered down to 99% after!
BEN: Erin, I think experiencing all that you have, while caring for four kids, definitely qualifies you for super hero status! Let’s talk about your 2013 comeback. You would eventually recover quite nicely from the knee injury and mount a full on attack in the bodybuilding and phy-sique divisions. How many contests have you done so far this year, and how many titles have you won?
Erin: So far I have done seven from April 6 to June 29. At the NPC Steve Stone New York Metropolitan on April 6, I placed third in physique. At the DFAC Pro North Americans show in New Jersey on April 13, I placed first in Bodybuilding, but I was the only one in the class. At the NPC Powerhouse Classic in New Haven on April 29, I placed first in Open Physique and first in Open Bodybuilding. Then I did the Virginia IFPA Pro Bowl on May 5, and place a disappoint-ing fourth.
On May 11, I placed first in Pro Bodybuilding at the ANBF New Jersey Natural Pro Classic. Then, I took a three week break before doing the IFPA Masters Pro on June 22. I placed first in Bodybuilding there. And finally, I competed in the NPC Hartford Europa. I placed first in Open Physique and Masters Physique.
BEN: Wow Erin, what a year! Are you taking some down time now?
ERIN: No, I am getting ready for the big shows coming up in the Fall. [smiles]
BEN: Which shows are you prepping for?
ERIN: Next, I am going to do the IFPA Gaspari Cape show on October 12. After the Gaspari, I am doing the Yorton Cup on October 26, followed by the DFAC World Finals in Miami on November 2. [smiles]
BEN: Erin! You are a beast! So, when all is said and done, you will have competed in ten contests this year. And, more than a few are some of the toughest natural shows in the world. How do you find the time and energy to for such an intense contest schedule? And how can you manage to peak so many times in one year?
ERIN: Well, I am about to enter nursing school full-time, so we will see how well I will be able to juggle my schedule, training, and diet! [laughs]
I actually only peaked for one show this year, the IFPA Masters. I was building and leaning out consistently throughout the Spring, bringing body fat from 9.5% to 5.5%. I use the shows as a refeed and then back onto the regular diet. The next show I will be peaking for is the Yorton and I can probably hold that peak for DFAC Miami. The Cape will be a mini peak. I am used to the competitive cycling season, with races starting in April, and going through December pretty much every weekend.
BEN: Interesting strategy. I am excited to see you at max peak for the Yorton Cup. That show is always highly competitive, in all of its divisions. With last year’s women’s bodybuilding champ, Patricia Beckman-Payne most likely skipping the Yorton this year, the title will be up for grabs. How do you think you will fare? And do you have any concerns or com-petitors that you feel will give you any trouble?
ERIN: I cannot predict what will happen, or who will be competitive at the Yorton. As with any show, the title is up for grabs each year with no one particular competitor automatic-ally laying claim to it. Any of the women can win, and I am only in control of how I look from show to show. Therefore, I am ultimately only in competition with myself. There are many spectacular women that have worked very hard to qualify. This sport is too subjective to get wrapped up in comparisons. While I do wish she was going to be on stage next to me, at the end of the day, with or with out Beckman, it’s anybody’s title. [smiles]
BEN: Well put. [smiles] You are a very exciting competitor Erin, so I am definitely going to keep an eye out for you during the second half of the season. I imagine you will snag more titles, acquire more fans, and continue to inspire us all.
ERIN: Thank you! [smiles]
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