What do attorneys, grandparents, single moms, an actuary, a CEO, a cupcake connoisseur, a professional athlete and a physical therapist all have in common? They all are Omahans who will soon be Ironmans.
Nineteen endurance athletes who call Omaha home will compete in Ironman Arizona in Tempe, Ariz. on Sunday. They'll swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run 26.2 miles before crossing the finish line.
When these Omaha folks, including myself, signed up for the race a year ago, some of us didn't know each other. Now, we are all familiar with each other's running gaits, swim strokes and favorite training foods. We call ourselves the “Oma-Hotties.”
Family and friends heading to Arizona will wear T-shirts with the logo, “Team Oma-Hotties” on race day to encourage us to keep going.
For most of the athletes, this will be their first time competing in an Ironman race. And just about every athlete has a different reason for competing.
Michelle Bandur, TV Media Program chairwoman at Iowa Western Community College, blogs occasionally for livewellnebraska.com. Contact her at email@example.com.
“It's special to be doing triathlons and training with my wife Anne,” said Lou Andersen, CEO of SecureCare, Inc. and Nebraska Chiropractic Physicians Association. “She and I share a common goal together which will make the Ironman Arizona race even more special.”
The Andersens, who are both 52, have two grandchildren but don't feel too old to take on such a grueling goal.
“Being active keeps you vibrant and youthful,” Lou Andersen said. “I feel like I can compete with people half my age.”
For Chad Stoulil, a 34-year-old member of the Air Force, it's clear he simply loves the sport. He will be tackling Ironman Arizona for the second year in a row.
“It was so much fun last year I decided to do it again,” he said. “I'm not a very fast guy. I just really enjoy doing tri's.”
Stoulil completed his first triathlon as a teenager and started up again in 2010. He's already registered for his third Ironman in Boulder, Colo. next year.
Three years ago, Julie Ortman didn't even know how to swim. Now, the 39-year-old has an Olympic distance triathlon under her belt and is excited to finish her first Ironman.
Crossing the finish line will be extra special for Ortman. After she reached her first triathlon milestone, she faced a huge setback.
“I had a pulmonary embolism and was not allowed to exercise," she said. "I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to complete a triathlon again. Being on a blood thinner, even the slightest bike crash could be fatal. Fortunately, I was medically cleared and able to stop the medicine.”
That's when Ortman decided she would complete an Ironman before her 40th birthday.
“And here I am two months before my 40th birthday,” she said. “I have made wonderful friends along the way in pursuing this dream. You couldn't ask for a more crazy, inspiring and encouraging group of people. I am completely blessed to be in Omaha and even deemed an Oma-Hottie.”
Though Sunday is expected to be warm in Tempe, some of the most intense training took place in cold weather in Nebraska and Iowa. And Shawna Young, 43, hates the cold. Hopping on her bike for a 100-mile training ride in 30-degree wasn't exactly fun.
“The weeks of training in the colder weather has been trying on my psyche, not to mention my body,” she said.
But she's hoping all of the mental training will help her and the others when it gets difficult to continue Sunday.
Athletes have 17 hours to complete the 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running.
Want to track the “Oma-Hotties” live Sunday as they race to the finish line? Enter the athlete's name or bib number in the athlete tracker here.
The race begins at 7 a.m. (MST).
Name: Bib number
- Kristine Story: 1247
- Chad Stoulil: 546
- David Seevers: 2593
- Michelle Reitz: 1014
- Molly Pearson: 769
- Cade Pearson: 1598
- Danielle Galvin: 1199
- Steve Stender: 304
- Lou Andersen: 2655
- Dana Willett: 1171
- Polly Faltin: 954
- Shawna Young: 1049
- Julie Ortman: 891
- Andrew Schmidt: 2591
- Anne Andersen: 1174
- Melissa Reidy: 292
- Michelle Bandur: 1056
- Morgan Chaffin: PRO
- John Wroble: 1329