All five of the area men who completed Sunday’s Ironman Triathlon in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, are back home and continuing to recover.
And they won’t rule out doing it again.
“Yeah, we’ve been talking about looking 3 to 5 years down the road, doing something like that again, a big get-together,” said Mark Bresee.
Then he laughed. “My family is glaring at me as I say that.”
Six months of collective training paid off as all five completed the course in less than 13 hours in a field of more than 2,000 triathletes.
Clay Curtis, 35, of Plantersville led the five on the course – a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run – in 11 hours and 26 minutes. He finished 467th overall.
“I feel good,” Curtis said Friday. “It had been so long since I had done one, I didn’t know what to expect. I figured the best I would do is 11 hours and that would have been on a perfect day.”
Bresee, 36, of Tupelo finished 496th in 11:31:05.
“The neat thing is that our families were there with us,” he said. “It was as much a warrior day for them as it was for us. All day long, they were getting text messages from folks who’d read about us in the paper.
“We were feeling huge support from Tupelo.”
Also completing the course: Mark Shepherd, 49, of Saltillo (562nd, 11:41:57), Johnny Miles, 48, of Tupelo (952nd, 12:38:07) and Gene Pierce, 43, of Amory (1037th, 12:49.20).
For Miles, it was his first race at the distance. “I ran the race that I had planned on,” he said. “The water was choppy and the bike course was a little more hilly than I expected. … I’m glad it’s over now.”
Two former area men also completed the course: Jay Gibson, 29, of Beaufort, S.C. (454th, 11:23:13) and Roger Weldon, 43, of Bossier City, La. (1,036th, 12:49:14).
“Jay beat us all to the finish,”Curtis said. “It was fun having that many people there to see and to talk to. We really encouraged each other all day.”
There were concerns that high winds might make the swim course too dangerous, but the weather settled down enough for all three phases of the race to run smoothly.
“The day started out nice and the rain held off until after we were off the bikes,” Bresee said.
After training in the Mississippi heat, the cold temperature at the finish – about 49, Bresee said – gave all of the competitors some problems.
“It took me maybe 45 minutes to warm up when I was through,” he said.
Bresee will soon turn his attention to organizing the annual King of the Hill Triathlon, Aug. 8 in Tombigbee State Park. It’s a more modest race – half-mile swim, 22-mile bike and 4-mile run – that Curtis has won three of the last four years.
For his part, Pierce said he was back on his bike on Thursday for a three-mile workout: “I’m still hobbling around a little, but the race was great.”
Curtis, Pierce and Miles said they plan to compete in the July 25 Heart O’ Dixie Triathlon in Louisville. It follows a half-mile swim with a 27.5-mile bike and 7-mile run.
“I don’t want to waste this fitness level now that I’ve got it,”Pierce said.
John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal