Thursday, May 28, 2020

Not Afraid of a Challenge: Interview with Ian Gerritsen

So stoked to present this interview with St. George resident Ian Gerritsen... it was inspiring for us and we hope it will be for you as well. Thanks for the time man!

By way of this interview, Ian also brought to our attention a race we weren't aware of... the Doughboy! The Doughboy offers sprint and olympic distances, takes place in rural Beaver, and markets itself as a super chill, fun event for all shapes, sizes, and ability levels.

Given its rural location and other precautionary measures, the Doughboy still has the green light from local leaders to take place on June 20th. Keep it in mind as a way to get a real race in soon!

Standard question: what’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon? What was your first ever race?

I'm kind of a late bloomer. My first race, the St. George marathon in 2006, came about because a good friend told me I was too heavy to run a marathon. My first tri was the Utah Summer Games sprint in 2008.

And after volunteering and being in awe of athletes at the 2010 and 2011 St. George Ironman, I raced and finished IMSG 2012 in 15:15. That race is a story in itself.

If memory serves you’ve done quite a few Ironmans and 70.3’s [half Ironman distance] over the last few years. How would you rank them from favorite to least favorite and why?

I've finished 11 fulls and 6 70.3's. 7 of those fulls in the last 2 years. Hands down Ironman St. George 2012 will always be my favorite. The adversity I had to overcome shaped who I am today. Ironman Canada in Whistler is or was the coolest venue EVER (I mean where else can you zipline, see multiple bears, bungee jump for the first time AND race an Ironman all while being surrounded by unimaginable beauty??)

Although it's tough to say any Ironman is bad, Santa Rosa is my least favorite. After racing multiple endurance events in different cities, you really get the sense of which cities are excited you're there. I never felt the love in Santa Rosa.

Look, there are WAY bigger sacrifices in the world, but all of us who were planning on Ironman St. George this month obviously have been through our own personal roller coaster of sorts. How did you take the news? How was training going pre-corona and how has it gone since we heard word of the postponement to September?

I took the news HARD. I hadn't been this excited for a race since my first IM and my training showed. I knew the course was going to be difficult and I wanted to be ready. My Training Peaks fitness score was the highest it's ever been.

Since the postponement my training has suffered. It's hard to train for a race in these uncertain times where the world has been thrown off its axis. You really have to reexamine your motivation.

Speaking of training, we saw on Facebook the epic 48 hour challenge you and Shawn Jaca completed a few weeks ago. How did that come about and how was the experience?

The 4x4x48 was a challenge set forth by legendary Navy Seal David Goggins, in which you run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours straight. It was brought to my attention by friend and mentor Megan Mickelson who completed the challenge about a week previous.

After reading her experience I was hooked. Not since pre-Covid had I been excited to run. The physical/mental difficulty spoke to my soul. So of course I had to enlist my partner in crime Shawn Jaca to test our mettle. The experience was awesome.

The first 36 hours weren't nearly as bad as I thought they'd be, but the last 12 were pretty grueling. 90+ degree heat coupled with muscle and mental fatigue was tough. In the end I accomplished my goal of each run being a negative split as well as the final run being faster than the initial run. That was tough because the initial run was fueled by adrenaline and excitement while the final run was pure grit and determination. I loved the experience and plan to take the challenge again soon.

Ian and the notorious Mr. Jaca
We’re optimistic, but as you peer into your crystal ball, will we have local races this summer (Doughboy, Echo, Jordanelle, Camp Yuba, Brineman, Kokopelli, etc.) and will Ironman St. George be a go on Sep 19th?

That crystal ball is pretty murky. I'd like to think there will be local races, but I think the chances of Ironman happening are slim as heartbreaking as it is.   

editor's note: promising email from Ironman CEO sent out 5/28 on 
precautions they're taking in order to hold races... we believe, baby!!

We understand that viewpoint... but if Disney World, Vegas casinos, malls, restaurants, other sporting events, etc, etc are opening with precautions, why not triathlons?

As much as I LOVE volunteers and I mean really LOVE them (I thank every volunteer I see), it's an exhausting, thankless experience a lot of times. Putting another element of hygiene into an already thankless job is gonna be tough. I think races and even Ironmans will resume, but it's going to take a vaccine and a viable cure before things start to return to normal.

Living in St. George you’ve gotten an up-close view of the IM course – what takeaways or advice would you give to people who may not have the opportunity to experience it pre-race?

This course is TOUGH. I think people were under the misconception that since they weren't climbing the "Wall" twice or running up over the red hill, somehow this year was easier. Well I can tell you climbing Snow Canyon at mile 70 is going to have a lot of people walking their bikes. And it doesn't get any easier from there.

Also, the run is one of if not the hardest Ironman run courses in North America. The only flats you have is the short loop around Mathis park. My advice is to train for HILLS and HEAT.

What’s the triathlon vibe like in Southern Utah these days, and anything new to report from SUTC [Southern Utah Triathlon Club]?

The vibe has taken a hit like everything else, but we have some awesome members who are optimistic and are continuing their training. There is excitement around the Doughboy triathlon in Beaver which still has the green light for June 20th.

Of the 3 disciplines what’s your greatest strength to weakness, and what do you love most about triathlon - aka why do you tri?

My motto might answer this best: "Survive the swim, Kill the bike, and Enjoy the run". Swimming has always been tough for me, and is a work in progress. I love biking, and it's my strongest. And lastly, I love the energy of the spectators and volunteers on the run as well as the athletes who I'm able to motivate and those who motivate me. I tri because every race I experience my highest and lowest points.

Without struggle, there is no growth. Each one of my races has given me so many lessons. These lessons help me be a better husband, father, and business owner. I race because after I finish beating myself up for 12+ hours I get to hug and kiss my wife, who has stuck by me in all of my craziness.

I race because I want my two boys to know their dad isn't afraid of a challenge. I race because I want my friends and family to know that it doesn't matter how old, young, skinny, or fat you are, anything is possible.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I'm so honored to be highlighted by your amazing publication. I've always followed you guys and I believe that if triathlon is going to survive and thrive, it'll be because of guys/girls like you continuing to work hard at sharing stories and motivating people to get stronger and faster.

"since when are you the quitting kind?"





Below are links to all the races in the 2020 Championship Series:

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