Half Ironman to test competitors

Published 1:28 am Thursday, October 28, 2010

Staff Write

Washington welcomes endurance competitors from all over the country for another Half Ironman beginning, and ending, at Washington Park on Saturday.
This is the second Half Ironman to be held in Washington in the FS Series this year. Competitors come from all over the country — and one from Munich, Germany.
The Washington Half Ironman, also known as the Washington Half, is comprised of three events: a 1.2-mile open-water swim, a 56-mile cycling race and a 13.1-mile run. A full Ironman event is twice those distances.
Zeno Weidenthaler, a Munich, Germany, native and East Carolina University graduate-school student, has been an avid endurance and triathlon competitor for several years. He competed in the Pinehurst Triathlon on Oct. 16.
“The water was absolutely cold. It would’ve been nice to have had a wet suit,” he said.
Weidenthaler said he knows this triathlon is wet-suit legal, which makes him glad.
“I love competing in any sport,” he said. “Since this is my first Half Ironman, I see it more as an adventure, competing against the distance and not so much against others.
“I do it for fun and really enjoy the atmosphere on race days. It is a great experience to find out what you are capable of. A beneficial side effect is a healthy lifestyle that comes with the triathlon training.”
Weidenthaler offered this advice to other endurance athletes and anyone wanting to compete: just have fun and enjoy the race.
The only relay team representing Washington is Team IBX 2+1, which stands for two women plus one man. Robin Clarke will be competing in the 1.2-mile open-water swim. Rod Cantrell will compete in the 56-mile cycling portion. Jenna Riggs will run as the team’s anchor in the 13.1-mile run.
“I really enjoy the training aspect of triathlons and endurance races,” Clarke said. “And I really just enjoy the competition of it all. It’s such a good experience to have and train for.
“One thing I can say to anyone wanting to do it is you’re never too old. All you can do is do the best you can and never give up.”
Because triathlons and endurance races are long and require months of training, Clarke said participants should always complete their events.
“More people should try it and give it a go,” she said. “I know some people don’t like to swim, or bike or run, but they can do what we’re doing and do a relay team.
“I think it’s a good race and competitive venue because the course is flat, compared to other courses.”
Clarke had this advice for anyone wanting to compete in an endurance race: “Follow a plan for your workout to train for a competition or you’ll hurt yourself. And anyone can do it. Anyone can train and compete. Anyone.”
Another Washington resident, Eddie Cournoyer, plans to compete in the entire event — swim, cycle and run. He had planned to compete in a Miami, Fla., triathlon with 2,500 competitors, but he was unable to make that event.
An average competitor can finish a typical Half Ironman in just over six hours.
The endurance levels of the athletes has been compared to members of the Navy SEALs, Army’s Green Berets, Marine Force Recon and Air Force parajumpers.
The Washington Half is designed to be spectator-friendly, with competitors’ families and friends having multiple opportunities to see competitors during the event. Aid stations with items such as towels, energy gels, water and more will be stationed along the cycling and running courses.
As of Wednesday, there are 129 competitors registered for the event, with slots available for anyone wanting to compete. The cost is $140 for individuals or $195 for relay teams.
For more information or to register, visit www.fsseries.com and click on “TOA Triathlon Series,” then click on “Washington Half” to register.