Students volunteer, participate in IRONMAN Arizona

 

Photo courtesy of IRONMAN

Many students will participate in Sunday’s IRONMAN triathlon as both volunteers and challengers. IRONMAN Arizona is a five-day expo held at Tempe Beach Park. The IRONMAN race, a full distance triathlon, begins at 6:45 a.m. Sunday and ends at midnight.

The expo for the triathlon begins Thursday and ends Monday. The whole event is open to the public.

Sun Devil Triathlon member and third year law student Daniel Crane will participate in the 25-29 age group. He has run about 100 triathlons of varying distances since beginning in 2002.

“I wanted to do something challenging and something different,” he said.

Crane said he heard about the IRONMAN races from a friend and decided to participate in IRONMAN Wisconsin in 2006.

“I thought it would be very challenging and I wanted to know if I could do it,” he said.

He said the weather conditions were challenging because the temperature was in the 50s, but he hopes for a better outcome this weekend.

Crane has been training for three months. He said he’s ran more than 20 miles in a day, biked more than 100 miles on a different day and completed a half distance IRONMAN Triathlon last month.

“The bike will take me the longest, but the swim will be the most mentally challenging since there will be 2,600 people swimming in Tempe Town Lake,” Crane said. “The run is my strength.”

Crane said being a member of the Triathlon Club has helped make the longer training sessions “bearable” and has given him a chance to work out with other people.

The ASU Women’s Lacrosse Team will volunteer at the event for its second year.

Team captain Jennifer Littleton said the team’s treasurer saw IRONMAN Arizona as a great way to fundraise because it is a self-run team.

Last year, the team worked an aid station on the run course and handed out water and snacks to the athletes. This year, the team will most likely work the women’s changing tent.

Littleton said working the IRONMAN event is different than volunteering at other events because it is “basically a big party all day long.”

Their aid station last year was disco-themed and volunteers were dressed in ’70s attire.

“Volunteers work really hard to keep the energy level up and stay positive to help encourage the athletes, even when it’s getting late and they are clearly exhausted from the race,” Littleton said.

She said working the event is a great bonding experience for the team because it gives them a chance to work together outside of practice.

“It helps inspire us to work a little harder in practice and run a little farther when we are watching people complete a ridiculously challenging event like IRONMAN,” she said. “Conditioning in practice doesn’t seem so bad after seeing what the athletes go through on race day.”

IRONMAN Arizona Co-Race Director Hessam Salim said 3,000 people have registered for the race, but they expect about 2,600 to actually participate.

From this race, 50 athletes will advance to the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii next October.

Salim said they expect more than 4,000 volunteers.

Volunteers will help with bike aid stations and run aid stations during the race. They will also hand out water and food and help athletes get in and out of wetsuits and other equipment.

IRONMAN Arizona was first held in April 2005.

It raises money for nonprofit groups and other causes.

The IRONMAN Foundation Community Fund will donate $50,000 in grant funding to local nonprofit groups that have supported or will volunteer at the event.

The general entry registration fee is $675, but athletes can pay $1,350 for an IRONMAN Foundation slot in the race and donate half of the fee to the foundation.

Crane said this is an experience everyone should try.

“People who finish IRONMANs come in all different shapes and sizes,” Crane said. “There are some people you look at and you’re like, ‘Really? Maybe I can do this too.’ Everybody that puts their mind to it can finish something like this with proper training.”

 

Reach the reporter at ppineda@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @paulinapineda22