On November 20, more than 2,500 athletes ranging in age from 18 to 74 gathered at Tempe Town Lake to undergo a test of strength and endurance: the eighth 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 Eneko Llanos of Spain, with a time of 7:59:38, and Leanda Cave of Great Britain, with a time of 8:49:00.
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Rachel Seepie started the race at 7 a.m. and finished just before 11 p.m., with a time of 15:57:36. Her swim time was 1:57:36, bike time was 6:45:33, and run time was 6:50:13. This was Seepie’s second full Ironman The first one she participated in was in 2009, where she finished with only four minutes to go before the cutoff. She also has been participating on a triathlete team, doing the swim portion of the race.
“This year I had more confidence,” said Seepie. “It was cold [outside] and I had a slight cold, so it was a little hard for me to breathe on the first part of the swim. I just wanted to make it out [of the water] before the two-hour, 20-minute cutoff time. I felt really good on the bike because I have been doing a lot of bike training; I felt better than when I did the Ironman two years ago. I didn’t really train for the marathon; the last one I did was in June.”
Seepie wants to participate in the Clearwater, Florida and Kona, Hawaii Ironman triathlons in the future. She would like to thank her family, friends and the Community for their support and encouragement.
“When I run, I think of our history—I think about the O’odham people, and how they had to endure the weather and survive, and how they are runners,” Seepie said.
Two of the three Salt River Tri-Athlete teams completed the Ford Ironman Arizona. Team 1 members Alexia Haugen finished her swim with a time of 1:08:38, Paul Martinez completed the bike protion with a time of 6:24:06, and Vanessa Valdo completed her run with a time of 4:44:28.
Team 3 of the Salt River Tri-Athletes, Caroline Sekaquaptewa (swimming/1:56:46), Derrick Dalton (biking/7:06:24) and Michelle Roan (running/4:11:48), completed the Ironman course with an unofficial time of 13:19:55.
Unfortunately, Team 2’s swimmer, Daniella “Zoey” Lewis, missed the 2:20 cutoff time by less than five minutes, which disqualified teammates Doran Dalton (biking) and Tamar Gonzalez (running).
“Each team member trained hard for the event,” said Gonzalez. “I know Zoey gave it her all, and that’s all the team could have asked for. Next year we’ll be back to cross the finish line.”