Six area athletes competed in seven Ironman competitions over the past 18 months. In July of 2018, Vanessa Snyder of Grampian completed Ironman Lake Placid, in October of 2018, Brian Lytle of Clearfield completed Ironman Louisville, in July of 2019 Snyder completed her second Ironman Triathlon, again in Lake Placid, and she was joined by Jonathan Bodle of Clearfield, and Ryan Johnson, originally of Clearfield, and in September of 2019 Jaclyn Rawlings, originally of Clearfield, and Luke Peterson, of Clearfield, completed Ironman Maryland.

The marathon is considered by many to be grueling test of an athlete’s endurance and Ironman competitions take two steps further and require competitors to complete a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile marathon. Statistics show that 0.5 percent of the U.S. population have completed a marathon and only 0.01 percent of the population has completed an Ironman competition.

Training for an Ironman triathlon also takes planning, discipline and commitment. Most basic training plans recommend training each discipline of the race (swim, bike, run) 3-4 times per week, as well as making sure you have a rest day. This results in 9-12 training sessions in 6 days, and most days will have two training sessions. Except in extreme weather conditions races are rain or shine so athletes train in all kinds of weather as well.

Although each Ironman race is the same distance these races take place all over the world, and each race brings its own unique set of challenges. The Lake Placid course is in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and is well known for the hills on the bike course. The Maryland bike course is relatively flat, but this year they had a big problem with jellyfish in the swim course.

“The swim course looked more like an aquarium than a lake,” Rawlings said. “I got stung roughly 20 times. I had on a full wetsuit, so it was my wrists, fingers and feet that got all the stings. I swam the whole Ironman with my face out of the water because people got the jellyfish stuck under their goggles and around their necks.”

At Ironman Louisville, Lytle experienced drastically different weather from his training, which was usually done in the heat and humidity. “Race day was 47 degrees and rainy,” Lytle said.

Overall, an athlete has 17 hours to complete the event.

“Ironman is not only a race and a distance, but a lifestyle and a mindset,” Lytle said. “When you meet an Ironman, you already know something about their discipline, commitment and ability to tackle huge challenges.”

In the end, Lytle finished in 11:19:30, Peterson finished in 12:10:22, Johnson finished in 13:29.22, Snyder finished in 13:55:49 (in 2019), Bodle finished in 14:14.40 and Rawlings finished in 16:06:21. They all had some different and similar experiences throughout their training and their race day, but they also all experienced that triumph, happiness and excitement that only 0.01 percent of people experience when they heard that announcer say “Brian Lytle/Luke Peterson/Ryan Johnson/Vanessa Snyder/Jonathan Bodle/ Jaclyn Rawlings, you are an Ironman!”

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