Talk about covering some distance — 97,075 yards swimming, 2,665 miles biking and 522 miles running. Then throw in about 15-20 hours per week working out in the gym. And those are just individual training numbers since October of 2014.
That’s some pretty serious commitment exhibited by two Delta State University employees — Doug Pinkerton and Chris Giger — both prepping for the May 16 Ironman race outside Houston, Texas.
Ironman, known by many as the most extreme endurance race on Earth, begins with a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and concludes with a marathon-distance 26.2-mile run.
So why compete in this grueling test of fortitude?
“I look at it as a challenge not everybody can do. Everybody has their passion and this is just one of my passions,” said Pinkerton, director of HPER facilities, operations and programming. “I feel blessed with the ability of endurance. If you’ve got it, you need to use it.”
Pinkerton, also the university’s cross country coach, completed his first Ironman in 2007 in Arizona. He’ll be testing his will again thanks to a push from Giger, enterprise application director with the Office of Information Technology.
“Chris came to me a couple years ago and told me he was interested in doing triathlons,” said Pinkerton. “He got started, and just like me he got addicted to it. I didn’t plan on doing this race, period. He came to me and said he was going to do it and so I decided I’d get in there with him and train hard for eight months.”
Since then, the two have relied on each other and trained together. They both cited accountability — leaning on each other to make sure they keep sight of the end goal.
“Doug’s been there from the beginning,” said Giger. “There’s so much that goes into training for a triathlon. I can go to him with my questions, and training with him really has been a learning experience. There’s a science behind it, and he’s helped guide me through this process.”
Pinkerton has been participating in triathlons since 1999, and Giger is now in his third triathlon season. Next week’s Ironman marks Giger’s first.
“My ultimate goal is just to finish and be standing at the end,” said Giger.
Along with the support they’ve given each other, both said they’ve found motivation in the backing they’ve received from family, campus and the community.
“The neat thing about working at Delta State is that people show a lot of interest,” said Pinkerton. “Chris got me fired up to do another one, but I’ve also had a lot of support from Delta State and Cleveland.”
“Delta State has allowed me the opportunity to access an Olympic-size pool,” said Giger. “I don’t know where I would get my swim training without it. Spin class has been instrumental for my biking training. My coworkers have been very supportive and asked about my progress.
“Another big factor has been the support of my family, especially my wife. Training takes up so much time. She’s been great supporting me and working with me on my training schedule.”
For Pinkerton, this go-around has allowed him to return the favor for all the support he’s received. In the months leading up to the race, Pinkerton led a fundraiser to benefit the Community Fund Program of the Ironman Foundation.
The program benefits the communities where Ironman events are held by providing charitable support to a variety of local non-profit organizations working with citizens in need.
“Just a few days ago I reached the $5,000 mark,” said Pinkerton, who originally set a goal of $3,000. “I just kept expressing how important this is, and Delta State and the people of Cleveland have been real supportive of the fundraising efforts.”
Both competitors are itching for race day and to feel the ecstasy after crossing the finish line.
“I’ve already experienced several emotions — nervousness, anxiousness and excitement,” said Giger. “I’m ready to get it started. I’m always asking myself if I’ve trained enough and if I’ve done enough to prepare. I know I have, but you still question yourself heading into a race of this magnitude.”
“Whether you challenge yourself with a crazy race like Ironman, or it’s just walking a mile, I try to get everybody to see that you can do something if you put your mind to it,” added Pinkerton. “Don’t ever think you can’t. Set some goals and go out and achieve them. To me, it’s all about the finish.”
Learn more about Ironman and the Ironman Foundation at http://www.ironman.com.