• Wed October 15 2008
  • Posted Oct 15, 2008
Des Moines By LANCE BERGESON Reed Rinderknecht's most memorable moment as an athlete was stepping onto the field as an Iowa Hawkeye during the 1991 Rose Bowl. That is, until last April. The financial planner from Des Moines realized a dream by qualifying for Saturday's Ironman World Triathlon Championships in Hawaii. He qualified by placing seventh in his age category at the Ironman Arizona in 9 hours, 58 minutes, 8 seconds. "Knowing I qualified for Hawaii overtook it for No. 1," said Rinderknecht, 38, who was a backup defensive back on the Iowa team that lost to Washington 46-34 in that game. "You wonder why you do this stuff. Then you make it to that finish line and know why." Rinderknecht will be one of six men from the Des Moines area who will be among 1,828 athletes from around the world competing in the most prestigious and most difficult triathlon on the planet. The others are professional TJ Tollakson of Des Moines, John Taylor of Des Moines, Doug Vander Weide of West Des Moines, Steve Feltz of West Des Moines and John Trible of Waukee. Cedar Rapids' Ron Ottaway, 71, and 77-year-old Lyle Roberts of Burlington also will be competing. They will attempt to cover 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running over difficult terrain while coping with temperatures in the high 80s, with stifling humidity. The Des Moines area will have the same number of triathletes entered as Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas combined and one less than Chicago. "That is phenomenal," said Bill Burke, who is race director and planner for several major triathlons, including the Hy-Vee Triathlon in West Des Moines. "It says a lot about the quality of the athletes. You've probably got one of the top-10 triathlon clubs in the United States, the Des Moines Triathlon Club. The new people who are going into the sport are a result of the triathlon clubs. Having Hy-Vee there certainly didn't hurt." The Des Moines Triathlon Club had 100 members in early 2006, but has since expanded to 225. "Historically, you had to travel to get national-level competition. Now it's right in your backyard with Hy-Vee," said Trible, who will race in his fifth Ironman Hawaii. "If you do well here, you can do well anywhere." Rinderknecht said ground-breakers such as two-time Hawaii winner Tim DeBoom of Cedar Rapids, the 50-year-old Taylor and Vander Weide helped start the triathlon fever. Vander Weide, 42, started a weekly Wednesday bicycle ride not long after he started racing in triathlons six years ago. The group has also expanded the weekly regimen to include a long run on Sundays. Vander Weide, Feltz and Rinderknecht are loyal training partners. When he is in town, Tollakson joins the group. "It kind of spreads, breeds," Vander Weide said. "You realize the person (riding) beside you is a qualifier. You start to believe you can pull all of this together." "Doug got me interested," Feltz said. "He's a good networker." Taylor was the first of the six Des Moines area men to race in Hawaii, in 1998. Trible competed for the first time in 2003, Vander Weide was next in 2004 and Tollakson made his Hawaii debut last year. Rinderknecht and Feltz will attempt the Hawaii race for the first time. "There are years where we (Des Moines area) haven't had one qualifier," Vander Weide said. "It's really unprecedented." All of the amateurs squeeze in workouts during their busy schedules. They say about 20 hours a week is needed to prepare for an Ironman triathlon. "Time is always short," Trible said. "You get the training in when you can. You have to be flexible. An understanding spouse is critical. I can't understate that." The Hawaii race is rare because all of the professionals and amateurs start together at 7 a.m. in Hawaii. Iowa will be represented as never before this Saturday. "It will mean a lot to be racing with these guys," Tollakson said. "I'm proud to be from Iowa - Des Moines."

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