Runner motivates others while on the track

A number of runners had already crossed the finish line, but a group was still running up the final hill of a 5K race last fall. Jason Eagar, director of student programs and young alumni at the university, had helped pace the group throughout the race.

But during that last incline on the Worth Hills loop at TCU, it received an extra boost from someone else.

Carlo Capua had finished the race minutes ago, but appeared alongside the group out of nowhere, encouraging runners by name to give it everything they had left during that final push. Ask almost anyone who’s been in a race with him and they’ll tell you he did the same thing for them.

When Capua crosses the finish line, he’s not done with the race. It’s not in his character to run a race just for himself. His motivation in finishing is to go back and help others, said Eagar, who coaches the TCU triathlon club, TriFrogs, with Capua.

Eagar met Capua in 2000 when they joined the same fraternity at TCU. He said it was obvious to him then that Capua was a genuine and passionate person.

“He just gives you who he is, and it’s very easy to interact with him (and) accept him for that,” Eagar said. “He’s very quick to accept you for who you are.”

His openness and acceptance of others is not the only thing that allows him to successfully interact with people from all walks of life. His positive demeanor is highlighted by the neighborly smile that he constantly wears, said Monning Meteorite Gallery director Teresa Moss, who has trained with Capua.

“His smile is one of those warm, welcoming smiles…it just immediately kind of breaks down your defenses you might have up,” Moss said.

Capua, who now makes running a marathon look like a Sunday stroll, said he hated running prior to his first race. He had never been a runner, but had always wanted to finish a marathon.

During his third year at TCU, his friends approached him about a marathon that would raise money for cancer research, the disease that killed his grandfather.

“It wasn’t the running that got me into it,” Capua said. “It was really the doing it in honor of my grandfather and the challenge.”

Capua wore a bracelet with his grandfather’s name while training for the marathon to remind him whom he was really running for. At the time, crossing the finish line was the greatest achievement in his life, he said. Now, he’s conquering even bigger feats.

Capua now regularly trains for and competes in a potpourri of races, ranging from 5Ks to an Ironman Triathlon. He attempted the Ironman race once before, but dropped out during the final leg. After altering his diet to better fit his training, Capua said he’ll be ready to successfully tackle the 140.6-mile swim-bike-run race this fall.

If Capua has half of the belief in himself that he has in others, he should be able to fly through the finish line. His mother, Janet Capua, said he has a way of finding the hidden potential in a person. His sureness in the abilities of others allows him to help others accomplish things they never thought possible, she said.

“They won’t do it for themselves necessarily, but they’ll do it for him,” she said. “If he tells them they can do it, they’ll take that all the way to the bank, because they believe it…They’re not convinced, but he’s a wonderful convincer.”

Maybe his degree in marketing has boosted his aptness for persuading people outside of their ring of comfort. He has done it for countless runners, and non-runners, through his coaching in TriFrogs and Team in Training, an organization that helps people prepare and fundraise for races that support blood cancer cure research.

Between training, coaching and teaching cycling classes at the University Recreation Center, Capua makes time to run a restaurant with his mother.

How does he do it all? His mother said he manages it all by staying true to himself and pursuing his passions.

“He knows himself well,” she said. “I think he has an unbelievable amount of kindness in him and he’s also kind to himself.”

This kindness is evident in nearly every facet of his life. Take Z’s Cafe, the restaurant he and his mother founded. The cafe at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center gives work opportunities to Samaritan House residents, people whom most companies wouldn’t give a second glance. These employees are HIV-positive and come from low-income, homeless backgrounds. Many of them require psychological or medical treatment. Capua puts the same sort of faith in his employees that he puts in those with whom he trains. It helps them find the good and the talent in themselves, his mother said.

“(There are) people who start (training who) don’t know why they’re out there,” Capua said. “They don’t think they can do it, but I know they can do it because I’ve seen people just like them do it before.”

Eagar said Capua’s dedication to helping others is evident from the first time he meets someone.

“He’ll meet somebody for the first time, he’ll walk right up and introduce himself and then immediately turn the focus to them of what he can be doing to support them,” Eagar said.

Although people close to Capua will tell you his primary goals revolve around helping others achieve theirs, he does have a 100-mile-sized goal in the back of his mind.

He wants to run 100 miles without stopping. He said he wants to push his body to the limit the same way he has pushed others to theirs.

Don’t be surprised if a couple years from now, you hear about a man who finished a 100-mile race and ran back to cheer on another runner. Capua’s track record shows he isn’t capable of accomplishing his goals without helping someone else along the way.