YOU ARE AN IRONMAN. Many triathletes dream of hearing those four words. But it takes time, steadfast commitment, and of course the will to pursue excellence. Five of our Paragon athletes just earned that title. Ildar Mannapov, Justin Nix, William Nix, Valerie Lozano, and Coach Mark Saroni completed Ironman Coeur d’Alene this weekend. It was the first Ironman for each athlete. Congratulations Ironman finishers! And congratulations to Paragon Training as a group! Paragon won the Division V Tri-Club Award. A small club with successes worthy of celebration.
Back in January, Justin and Ildar decided they were going to do an Ironman. For Paragon, Ildar was the man that got this whole Ironman thing started. Ildar contacted Coach Mark, and they began working for Ironman Coeur d’Alene that would be held eight months later. Having never done a triathlon of any distance previously, Ildar was determined to jump to Ironman. A lot of work was in order, including two half Ironmans. The journey has been remarkable. And he did it. He was well prepared for Coeur d’Alene, and he had an inspiring first Ironman race. With a swim of 1:27:44, a bike of 7:03:49, and a run of 4:38:22, Ildar finished in 13:19:11. This was all despite having THREE flat tires, multiple dropped chains, and an issue with his derailleur, which combined cost him over 30 minutes. He finished 18th in his division.
Justin Nix also made the Ironman commitment with no prior triathlon experience. He had only done one running race. Justin managed his training on his own, but he joined Paragon for various training rides, training camps such as in Ft. Davis, and he organized the Ironman race weekend experience for both athletes and our large group of friends and family—the best Support Crew an athlete could hope for. Justin also had remarkable times at Ironman Coeur d’Alene: 1:13:57 for the swim, 6:06:54 for the bike, and 5:12:42 for the run. His finisher time was 12:46:49. One of Justin’s goals was to beat his younger brother, William. William came to join us from Florida and, like his brother, had also never done a triathlon. William swam 1:17:05, biked 6:52:43, and ran 5:43:25 for a total time of 14:03:59.
We had a friendly rivalry between Justin and Valerie Lozano at the finish. Valerie caught up to Justin with about a half mile to go on the run. They ran together around the last few curves and down Sherman Ave toward the finish. Valerie gave it a surge and left the friendly rivalry with Justin behind, beating him by only 6 seconds. Her swim time was 1:14:07, her bike 6:57:03, and her run 4:25:14, for a total finish of 12:46:43.
Mark Saroni, Paragon Training Head Coach, stole the crowd’s attention at the end of the day. He lagged behind the leaders out of the swim by about 9 minutes, finishing the swim in 59:54. Coming off the bike in 5:16:22, he had lost another 8 or 9 minutes on the lead guy. Mark passed two guys in T2 however and started the run in 7th place. He locked in at a solid 6:45 min/mile pace and kept it up for the first half marathon, quickly passing the other competitors and moving toward the front of the race. He took first during the second loop of the 3-loop run course. “Bike for show, run for dough.” Mark’s 3:06:46 marathon made the race for him. He came down Sherman Ave with no one in sight. With high-fives from the crowds and a finisher’s tape to greet him, Mark Saroni became an Ironman and won the title of IM Coeur d’Alene Champion. Be on the lookout for a Blog post by Mark later this week, where he will provide more insight and details from the race. You can view one of his television interviews here or the live feed of his finish and interview.
“Anything is Possible,” yet anything can happen. Ironman is no joke. This year at Coeur d’Alene there was a remarkable DNF rate of over 13%. Justin McKenzie, Michael Chiang, and Jennifer Upton also traveled and competed with the Paragon Racing group. McKenzie had a mechanical issue on the bike leg around mile 50 and was unable to finish. His entire crankset fell off the bike; with gears attached to the right cleat and the other crank arm still attached to the left cleat, it made for a precarious stop. Chiang and Upton were unable to make the cutoff times for the bike, and they were pulled from the course around miles 60 and 70, respectively. With more training, each athlete unable to finish this weekend is already talking about the next Ironman.
No matter the result or splits, we are proud of each one of our Paragon Racing athletes. Each can go home proud of what he or she set her mind to and accomplished this weekend. Ironman is a journey as much as it is an event.
Sunday August 27 - Ironman Coeur d'Alene
Mark Saroni - 1st overall, 9:29:52
Ildar Mannapov - 18th male 25-29, 13:19:11
Valerie Lozano - 7th female 18-24, 12:46:43
Justin Nix - 12:46:49
William Nix - 14:03:59
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