Home field advantage
LAKE PLACID – With the 16th annual Lake Placid Ironman approaching this Sunday, competitors from near and far crowd the region in preparation of the event.
A group of Tri-Lakers and members of surrounding communities are among the field of nearly 2,700 who are registered for the 140.6-mile race that includes a 2.4-mile swim in Mirror Lake, a 112-mile bike ride from Lake Placid through Wilmington and Keene and a 26.2-mile run.
The following is a rundown of the locals signed up for Sunday’s event:
– Brian Delaney, a seasoned competitor and owner of High Peaks Cyclery, will compete for his 16th consecutive year. He said it’s been fun watching “the movement and explosion of people that have gotten into it and how it’s changed people’s lives,” since the first year in 1999.
“It’s a challenge when you don’t have the time to put into it,” Delaney said. He doesn’t get much time to train outside of a busy work schedule, fitting in three hours on a bike and two running each week. He hopes to finish this year injury free.
Delaney finished last year’s Ironman in 13 hours, 20 minutes, 51 seconds.
– Jeff Erenstone, president and head clinician at Mountain Orthotic and Prosthetic Services, is returning for his third Ironman after a 12-year hiatus. The 37 year old said it’s difficult finding time to train with work and two kids, but he manages to squeeze in seven to 20 hours a week running and biking.
“To do well, you really need to train so much for this event,” Erenstone said.
Erenstone is also looking forward to competing in the Leadville Trail 100, a 100-mile mountain bike race in Leadville, Colorado, on Aug. 9.
– Chris Grant is taking on his eighth Ironman this year. The 112-mile bike leg pales in comparison to the 2,993 miles he split between three other cyclists in the Race Across America in 2013. He finished Ironman in 14:10:07 last year.
– Mac Rand plans to double his workload for a good cause, doing the Ironman course a second time on the following day to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He trained hard on back to back days every week for the past four months to prepare himself for more than 281.2 miles of exhaustion in less than 48 hours.
Having dealt with the recent loss of a young nephew in a car accident, Rand is trying his best to set aside negative energy and train.
The 60-year-old competed in the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii in 1985. He has run for charity several times since to commemorate family friend Greg Sauter, who died of leukemia in 1992. This year, he’ll also compete for 12-year-old Zach Swart, who has spent almost six years battling cancer.
Rand has raised almost $21,000 and estimates he has raised more than $60,000 in his lifetime of competing for charity. He will carry a list of donors and a list of people that have suffered from cancer on Sunday and Monday.
“When I begin to feel sorry for myself I’ll just pull out that list and put myself back to reality,” Rand said. He’s been training to go slower to preserve himself and aims for a time of less than 14 hours on each day.
– Darci LaFave, Lake Placid’s Code and Planning Coordinator, has maintained a steady routine of three swim, four bike and four run workouts each week to get ready for her fifth Ironman this year. She is looking forward to a good race and embraces the friends and family who come to support her.
– Lake Placid native Heidi Baumbach is coming up from Syracuse to compete in her second Ironman after a lifetime of spectating.
“I grew up in Lake Placid so it was fun to do the race I’ve seen for so many years,” said Baumbach, who is in graduate school in Syracuse.
Baumbach, an accomplished collegiate runner at Ithaca College, finished the Ironman course in 12:25:42 in 2012 and completed the Boston Marathon this year in 3:20:52.
– Nicole Conger, 29, said living in Lake Placid and watching the Ironman for six years inspired her to compete as well. She’ll take on her first Ironman this year along with her father, Robert Conger, who turns 58 the day before the race. After many hours training in the North Country Community College pool and on the road with fellow athletes, Conger believes it should be a good first year.
– Melinda Frazer has been training in Olympic fashion for her fifth Ironman this year. She spent long hours doing alpine, nordic and backcountry skiing during the winter and runs year-round.
“I believe that spending long days doing other fun and adventurous outside activities helps your body prepare for the long race day,” said Frazer, who is the Lake Placid High School track and cross country coach. She has also helped coach three athletes who became Ironman finishers.
– Wes Wilson, a Lake Placid native, is in search of his fifth-straight Ironman finish. He completed the course in 15:06:49 last year.
– The husband and wife team of Colleen and Loring Porter are back for their second year in a row. Colleen finished in 12:52:27 last year, while Loring crossed the line in 13:15:19.
Other Lake Placid residents signed up for this year’s Ironman include Ashleigh Macey, Carolyn Mandeville, Sara Lindsay, Kim Luther, Rachel Stanton, Everett Rubin, Bill Whitney and Kirk Fasking.
– Saranac Lake native Sam Racette is joining about 100 others who are competing for the Multiple Melanoma Research Foundation, the official charity partner of Ironman Lake Placid, and has raised around $5,500 so far. He attends medical school at the University at Buffalo, where he conducts research at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Racette always knew he wanted to do an Ironman and said he was inspired after watching his brother DJ Racette last year. DJ will return for his second Ironman this year after finishing the course in 11:50:28 last year.
DJ said he is as nervous as he is excited for the race and that a friendly exchange of sibling competition should make things interesting.
– Matt Cook is another Saranac Lake native registered for this year’s Ironman.
– Roy Holzer, owner of the Little Supermarket in Wilmington, is returning for his second Ironman after a 10-year break. He enrolled in a swim program at the CVPH Wellness Center in Plattsburgh last October and gets out to run and bike as much as possible to prepare.
– Bill Skufca has been putting in 10 hours of training a week in preparation for his 13th Ironman. Skufca, who finished in 12:49:21 last year, was inspired in 2000 after watching the first Ironman in Lake Placid.
“Why I’m still competing, I don’t know,” he joked. “Maybe because I’m too stupid to quit.”
Skufca’s daughter Caitlin Skufca will compete with him this year and has taken advantage of the local geography with mountainous hikes and bike rides to prepare. She completed her first Ironman at 18-years-old and will take on her third this year at 22.
– Michael Bryant of Wilmington and Joel Nashett of AuSable Forks will also take on the Ironman course this year.