On October 7th, 2017 I qualified for the 2018 Ironman World Triathlon Championship in Kona, Hawaii, by placing first in my age group at Ironman Maryland. At 66 years old, I raced in the 65-69 age group in my 31st Ironman. At Ironman Maryland, I executed my race plan with a precision I didn’t follow in earlier races. I came out of the water in 3rd place in my age group, finished the bike portion in 2nd place, and caught the lead runner at mile 9 of the marathon. That was the good news. The bad news was that for the next 3 hours, or 17 miles, I ran looking over my shoulder in a mild panic. I finished in 12:05:21, 27 minutes ahead of 2nd place.
But the real significance for me was that 20 years ago, in 1997, I’d been to Kona under different circumstances. My 5 year old daughter Emily wrote a letter to Ironman, asking that I be picked as a birthday present from her to me. We lost her to leukemia right after that. I ran Kona in her memory that year. Her letter was the lead-in to the NBC broadcast featuring me as the human interest story of 1997. Al Trautwig, the NBC announcer, correctly noted that I wasn’t fast enough to get there on my own and that Emily’s letter got me to the race start. For some reason, that had always bugged me. 20 years later, I qualified with the help of a great coach, local Portland über athlete Steffen Brocks, and my wife Terry and son Timothy. One of the reasons I’m smiling in this photo is that my coach told me I could take the next day off! This win was the result of a 20 year dream that I never let go of. Kona, here I come.