Parkites compete at Ironman World Championship in Hawaii
October 14, 2016
Ironman competitors know the race will be an immense challenge. And the Ironman in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, is probably one of the toughest races in the world due to weather conditions, course profile and the high level of competition.
Yet, Parkites Sebe Ziesler, Lance Gramann and Taylor Dudley, three founding members of the Park City Triathlon Club, qualified for and competed in the 2016 Ironman World Championship held in Kona on October 8, 2016.
Ziesler, 41, has competed in local races and national triathlons over the last two decades and was returning to Kona for the second time. His total time of 10:06:50 put him in the top 25% of all finishers and bested his 2012 race by 24 minutes.
"My goals were to improve my time, break an hour in the swim, and go under 10 hours," Ziesler said. "I got two out of three, so I'm happy with my race."
Ziesler qualified for Kona in September 2015, but after qualifying, was hampered with plantar fasciitis pain that prevented him from running for several months. Instead, he did aqua jogging and a lot of hiking.
"It wasn't until a couple weeks before the race that I could run without the foot hurting," Ziesler said. "And, even then, my longest run was nine miles."
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On race day, he decided to try a different approach.
"I didn't wear a GPS or a watch, since I figured I wouldn't get any good news from those," Ziesler said. "Instead, I just focused on how I was feeling and mentally contradicted complaints from my body as they came up."
He finished the marathon in 3:37:32.
"It's not so much your physical ability as your mental ability to keep on persevering," Ziesler said. "I never became negative or had self-doubt creep in while I was out there. I really wanted to succeed."
Ziesler attributes that strength to a lifestyle that demands him to be mentally active through family participation, extracurricular activities and his job as a computer chip engineer.
Gramann, 43, was in Kona for the third time and finished in 10:47:24. An airplane pilot and father of two, he says he hasn't been training as much as he did before having kids, so he didn't bring a lot of expectations to this year's race.
"The goal of the day was to finish," Gramann said. "The swim was rough — lots of body contact. I had a good bike. The run was hot, obviously, and challenging, and slowly ground me down to a shell of myself, but I finished."
He biked the 112-mile course in 5:34:36 and ran the marathon in 4:20:00 for a total time that placed him in the top half of the 2,200-person field.
Gramann qualified in July 2016 and had done the Hawaii race in 2002 and 2005.
"Earlier this year I thought maybe I could do Kona again," he said. "I probably could have gone faster in the run, but it's motivated me to get more serious about my training and try to come back to place higher and better myself."
Dudley, 46, won his age group in the 2015 race where he qualified. He started the championship course with a 1:00:45 for the 2.4-mile swim and a 5:35:05 bike ride. A repeat Kona competitor, Dudley said he trained very well, but became dehydrated around mile 80 of the bike course. He "called it a day" on mile nine of the run.
"This was my third time to Kona, my last time to race," said Dudley. "I'll do other Ironman races, just not that one, too hot and humid for me."
His previous best finish was 9:59:08.
Coverage of the Ironman World Championship will air on NBC on Dec. 10 at 12:30 p.m.
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