The 30th annual Ironman 70.3 Lubbock triathlon took place on Sunday, June 30 with the running portion on the Texas Tech campus. The 1,000 racers started the triathlon at 6:30 a.m. at the Dunbar Lake and ended at the Jones AT&T Stadium. This race was the qualifier for the Ironman 70.3 Handcycling and Ametur World Championship in Kona, Hawaii and the Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Nice, France.
The Ironman 70.3 Lubbock as an idea from Mike Greer 30 years ago when he and his friends were on a bike ride. Mike received his doctorate from Tech so he knew where the race could take place. Greer and his wife, Marti participated in Ironman races before, so the two knew how to plan it.
Marti Greer said ending the race at The Jones was something she thought of and something that would tie the race together. When she received permission from Tech to end the race there, she was shocked, Greer said.
“It was just one of those thoughts you have in your mind, ‘I love the way it looks, I love Texas Tech’ and it’s just beautiful.” Greer said. “We asked and they actually said yes and we were like ‘oh wow you're kidding’ that part was fun, it was a surprise honestly.”
Economically, the Ironman 70.3 Lubbock triathlon brings $4.6 million into Lubbock each year with racers coming from all over the world to participate in this event, according to Marti Greer. Another great aspect from hosting it in Lubbock, Greer said, is the people.
“The thing I notice when I talk to all the athletes is they come back and say how wonderful and friendly people from Lubbock are,” Greer said. “So when they come here and they see that I think it makes people love Lubbock, I think that’s why we have a lot of people come back and do the event over and over and over.”
Brenda Merrill, a volunteer massage therapist from Touch of Heaven Massage, said one of her favorite parts the triathlon was meeting different people from around the world. Throughout the years she’s met people from out of the country, like Brazil and in the country, like Washington.
Some athletes that participated in the race were physically challenged. Seven of the 1,000 athletes that competed were either in wheelchairs, had a medical disease that put them in a wheelchair or was missing a limb.
Rodger Krause who was from Redding, Pennsylvania was an athlete in a wheelchair after suffering a T12 thoracic number 12 spinal cord injury in a car accident 19 years ago. Krause was a triathlete before the injury but didn’t know how to continue after his accident.
“After my injury I kept swimming but I didn’t know anything about hands cycles or pushchairs, which are racing wheelchairs” Krause said. “So I just gave up on triathlons and then about eight years after my injury, around 2008, a friend introduced me to hand cycles. Then that same guy, Chris K, he introduced me to pushchair.”
After training with his new equipment, Krause got faster and faster and realized he could go back to racing triathlons once again. It’s a good thing he did because Krause won first place in handcycling and is going to Kona, Hawaii for the Handcycling World Championship.
The second place winner in handcycling was Rob Balucas from California and will be going to Nice, France for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. Rob suffered his back injury in a bike accident and said he travels all over to do triathlons the United States, specifically in California.
The overall winner for the females was Jana Richtrova, who is originally from Czech Republic but currently resides in Woodlands. Richrova said her main goal is to go to Kona, Hawaii for the Amatur Full Ironman Championship. She has been wanting to place first in Kona for seven years and has come as close to second place in her age group and is determined to win first.
She came to the United States to play basketball in college and started triathlons 10 years ago. Competing in triathlons is now her full time job as well as being a traveling coach. After already winning Ironman Texas in Woodlands, Richtrova said winning means more than a trophy, it's seeing the dedication she put in paying off.
“It’s just the return and all the hard work and really consistent hard work that you put in day in and day out,” Richtrova said. “It’s three sports so it takes a lot of practice and consistency. It's really good to see when your hard work turns into an amazing performance whether that’s winning or just doing your best.”
Richtrova trains 14 to 15 hours a week in bike, swimming, running and strengthening in order to prepare for her upcoming triathlons. Her advice for younger runners is to be steady with the training and doing well in triathlons takes three main aspects.
“Focus on consistency and doing little every day and be patience,” Richtrova said, “Swin, bike, run is three sports all in one so it's a lot of different things you need to be able to do. Consistency and hard work and patience is the three biggest things that one should have.”