This article first appeared in a July, 2011 edition of The News Reporter.
The Take the Lake committee has announced its celebrity participant for the 2011 season, a local military veteran who has gained national fame through his work.
John Deans of Whiteville will participate in Take the Lake X-TREME! Aug. 27, no small feat for the 49-year-old cast member of the Discovery Channel television show, “Swamp Loggers.”
Deans is not one of the burly lumberjacks on the
show, but a broker who contracts the logging jobs.
With a four-mile swim, a 15-mile Bike & Hike, a 14-mile Paddle and a 15-mile Walk/Run, TTL-X! will cover a lot of ground, and some of it will be familiar for Deans, as he has participated in 20 triathlons between 1987 and 2000,
“Those people impressed me,” Deans said about the men and women who inspired him to take up triathlons. “I would watch and think ‘now that is just awesome!’ I was happy just to be able to compete with them.”
The best part of triathlon participation, Deans said, is not so much the actual day of each event – which he referred to as “the big payoff” – but all that leads up to it.
“You had to train a lot,” he said. “It made me feel good to be in that kind of physical shape.” Triathlons are like Take the Lake, in that they are not fitness programs in themselves, but rather incentives that motivate people to exercise. TTL and the new TTL-X! are held in September, giving participants all summer to train.
After several years off the circuit, Deans has begun getting back in shape by training for TTL-X!, his next big payoff on Aug. 27.
On the Saturday before Labor Day weekend, several people will attempt an all-day, one-day completion of all four Take the Lake Personal Endurance Challenges, and Deans will take the day off from his timber-buying and television acting duties to make that attempt.
Swamp Loggers is well into its third season on the Discovery Channel, and Deans has made appearances in several of the season’s 13 episodes. The show airs Fridays at 10 p.m. with a rerun airing the hour before, and sometimes another rerun the hour after.
Discovery Channel chose Pender County to create the “Swamp Loggers” series in 2008 after they found Goodson’s All-Terrain Logging through an article in a logging trade magazine.
Deans, who lives in Whiteville with his wife Susan, is a Land Management Forester for Corbett Timber in Wilmington and makes a few appearances on “Swamp Loggers” each season, usually with good or bad news for the crew or to help explain the job they’re doing.
It’s been a great ride, even if the money is nowhere near “Hollywood star” standards, and the cast is always wondering just how long it will last.
“They told us that the numbers still look great and that Friday night is good for us,” Deans said. Good enough that he has been recognized by complete strangers.
Excerpts of “Swamp Loggers” episodes can be viewed at Discovery.com, where season DVDs are available for sale.
Deans retired from the Army Reserves as a master sergeant in 2001 after 20 years.
“From the earliest memory, I knew I wanted to be in the military,” he said, and he wanted to sign up as soon as possible.
He found that by joining the Reserves, he could be in the military and go to college at the same time.
After graduating from Southeastern Community College, the Reserve life fit in well with his career, so he served 15 years with Bravo Co. in Whiteville and then five in Wilmington.
When he isn’t buying and selling timber or working on his “close up,” Deans is in training. Sunday mornings he can be found kayaking for at least an hour, and he rides his bike often.
Age has taken its toll on his knees, so he plans on walking the 15-mile segment of TTL-X!, or maybe “slow running” it, and he swims laps regularly at the Columbus Pool.
Deans is enjoying being in better physical shape lately, and having pulled his body out of retirement, he feels better about what he can still do.
The training is fun, and has its own rewards, but he is doing it all for that date in late August, for the Big Payoff.
Ready to play? Visit Takethelake.org.