From Chicago to Mont-Tremblant: Four Locals Finish Ironman One Year After Losing Teammate

From Chicago to Mont-Tremblant: Four Locals Finish Ironman One Year After Losing Teammate

Yesterday four men from Chicago crossed the finish line of Canada's Mont-Tremblant Ironman. The Ironman, a 140.6 mile race, consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile marathon-distance run.  While I'm sure many others from the Chicago area made their way north to participate in this event of incredible stamina and endurance, I have the privilege of calling these men my friends. The foursome, who make up Team Trent, include Brian Condron, Carl Benson, Lincoln Ellis and Tim O'Donnell, each of whom trained with intense focus for many months on end.

There is one person missing from this group, however, and his name was Scott Trent. It was one year ago that Scott died. His death was sudden, tearing a hole in the hearts of this amazing group of friends. Scott was an Ironman, too, and had already registered to race Mont-Tremblant, the first race of its kindtothe region. There is no doubt that Scott was on their mind and in their hearts as they journeyed the race that started at dawn, and for most, ended at dusk.

group guys
l to r, Carl Benson, Brian Condron, Tim O'Donnell, Scott Trent

About his close friend, Tim said, "Team Trent is about honoring a great friend, triathlete and probably the most gifted athlete I have ever known.  Scott embraced the "anything is possible" attitude and took it evenfarther.  There is a saying that goes 'it's not about finding your limits, it's about finding what's just beyond them."  Scott was the person looking to find his limits and then blow right past them...he could push himself to levels I never could, or was afraid to do.  He helped me mature both as a person and an athlete.  He was a phenomenal motivator.  Team Trent has another significance. We are going to be saying a final goodbye to him at Mont-Tremblant with a small ceremony, spreading his ashes at the race site with his family.  Scott was the one who wanted to do Ironman Mont Tremblant (because it was the hardest),so its only fitting that this is where he will rest.  Scott drew amazing energy from Ironman training/racing and lived for the challenge."

Set with the backdrop of Quebec's beautiful forests and mountains, 2000 athletes set out to accomplish a goal that most of us would never even consider a possibility. But motivation for a race of this caliber comes from somewhere. In the case of these four, the last year has been a delicate act of balancing family, career and training. Common among Ironman athletes, any sort of social life, albeit cherished, gets relegated to the back seat until they cross the finish line.

As if completing one Ironman isn't enough of a challenge, two of the four will set out to race Ironman Wisconsin in less than three weeks, on September 9, 2012. Brian, Carl and Brad Swanson, a "newbie" to the world of Ironmans, will set out to accomplish the 140.6 mile race that starts and finishes in Madison.

The Athletes, In Their Own Words
None of the four who participated in yesterday's Ironman are professional athletes,  but each of them do possess several qualities that make them exceptional. You can't train for an Ironman if you don't have self-discipline, focus and above all, a positive attitude. I had a chance to ask each them a few questions about this year's Ironmanevents. Here is what they had to say about training, racing and achieving.

 

Brian Condron

Brian Condron, Ironman
Brian Condron

How many triathlons have you done in the past? 
Close to 40 races.

How many Ironman events have you done in the past?
Five with numbers 6 (Mont-Tremblant) and 7 (Wisconsin) planned for this year.

What is your strongest discipline?
Swimming seems to be where I spend the least amount of time training and still can be out of the water towards the front.

What is your weakest discipline?
Cycling even though the run feels the most painful.

At peak-training, how many hours a week do you spend swimming, running or biking?
Around 25 to 28 hours of actual training time.  That doesn't include the time getting to and from the gym.

When did you start training for this year's Ironman?
I started base training in January.  I was planning on doing two Ironman races three weeks apart.  Not the smartest plan but wanted to have a couple extra months slowly building my base as well as working some "winter weight" off.

What's motivating you to do two Ironman races back-to-back?  
I've done two Ironman races back-to-back in 2010 (Ironman Wisconsin followed by Ironman Florida 6 weeks later).  It worked out well for me as I set a personal record in Florida by over 45 minutes.  Plus all the training done to prepare for and Ironman distance seems like a waste to only crank out one.  The decision to do Ironman Mont-Tremblant and Ironman Wisconsin only three weeks apart was something Scott and I jokingly talked about on a training ride shortly after we signed up for Ironman Mont-Tremblant last year.  A few weeks later he passed away.  It's my way of honoring his memory, along with the crazy idea we talked about of pulling a double within three weeks.  I'm sure both races will be pretty emotional.  But having something like that to think about can be a strong motivator if you use it the right way.  Ironman is a long day filled with lots of peaks and valleys.  His memory will help me work my way out of the valleys when they come.

When did you pick up training for triathlons? 
I started after taking part in a couple of relays with some friends handling the swim portion of the race.  I jumped into a sprint with a borrowed Schwinn from a buddy that was so old that the shifters were on the down tube of the bike.  Shortly afterward, I responded to an application for the Degree Ironman triathlon team with my results and, to my surprise, was picked up.  I decided I needed to get my butt into shape and learn how to train and race for real.  That was over 10 years ago and I've been hooked ever since.

What has been the most challenging thing for you to overcome in training for Ironman this year?
I think it's been two things.  The first was being able to get over some injuries caused from a bike accident last year.  I was hit by a car and suffered a broken collar bone.  Working my way back into shape resulted in some other injuries stemming from the accident.  I still have a couple of things that pop up but that's to be expected when taking on the volume of training an Ironman takes.  The second thing is going through this season without Scott.  There have been some times on long training rides or runs when my mind goes quiet and I think about him not being with us anymore.  He was a great athlete and an even greater friend.  Not having him along in this journey has been tough.

What are your expectations for Mont-Tremblant and Wisconsin?
I'm looking for a break though race.  Whether that puts me in contention for a Kona qualification or not isn't important.  What is important is that I feel one or both of these races are done with everything I have in the tank.  To expect a perfect day at Ironman is crazy and unrealistic.  The day is so long which leads to more opportunities for things to go wrong at any point.  But if I can control the variables I can and forget about the ones I can't, I should set myself up for a great day.

A lot of people think you have to be a spring chicken, or "elite" to do an endurance event of this caliber. What advice do you have for a newbie contemplating and Ironman? 
I think starting with some background in the sport is always a great start.  Ironman is a pretty overwhelming experience and not having some confidence from racing a half Ironman or triathlon before the big show can play with your mind.  There are so many factors from equipment to pacing to nutrition that you can only figure out from putting in the miles.  So the more experience you have, the better you will be able to handle situations that get in your way.  And ask questions of anyone you know who has done it.  Be an information sponge.  I can't think of one triathlete I know that won't talk your ear off about what they think is the best way to approach an Ironman...present company excluded, of course!

 

Tim O'Donnell

Tim O'Donnell
Tim O'Donnell

How many triathlons have you done in the past? 
I've done more than 40 triathlons, starting in 1999

How many Ironman events have you done in the past?
I have done 4 Ironman events (Great Floridian, Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin)

What is your strongest discipline?
I have been running since I was very young, but I think biking is my strongest discipline these days.

What is your weakest discipline?  Swimming. They don't call me ManaTOD for nothing. But I have gotten much better since I started swimming five days a week with a Masters swim program.

At peak-training, how many hours a week do you spend swimming, running or biking?
I will swim five hours a week, run about five and bike around ten.

When did you start training for this year's Ironman?
I started in December with strength/flexibility training and swimming.

When did you pick up training for triathlons? 
After a marathon in 1999, I was tired of running injuries so a buddy of mine got me to sign up for my first triathlon as a good cross-training idea that might help prevent some of those injuries.

What has been the most challenging thing for you to overcome in training for Ironman this year?
The heat has been unrelenting this year making nutrition a real challenge.  I can't remember a long training ride or run this year that I didn't feel nauseous for at least part of the time.  The heat makes it very hard to stay on track with your eating and drinking.

What are your expectations for Mont-Tremblant and Wisconsin?  First, to finish and second, as this will be the most challenging Ironmancourse I have ever raced,  finishing in under 12 hours with a smile on my face.

A lot of people think you have to be a spring chicken, or "elite" to do an endurance event of this caliber. What advice do you have for a newbie contemplating and Ironman? 
I have always thought of age as just a number.  I told myself that when I graduated college (at 225lbs), that every 10 years from there on I would be in better shape than I was the 10 years earlier...and I have!  I've managed to improve all my race times as I have gotten older, which proves you don't have to be young to do well.  My advice to a newbie contemplating doing their first Ironman is to join a health club or triathlon-training program so you are around like-minded people.  There are way too many people out there that will fill your head with doubts about doing something like this. Surround yourself with people who have the "anything is possible" attitude and it will change your life.


Carl Benson

Carl Benson
Carl Benson

How many triathlons have you done in the past? 
A lot!  I think about 40.

How many Ironman events have you done in the past?
Wisconsin, Arizona and Florida.

What is your strongest discipline?
I’m not sure if I have a clear advantage in any discipline, but I’m proficient enough swimming and cycling to overcome my run.

What is your weakest discipline?
 Running.

At peak-training, how many hours a week do you spend swimming, running or biking?
About 15 to 20 hours, depending on my personal schedule.

When did you start training for this year's Ironman?
I officially started 6 months ago, but started building a base around the first of the year.

What's motivating you to do two Ironman races back to back?
Wisconsin was actually the race I initially wanted to do.  It’s close, and more family and friends can participate in the day.  The rest of Team Trent wanted me to do Mont-Tremblant, so I thought I’d try to do both.  The training schedule is so lengthy, the thought of trying to finish two races with one focused training period was appealing.

When did you pick up training for triathlons? 
2002 or 2003

What has been the most challenging thing for you to overcome in training for Ironman this year? 
Just the mental grind of training day after day.

What are your expectations for Mont-Tremblant and Wisconsin?
Since I’m going to try to finish two, I’m going to try to take it as easy as possible.  So I guess my expectation is to finish Canadaassmoothly as possible.

A lot of people think you have to be a spring chicken, or "elite" to do an endurance event of this caliber. What advice do you have for a newbie contemplating and Ironman?
Ha!  Anything is possible, as they say.  Young or old can do this race.  If you put in the time building your base – you actually have ample amount of time to complete each discipline.  The best piece of advice is to work on nutrition for race day through training.  You’ll need to know what works for you through trial and error while you train.

Brad Swanson

Brad Swanson
Brad Swanson

How many triathlons have you done in the past?
Three in total. Two sprints and Ironman Racine 70.3.

How many Ironman events have you done in the past?
Only the half Ironman in June this year. No full yet.

What is your strongest discipline?
Running, when I'm healthy.

What is your weakest discipline?
I wouldn't say one of them is weaker than the other. I could use more bike strength training.

At peak training, how many hours a week do you spend swimming, running or biking?
15 to 18

When did you start training for this year's Ironman?
March

When did you pick up training for triathlons?
Just this year. I didn't train for the two previous sprint triathlons.

What has been the most challenging thing for you to overcome in training for Ironman this year?
Staying healthy. I started with a knee injury and am currently workingthroughaachilles/calf problem.

What are your expectations for Wisconsin?
Just to finish.

A lot of people think you have to be a spring chicken, or "elite" to do an endurance event of this caliber. What advice do you have for a newbie contemplating and Ironman?
Just stay focused. Anyone can do this if you stay healthy and train for 24 weeks.

 

Lincoln Ellis

How many triathlons have you done in the past?
Over 40

How many Ironman events have you done in the past?
One, Louisville

What is your strongest discipline?
Bike

What is your weakest discipline?
Run

When did you start training for this year's Ironman?
Last November

When did you pick up training for triathlons?
1985

What has been the most challenging thing for you to overcome in training for Ironman this year?
Injury

What are your expectations for Mont-Tremblant?
Looking to improve the 12:40 from Louisville.

A lot of people think you have to be a spring chicken, or "elite" to do an endurance event of this caliber. What advice do you have for a newbie contemplating and Ironman?
Do it for the jouney .

 

 

Scott Trent 1970 - 2011
Scott Trent | 1970 - 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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