Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone
Over the past three years Mike Styer has developed a love of triathlons – gradually building up from taking part in sprint triathlons to competing in a half-Ironman earlier this month.
Now the Kenton resident is trying to spread that joy of competing to others.
Styer, a life-long resident of Kenton, is organizing a super-sprint triathlon to be held at the YMCA on Aug. 4.
The super-sprint, which begins at 8 a.m., is an event set up for beginners and will include a 250 yard swim (5 laps in the YMCA outdoor pool), a six-mile bike ride and a 1.55 mile run. Styer said it’s half the length of a sprint triathlon.
“It’s intended for people who’ve always wanted to try a triathlon but have been afraid of the lengths,” he said. “It’s geared toward people that have never done one before so they can be successful with it.
“Since we don’t have anything close by I wanted to get something here that would maybe jump start people into doing triathlons or at least into getting off the couch and giving it a shot.”
With just over half of the 48 spots filled there is still plenty of room in the event for people to signup, Styer said.
“We’re interested in getting more people involved just to take a shot at it,” he said. “Everybody gets a T-shirt and a finisher’s medal and it’s not about placing but finishing.”
He said there will be no official winner named.
“The end goal is not their time, but the fact that when they’re done they can call themselves triathletes,” he said. “That they’ve done one and maybe that’ll jump start into doing a full-size one next year. … More focus on getting out and getting active and giving it a shot.”
And that is exactly what happened to Styer himself.
Styer, who is a teacher at Ada, said he got interested in triathlons after losing his dad to cancer three years ago.
“When I lost my dad, I said I was going to get myself into better shape,” he said. “I started a weight loss program at the Y and two people challenged me to do a triathlon with them. Those two people bailed on me but once I did the first one, the attraction was there to want to do more.
“I can’t cut for basketball or soccer anymore, so everything is straight ahead. You compete with yourself. I don’t compete against other people. It’s just me against myself and just getting across that finish line.”
Styer recently achieved one of his goals when he completed the half-Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run) in Muncie, Ind. on July 7.
“This was after three years and I couldn’t do anything three years ago,” he said. “It (competing in triathlons) is a way to get me off the couch and to be motivated. … It’s great now because I have a group that trains with me and I’m getting them ready for the super-sprint.”
He added he enjoys seeing others get interested in the sport.
“A couple days a week we go out, do the bikes, run and swim together,” he said. “I love it because they’re where I was in the beginning and I’m able to help them out. … I love passing the knowledge on of the things I’ve learned and mistakes I’ve made. Just watching people get better at it.”
A couple things Styer likes about participating in triathlons is the variety of sports and the people involved.
“It’s a great way just to stay in shape,” he said. “If I don’t want to run, I don’t have to run, I can ride my bike. If I don’t want to ride my bike I get in the pool. It gives me options of things I can do.
“The great thing about triathlons is whether you go to the big ones or small ones there are people of all shapes and sizes,” he added. “There are people that are 100 pounds and there are people that are 300 pounds, but everybody is given a chance to finish. Everybody is given a pat on the back and just the camaraderie in triathlon is great.”
Swimming is often the most difficult challenge for the beginning triathlete, Styer said.
“Most people can swim but swimming is them floating in the pool and taking a stroke or two every so often,” he said. “People aren’t used to putting their face in the water and learning to breath is the hardest thing. Most people can run and most people can ride a bike, but swimming is not natural for people.”
He said his least favorite part is the run.
“I’ve lost 20 pounds and that’s helped, but I’m still not a natural runner,” Styer said. “Oddly enough being a bigger guy my swim is the best because I think my technique has helped me quite a bit. The run is whatever is left in the tank. After 25 miles on the bike and a mile swim whatever is left in the run is what it is and it’s just about getting to the finish.”
One thing Styer noted about the super sprint is that people who aren’t very strong at swimming will be able to touch the bottom if necessary.
He said anyone interested in participating or volunteering to help with the super-sprint triathlon can contact the YMCA at 419-673-6131.
By KENDRICK JESIONOWSKI
Times sports editor