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SRPMIC Ironman Arizona

(L) Rueben Malin with his medal after completing the Life Time Tri Tempe in August. (R) Rachel Seepie riding her bike.

SRPMIC Ironman Arizona­—Sponsored Athlete: Rueben Malin

Marathons and obstacle course races weren’t enough for 27-year-old Rueben Malin.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member wanted a more difficult test. He wanted the Ironman Arizona triathlon.

In May, he got his wish after learning he was named the Community-sponsored athlete for the November 19 race. Since then, when he’s not working as a GIS analyst for the SRPMIC Engineering and Construction Services Department or spending quality time with his fiancé and infant son, he’s either in the swimming pool, on his bicycle or on the treadmill. Six days a week, he dedicates 2.5 hours a day to two of the three disciplines and usually does a four- to five-hour hour bicycle ride on Sundays.

Last November, he almost got a taste of the Ironman. He was part of a three-person Community relay team and was ready to run the third and final leg, the marathon, but he lost his chance after his teammate didn’t make it out of the swimming portion in time.

Now, the race is on Malin’s shoulders, just like he prefers.

Malin competes in the Life Time Tri. Photos courtesy of Athlinks and submitted by Malin.
“I’m more of an individual sports person,” Malin said. “There’s just something about crossing the finish line, completing it knowing it’s all on me and it’s all based on what I put into it. That’s what drives me, knowing that I did all this work to get here.”

Since May, Malin, who was in great shape from his running days, dropped about 40 pounds from his 200-pound frame training for the Ironman. At his old weight, Malin ran and lifted weights, which he cut out in exchange for pool and bicycle time. “Losing weight helped with my swimming,” he said. “It felt like I’d sink in the pool.”

The weight loss also helped Malin in the Anthem Sprint Triathlon in August. He placed third in his age group (25-29). He competed in Life Time Tri Tempe in September before turning his focus to the Ironman.

As this year’s Community-sponsored athlete, Malin said he received a bicycle, a helmet, a wet suit and an Ironman Arizona registration.

Since 2008, Malin has completed eight marathons and a Spartan Race. He wanted to finish an Ironman by age 30. Now he has his chance, thanks in large part to his fiancé Litzia Cortez.

“Shout out to (Litzia), who takes care of our son,” Malin said. “I wouldn’t be able to train how [intensely] I’ve been training without her.”

Seepie Goes for Third Ironman Arizona Finish

Not one, not two, but three?

Sure, why not?

Six years after Rachel Seepie finished her second Ironman Arizona triathlon and three years after coming up short in another attempt, the 46-year-old is back in the hunt for her third Ironman finish. Her goal is to complete three Ironman races before turning 50, and November 19 is her next opportunity.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member is no stranger to fitness. She works at the Community Fitness Center’s Diabetes Prevention Program and was the first Community-sponsored athlete to finish the race back in 2009. In 2011, she finished again as the Community-sponsored athlete. In 2014, the sponsored athlete dropped out late and Seepie filled in, but in the last portion of the race, the marathon, she missed the time cutoff and was stopped about 6 miles from the finish line.

How intense is the training for Ironman Arizona? Here's a glimpse through Rachel Seepie's training log.
Her motivation to finish for a third time isn’t hard to find. Not being allowed to finish in 2014 is her spark. Her strategy this time is simple, now it falls on her execution come race day.

“My strategy is to get out of the water faster, ride the bike faster so I’ll have more time to run,” she said. “I’ve been trying to think back from the second time I trained, and I was quick on the bike.”

For roughly the last two decades, Seepie has pushed herself physically for better health. Her sister and colleague, Michelle Reina-Long, encouraged her down that path. Reina-Long was the first Ironman Community-sponsored athlete.

In preparation for the Ironman, Seepie competed in the 2017 Life Time Tri in Tempe and finished third in her age category. She’s been battling knee pain over the last few weeks, but she expects to be ready come race day.