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What it Takes to be an IRONMAN /

Submitted by jmegnin September 20, 2013 - 10:29am Summer

The famous IRONMAN Triathlon has officially arrived in Lake Tahoe. Everywhere you look there are throngs of incredible athletes running, biking and swimming all to prepare for arguably the world's best triathlon. 

We have 3 athletes that we'll be cheering on come Sunday- two of which are team members at Squaw Valley! Rob Kronkhyte and Dawn Gaffney call Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe home- both are ultrarunners and no strangers to the IRONMAN Lake Tahoe course. Our third competitor, Liz Lyles. Liz has already qualified for the finals in Kona and won IRONMAN Wisconsin last year, is one athlete to look out for. She is anticipated to be a top finisher in the race!

So what does it take to be actually be an IRONMAN? The obvious answer is being incredibly fit, but there's more to it then being able to complete a full marathon on top of a 2+ mile swim and 112 mile bike ride. It's commitment. And, A LOT of training. To find out, we thought we'd ask our very own Rob Kronkhyte. Prepare to be inspired...

Squaw: How long have you been a triathlete?

Rob: I did my first triathlon in 1986.  The Wildflower Triathlon, San Antonio Lake, Olympic Distance Triathlon. >1/2 mile swim,  28 mile bike, 6 mile run 

Have you competed in several IRONMAN comps?

I have done IRONMAN Canada, in 2009. Penticton, British Columbia. 12:29 hrs.mins.

What draws you to the sport?

I am an endurance athlete. I have done 11-100 mile endurance runs. These runs are over the mountains. I have done Western States 100 mile endurance run 8x and completed it 5x. I have also done the Wasatch 100 miles Endurance Run, Utah. It is 26,000 feet of climbing and 26,000 feet of decending. I ran the Wasatch 100 in 29 and a half hours. I have run The Western States in 25 hours.

What does it take to an IRONMAN?

It is a lifestyle. It takes many hours of training in running, swimmming and biking. It takes many calories of real food. It is kind of selfish. It takes a balance between life/work/training. It takes knowing how to keep your body fueled correctly to go for long periods of time. It takes hours of coaching. It takes many pairs of running shoes and bike tires and repairs for my road bike and mountain bikes.

What does your training look like?

I usually train 5-6 days a week and try to take one day off to recover. I usually do a run or a bike training in conjunction with a swim of various distances and intensitys due to level of fatigue,timing of next event, recovery from a previous work out or event. I do some speed work in all events regularly. I also run big distance trail runs in the wilderness of the High Sierra as much as possible.

Any special diet?

I eat very little processed food. Lots of fruits and vegetables. I am kind of on a modified primal diet. I make my own power bars, the main ingredient being raw almond butter. I am very in sync with how and when I put electrolytes in my body.

Do you feel you have an advantage training at elevation and knowing the course?

I do feel that I have an advantage training on this course and elevation. I have been training at higher elevations for this event. I have been trail running in the 10,000-12,000 ft elevation range. I have not regularly ridden the bike course because I like to switch it up. I do not run on pavement. All of my run training is on trails. I will only run on pavement the day of the IRONMAN Lake Tahoe.

What is the biggest challenge for you? Mentally? Physcially?

The swim is the biggest challenge for me. I did not grow up in competitive swimming. I have been getting coached for 7 years now. My swim is always a work in progress. I have the mental challenges of going as fast as my body will take me. I have the physical capabilities of going much farther than the said event. My physical challenges are to go as fast as I can with out running out of gas. I am as fast as I was in my 30's.

How will you celebrate crossing the finish line?

After finishing, I will wait for my lovely wife to cross the finish line. We will then celebrate with a a nice dinner. Then I will wake up on monday to start training for my next endeavor. I am planning on running up and down Mt. Whitney, 14,000 ft. (10/04/13) Mt. Whitney is the highest mountain in the lower 48 states. I will also compete in the Xterra World Championships (10/27/13). The Xterra competition is a mountain bike triathlon.

Any other fun facts you'd like to share?

  • This summer I did a 46 mile run on the John Muir Trail in the High Sierra. The run lasted 15 hours and many vertical feet of climbing and decending. This was not a race. I just did it for the fun!
  • This summer I also did a mountain bike endurance event in Utah. P2P is 78 miles of single track, and 14,000 ft of climbing.

IRONMAN Athlete Expo- "Secrets of the Course"

Hear from Squaw athlete and local pro, Liz Lyles, who has been training on the IRONMAN Lake Tahoe course as she delivers the "Secrets of the Course" on the Expo Stage at 1pm on Friday, September 20. 

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