On November 18, almost 3,000 athletes gathered at Tempe Town Lake to undergo a test of strength and endurance at the ninth annual Ford Ironman Arizona triathlon. The athletes faced a challenging course consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
The water course was a loop through Tempe Town Lake, and then the entrants biked three loops through Tempe, up the Beeline Highway to Shea Boulevard, and back to Tempe Beach Park. In the final leg of the competition, athletes ran a full marathon, making three loops around Tempe Town Lake and through Papago Park.
This year’s first-place male and female finishers were 26-year-old international triathlete Nils Frommhold from Saarbrücken, Germany, with a time of 8:03:18, and Linsey Corbin of Missoula, Montana, with a time of 9:01:44.
Competitors from Salt River
Salt River Triathletes entered three relay teams in this year’s triathlon, composed of Community members, Community employees and other Native Americans.
There were also four individual Ironman participants: Community member Doran Dalton, and Community employees Caroline Sekaquaptewa of the Education Department, Annette Brown of Health and Human Services, and Gary Bohnee from the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs.
Salt River Triathletes Team 1 was composed of Michelle Roan, Derrick Dalton and Felicia Sekaquaptewa. They completed the triathlon with a time of 13:20:00. Roan completed the swim in 1:26:01, Dalton completed the bike course in 6:52:43, and Sekaquaptewa completed her run in 4:55:25.
In 2010, Derrick Dalton joined a relay team, but the swimmer missed the cutoff time, so he never made it to his turn in the triathlon. Last year, he again participated on a relay team, in the bicycle leg.
“This year I wanted to do the individual, but [I] didn’t have the time to put in the training,” he said. “But I had been cycling and was pretty good at it, so I joined in the relay team. I didn’t really train that much this year; it was more of a ‘mind over matter’ thing. I didn’t really get a good night of sleep the night before because I was up watching Ironman inspirational videos on the Internet. [Even so], I actually did better than my previous time last year. I’d like to try the individual next year, [and] I started training for that.”
Wayne Sekaquaptewa, Bronson Velarde and Amber Manuelito of Salt River Triathletes Team 2 completed the triathlon in 13:20:00. Sekaquaptewa completed the swim in 1:16:03, Velarde finished the bike course in 6:42:15, and Manuelito completed her run in 5:15:49.
Team 3 from Salt River Triathletes consisted of Katy Kenny, Bradie Dohmann and Wilbert Lee. Their time to finish was 13:14:54. Kenny finished the swim in 1:15:58, Dohmann finished the bike course in 5:54:05, and Lee completed the run in 5:58:30.
Individual triathletes who finished the course were Gary Bohnee and Caroline Sekaquaptewa. Bohnee finished with a time of 13:00:07, completing his swim in 1:28:32, bike ride in 6:10:45, and run in 4:52:20. This was Sekaquaptewa’s first time participating in the Ironman in the individual category. Last year she was on a relay team as the swimmer. Sekaquaptewa finished in 15:22:02, completing her swim in 2:00:14, bike ride in 7:54:49, and run in 5:10:34. Sekaquaptewa is the first Hopi woman to complete the Ironman.
“I have basically been training since I signed up the day after Ironman Arizona 2011. I have been swimming, biking and running all year, but my official training for the Ironman began in March,” said Sekaquaptewa. “I did workouts seven days a week, along with stretching and core exercises every day and some strength training a couple times a week.”
In October, Sekaquaptewa completed an Ironman half-triathlon race, and she was in several shorter-distance triathlons throughout the year. She looks forward to participating in future Ironman events.
“I think I am hooked! The feeling of accomplishment and the excitement of the race all day are very addicting,” said Sekaquaptewa. “I told my family, ‘I can’t wait until I turn 50, because those 50-year-olds sure are fast!’ The neat thing about the Ironman is you see people of all ages and abilities, and you are humbled. You can’t complain about having a bad day when you see a 78-year-old participant with a replacement hip and knee, or cancer survivors out there.”
Sekaquaptewa would like to thank all of those who supported her, including her family, the Community and her employer.
“It was awesome to hear and see them on the bike course and during the run. It gives you an energy boost and makes you smile, no matter how tired you are,” she said. “I also had huge support from the Native community and my Hopi tribe. My family has supported me in this race since I signed up. My four daughters have helped me out and have been my motivation; I am so blessed to have their support.
She also thanks Rachel Seepie and Michelle Long for their inspiration.
“I am very grateful to Rachel and Michelle. I saw them train for Ironman triathlons, and their determination is so inspiring. They did not give up. I became active in triathlons because of these two sisters and the Salt River Triathletes. I am also grateful for the opportunities the SRPMIC has provided with the races, partnering with events such as Ironman and allowing us to be a part of the kids’ triathlon every year. These are things most of us would probably not experience otherwise, so Asquali (thank you).”
Unfortunately, individual competitors Annette Brown and Doran Dalton didn’t complete the race this year.
Brown was half a mile away from the finish line on the swim course when she got a bad cramp and was taken out of the water. But that didn’t stop her from cheering on the remaining participants at the Community tent on the bike course.
“I always wanted to do this. A friend of mine did it a couple of years ago and she talked me into training to try it this year,” said Brown. “I plan on trying it again next year. Never give up, never.”
Dalton started off the race in good time, completing the swim course in 1:56:32, and was on his third loop of the bike course at around 86 miles when he crashed, ending his chance to complete this year’s Ironman.
“After [I was] thoroughly examined by EMTs, they made the recommendation to a race official who was on site to pull my chip because I had suffered a mild concussion,” Dalton said. “Even though I was alert and responsive, I had some memory loss immediately following the accident, thus ending my race for the day.
“I was pretty disappointed. It’s really disheartening to have your day end like that, because you’re left wondering how the rest of the day would’ve turned out. Up to that point I was making pretty good time. I felt good, I had my best swim time and experience in the open water, and I was actually starting to ease up on the effort that I was putting forth on the bike because I wanted to save some energy and have a strong run.”
Dalton started his training in February, training for a sprint triathlon held in April. The sprint triathlon is a short-distance triathlon that consists of a 750-meter swim, 12-mile bike ride and a 5K run. From there, he started to ramp up his training by preparing for and competing in longer-distance triathlons, an Olympic-distance triathlon and then a half Ironman.
Toward the middle of June, he started following an Ironman-specific training program, which he used as his basis for his daily workouts.
“The Ironman [training] program started slowly, with about four or five workouts a day, and they weren’t very long, but they gradually got longer and harder and grew to six days a week,” said Dalton. “The training was really the hardest part. It consumes almost all of your free time, and you find yourself planning your daily activities around your workouts. I also felt that I needed to really focus on my swimming, so, in addition to the swimming workouts that were in my program, I took part in a Masters Swim program three days a week, led by Anne Wilson of Camelback Coaching.”
This was not Dalton’s first time participating in an Arizona Ford Ironman. He was a member of a relay team in 2009, completing the bike course. Last year he joined another relay team, but he was unable to participate because the swimmer did not meet the time cutoff.
“I trained really long and hard, and I was in the best shape of my life for that 2011 event, and when I didn’t get to ride, I was pretty disappointed. It was then that I decided I wanted to try and do the entire event on my own,” said Dalton. Ironman competitors who join relay teams understand that a bad day can happen to anybody on this race, and it’s just a risk you have to take.
Dalton thanks a variety of people for their support this year. “First of all, I would like to thank God for blessing me with the ability and the opportunity to even attempt something like this. Secondly, I would like to thank my family for all of their love and support, especially my wife, Jessika. She had to put up with all of my craziness, absenteeism, early morning and late-night workouts, and not being able to attend family events, and yet she always offered to help in any way she could, and she never complained. Also my mom, Letitia Dalton, was and is totally supportive. My wife and my mom sacrificed their whole days sometimes volunteering at events that I’ve done just so they could be there to cheer me on,” said Dalton.
Dalton also wanted to thank the Salt River Triathletes, Anne Wilson of Camelback Coaching, Caroline Sekaquaptewa, Hessam Salim from Ironman, and last but certainly not least SRPMIC President Diane Enos, Vice-President Martin Harvier, the Community Council, and Toni Harvier for all of their help and support. Also, he thanks all the Community members, employees and other Natives who encouraged him along the way, and those who came out to the race to cheer and support everyone who was out there.
“I would just like to say that representing the Community in Ironman Arizona was a great honor and privilege that I did not take lightly. I did my best to represent myself and this great Community, and I’m sorry about how things turned out,” said Dalton. “I hope that the Community Council continues to support and allow events like Ironman Arizona and other triathlons to come through the Community. I think that exposing Community members, especially the younger generations, to endurance sports like triathlon can have a lasting positive effect, not only from a perspective of wellness, but also having the sense of accomplishment after you [complete] an event and being around so many positive and supportive people.”
Dalton feels that now he has some unfinished business, and he looks forward to participating in next year’s Ford Ironman Arizona Triathlon.